Wells Fargo issues the Innovation Challenge, seeking to work with creators to solve problems via advancing technologies

The financial services company is looking for creators and innovators to help it find new solutions to industry problems and deepen community connections.
Written by Evan Zimmer, Staff Writer
Source: Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo announced Thursday the creation of a new program called the Multi-X Future. The company is asking creators and innovators to come together for the Innovation Challenge in order to solve issues consumers and businesses are facing in the financial industry.

Multi-X is the term Wells Fargo is using to refer to the evolving financial environment in which individuals and business owners become more connected through innovative, problem-solving tools like Slack, Figma, and Notion, as well as advancing financial technology like blockchain and AI.

"The way consumers earn, spend, invest, and save is all changing. The Innovation Challenge seeks new and innovative products, services, and experiences, such as those that may support both the needs of intimate, closed groups, like inter-generational families, and the hyper-connected finances of larger, open communities such as creators, gig workers, investors, businesses, and other affiliations," Madhu Narasimhan, head of innovation at Wells Fargo, told ZDNet.

The Multi-X Future is the company's new collaborative project; it's looking to build together with creators through the Innovation Challenge to find the next innovative solution to issues consumers and business owners are experiencing in the financial industry.

"At Wells Fargo, we are calling on creators and innovators to partner with us to provide solutions for challenges that consumers and businesses are facing in the Multi-X world," Narasimhan said.

According to Narasimhan, the goal of the project is to make a meaningful impact on the industry and to find solutions that make banking more accessible and equitable for consumers and businesses.

In addition, Multi-X Future has a focus on hyper-connected finances. The project wants to make consumers who need to make multiple financial transactions with multiple people seamless and easy.

"Through this challenge, we are thinking about reimagining the traditional approach to banking by tapping into the power of collaboration, creating safe and secure spaces for families, chosen family and friends, and larger communities to learn about and explore financial growth together," she said.

There are two main components the company is focused on developing through its Multi-X Future program: Multi-Players and Multi-Economies.

"The Multi-Player use case is meant to showcase how we align banking with [customer's] interconnected life, breaking down barriers to help [them] access, share, save, and invest [their] money, together," Narasimhan said.

The Multi-Player concept seeks to build a more approachable banking experience for families, friends, and communities designed around three key concepts:

  • A future with proactive services to support compassionate care for customers and their families
  • Reimagining what a workforce can be and supporting what it can become.
  • Navigating a shifting landscape as the Metaverse develops and customers and businesses begin connecting in different ways.

Multi-Economies looks to build a dynamic environment for individuals and businesses created around:

  • Using new assets to reframe how clients think about capital
  • Utilizing advancing technologies like blockchain and AI to make buying and selling easier and more intuitive.
  • Building new markets as financial technologies and currencies develop.

The Innovation Challenge

The Innovation Challenge will be conducted in three phases. The top three finalists will present at Wells Fargo's Innovation Summit, taking place from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, 2022, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The winner will be announced and receive the grand prize of $250,000.

Here are the challenges phases:

  1. Application and Pitch Deck review: Applicants will be measured on whether the concept is aligned with Wells Fargo's corporate image, the concept's innovative priorities, its feasibility, viability, desirability, and lastly, its security and reliability. Winners are chosen the week of 5/30/22.
  2. Virtual Pitch Deck presentations: Semifinalists will be evaluated by judges on the quality and content of their pitch, given virtually. Up to eight semifinalists will be selected to move on.
  3. Virtual proof of concept (POC) presentation: Finalist's POCs will be judged on their quality. Three finalists will be selected, and the winner will be chosen at the Innovation Summit.

"Through this Challenge, we aim to find solutions that we can integrate into the Wells Fargo environment that will make banking easier and safer for our customers and the financial services industry at large," Narasimhan said.

The Innovation Challenge wants to utilize the rapidly evolving financial technology, including AI and blockchain, to build solutions for problems in both the Wells Fargo network and the industry as a whole.

"Wells Fargo is continually launching innovative services, products, and tools to help consumers learn, practice, and adopt skills and gain the knowledge and confidence to make more informed financial decisions. Empowering consumers in this way makes it possible for them to build their financial capability, leading to greater financial health," Narasimhan said.

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