In brief

In brief

  • The Efma-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards is a global competition showcasing the best new ideas and practices transforming the banking industry.
  • The awards show how banks responded to the pandemic by innovating faster and with more ambition than ever before.
  • Innovation in banking has become humanized in its quest to address customers’ and society’s needs during unprecedented times.
  • These innovations are a clear indication not only of what banks are capable of, but also of the far-reaching transformation that lies ahead.

* Disclaimer: Efma is now known as Qorus effective 16 June 2022

The human face of banking innovation

Disruptive change is nothing new to banks, but the past 18 months have thoroughly tested financial institutions’ adaptability and resilience. The 2021 Efma-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards, which culminated in a virtual awards ceremony on November 18, reveal that the industry has met the challenge head-on, responding by innovating quicker and on a larger scale than ever before.

The awards garnered 816 entries from nearly 300 institutions in 73 countries—more than any other year to date. Among them were programs and projects that recognize the industry is at a watershed; innovations that will help change the face of the industry forever. Many of them were rolled out in condensed timelines that would have been inconceivable before the pandemic.

"Banks need to understand every market in which they operate and what it takes to succeed. They’ll have to be willing to shape new business models, partner in unconventional ways, rediscover their purpose and humanity and commit to constant innovation"

— FABRICE ASVAZADOURIAN, European Banking Lead – Accenture

Given the scale and pace of change in the world, banks understood that they could no longer evolve in timid steps. They needed to deliver bold innovations, often within months or even weeks. The pace of innovation we saw is a clear indication of the transformation that lies ahead.

Since the start of the COVID crisis, banks have recognized the need to be more purpose-driven than ever as they innovated. Accordingly, the entries for the Innovation Awards were not merely about cost efficiency or the customer experience—many were about addressing human needs that emerged during a challenging time. They highlight how banks are creating loops of innovation that create benefit for themselves, for customers, and for society at large.


award entries


institutions from 73 countries submitted their top innovations


innovators tuned in for the 18 November online ceremony

Innovation in banking is showing a distinctly human quality in its mission to address customers’ and society’s needs during unprecedented times. Leading banks are not simply responding to their own needs and what is happening right now—they have an inspiring vision for a future of daring digital transformations, compelling purpose-driven strategies and extraordinary customer and employee experiences. Four trends, identified by a detailed analysis of all the entries, offer valuable insight into the focus of many banks’ innovation efforts and how they are positioning for a better future—for the benefit of their investors and their customers alike:

Purposeful relationships beyond the pandemic

Banks have worked hard to overcome customers’ nostalgia for the good old days and are partnering with them to create a new—and better—normal.

Listening to customers at scale

Banks are using technologies and solutions to help them listen and respond to customers with personalized service at scale.

Digital efficiencies with a human touch

Banks are developing creative strategies and tools to bring the human touch to relationships with customers when they want empathy and support.

Building a sustainable future

A key theme for banks is the need to support the shift towards a more sustainable world.

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Efma–Accenture Banking Innovation Awards 2021 Highlights

View Transcript

Frequently asked questions

There were 24 winners awarded in the eight 2021 award categories at the November 18 virtual awards ceremony. You can view the winning innovations here. Caixabank garnered the prestigious Global Innovator award for its impressive digital innovation efforts.

The awards are open to all financial services institutions and there is no charge to enter. You can make a submission here for the 2022 awards; entries are now open. Innovations must have been launched after January 2019 and must at least be in a pilot phase with some clear outcomes.

Innovation in banking has become humanized in its quest to address customers’ and society’s needs during unprecedented times. Leading banks are using technology to connect with customers, employees and communities in more meaningful ways as the world steers its course towards a better neo-normal.

The awards attracted a record-breaking 816 entries. This is testimony to how banks have responded to the challenges of the pandemic by innovating faster and more ambitiously than ever before. Banks needed to deliver bold innovations, often in the blink of an eye.

The most creative banks have retained a human face while embracing remote digital experiences. Their innovations have helped customers navigate volatile times and financial distress. Banks have shown they can rapidly adapt to evolving customer needs and market conditions—and they can do so in a way that drives positive social impact.

Antonio Coppolecchia

Managing Director – Accenture Song Banking Lead, Europe


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