TD dedicating $3.25 million to helping early-stage FinTechs navigate patents

TD Canada Trust mobile payments

As Canadian banks race to stay ahead of FinTech disruption, TD has made several announcements in an effort to get closer to startups and improve its own digital capabilities.

TD announced that it’s earmarking some of its $30 million FinTech investment fund to help early-stage FinTechs tackle patent applications.

The bank plans to dedicate $3.25 million to giving startups patent application and expertise to secure their IPs. The program, which does not take equity, is meant to help the bank scope out potential partnerships without formalizing agreements at the outset.

“It’s not an open invitation for anyone to come knocking for free services,” said Tim Hogarth, VP of Innovation Framework and Strategies at TD. “We start to find companies that are a good fit for our model, and a good strategic fit for the kind of problems we wanna solve.”

“Some of the really exciting FinTech ideas are around creating ancillary services.”
– Tim Hogarth, VP of Innovation Framework & Strategies

TD also announced that it is working with New York-based Kasisto, a conversational AI platform that powers virtual assistants in the finance and commerce industry. The bank plans to leverage Kasisto to give customers access to real-time spending insights through messaging. Cutomers can check account information, review transaction histories, and monitor spending levels. They can also track specific categories like groceries or coffee.

In the past, TD has leveraged startups to power its own customers’ experiences; Toronto-based Flybits, which has a partnership with TD, powers the bank’s digital concierge that notifies customers of local deals and discounts.

“We are excited about this strategic initiative because it has the potential to help us evolve our relationships with more than 11 million digitally active customers who interact with us every day,” said Rizwan Khalfan, EVP and chief digital and payments officer. “AI has the potential to change the future of banking, and we are excited about the many ways it can help our customers. Data-driven platforms like KAI can help ensure we are continuing to create intelligent, highly-personalized and empowering experiences for all our customers.”

The bank also announced plans to open a cybersecurity office in Tel Aviv, considered a leading hub for cybersecurity talent. The Tel Aviv office will support TD’s R&D efforts and development of cyber-related technical programs.

“Customers and employees need to transact with confidence in the digital era,” said Colleen Johnston, group head of direct channels, technology, marketing and corporate & public affairs. “In Israel, TD will tap into one of the world’s deepest pools of talent and know-how in cybersecurity.”

During the announcement, Johnston named a number of TD initiatives that do more to take into account a customer’s lifestyle, including the TD My Advantage App, an app tracks driving to potentially get a lower rate on insurance, and working with Metrolinx to provide TD customers with notifications on their travel through the TD app.

While the latter seems like outside territory for a bank, Hogarth doubled down on TD bank’s desire to engage with customers outside of just financial services.

“Some of the really exciting FinTech ideas are really around creating ancillary services and adjacent capabilities that help people in other parts of their financial lives, rather than just their balance,” said Hogarth. “Today what we’re announcing is just the patents piece, but I believe that we’re going to be able to do much more for FinTechs in the future.”

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor.