What will the bank of the future look like? How will customers’ data be analyzed to improve the services of the banking system while maintaining customers’ privacy? What new technologies will drive banking in Israel?

A new initiative inaugurated this week by Bank Hapoalim and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology may have the answers.

Dubbed TPADS – for Technion-Poalim Data Science Center – the new joint venture was established between the bank’s innovation division and the Technion’s Davidson Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, led by Prof. Avishai Mendelbaum.

The pairing, between an institute of higher learning and a commercial bank, “may be strange at first glance, but it is based on the innovation that characterizes both partners,” explained Prof. Boaz Golany, Technion’s vice president for external relations and resource development.

“The digital revolution changes perceptions that we have become accustomed to and will cause banks to look completely different within a decade,” Golany added. “Academia, like the financial world, must adapt itself to the digital revolution.”

The collaboration was announced a year ago but is only becoming a reality now. Bank Hapoalim deputy CEO Avi Kochva said that it’s an essential part of Hapoalim’s strategy for moving forward.

“The bank of the future is a proactive one, committed to understanding customers’ needs and adapting to them,” Kochva said. “A key part of this is the development of information and data analysis, and therefore we partnered with Technion – to strengthen these capabilities of ours.”

Technion’s Prof. Mendelbaum added that “this is a partnership between equals – the bank provides data and full partnership in analysis and Technion develops advanced theories and related data analysis tools.”

The bank will set up a special secure laboratory in the Technion that will be staffed by bank analysts and researchers to conduct experiments on various bank-related activities like financial forecasting and risk management.

Bank Hapoalim CEO Arik Pinto said last year when the partnership was first announced that “we believe that we have a duty to be a humane, personal and technologically-advanced bank all at once, and the inclusion of advanced research is an essential condition to implement this strategy.”

The TPADS center will be run by Technion professors Avigdor Gal and Oren Kurland, and by Noam Zeigerson, Director of Information and Analysis at Bank Hapoalim’s innovation division.