Inside the entrepreneur-led innovation group at Eastern Bank

Eastern-OMalleyDan O’Malley had tried to disrupt the banking industry from outside. Now, he’s working within it, as the founder of Eastern Labs, an innovation group at Eastern Bank, the country’s biggest and oldest mutual bank.

O’Malley had launched a rewards-centric online bank called PerkStreet Financial with venture capital funding. But when that company couldn’t grow fast enough to keep investors happy, O’Malley, a veteran of Capital One, had to figure out his next move. A contact from the entrepreneurial scene introduced him to Bob Rivers, President of Boston-based Eastern Bank, which has nearly $10 billion in assets and branches throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The bank was eager to stay relevant with an increasingly digital customer base, and was planning to dial up its investment in innovation. “The percentage of transactions happening at a branch was dropping like crazy, and mobile banking was going through the roof,” O’Malley says. “There were questions about whether the retail branch had a future.”

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