Fo our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent,…

Fo our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent, Martyn Atkinson, to learn how an ambitious growth agenda, combined with a people-centred culture, is driving change for customers and colleagues across the Group.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Welcome to a new year of possibility where technology meets business at the interface of change…

Read the latest issue here!

Lloyds Banking Group: A technology & business strategy

“We’ve made significant strides in transforming our business for the future,” explains Martyn Atkinson, CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent at Lloyds Banking Group. “I’m really proud of what the team have achieved. There’s loads more to go after. It’s a really exciting time as we become a modern, progressive, tech-enabled business. We’ve aimed to maintain pace and an agile mindset. We want to get products and services out to our customers and colleagues. We’ll test and learn to see if what we’re doing is actually making a meaningful difference.”

AFRICOM: Organisational resilience through cybersecurity

We also speak with U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) CISO Ryan Larsen on developing the right culture to build cyber awareness. He is committed to driving secure and continued success for the Department of Defence. “I often think of every day working in cyberspace a lot like counterinsurgency warfare and my time in Afghanistan. You had to be on top of your game every minute of every day. The adversary only needs to get lucky one time to find you with that IED.”

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ALIC: Creating synergy to scale at speed with Lolli

Since 2009 the Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC) has been matching Australians with loans that help build their wealth. It has delivered over $8.3bn in loans to more than 22,000 leading Australian investors and businesses. Managing Director Damian Brander talks ethical lending and the challenges of a shifting financial landscape. ALIC has also built Lolli – a broker enhancement platform built by brokers, for brokers.

Sime Darby Motors: Driving digital, cultural, and business transformation together

Sime Darby Berhad is one of the oldest and most successful multinational companies in Malaysia. It has a twin focus on the Industrial and Motors sectors. The company employs more than 24,000 people, operating across 17 countries and territories. Sime Darby Motors’ Chief Digital & Information Officer Tuan Jean Tee shares how he makes sure digital, cultural, and process transformation go hand in hand throughout one of APAC’s largest automotive multinationals.

Also in this issue, we hear from Microsoft on the art of sustainable supply chain transformation, Tecnotree map the key trends set to impact the telecoms industry in 2024 and our panel of experts chart the big Fintech predictions for the year ahead.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions. Welcome to the latest issue of…

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

NAB: Reinventing Small Business Banking

A passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity of opportunity, Executive GM Ana Marinkovic leads a team of 1,600+ small business experts. They lend over $1.2bn a month to Australian small businesses. National Australia Bank (NAB) plays a major role in propelling entrepreneurship across the country. Delivering better outcomes for small business owners sits at the very heart of NAB’s strategy. “Our scale and connectivity help us to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our business and the communities we operate in,” says Ana.

TUI: Making travel plans mobile

The mobile side of TUI has never been more vital. TUI’s mobile apps were officially launched in 2013 and began as something of a proof of concept. For the entire international industry, moving from web to mobile devices was a huge shift. The initial set of apps were very skeletal and only integrated for UK and Nordic customers.

One of this year’s goals is to accelerate the native journey to make all the customer journeys native. This will further improving the customer experience. After a recent UI refresh, the app look and feel is fresh and sleek, and has plenty of exciting features for customers to enjoy. “Just in the last couple of months we’ve introduced an integration with OpenAI for a travel planner that helps you choose excursions,” Donia adds. “Seeing it grow over the years is so exciting.”

TARA Energy Services: tech fuelling growth

“Continuous improvement is woven into the fabric of the culture at TARA Energy Services,” says its proud Director of IT, Paul Parzen. “Every day, we face new challenges, both operationally in the field and strategically in the boardroom. We must make sure the organisation’s IT strategy for data management, core infrastructure, network architecture, and security is ready to meet them.”

“Some people might say, ‘wow, a pension. That sounds a little boring.’ But at the end of the day, what we do is help people retire in the best way possible and that’s a pretty good place to be.”

Those are the words of Dee McGrath, CEO of Link Group’s Retirement Solutions since May 2019. The company is a global, digitally-enabled business connecting millions of people with their pension assets – safely, securely and responsibly. 

Evara Health: Technology delivering care for all

Evara Health’s mission statement is to help people become healthy and live healthy lives, and that means all people. A lot of health organisations don’t serve everybody and their treatments aren’t available under many types of insurance. However, Evara Heath doesn’t turn anybody away. It supports the underserved and the uninsured, and patients are treated regardless of whether they can afford it. Around 25% of patients have no insurance at all, and over half are covered by Medicaid, which isn’t accepted by everyone.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions. Welcome to the latest issue of…

This month’s cover story charts NAB’s journey to support SMEs with customer-centric digital solutions.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

NAB: Reinventing Small Business Banking

A passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity of opportunity, Executive GM Ana Marinkovic leads a team of 1,600+ small business experts. They lend over $1.2bn a month to Australian small businesses. National Australia Bank (NAB) plays a major role in propelling entrepreneurship across the country. Delivering better outcomes for small business owners sits at the very heart of NAB’s strategy. “Our scale and connectivity help us to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our business and the communities we operate in,” says Ana.

TUI: Making travel plans mobile

The mobile side of TUI has never been more vital. TUI’s mobile apps were officially launched in 2013 and began as something of a proof of concept. For the entire international industry, moving from web to mobile devices was a huge shift. The initial set of apps were very skeletal and only integrated for UK and Nordic customers.

One of this year’s goals is to accelerate the native journey to make all the customer journeys native. This will further improving the customer experience. After a recent UI refresh, the app look and feel is fresh and sleek, and has plenty of exciting features for customers to enjoy. “Just in the last couple of months we’ve introduced an integration with OpenAI for a travel planner that helps you choose excursions,” Donia adds. “Seeing it grow over the years is so exciting.”

TARA Energy Services: tech fuelling growth

“Continuous improvement is woven into the fabric of the culture at TARA Energy Services,” says its proud Director of IT, Paul Parzen. “Every day, we face new challenges, both operationally in the field and strategically in the boardroom. We must make sure the organisation’s IT strategy for data management, core infrastructure, network architecture, and security is ready to meet them.”

“Some people might say, ‘wow, a pension. That sounds a little boring.’ But at the end of the day, what we do is help people retire in the best way possible and that’s a pretty good place to be.”

Those are the words of Dee McGrath, CEO of Link Group’s Retirement Solutions since May 2019. The company is a global, digitally-enabled business connecting millions of people with their pension assets – safely, securely and responsibly. 

Evara Health: Technology delivering care for all

Evara Health’s mission statement is to help people become healthy and live healthy lives, and that means all people. A lot of health organisations don’t serve everybody and their treatments aren’t available under many types of insurance. However, Evara Heath doesn’t turn anybody away. It supports the underserved and the uninsured, and patients are treated regardless of whether they can afford it. Around 25% of patients have no insurance at all, and over half are covered by Medicaid, which isn’t accepted by everyone.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

How Minted is leveraging digital technology to make investment in precious metals, accessible, affordable and simple

Shahid Munir, co-founder of Minted, discusses how his firm is competing with larger banks for a spot at the top table of investment in fintech.

Few industries have boomed like the fintech space over the past few years. With a plethora of new technology at consumer fingertips like never before, banks are being properly challenged by upcoming startups offering an alternative solution. Among these is Minted, aiming to make the buying, selling, transferring and delivery of physical precious metals simple through flexible monthly plans and one-time purchases. The company was founded in 2018 by three close friends – Shahid Munir, Hamzah Almasyabi and Haroon Siddiq – with a shared passion for entrepreneurship, technology and the opportunities the financial industry presented. Their combined drive led to the creation of Minted.

Shahir Munir, Co-Founder, Minted

The rise of Minted

Munir, co-founder of Minted, admits the journey has been a “rollercoaster” since the trio decided to launch their venture. “It’s certainly been exciting,” he explains. “It’s been a great learning curve and was a case of taking an industry where so many people were so used to doing it one way and offering something new. This has been challenging because we have a great product, but no one understood it. We’ve had to go out and educate people first in what has been a journey of growth, but it’s a constant journey.”

A decade ago, financial technology was considered by many as ring-fenced by bigger banks. But Munir stresses he has tried to change that narrative and offer competition which provides tremendous value. “Previously, a bank was the only way you could provide financial products,” he says. “Technology has allowed more innovative and creative solutions to launch and test the bigger banks and what they became bad at which was the customer experience. Now you see bigger banks adopt a lot of the technology and some of the practices used by challenger banks which can only be a good thing. Being in London has also helped because it is one of the leading hubs for fintechs and really supports the financial technology industry.”

Armed with different skillsets, the three co-founders complement each other with a diverse range of experience. With Almasyabi bringing an operations background and Siddiq bringing business strategy, Munir completes the line-up with finance and technology know-how. “I think it’s what sets us apart and makes us different,” he says. “Our backgrounds mean we’re not tunnel visioned and can see clearly when things aren’t working. We have a great thinktank within the business which helps us come up with ideas.”

Making precious metals accessible, affordable and simple

“I recall seeing a meme about how the price of a Freddo chocolate had changed over the years, no longer being its trademark 10p, it was now 200% more expensive and also smaller in size. This led me down rabbit-hole of trying to understand why most items go up in price as years pass and rarely come back down again. I became fascinated with how the government increases the money supply and the concept of inflation – my money buys me less in the future than it does today.

“I met with the other two founders that same night and the thoughts extended from my mind into an intense conversation about quantitative easing, Brexit, cost of living – snacks were being consumed faster than the rate of government borrowing. Where could we park our money, what was better than money? That was when the penny-dropped (pardon the pun). Hamzah proclaimed: ‘What about gold, guys?’”

Digital disruption

Through Minted, customers will have full legal ownership over their gold and can also request to have their gold delivered to a verified address. The gold and silver are stored in a grade 10 vault in the UK with the highest level of security possible. The products are fully insured by Lloyds of London at the current value while in vaulted storage as well as when being transported.

As a digital disrupter, one of the biggest challenges Minted continues to face is a lack of understanding. Customer assurance is an important priority, and the organisation has established several initiatives to gain trust. Minted is registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which means the firm operates to the highest financial standards and guidelines as determined by the FCA. “I feel like we need to go that extra mile,” stresses Munir. “What I think we underestimated at first was the extent to which people needed to ask questions until we launched a live chat facility on the website. This function helps build our knowledge base and allows us to hold the customer’s hand throughout the process. We’ve also found success when we’ve attended face to face exhibition events and had one-on-one interactions. It’s been brilliant to see first-hand the customer perception and look at what we can do better to meet their needs.”

Munir says he has noticed a trend of people starting with a “flutter” to test the water and check out the process. “I think it’s important that people build their confidence and recognise the value in what we offer,” he explains. “Once this is done, we often see those same customers make larger transactions. We know our difference can be a challenge for some people to accept which is why education is such an important topic to us. We have to keep doing explainer videos, use social media and hold community sessions to be there for customers.”

Scaling up

Minted recently launched its own app which offers customers an even easier way to manage their gold and silver, as well as introducing a tool to partner with businesses called Minted Connect. Munir believes the move has helped showcase an advanced, modern way for people to own physical items. “I love the app as it just makes things so much easier for customers via the platform,” he explains. “It’s been fantastic, a one-stop solution that helps stores the precious metals for free and allows them to be delivered at any time. In a world where everything is so digitally enabled it is nice to offer something physical – people don’t even buy cars anymore. Hopefully via customer feedback we can make improvements to the app that will help us develop new features.”

Munir believes gold is increasingly being seen as an alternative for savings and affirms global pressures like the threat of inflation amid economic uncertainty has helped people to realise the full potential of Minted’s offering. “In the past if you wanted to save money, you simply open a saver account and start adding money but with gold it was often a little trickier,” he says. “But with Minted we’ve simplified the process and tried to make it as automated as possible. Gold is a great alternative which has stood the test of time.”

Looking ahead, Minted is showing no signs of slowing down and is expanding into different territories. Munir remains positive for the next few years and what comes next for his organisation. “We’re working towards expanding the team because I feel like we’re at the stage now where each of our departments needs its own team of people to run each department,” he explains. “We’re scaling up and branching into new markets such as Turkey, and focusing in on developing the business to business side too.”

The digital landscape is changing day by day. Ideas like the metaverse that once seemed a futuristic fantasy are now…

The digital landscape is changing day by day. Ideas like the metaverse that once seemed a futuristic fantasy are now coming to fruition and embedding themselves into our daily lives. The thinking might be there, but is our technology really ready to go meta? Domains and hosting provider, Fasthosts, spoke to the experts to find out…

How the metaverse works

The metaverse is best defined as a virtual 3D universe which combines many virtual places. It allows users to meet, collaborate, play games and interact in virtual environments. It’s usually viewed and accessed from the outside as a mixture of virtual reality (VR), (think of someone in their front room wearing a headset and frantically waving nunchucks around) and augmented reality (AR), but it’s so much more than this…

These technologies are just the external entry points to the metaverse and provide the visuals which allow users to explore and interact with the environment within the metaverse. 

This is the ‘front-end’ if you like, which is also reinforced by artificial intelligence and 3D reconstruction. These additional technologies help to provide realistic objects in environments, computer-controlled actions and also avatars for games and other metaverse projects. 

So, what stands in the way of this fantastical 3D universe? Here are the six key challenges:

Technology

The most important piece of technology, on which the metaverse is based, is the blockchain. The blockchain is essentially a chain of blocks that contain specific information. They’re a combination of computers linked to each other instead of a central server which means that the whole network is decentralised. This provides the infrastructure for the development of metaverse projects, storage of data and also allows them the capability to be compatible with Web3. Web3 is an upgraded version of the internet which will allow integration of virtual and augmented reality into people’s everyday lives. 

Sounds like a lot, right? And it involves a great deal of tech that is alien to the vast majority of us. So, is technology a barrier to widespread metaverse adoption?

Jonothan Hunt, Senior Creative Technologist at Wunderman Thompson, says the tech just isn’t there. Yet.

“Technology’s readiness for the mass adoption of the metaverse depends on how you define the metaverse, but if we’re talking about the future vision that the big tech players are sharing, then not yet. The infrastructure that powers the internet and our devices isn’t ready for such experiences. The best we have right now in terms of shared/simulated spaces are generally very expensive and powered entirely in the cloud, such as big computers like the Nvidia Omniverse, cloud streaming, or games. These rely heavily on instancing and localised grouping. Consumer hardware, especially XR, is still not ready for casual daily use and still not really democratised.

“The technology for this will look like an evolution of the systems above, meaning more distributed infrastructure, better access and updated hardware. Web3 also presents a challenge in and of itself, and questions remain over to what extent big tech will adopt it going forward.”

Storage

Blockchain is the ‘back-end’, where the magic happens, if you will. It’s this that will be the key to the development and growth of the metaverse. There are a lot of elements that make up the blockchain and reinforce its benefits and uses such as storage capabilities, data security and smart contracts. 

Due to its decentralised nature, the blockchain has far more storage capacity than the centralised storage systems we have in place today. With data on the metaverse being stored in exabytes, the blockchain works by making use of unutilised hard disk space across the network, which avoids users within the metaverse running out of storage space worldwide. 

In terms that might be a bit more relatable, an exabyte is a billion gigabytes. That’s a huge amount of storage, and that doesn’t just exist in the cloud – it’s got to go somewhere – and physical storage servers mean land is taken up, and energy is used. Hunt says: “How long’s a piece of string? The whole of the metaverse will one day be housed in servers and data centres, but the amount or size needed to house all of this storage will be entirely dependent on just how mass adopted the metaverse becomes. Big corporations in the space are starting to build huge data centres – such as Meta purchasing a $1.1 billion campus in Toledo, Spain to house their new Meta lab and data centre – but the storage space is not the only concern. These energy-guzzlers need to stay cool! And what about people and brands who need reliable web hosting for events, gaming or even just meeting up with pals across the world, all that information – albeit virtual – still needs a place to go.

“The current rising cost of electricity worldwide could cause problems for the growth of data centres, and the housing of the metaverse as a whole. However, without knowing the true size of its adoption, it is extremely difficult to truly determine the needed usage. Could we one day see an entire island devoted to data centre storage? Purely for the purposes of holding the metaverse? It seems a little ‘1984’, but who knows?”

Identity

Although the blockchain provides instantaneous verification of transactions with identity through digital wallets, our physical form will be represented by avatars that visually reflect who we are, and how we want to be seen. 

The founder of Saxo Bank and the chairman of the Concordium Foundation, Lars Seier Christensen, argues, “I think that if you use an underlying blockchain-based solution where ID is required at the entry point, it is actually very simple and automatically available for relevant purposes. It is also very secure and transparent, in that it would link any transactions or interactions where ID is required to a trackable record on the blockchain.”

Once identity is established, it is true that it could potentially become easier to assess creditworthiness of parties for purchasing and borrowing in the metaverse due to the digital identity and storage of each individual’s data and transactions on the blockchain. However, although it sounds exciting, there must be considerations into how it could impact privacy, and how this amount of data will be recorded on the blockchain. 

Security

There are also huge security benefits to this set up. The decentralised blockchain helps to eradicate third-party involvement and data breaches, such as theft and file manipulation, thanks to its powerful data processing and use of validation nodes. Both of these are responsible for verifying and recording transactions on the blockchain. This will be reassuring to many, given the widespread concerns around data privacy and user protection in the metaverse.

To access the blockchain all we will need is an internet connection and a device, such as a laptop or smartphone, this is what makes it so great as it will be so readily available. However, to support the blockchain, we’re relying on a whole different set of technologies.  Akash Kayar, CEO of web3-focused software development company Leeway Hertz, had this to say on the readiness of the current technology available: “The metaverse is not yet completely mature in terms of development. Tech experts are researching strategies and

testing the various technologies to develop ideas that provide the world with more feasible and intriguing metaverse projects.

“Projects like Decentraland, Axie Infinity, and Sandbox are popular contemporary live metaverse projects. People behind these projects made perfect use of notable metaverse technologies, from blockchain and cryptos to NFTs.

“As envisioned by top tech futurists, many new technologies will empower the metaverse in the future, which will support the development of a range of prolific use cases that will improve the ability of the metaverse towards offering real-life functionalities. In a nutshell, the metaverse is expected to bring extreme opportunities for enterprises and common users. Hence, it will shape the digital future.”

Currency & Payments

Whilst it’s only considered legal tender in two countries, cryptocurrency is currently a reality and there is a strong likelihood that it will eventually be mass adopted. However, the metaverse is arguably not yet at the same maturity level, meaning cryptocurrency may have to wait before it can finally fully take off. 

Golden Bitcoin symbol and finance graph screen. Horizontal composition with copy space. Focused image.

There is no doubt that cryptocurrency and the metaverse will go hand-in-hand as the former will become the tender of the latter with many of the current metaverse platforms each wielding its native currency. For example Decentraland uses $MANA for payments and purchases. However, with the volatility of crypto currencies and the recent collapse of trading platform FTX indicating security lapses, we may not yet be ready for the switch to decentralised payments. 

Energy

Some of the world’s largest data centres can each contain many tens of thousands of IT devices which require more than 100 megawatts of power capacity – this is enough to power around 80,000 U.S. households (U.S. DOE 2020) and is equivalent to $1.35bn running cost per data centre with the cost of a megawatt hour averaging $150. 

According to Nitin Parekh of Hitachi Energy, the amount of power which takes to process Bitcoin is higher than you might expect: “Bitcoin consumes around 110 Terawatt Hours per year. This is around 0.5% of global electricity generation. This estimate considers combined computational power used to mine bitcoin and process transactions.” With this estimate, we can calculate that the annual energy cost of Bitcoin is around $16.5bn. 

However, some bigger corporations are slowly moving towards renewable energy to power their projects in this space, with Google signing close to $2bn worth of wind and solar investments in order to power its data centres in the future and become greener. Amazon has also followed in their footsteps and have become the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. 

They may have plenty of time yet to get their green processes in place, with Mark Zuckerberg recently predicting it will take nearly a decade for the metaverse to be created: “I don’t think it’s really going to be huge until the second half of this decade at the earliest.”

About Fasthosts

Fasthosts has been a leading technology provider since 1999, offering secure UK data centres, 24/7 support and a highly successful reseller channel. Fasthosts provides everything web professionals need to power and manage their online space, including domains, web hosting, business-class email, dedicated servers, and a next-generation cloud platform. For more information, head to www.fasthosts.co.uk

Todd Salmon, Executive Advisor for Strategic Services at GuidePoint Security, on the cybersecurity challenge of keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing digital world

This month’s cover story explores how GuidePoint Security, an elite team of highly trained and certified experts, cut through cybersecurity chaos and confusion to put control back in customers’ hands.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface welcomes in 2023 with a need-to-know list of what we can expect from technology this year and how it can allow enterprises to gain a competitive edge in a disruptive and increasingly digital world. Faced with everything from process mining and AI to quantum-readiness and the metaverse we cut through the hype to bring you the facts.

Read the latest issue here!

GuidePoint Security: digital transformation in cybersecurity

“Cybersecurity is in such a reactive mode because of the sheer volume of risks and vulnerabilities an organisation faces,” says Todd Salmon, Executive Advisor for Strategic Services at GuidePoint Security. “We see a lot of copycats and repeat attacks happen, but at the end of the day it’s all about creating solutions to help combat those problems.”

GuidePoint’s elite team of highly trained and certified experts, cut through cybersecurity chaos and confusion to put control back in customers’ hands. Helping them make the smartest, most informed cyber risk decisions, and choose and integrate the best-fit solutions to build the most effective cybersecurity program, Salmon discusses the challenge of keeping up with the pace of the ever-changing digital world.

bp: a strategic reinvention

“We are investing in digital to drive process efficiency and improve insights; but also to develop our people with the skills we need for now, and the future at bp. This means we are playing to win while caring for our people through investing in their personal development,” says Head of Strategic Transformation Nick Hales.

“After setting the right foundations through various remediation and compliance initiatives, we embarked on our digital transformation journey,” adds Strategy & Transformation Manager Emmanouela Vlachantoni. “There was a clear opportunity to standardise and streamline our controls environment to reduce complexity and increase insight.”

Fairfax County: winning the IT war with cybersecurity

Meanwhile, across the pond, we learn how Fairfax County in the State of Virginia is reaping the rewards of a cybersecurity program enabling government services and keeping citizens safe. “My role is to educate our leadership to ensure they understand the business value of cybersecurity as it relates to government services. Being accountable for the security of their systems and data is a key factor in developing a successful cyber program,” explains CISO Michael Dent.

Also in this issue, we round up the key tech events and conferences across the globe and, with the help of the experts at Fasthosts, take a deep dive into the metaverse… Can virtual reality become our reality? Read on to find out.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our cover story this month investigates how Fleur Twohig, Executive Vice President, leading Personalisation & Experimentation across Consumer Data & Engagement Platforms, and her team are executing Wells Fargo’s strategy to promote personalised customer engagement across all consumer banking channels

This month’s cover story follows Wells Fargo’s journey to deliver personalised customer engagement across all its consumer banking channels.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Partnerships of all kinds are a key ingredient for organisations intent on achieving their goals… Whether that’s with customers, internal stakeholders or strategic allies across a crowded marketplace, Interface explores the route to success these relationships can help navigate.

Read the latest issue here!

Wells Fargo: customer-centric banking

Fleur Twohig, Wells Fargo

Our cover story this month investigates the strategy behind Wells Fargo’s ongoing drive to promote personalised customer engagement across all consumer banking channels.

Fleur Twohig, Executive Vice President, leading Personalisation & Experimentation across the bank’s Consumer Data & Engagement Platforms, explains her commitment to creating a holistic approach to engaging customers in personalised one-to-one conversations that support them on their financial journeys.

“We need to be there for everyone across the spectrum – for both the good and the challenging times. Reaching that goal is a key opportunity for Wells Fargo and I have the pleasure of partnering with our cross-functional teams to help determine the strategic path forward…”

IBM: consolidating growth to drive value

We hear from Kate Woolley, General Manager of IBM Ecosystem, who reveals how the tech leader is making it easier for partners and clients to do business with IBM and succeed. “Honing our corporate strategy around open hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) and connecting partners to the technical training resources they need to co-create and drive more wins, we are transforming the IBM Ecosystem to be a growth engine for the company and its partners.”

Kate Woolley, IBM
Kate Woolley, IBM

America Televisión: bringing audiences together across platforms

Jose Hernandez, Chief Digital Officer at America Televisión, explains how Peru’s leading TV network is aggregating services to bring audiences together for omni-channel opportunities across its platforms. “Time is the currency with which our audiences pay us, so we need to be constantly improving our offering both through content and user experiences.”

Portland Public Schools: levelling the playing field through technology

Derrick Brown and Don Wolf, tech leaders at Portland Public Schools, talk about modernising the classroom, dismantling systemic racism and the power of teamwork.

Also in this issue, we hear from Lenovo on how high-performance computing (HPC) is driving AI research and report again from London Tech Week where an expert panel examined how tech, fuelled by data, is playing a critical role in solving some of the world’s hardest hitting issues, ranging from supply chain disruptions through to cybersecurity fears.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story reveals the cycles of transformation, being led by CDO Lucho Torres, which are driving the disruptive digital journey at Peru’s second largest financial services group

This month’s cover story reveals reveals the cycles of transformation driving the disruptive digital journey at Scotiabank Peru, the country’s second largest financial services group.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

A customer-centric vision is often an important factor in the journey towards a digital transformation where a commitment to continuous improvement can bring scalability and lasting growth. Interface taps the brains behind some of the biggest tech successes happening across the globe today…

Read the latest issue here!

Scotiabank Peru

Lucho Torres, SVP & Chief Digital Officer at Scotiabank Peru is on a mission to leverage the trust in a global banking leader founded in 1832 and lead a transformation to create “the most relevant, simple and fast digital bank for consumers and businesses” across Peru. “The challenge was to build a digital bank with scalability and sustainability. We have created a customer-centric value proposition by building and taking to the market our own digital platforms and financial products to deliver personalised and intuitive customer experiences.”

IBM

We speak with IBM’s AI & Data guru Jean-Philippe Desbiolles who gives us a fascinating overview of his book AI Will be What you Make of It: The 10 Golden Rules of Artificial Intelligence. “I am passionate about the fact that at IBM we are transforming businesses by leveraging technologies in a broad sense of the word. And one of those key technologies is Artificial Intelligence.” Listen to our podcast with Jean-Philippe here or you can watch it below…

Digital Transformation in healthcare, education and telecomms

Also in this issue, Michael Haenelt, CIO at the Weed Army Community Hospital tells us the story of the development of a state-of-the-art medical facility at Ft Irwin, in California’s remote Mojave Desert, where a commitment to digital transformation is at the beating heart of the organisation.

Elsewhere, Michelle Murphy, superintendent of the Rim of the World Unified School District, reflects on 34 years in education and the way technology has driven change; talk with Tecnotree CEO Padma Ravichander about how the global provider of IT solutions for telcos is empowering digital communities; and hear the story of a unique challenge to digitise the self-sufficient City of Medicine Hat in Canada.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

This month’s cover story explores the customer-centric digital transformation journey of leading insurer AXA being led by UK & Ireland CIO Darrell Ryman

Our cover story this month explores how leading insurer AXA‘s customer-centric digital transformation journey is refining the art of the possible to unite business with technology.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

The opportunity to leverage data & analytics to transform organisations seeking to sharpen their digital focus and better connect with internal and external stakeholders is at the forefront of a revolution in connectivity driving both operational efficiency and growth. In this issue we bring you some inspiring stories that reflect the impact today’s innovations are having on shaping the business journeys of tomorrow…

Read the latest issue here!

AXA

This month’s cover story explores the customer-centric digital transformation journey being led by AXA’s UK & Ireland CIO Darrell Ryman. “It’s both a challenge and an opportunity for the insurance industry,” he reflects. “Many of the legacy systems firms use are now outdated and based on the nine-to-five business operating model – they’re not designed for the modern digital experience.” Ryman’s IT team is driving that transformation pivot by focusing on three key pillars: developing a digital backbone, becoming a digital business and creating a digital ecosystem.

XGS

Today’s on demand transactions require custom logistics solutions. We discover how flooring supply chain specialist Xpress Global Systems (XGS) is combining existing data with employee experience to deliver technology solutions that form the core of the company’s humanised approach to digital transformation.

EY

Also in this issue, Ken Priyadarshi CT AI leader of EY Technology, explains how the leading professional services network is developing Digital Twins to deliver big-data and low-latency scenario planning models for financial services: “It’s time for the digital twin to become a mainstream tool for the C-suite and go beyond the traditional manufacturing or operational use-cases.”

Data management driving efficiency and growth

Elsewhere, we learn how specialist insurance broker Howden is achieving success in Asia by establishing a structured, data-driven, engagement and distribution strategy; and reveal the way America’s leading critical infrastructure damage prevention firm, Stake Center Locating, is future-proofing by transferring its expertise from legacy systems to the cloud.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Our exclusive cover story this month explores how IAG Firemark Ventures is disrupting insurance to reimagine the customer journey today…

Our exclusive cover story this month explores how IAG Firemark Ventures is disrupting insurance to reimagine the customer journey today

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Technology with the capacity to enhance customer journeys and evolve in line with our changing needs is the holy grail that the companies featured in this packed issue of Interface are on a quest to deliver…

Read the latest issue here!

Our cover star Scott Gunther, General Partner at IAG Firemark Ventures, embodies that pioneer spirit. Leading the investment arm of Australia and New Zealand’s largest insurer to think like a startup and drive innovation in the FinTech & InsurTech space, Gunther’s vision is being realised… “We not only provide staple financial services but the solutions that can make the world a safer place by reacting to everything from natural disasters to life-changing events.”

Trusted by 95% of Fortune 500 companies, Microsoft Azure is delivering transformative cloud journeys for organisations at all levels. Laurent Pierre Jr, General Manager for Azure Customer Experience Engineering Support (CXP), reveals how by creating a high trust environment, the speed at which you and your team can execute and perform becomes a force multiplier.

Keeping with the theme of transformative tech, BSI talk us through the innovation behind the extraordinary world of immersive auditing, outlining its advantages and the potential for a continuous wave of disruption set to provide deeper client value and change the dynamics of assurance forever.

Also in this issue, we hear from Lockton Re on how its global reinsurance business is benefiting from the deployment of smart solutions that leverage new technologies; speak with the CIO at the Office of Inspector General (a part of the US Department of Health & Human Services); discover advances in the digital approach to identity validation with Okta and get the lowdown from Vodafone on how blockchain has the potential to disrupt telcos.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

Three years on from Open Banking launched in the UK, let’s look at what we’ve done and where we can go from here…

Earlier this year, UK Open Banking celebrated three years. Since 13 January 2018, regulated third-party providers have been able to integrate with bank APIs to access customers’ financial data, in an effort to break down the barriers standing in the way of seamless data sharing. 


The overarching goal of this new regime was to give consumers and businesses greater visibility and control over their finances, with technology at the forefront of this mission. Specifically, the pioneering Open Banking initiative was created to enable financial technology (fintech) providers to bring innovative new propositions to the SME and consumer market. 


By extension, the users of Open Banking would benefit from products that were better suited to their unique financial situation, enabling them to compare available products in order to find the best deals on the market. 
So, as we reflect on three years of Open Banking, the question is: how much progress has been made, and what’s in store for the future?


Increasing collaboration through innovation 


The introduction of a new requirement for all UK-regulated banks to allow customers to share their financial data with authorised third-party providers introduced a new era of collaboration within a previously segregated market. 

Joined by one overarching mission – namely, to drive innovation and deliver the best possible customer experience – large banks and fintech startups began forming valuable partnerships. Thanks to more efficient data sharing, incumbents, for instance, have been able to integrate propositions developed by fintechs into their own platforms, in an effort to better meet the evolving needs of the customer. 


The benefits to the customer are evident: a more interconnected and open financial ecosystem, which enables them to browse available products and access the right services for their needs. 

Since its inception, Open Banking has served to shift the power to the customer and increase competition within the sector. By utilising new apps and digital platforms, banking customers now have access to a fuller and clearer view of their finances. This allows individuals to budget more effectively, switch products more easily, and generally make more informed decisions. 


Increasing uptake


Since the initiative was launched in 2018, Open Banking adoption among UK consumers and businesses has surged. While generating awareness about its benefits has been a slow process (a recent PwC study found that only 18% of consumers were aware of what Open Banking means for them), the COVID-19 pandemic has driven Open Banking usage. 


Today, over two million users utilise Open Banking-enabled applications and services. This number has doubled since January 2020, with the pandemic likely having a strong influence on the rate of uptake. 


As disruption took hold and personal finances took a hit, many people turned towards online banking and money management apps, in search of tech solutions that could bolster their financial confidence. Since the first lockdown in March 2020, almost one in five (17%) of UK adults have started using an online banking service to help with their money management goals, with this figure rising to 45% among 25-34-year-olds. 


Without the advent of Open Banking, the accessibility and value of such solutions would be questionable. After all, many of these fintech solutions use Open Banking to connect directly to users’ bank accounts to provide a more tailored service. 


At the same time, it has also enabled financial services providers to obtain an accurate and up-to-date view of an individual’s financial situation, as well as their past and present behaviours, in order to deliver more personalised guidance. 

How will Open Banking develop?

Open Banking today generally covers personal and business current accounts, credit cards and online e-money accounts. In the future, the concept will extend to cover all financial markets – from pensions to investments and insurance. 

Now that we have built the underlying infrastructure, it will become easier to build on top of this. More complicated use-cases of Open Banking will begin to develop, with competition from non-traditional players such as fintechs and challenger banks stepping in to provide a range of new services – particularly within industries that previously strayed away from large scale digital transformation.  

As the ability to let information flow between applications continues to improve, new products and iterations of existing offerings will be built, integrated and modified at a much greater speed than before. We will shift away from a closed banking system to one that encourages new aggregators, service partners, and payment providers to add value to existing businesses models, and in doing so, create a range of new customer-centred financial services. 

Examples of innovations that we are already seeing include services that provide personalised advice to banking customers looking to improve their credit score, and applications that enable employees to save directly from their salary. 

We’ve come a long way in the Open Banking revolution, giving consumers and businesses greater control over their financial lives and the ability to choose products and services that work best for them. As we progress further towards Open Finance, this initiative will give customers greater influence over a wider range of their financial data, and offer access to enriched financial services. 

Ammar Akhtar is the co-founder and CEO of Yobota, a London-based technology company. Founded in 2016, Yobota has built a fast, flexible, cloud-native core banking platform, which allows clients to create and run innovative financial products. You can follow Yobota on LinkedIn and Twitter

CoinCorner’s CEO, Danny Scott, explains why he believes there is more positive growth set for Bitcoin in 2021

“As we come to the end of what has been an iconic year for Bitcoin, I can only see more positive growth in 2021 and here’s why…

By CoinCorner’s CEO, Danny Scott

Eggs with currency signs in wooden packing on a blue background. Golden egg with a bitcoin sign. Investment concept

“Living and breathing this extremely fast-paced industry and soaking up global bullish news daily means that I’ve forgotten more good news from this week alone than Bitcoin had in years back in its early days.

“Here are a few of the reasons why I’m incredibly bullish on Bitcoin for 2021.”

1. Supply and demand

“Starting simply, Bitcoin is finite and there will only ever be 21 million. Back in May, we celebrated Bitcoin’s third halving —an event that happens roughly every 4 years, halving the supply of Bitcoin coming into circulation —and this year saw it go from 12.5 Bitcoin to 6.25 Bitcoin per block (every 10 or so minutes). There are expectations for what might come after, with history telling us that the Bitcoin price will typically begin to rise significantly (20x+) within the 18 months following a halving — often simply put down to supply and demand.

“While we know the supply is fixed, what about the dynamic demand? This is the part that I feel has been underestimated at each halving, including by ourselves at CoinCorner following the 2016 halving which led to the bull run of 2017. During the bull run, we were signing up a record number of registrations but our system and processes weren’t ready for this, and we weren’t alone. Some of the larger exchanges had to freeze registrations as they couldn’t handle the throughput, while others experienced technical issues with their trading engines locking up and websites going down due to overload.

“This time around though the industry as a whole is better prepared for the predicted 2021 bull run… it’s not perfect, but it’s better.”

Where’s the current demand coming from?

“Compared to 2017 when demand came from the retail market (this will eventually happen again, of course), the current demand is coming from an institutional level completely flying under the radar for many people and it looks set to continue through 2021.

“Roughly 27,000 Bitcoin are mined (brought into circulation) each month and although this may sound like a lot, it’s really not. For context, Grayscale added 32,000 Bitcoin to their portfolio in October, CashApp received $1.6 billion worth of revenue from their customers buying Bitcoin in Q3 2020 and PayPal has entered the cryptocurrency market, allowing customers to buy Bitcoin with full global roll out planned for next year.”

“In October, Microstrategy became the first publicly traded company to add roughly 38,250 Bitcoin to their balance sheet, with Square closely following in their footsteps with a purchase of 4,709. I fully expect to see this trend continue through 2021 as more companies look for the best place to exit their fiat positions and choosing Bitcoin as their inflation hedge asset.

“At CoinCorner, our balance sheet (like many other Bitcoin companies) already holds Bitcoin and this is likely to be a growing trend as inflation begins to kick in due to the current financial climate.”

What about traditional investment?

“Companies aside, traditional investors are also beginning to make their moves. The well-respected Rauol Pal has this year become more and more bullish on Bitcoin and his position, even more recently mentioning that he was going to sell his gold to buy more Bitcoin.

“Another example is Stan Druckenmiller and Paul Tudor Jones — two high-profile billionaires who recently opened up about their Bitcoin investments and how bullish they are for the coming years.

Stan is yet another person to compare Bitcoin to gold as an investment, stating he owns both but believes Bitcoin should outperform gold. He was quoted saying:

“…so I own many, many more times gold than I own Bitcoin, but, frankly, if the gold bet works, the Bitcoin bet will probably work better because it’s thinner and more illiquid and has a lot more beta to it.” — Daily Hodl

“Again, this is a trend we can expect to see continuing as wealthy individuals look to inflation hedge assets.”

2. Previous Bitcoin Halvings

“There are lots of price models and predictions coming out, with Stock-to-Flow (S2F) from PlanB being one of the more popular ones, all ranging in price from $50,000 to $288,000 per Bitcoin in 2021.

“The chart below shows the previous halvings, with the red line indicating our current progress since the halving earlier this year. If it continues to follow the previous trends, we can expect to see the S2F model being somewhat accurate — meaning that $288,000 may not be an unrealistic target price.”

Source: PlanB

3. Coronavirus financial crisis

“Touching briefly on the unfortunate situation the world has suffered this year, the coronavirus crisis had the knock-on effect of causing a long-awaited financial crash in March. This resulted in Government bailouts: the U.S. FED printing $3 trillion (plus another $2 trillion on the way), the Bank of England likely printing towards £1 trillion and many more around the world following suit. Not to forget the introduction of negative interest rates which look to become the norm. Although this may be necessary in their eyes to stimulate the economy and its future protection, this comes with a huge risk of inflation on a scale unseen in these territories before.

“Putting this into perspective, the FED printed $3.9 trillion between 2008 and 2014 during the 2008 financial crisis, and they’ve already surpassed this in 2020 alone, with more likely to come.

“When it comes to financial uncertainty, people look for a safe haven and Bitcoin is becoming this.”

4. Bitcoiners

“61.71% of all Bitcoin in circulation hasn’t moved within the last 12 months. Bitcoin investors have stomached sharp drops greater than 50% this year and still didn’t sell. Bitcoin’s sitting comfortably around the $15,000 — $16,000 region right now and still those coins aren’t moving. Bitcoin investors are here for the long-term, they have strong hands and are preparing for the next 20x.

“This Bitcoiner crowd is also continuing to accumulate and hodl more every day, leaving less liquidity available for newcomers. In turn, this will drive the price. Once Bitcoin pushes past the $20,000 previous all-time high and starts hitting mainstream media again, retail investors will enter just as they did in 2017, but this time with the backing of public global companies, billionaires and hedge funds.”

Online searches for Bitcoin

“A quick look on Google trends for the search term “Bitcoin” shows that interest today isn’t anywhere close to that of 2017, sitting at only 13%. Yet, the Bitcoin price is hovering around 75% and looks likely to hit that $20,000 before the interest spikes again.

“Interest during the 2013 bull run was only 10% of what 2017 became and so, I fully expect the 2021 bull run to peak “Bitcoin” interest in excess of 5x, maybe towards 15x, of what we saw in 2017.”

Source: Google Trends

5. Interesting Bitcoin stats

“Numbers sometimes speak louder than words…”

Bitcoin vs alternative investments

“Comparing Bitcoin to alternative investments over the last 5 years, the trend is the same for 12 years also (the whole lifespan of Bitcoin so far).”

Source: Case Bitcoin

Yearly percentage returns for Bitcoin

“Bitcoin’s history shows that after a halving (2012 and 2016), the price sees an incredible increase in the following year, with the year after that being the only negative years (2014 and 2018).”

2010: 𝟵,𝟵𝟬𝟬%

2011: 𝟭,𝟰𝟳𝟯%

2012: 𝟭𝟴𝟲%

2013: 𝟱,𝟰𝟴𝟭%

2014: -𝟱𝟳%

2015: 𝟯𝟰%

2016: 𝟭𝟮𝟯%

2017: 𝟭,𝟯𝟲𝟴%

2018: -𝟳𝟯%

2019: 𝟵𝟮%

2020: 𝟭𝟮𝟭% (so far)

Is Bitcoin a success?

“The industry has been challenged by a lot of negativity over the years, but as time has passed, its reputation and sentiment has grown stronger.

“At what point do we call something a success? 10 years? 20 years? What if it fails in 70 years time? Would that make Bitcoin a failure? No, it would mean that it’s had its time and something better has surfaced.

“Personally, I’ve gone past the stage of treating Bitcoin like an experiment, or wondering when it will be considered a success — I already see Bitcoin as a success.

“The Bitcoin community is continuing to build a decentralised monetary future and this is only the beginning.”

Tim Hardcastle, CEO and Co-Founder of INSTANDA, on what will be top of mind for insurers in 2021 and why technology will be critical

“Insurance is the industry of risk. But the depth and breadth of COVID-19 – its impact on society and the economy – was not in insurers’ near-term planning models this year. Insurers and their customers enter 2021 in a world transformed. Physical and mental barriers have deteriorated. Walls separating businesses from customers have collapsed, with the discovery that digital can strengthen customer relationships.

By Tim Hardcastle, CEO and Co-Founder of INSTANDA

“As we enter this new world, insurance must reboot and reenergise. Reboot their business development plans, by investing in sophisticated digital tools and partnering with organisations that accelerate innovation. Reenergise their propositions and offerings, so their products continue to excite and stimulate customers.

“In practice, this means focusing on two areas: personalisation at scale and differentiation through digital engagement. Think Netflix and Disney plus, but in insurance. 

“There is a more urgent pressure behind this need: cost. To avert another drop in earnings, insurers need to accelerate their digitalisation plans so they can take full advantage of reducing costs to industry leading levels of less than $1 per policy.  

“What surprises could 2021 have in store? A potentially unavoidable one is the rapid acceleration of contextual or immersed insurance. Where customers buy insurance through another retail or business interaction – say, a new TV in Tesco – and insurance is embedded and sold through that. This not-so-surprise will bring new businesses challenges that only digital platforms can help solve.

“Another area which is exciting in the year ahead is the industry’s appetite to develop wider service-based offerings, such as pet and cyber insurance which provide extensive service wrappers. A pet wrapper, for example, may include advice on pet health and best practise to keep your pet healthy, with the aim to reduce bills and the insurance claim. This reflects the recognition of serving customers with a wider proposition than simply the claim pay-out.

“Our own business has adapted to respond to the challenge’s insurers faced this year. We’ve accelerated our plans to add more capability to the platform, such as launching our integration marketplace and digital billing and claims. We’ve done so in anticipation of a greater need from insurers to be braver in their approach to meet customer demand.

“Finally, I think the industry can expect a rebounding next year. There has been a downgrade in analysts’ predictions of 2020 results for several major players, as revenues slipped and claims increased. But we are also seeing rate increases in other segments so we anticipate 2021 earnings will rebound.  

“2020 has brought a year of surprises to an industry that has dealt with some of the worst kinds of surprises, for centuries. A lesson it has taught – as surprises often do – is the necessity of adaptability; to be able to respond to customer demand and regulation, quickly.

“To prepare for this new year, organisations need to look at their existing infrastructure and business models and ask themselves: am I ready?”

The ‘Financial Sector, Threat Landscape 2020’ report revealed five top security challenges that the financial sector are currently facing, the risks of future threats, and how to spot these risks before it is too late. Here, CPOstrategy takes a closer look…

We are no stranger to the notion of cyber security, but one industry that suffers the most from cyber security threats is the financial secretary. Key security measures within the sector have evolved dramatically with the likes of key codes, two factor authentication, voice ID, behavioural analysis, one-time passcodes, protective messaging and digital fingerprinting. 

1. Ransomware

Amazingly, the term “ransomware” was only added to the dictionary three years ago. In that time however, ransomware has increased dramatically in terms of the frequency of incidents and the range of methods used to conduct them. Let it be known that the attackers are extremely sophisticated. Once they have your data, who’s to say that your data will be given back or decrypted even if you pay up. Worse still what’s stopping them coming back to attack you again?  The report found that once an attack is made, the bad actor will sell the details on to their associates to go after the victim again after deployment, because the payload can still be there, activated and deactivated.

2. Internal Threats

The report takes a look at the Verizon, 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) where it shows that ‘employees’ mistakes account for roughly the same number of breaches as external parties who are actively attacking’ the organisation. Now isn’t that terrifying? Misdelivery within the company, by which information has inadvertently been sent to the wrong person, stands tall as one of the most common issues when it comes to the notion of insider threats. Next time you forward an email or send one to the wrong person/recipient, click on the wrong mailing list, that’s a misdelivery. In the interests of fairness, misdelivery is almost always accidental and non-malicious, but the effects can be devastating. Especially if sensitive data is inadvertently shared to the wrong recipient.

3) App Developments

There’s an app for that. There really is. Apps in the investment and finance space have grown substantially in 2020 which is of course a good thing, as the ability to invest online is quick and easy, and accessible to all. But, with demand comes rushed development. Many of these apps were developed quickly and quite frankly are not ready for cyber-attacks. So that means no two-factor authentication, no protection from appropriate regulations, are not patched or maintained properly, and do not have contingency plans in place to mitigate the effects of a cyber-attack. What that means then is personal information of app users is relatively easy to steal and sell. This can be done by creating duplicate fraudulent apps to trick the user. On these duplicate apps, the imagery and language of the genuine app is mirrored. Once the personal information is supplied, all the money involved  (real and virtual) is up for grabs. And so begins the circle of ransomware life.  

4) Third-Party Risks

Few organisations work on their own. Quite rightly too. Think about third parties that they use. Vendors, partners, email providers, service providers, web hosting companies, law firms, data management companies, subcontractors. The list goes on. They are all essential to business operations and a lot of these third parties share IT systems and even sensitive information through legal teams so it goes without saying that third parties may very well be an open backdoor into your financial systems for attackers to infiltrate.

5) COVID-19

Yep, even cyber crime has been affected by COVID. It is that unavoidable. Cyber criminals are continuing to target the financial sector even during the pandemic. There has been quite the spike in cyber attacks on banks, financial organisations and the third parties connected to them. Going back to simpler times before COVID-19, if an attacker wanted to sabotage a company or steal data, they would target the business itself. They’d aim their sights at the website, the social accounts, the logins and all their vulnerabilities. In response, organisations had counter measures in place. But now, you just need to target a single remote worker and the house of cards comes tumbling down.

While the virus has presented many challenges, it has also opened up opportunities for increased industry security and customer relationships. Agnė Selemonaitė, Deputy CEO at ConnectPay, explains.

1. Increased industry security

Banks and other financial institutions have been a major target for scammers since the beginning of the pandemic; in fact, cyberattacks between February and April alone spiked an astonishing 238%. The increased volume of threats has encouraged companies to face the situation head-on and implement new safeguards.

“Putting more safeguards in place will benefit market players long after the crisis has blown over, as market players will be better equipped to deal with the constantly evolving digital threats,” says Selemonaitė.

2. Growth of digital payments market

Alongside the World Health Organization encouraging us to go cashless, the crisis has stimulated the growing amount of e-payments. Selemonaitė notes Sweden’s example: amidst the uncertainty, Sweden’s central bank signed an agreement to gain access to EU TIPS platform, which will act as the basis for the country’s own platform for instant payments.

“Sweden’s approach shows that in order to be in a better spot to satisfy increasing demand for faster, more convenient services – you need to be proactive,” Selemonaitė explains. “We follow this approach too; having realised our clients’ needs for greater options amidst quarantine, we integrated more payment methods into our Merchant API.”

3. Accelerating digital banking development

As banks had to severely limit their working hours during the lockdown, digital banking picked up the slack to accommodate the financial needs of people working from home. “As the new wave of customers sieged the system, faster development of banking services took precedence,” says  Selemonaitė. In the US alone, over 45% of people have changed the way they bank amidst the crisis, and according to a European customer survey by McKinsey, there has been a 20% increase in digital engagement.

4. Enhanced customer experience

The aforementioned McKinsey survey showed that people who are highly satisfied with their digital banking experience are two-and-a-half times more likely to open new accounts with their existing bank than those who are just just satisfied. The aftermath of COVID-19 is expected to continue down the path of developing simplified UX to attract and retain clientele.

“Although requiring meticulous work, constant UX evaluation can greatly benefit product credibility and client retention, for instance, our first UX update led to doubling our monthly conversions,” says Selemonaitė. “It is likely that we will see a more customer-focused approach in the post-crisis industry too.”

5. A catalyst for fintech companies

The ’08 financial crisis gave a boost for the fintech industry, as, at the time, people were losing trust in the system, and in legacy financial institutions. In the aftermath, some entrepreneurs parted ways with the concept of traditional banking, aiming to present the market with a more technologically sophisticated solution.

“This time, the crisis could have an even greater impact for fintechs, as well as regtechs, as they rely on solutions fintechs can develop,” adds Selemonaitė. “Unfavourable circumstances drive the need to innovate across interconnected sectors.”

deVere Group reports that enquiries for Vault, its global money app and card service, has experienced a jump in enquiries of 67% in Quarter 3.

Growing demand for green, paperless banking and fears over post-Brexit rule changes have triggered a “monumental surge” in enquiries for money and challenger bank apps, reveals one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

deVere Group reports that enquiries for Vault, its global money app and card service, has experienced a jump in enquiries of 67% in Quarter 3. 

The cutting-edge app allows users to deposit, store, transfer and exchange money in most major currencies.   The deVere Vault Prepaid Mastercard®️ can be used online, in-store and at any ATM location across the globe where Mastercard®️ is accepted.

Nigel Green, CEO and founder of deVere Group, which launched Vault in 2017, comments: “The monumental quarter-on-quarter surge for banking-style apps is, we believe, attributable to two main drivers.

“First, individuals and companies are increasingly embracing and expecting green, paperless banking. 

“This is partly fuelled by the pressing need for us all to drastically reduce waste and better protect the environment – something the pandemic and issues such as raging wildfires has collectively focused minds on – but also because a paperless system is, typically, a more convenient and efficient one.

“Traditional banks have a long way to go to catch-up with tech-driven challenger banks and fintech [financial technology] firms, which are intrinsically much greener and are leading the charge to a paperless future.”

He continues: “The other major point driving engagement with e-money apps in Europe specifically is that many of the UK’s banks are set to abandon their customers, by closing their accounts and stopping use of their services across Europe within weeks unless they have a valid UK address.

“Under post-Brexit rules, it becomes illegal for UK banks to service customers living in the EU without applying for new banking licences.

“This will cause significant disruption for many individuals, families, businesses and other organisations. 

“As such, people are flocking to firms that already operate under pan-European rules.”

The massive jump in enquiries, says Mr Green, underscores that “fintech is the future of finance” – not only for clients’ convenience and efficiency but also, in a large part, because it is more environmentally sustainable.

The deVere CEO concludes: “For Millennials and Gen Z clients especially there’s been a radical shift toward ‘less stuff, more impact’ in banking and financial services.

“And this is just the beginning of this global and far-reaching trend.”

Nell Walker talks to James Shanahan, CEO Revolut Singapore, regarding a new dawn of digital banking

“By re-conceiving the infrastructure of a bank, the way that a bank delivers its services, you can take an order of magnitude off the cost and you can bring a level of experience to the customer that’s not hamstrung by old tech, by old thinking, by siloed approaches…” James Shanahan, CEO of Revolut Singapore

Understanding what it isn’t is just as important as understanding what it is, says Jim Logan who has nearly three decades of experience in financial services and technology…

I’ve been working in the financial services space for close to thirty years now. I’ve seen many trends and technologies emerge. Some take hold, several are just a flash in the pan. Regardless of how long a concept sticks around, one thing remains: Terminology plays a material role in shaping perceptions. In a world where messaging tends to over complicate things, too many acronyms and too many buzzwords all work against what should be the primary objective: clearly illustrating value. I’ve found this to be equally true when it comes to artificial intelligence or ‘AI’.

Generally speaking, the word artificial doesn’t readily call to mind a positive image, does it? By definition, the word “artificial” has listed meanings of, “insincere or affected” and “made by humans as opposed to happening naturally.”  It is the second part of this definition I’d like to explore a bit further.

Artificial Intelligence is, in fact, created by humans. And it isn’t a new fad or concept. Many don’t realize that the term was first coined by John McCarthy, Ph.D. and Stanford computer and cognitive scientist, back in 1955.  AI has continued to evolve as a material concept, with practical applications across many industries, ever since.

For financial service professionals, particularly those of us involved with fighting financial crime and preventing money laundering, AI can have tremendous impact and practical application.  Before we dive a bit deeper, I feel it’s important to first understand what AI isn’t.

AI is not intended to simply be a digital worker, certainly not within financial services and fighting financial crime. Yes, AI can automate various functions. We’re all familiar with the concept of ‘bots’ and virtual assistants. However, those are rudimentary examples of robotic process automation. True AI is human led and a continuous, instantaneous learning process that drives tangible value. AI is not merely a play to cut costs or replace human capital. Rather, AI enhances the bottom line by keeping compliance staff costs flat in the immediate term and enables our human experts to more appropriately manage their time, by focusing talent on investigations that matter the most.

One of the most valuable aspects of AI, in the context of anti money laundering and compliance, is the speed by which it can be deployed. We’re talking about time to market and time to value in a matter of weeks. Not months, not multiple quarters – simply weeks. But I don’t mean a generic, black box concept. I’m specifically referring to a highly precise, tailored AI solution that has extensive proof points and, more importantly, far-reaching global regulatory approval.

AI shouldn’t simply be an extension of legacy rules-based routines, nor a way to further automate the process of scoring or risk weighted alert suppression. That simply dilutes the true value of AI, and does not maximize the cost and efficiency benefits.

The cost of compliance continues to grow at a staggering pace, particularly for financial institutions and insurance companies. Equally of concern, the impact of fines for non-compliance has also skyrocketed in the last decade. Specifically to the tune of $8.4 billion last year across North America alone.

What if you could literally solve every single name screen, sanction, and transaction alert? What if you could achieve this without sacrificing any aspect of control and security? What if you could increase the throughput, efficiency and accuracy of your compliance operations without adding a single dollar of staff expense to your budget?

Let’s stop talking in terms of what if and have a meaningful conversation regarding how. I’m helping clients achieve all of these measures today and that is from a perspective proven in production. Here at Silent Eight we’re a team founded by engineers and data scientists, solving real world challenges in the anti money laundering and financial compliance market.

Artificial Intelligence isn’t scary…it isn’t a black box…and it isn’t the futuristic world of tomorrow – it is the here and now, and it’s battle tried and tested.

Traditional banks will fall even further behind in market share and customer experience due to the global coronavirus pandemic, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organizations.

The comments from Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group, follow research that the use of financial apps is up by 72 per cent since mid-March.

Mr Green observes: “The pandemic has accelerated those trends that were already shaping business. These include greater inclusion of tech into our every day lives.

“Coronavirus has ushered in a new world, with digitalization and new technologies fuelling the changes. This can be seen by demand soaring for video-calling platforms such as Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime and Zoom amongst others, as more people than ever work remotely.  

“It’s also underscored by the increasing use of fintech apps which allow users immediate, on-the-go, 24/7 access to, use, and management of their money.”

He continues: “There’s a historical precedent for what’s happening now.

“Banks and other traditional financial services providers were, in most cases, spectacularly caught off guard by the 2008-2009 financial crash.
 
“As they found their way into a new world with a new regulatory landscape and new customer expectations, business and tech developments were way down their to-do list. They were in survival mode.

“This is when agile, tech-driven challenger banks and fintech firms swooped in to fill the void left between what traditional financial services companies, especially the traditional banks, were offering and what customers were expecting, especially in terms of customer experience.”

Mr Green goes on to add: “The fintech firms, which offer mobile banking, savings and investment apps, and peer-to-peer lending, amongst other services, now have a decade of development, experience and expertise over many traditional banks.

“As even more people are now embracing fintech due to Covid-19-triggered social distancing, isolation and lockdowns, and as the apps are growing in popularity due to their convenience, increased security, and as people become ever-more tech-savvy, it’s likely that ‘bricks and mortar’ banks will fall even further behind in market share and customer experience.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “Coronavirus is going to further disrupt the wider banking sector. It will act as another catalyst for people to seek fintech alternatives to access, manage, use, save and invest their money across the world.”

One of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations is offering free financial advice to anyone in the world on a remote basis as social distancing is universally embraced as the best tool to fight coronavirus.

deVere Group, which operates in more than 100 countries worldwide, is launching its Contactless Advice service with immediate effect.

The chief executive and founder of the $12bn organisation, Nigel Green, says: “We are launching Contactless Advice now – which is an industry first – for four clear reasons.

“First, social distancing is currently the only tool available to fight the spread of the coronavirus. As such, more and more cities, regions and countries are going into lockdown and people into enforced or self-imposed isolation to help fight Covid-19. This means that they might not be able to see their financial adviser face-to-face as they do ordinarily.

“And second, the economic landscape is shifting. The global economy is facing a short and deep recession. As always, new industries will emerge and, of course, there will be winners and losers in terms of sectors, jobs and wages – and this will, naturally, directly impact people’s finances. 

“Third, we’re moving towards an era of negative interest rates, which will affect people’s investment decisions, amongst other financial matters.

“And fourth because the ongoing volatility will present challenges that will need attention, but also major – perhaps once-in-a-generation – buying possibilities and ways to shore-up your retirement income.

“Against this backdrop, in order to create, build-up and safeguard their wealth as the world adapts to a new era, investors should be revising their portfolios to ensure they mitigate risk and take advantage of the opportunities.”

He adds: “Using a combination of existing technology, and our industry-leading applications, we’re able to offer unparalleled financial advice from the comfort of your home. 

“In these trying times we must all play our part, by removing physical interactions from our services, you can have peace of mind that your health, and your wealth will remain secure.

“The free Contactless Advice service will include a wealth scan in which you and your professional adviser will discuss your financial objectives and answer any questions you may have; a fact find in which your adviser will discuss your current financial situation with you; and a customised report which your adviser will analyse and discuss with you and outline your recommended next steps, if any are needed. 

“Moving forward, using our pioneering app, you’ll be able to track your entire portfolio and financial strategy in real time and book an e-meeting with your adviser, should you have any queries.”

The deVere CEO adds: “The world is changing fast and a short coronavirus-triggered global recession and the subsequent recovery will have lasting and far-reaching consequences for people’s wealth.

“Experts agree that very seldom is it a good idea to take a DIY-approach to something so fundamental to your life as your finances. With the financial and economic landscape shifting and evolving so rapidly, this, I suggest, is certainly not the time. 

“With this free service that offers professional, independent advice, there’s no need to do that.”

Mr Green concludes: “The ground-breaking Contactless Advice is designed for today’s world and with client experience and outcome expectations front and centre.”

CEO & Founder of INSTANDA, Tim Hardcastle, discusses how businesses leveraging technology are speeding up processes, increasing flexibility, reducing costs,…

CEO & Founder of INSTANDA, Tim Hardcastle, discusses how businesses leveraging technology are speeding up processes, increasing flexibility, reducing costs, freeing up resources and driving profits.

February 2020 brings with it the first leap day in four years, gifting us with a whole extra day of precious time. With this theme in mind, I asked myself: what could be achieved within the insurance industry if only we had more time?

The greatest challenge facing insurers and their time is inflexible technology solutions and legacy platform constraints. Whether it is by limiting the ability of insurers to improve existing processes, or to develop new ones, the legacy systems still used by the industry today waste time, create congestion and frustration, and simultaneously, stall improvement and progress.

But technology offers a solution. As we’ll explore, we see insurers increasingly challenging the constrains of time and, through the use of technology, they are beginning to set the path of a more streamlined, reliable and efficient way of doing business. In this article we show the businesses doing just that and outline the impact it’s having: speeding up processes, increasing flexibility, reducing costs, freeing up resources and driving profits.

Bringing products to market in record speed: Hiscox

The ability of digital platforms to drastically reduce time to market is not a new concept. But what speeds are we talking? Hiscox are leading the way when it comes to distribution and responding to market need. Hiscox’s car product in Germany for example was built in just 10 weeks and the second product, with more channels, was built in just 6 weeks.

Through the use of INSTANDA’s no-code technology, Hiscox has been able to create their own ‘agile product factory’. This means Hiscox have a team of in-house and partner configurators who are adding more books, building new products and making changes whenever the business requires it.

Increasing flexibility and driving innovation: Imperium

Imperium aims to empower its customers by making specialist products easy to purchase. This requires them to get highly tailored products out to brokers, proactively anticipate customers’ needs and respond to market changes – quickly.

But thanks to traditional systems, it often takes months to make adjustments to existing products, let alone build a new one. Implementing a digital pathway by working with INSTANDA allowed Imperium’s trained super-users to transform to product-build mode.

In the days following a new product launch, Imperium can now react immediately to broker feedback and make changes to their questions and rates within the hour. And for the management team, it has dramatically reduced the time spent with systems providers. Imperium can now spend time developing the business and fine-tuning their offerings.

Saving customers time: Aviva

It’s not only the product teams and insurers that benefit either, but the end consumers too. Aviva’s recent deployment of INSTANDA’s no-code platform to introduce innovative life and health cover offers a useful case in point. Aviva found that medium sized enterprises (SMEs) were citing product cost and lack of staff and resources as the two biggest barriers to managing insurance.

Using INSTANDA Aviva can deliver a solution that offers a flexible, highly tailored, yet simplified protection insurance for small businesses.

Driving efficiency: Top 5 global insurer

When it comes to speciality lines, time is complex. Combined with the limits imposed by legacy IT processes, they are additionally challenging given their complexity and diversity. As a result, many are manually run and slow as a result.

In this insurer’s case, despite a number of efficiency efforts their operational model was only able to assess and quote on 12-15% of the 10,000+ submissions received without increasing headcount.

However, in just eleven weeks, the team worked with INSTANDA and Deloitte to digitise the process, enabling the business to significantly increase the size of their book without increasing headcount.

Speeding up the process increased the potential for efficiency and growth by reducing costs, improving customer (broker) experience and thereby providing an opportunity to maximise profits.

Leaping ahead: A lesson in bettering insurance industry

The ability to free up time and resource is integral to insurers looking to revitalise and grow their business – and the only way that the insurance industry as a whole will be able to leap forward.

As the above examples demonstrate, we’re helping companies make the most of their time and create more of it as a result. Through technology, insurers are enabled to quickly build the products they know customers want whilst development teams are freed up, so profits can be maximised. Moreover, customers are increasingly empowered through easy-to-purchase, personalised insurance products delivered in never before seen timescales.

With technology, the insurance industry can leap forward on its own, without an extra calendar day.

Read the latest issue here! Our cover story this month features an exclusive interview with Jon Davis, CTO of Village…

Read the latest issue here!

Our cover story this month features an exclusive interview with Jon Davis, CTO of Village Hotel Club, who reveals how a digital transformation future-proofs a technology infrastructure. Village Hotels is currently undergoing a major digital transformation journey in order to better serve the modern guest and offer a digital ready experience like no other. Village Hotel Club operates 30 hotels across the UK and by its own admission, its hotels are “much more than a bed for the night – they are a place to meet, socialise, work and get fit” – a clear sign that the business understands that the guest experience has changed massively.

We also have a revealing interview with Bill Barry, Vice President of Procurement and Sourcing at Access, one of the fastest growing paper and digital document services and storage providers in the world. Barry, upon joining the company in 2018, was tasked with a vision of building out a best-in-class sourcing and procurement function, developing and implementing the policies and procedures in order to achieve that vision.

Elsewhere, we catch up with UBS CIO Mike Dargan and Carlo Aquilina, CIO of Maltese construction giant Vassallo Group. Plus, we list all the top events and conferences from around the world and highlight five top tech innovators to look out for in 2020.

Enjoy the issue!

Davos delegates urgently need to make a big, bold commitment this year to fintech, affirms the CEO of one of…

Davos delegates urgently need to make a big, bold commitment this year to fintech, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial services and advisory organizations.

The rallying call from Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group, comes as world leaders, CEOs, academics, influencers and celebrities head to the Swiss mountain resort of Davos for the 50th annual World Economic Forum (WEF), starting Tuesday.

Mr Green comments: “As it celebrates its landmark 50th year, the World Economic Forum 2020 has the opportunity to champion and enhance the transformation of business, which has been dubbed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution.’

“We’re living through a pivotal moment in history in which increased and advancing technology is monumentally and profoundly changing the way we live, do business, and interact with one another.” 

He continues: “We can clearly see seismic shifts happening in the financial services industry – a sector trade and commerce is deeply reliant upon.

“The vast majority of this change is being driven by financial technology, or ‘fintech.’  Mobile banking and investment apps, peer-to-peer lending, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, robo-advisers, and crowdfunding are all part of this fundamental shake-up of the space.”

Mr Green goes on to add: “The momentum and energy of this evolution now needs to be harnessed by delegates in Davos.  

“They need to commit to fintech by using their time, energy and resources for its research and development for three principal, positive reasons.

“First, it benefits society. Fintech can speed up the pace of global financial inclusion. It can provide access to financial services for millions of people who live in remote areas and/or who might normally not be able to use financial services because of historical biases of traditional financial companies. Helping individuals, firms and organizations successfully manage, save and invest can only result in better, stronger and more stable communities for us all.

“Second, fintech offers companies the opportunity to be agile, to diversify, to cut costs, and to meet regulatory requirements all whilst improving the client experience. This will help them thrive in rapidly challenging times of change and disruption.

“And third, the revolution is happening with or without them. As consumers, we increasingly want all our financial services needs to be dealt with online and/or on their mobile devices. We demand personal service and instant access anywhere and at any time. This trend is only set to grow as we all become increasingly dependent on tech.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “Davos 2020 is the ideal forum in which to unite the best political and business leaders to galvanize the positive potential of the fintech revolution.

“With a slowing global economy, it is an opportunity that the world cannot afford to miss.”

Jim Marous, internationally recognised financial industry strategist, and the publisher of the Digital Banking Report and Sonia Wedrychowicz, an experienced…

Jim Marous, internationally recognised financial industry strategist, and the publisher of the Digital Banking Report and Sonia Wedrychowicz, an experienced technology transformation professional of over 25 years discuss how digital transformation is more than merely technology while exploring the leadership and cultural issues surrounding digital transformation in banking.

How do you feel the conversation around technology has changed? Are businesses now driven more by technology and IT than ever before?

Sonia:

First, we need to understand that, in the last couple of years, the way people consume, communicate and commute has changed dramatically, and is increasingly being delivered using digital channels. In today’s world, the vast majority of our daily lives are supported by technology. So, by definition, all companies, including banking, are becoming technology companies. That realisation, however, is not universal yet, and in many organisations, I can still see the business and technology running separately. The transformation efforts focus on modernisation of the platforms on the technology side, and the digitisation of the customer experience on the business side, while the two functions, in my opinion, should work as one team with the common goal, driven by customer obsession.

Jim:

Financial organisations do know what they need to do. They do understand the technologies that have to be embraced, but the challenge is they’re not very far down the digital transformation process. This is a concern, given that the industry is moving so fast in the digital space. A lot of organisations have seen digital transformation as the purchase of technology and the implementation across different initiatives. This is opposed to an overarching perspective of digital transformation that really starts from the inside out, and looks at processes and programs, culture and leadership and then builds technology against that. We’re seeing a big challenge with regards to leadership and culture, and without that, the implementation of technology will probably never see its full optimal implementation.

How common is it that across different businesses in different industries, in different capacities, digital transformation means something different to each and every person and organisation? And how do you go about unifying it in a way that makes sense to everyone?

Jim:

When you’re talking about digital transformation, and you’re combining that with the financial services industry, it’s more difficult. You look at organisations that are going to need to embrace change, take modified risks, and actually disrupt themselves, and that’s not in the comfort zone of financial institutions. It’s the opposite of the legacy culture that’s been in play before.

Sonia:

There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the difference between digitisation, digitalisation and transformation, and it comes to the old rule that people have the tendency to always see these things as the same, although they are actually different. There is a very common misconception of digital transformation, which is disruptive, and challenging the status quo, with change management, or restructuring, which is basically more of the same, but more lean and efficient.

A good example of this is centres around the difference between the process of digitisation versus digitalisation itself. Digitisation is all about making the current process, or product, digital without truly reimagining it. The same process can, however, be digitalised, rather than digitised. The digital transformation is being trivialised by being understood as bringing new technologies into place without truly reimagining the customer journeys, the customer experience, and actually making it much simpler and more transparent for the customers.

What are some of the biggest challenges and barriers to embracing digital transformation and embracing these new technologies?

Sonia:

The emergence of efficient fintech companies offering different banking services, not only cheaper, but mostly through an amazing, simple and friendly customer experience. The existence of banks is under a serious threat. Interestingly enough, the threat level varies in different parts of the world and so banks need to accelerate on the path of reimagining themselves, in order to keep pace with the emerging competitors who are, these days, coming from industries that were never associated with banking before.

Jim:

I think the biggest challenge we’re going to see, and the reason why banks right now are starting to rethink their complacency, is not because of the revenue, but because of the threat, while we’ve been thinking about what’s going to happen in the future, and what’s going to happen in the fintech banks and the challenger banks. To the large tech companies that is the biggest challenge.

The threat is real. The consumer’s going to start demanding more and more of their financial institutions. A consumer can now change a financial provider, invisibly. They don’t have to come into the branch anymore. They can do it with a click of a button on a phone and they can change their financial relationship. What we have to do is realise that there’s a major threat out there to financial institutions that sit back and hope that it’s going to be business as usual.

How important is it, during a transformation and during change, that you are keeping the customer at the very heart of everything you do?

Sonia:

Never focus on your competition. Always focus on your customer. For years we’ve been completely ignoring the customers and looking at what the competition was doing in order to keep pace. By focusing on your competition, you’re always going to be one step behind them. Technology-enabled tools are allowing us to be much closer with the customers without seeing them and even talking to them, but just focusing on how they behave, what they do, how they react to the different propositions we are giving to them, and whether it results in increased business generation.

Jim:

I think part of the difficulty with transformation is transparency. We get updates on our mobile apps from many organisations, updating you that changes are being made. It doesn’t happen that frequently in the financial services space because the communication isn’t there. There are a lot of organisations that believe: if you build it, they will come. The reality is, that’s not the case. We need to provide more information upfront and do a lot more research to find out what the consumer wants. What they’re looking for is simplicity and a lack of friction, and really what they’re hoping for is that the financial institution is going to know them, look out for them, and reward them.

Jim, you mention that non-financial institutions are now dominating the payment space, how is that impacting the decision-making and the approach to technology?

Jim:

Financial institutions are looking at the fintech companies because those companies looked at the digital companies and asked, “How can we take customer insight, AI, and digital technologies to make better experiences?” In every case twe’ve seen, what the competitors and non-traditional competitors have done is built solutions. They take data, insight, and technology to provide a seamless experience built on a digital platform, and that’s a very important component, because being built on a digital platform means that they’re not building on legacy infrastructure. The tech companies have streamlined the application process for loans or for a credit card because it builds on a tech platform.

 The case studies that we see going forward are coming from the fintechs, and I think traditional financial institutions are going to build more and more partnerships, because bankers can’t get out of their own way, and they really can’t build something that they’ve never done before.

Sonia:

When I look at the big fintech companies and companies like Amazon, I think they’re being watched closely by the banks for their customer obsession, delivered by technology. When it comes to small fintech companies; it’s very interesting. They are providing solutions on untested but interesting technologies like blockchain or AI. Once those technologies became more established, expertise will rise. So, they are not using the fintech start-up companies to integrate those solutions any more, but they want to have this expertise in-house.

Talk to me about the importance of bringing people along on these journeys, and in these transformations, and not necessarily equipping, re-equipping them with these new skills and new capabilities in order to drive the business forward.

Jim:

This is probably the biggest challenge that the banking industry is going to face. We do not have a large knowledge space of digital mind-sets in the marketplace and that includes everything from digital applications of AI, to just how the technology and coding works. There’s a major weakness. But just as big is how do we reach for the people internally, because when you talk about automation, robotics and AI, there’s going to be, if not an elimination of jobs, a transformation of jobs into new sets. So, we’re going to have to take it upon ourselves as an industry to retrain people across the organisation, so they’re prepared for the future. The challenge is, not many organisations right now are doing it.

Sonia:

I also think that a big challenge of the traditional organisations today is to attract young people. The attraction of the old conservative companies is fading away in favour of the Apples and Googles of this world. People are joining the new technology companies not for free food and gym on the premises, but for the ability to constantly learn new things. The financial institutions need to develop the leaders of the future. They need to reimagine, not only their equipment policies, but more importantly, change their hierarchical structures within the organisation to ones that are powered by people who are more willing to listen, with employee empowerment that is bringing the customer experiences of change much closer to where the customers are.

If you could give one piece of advice on how to be successful in these disruptive times as a professional in the financial space what would it be?

Sonia:

Keep reinventing yourself and have the courage to unlearn what you learnt in the past. Constantly learn new things. Brains change, so surround yourself with young people, as they will become your bridge between the past and the future.

Jim:

We have an industry filled with legacy bankers that have been in this industry for a very long time and have done very well in most cases. What we need to do is to look and say, “How can we, as people in organisations, build a culture that will make it so that organisations can truly be part of the future?” The future will happen very quickly, as will the impact of not making changes. We have to do better.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Monday that it has set up a US$2 billion green investments programme…

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Monday that it has set up a US$2 billion green investments programme (GIP) to invest in public market investment strategies that have a strong green focus.

This will help to support the Singapore financial centre in promoting environmentally sustainable projects and mitigating climate change risks in Singapore and the region.

The GIP is a major prong of the green finance action plan announced by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister of Education, and Board Member, MAS at the 2019 Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) x Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH). The GIP aims to foster the growth of a strong and diverse ecosystem of green financing capabilities in Singapore.

MAS will place funds with asset managers who are committed to drive regional green efforts out of Singapore and contribute to MAS’ other green finance initiatives including developing green markets and managing environmental risks.

Selected managers will be those who have demonstrated a firm commitment to deepening their green investment capabilities across functions such as research, stewardship, policy and portfolio management, accelerate local capability transfers, and increase the management of green-focused funds in Singapore.

The green capabilities and experience of the team managing the strategies will be a key part of the evaluation. The deep engagement with these asset managers will help to further the development of Singapore’s green financing ecosystem, as well as strengthen MAS’ understanding of climate change risks and to better position MAS’ own investment portfolio for long-term sustainable returns.

MAS’ first investment under the GIP will be a US$100m placement in the Bank for International Settlements (BIS)’ Green Bond Investment Pool (GBIP). Together with other participating central banks, MAS hopes that this initiative will help catalyse further deepening of the green bond market.

Read similar stories…

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has led the successful development of a blockchain-based prototype that enables payments to be…

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has led the successful development of a blockchain-based prototype that enables payments to be carried out in different currencies on the same network.

This prototype network, developed by MAS in collaboration with J.P. Morgan and Temasek, has the potential to improve cost efficiencies for businesses.

It is currently undergoing industry testing to determine its ability to integrate with commercial blockchain applications. The applications that were tested successfully will be showcased at the Singapore FinTech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SFF x SWITCH) 2019, which kicked off on November 11.

This development marks the latest milestone for Project Ubin which is into its fifth phase. Building on the work of Phase 4 of Project Ubin, the payments network will provide interfaces for other blockchain networks to connect and integrate seamlessly.

It will also offer additional features to support use cases such as Delivery-versus-Payment (DvP) settlement with private exchanges, conditional payments and escrow for trade, as well as payment commitments for trade finance.

Beyond technical experimentation, the fifth phase of Project Ubin sought to determine the commercial viability and value of the blockchain-based payments network. To date, MAS and its partners have engaged more than 40 financial and non-financial firms to explore the potential benefits of the network.

John Hunter, Global Head of Clearing and Interbank Information Network (IIN), J.P. Morgan, said: “J.P. Morgan is excited to be an infrastructure partner of MAS and Temasek for Phase 5 of Project Ubin. By leveraging our key learnings from building the Interbank Information Network® (IIN) and the JPM Coin, J.P. Morgan is well-positioned to support the development of a blockchain-based payments network and operate at scale.”

Chia Song Hwee, President & Chief Operating Officer, Temasek, said: “Blockchain technology has great potential in transforming businesses and opening up new business opportunities.

“To better understand the impact and value of blockchain technology, we are pleased to have partnered with MAS and J.P. Morgan for the Ubin platform. The inclusion of non-financial services companies has demonstrated applicability of blockchain technology beyond capital markets and trade finance.

“We look forward to deeper collaboration and support for Singapore’s pioneering efforts in the blockchain space.”

Accenture has been commissioned to publish the project report in early 2020. The report will describe the blockchain use cases that would benefit from a blockchain-based payments network, and set out additional features that the network could provide.

In addition, the technical specifications for the connectivity interfaces that were developed will also be released for public access under Apache License Version 2.0.

Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, MAS, said, “There is growing evidence now that blockchain-based payments networks are able to enhance cost efficiencies and create new opportunities for businesses.

“We hope this development will encourage other central banks to conduct similar trials, and we will make the technical specifications publicly accessible to accelerate these efforts. We look forward to linking up with more blockchain networks to improve cross-border connectivity.

“This will be a big step forward in making cross-border transactions faster, cheaper, and safer.”

The latest episode of The Digital Insight welcomes Lisa Moyle, Director of Strategy at VC Innovations.  Lisa discusses the disruptive…

The latest episode of The Digital Insight welcomes Lisa Moyle, Director of Strategy at VC Innovations. 

Lisa discusses the disruptive market that is financial services, and she explores what it means to seek out and embrace innovation – whether you’re an incumbent or a startup. 

Lisa also discusses how VC Innovations works to enable businesses to demonstrate thought leadership and expertise, educate the market on new solutions and products develop and maintain business relationships and associate their brands to a community, theme, or subject. 

You can listen to the latest episode here

Listen here! The latest episode of the Digital Insight welcomes Jim Marous, internationally recognised financial industry strategist, and the publisher…

Listen here!

The latest episode of the Digital Insight welcomes Jim Marous, internationally recognised financial industry strategist, and the publisher of the Digital Banking Report and Sonia Wedrychowicz, an experienced technology transformation professional, having worked in the business management and corporate consumer banking across Europe, North America, and Asia for over 25 years.

Jim and Sonia discuss how digital transformation is more than technology and explore the leadership and cultural issues surrounding digital transformation in banking

The fintech startup Aximetria developed a new private keyless voice authorisation technology for mobile banking. Voice authorisation completely obviates the need for…

The fintech startup Aximetria developed a new private keyless voice authorisation technology for mobile banking. Voice authorisation completely obviates the need for private key generation and is sufficiently ingenious and pragmatic an approach, to secure monetary transactions.

Currently, there are many different mobile wallets on the market and each of them is built on a particular method of storing and working with private keys. The basic principle of operation of any wallet is remote or local storage of a private key, followed by password protection and/or additional physical protection.

The classical approach (besides the question of trust to remote storing) has at least one major drawback: if you forget your password or lose it, access to the wallet can be lost forever. This problem can be solved by using the protection factors of the user’s biometric information, like voice.

In the case of the use of biometric identification technology, the accuracy of which is high enough for 100% error-free identification, it is necessary to use a database of voice samples – which can also be compromised or attacked. Aximetria’s method, however, does not store voice samples. It preserves the possibility of identification through the use of a two-level neural network, with the help of which the identification first takes place and then the private key is generated.

Thus, in order to preserve the benefits of an individual wallet without having to store either a private key or a sample voice database, you need to save key information in such a way that it will not be accessible to anyone except the actual carrier of this biometric information or, as in the case of keyless technology, will be out most of the time (when the wallet is not in use), and will be generated only when necessary.

Aximetria was able to achieve the following main parameters of the keyless technology:

· Does not store voice print of registered users

· Does not store private keys of registered users

· For the registered user, its voice returns the same private key

· Allows you to register a new user

· Allows you to retrieve the private key of the registered user by his voice print

Development

The current state of our technology enables you to keep a single secret for each user. To resolve this restriction, coupled with an optional additional level of protection, the following approach can be used. The user’s secret is signed with a symmetric key, provided by the user both during registration and during authorization. The signature key is not stored on the platform’s side. Using different keys allows you to save several different secrets (one key = one secret) for the same user.

The user’s secret, along with the signature, is represented as a binary string. Each bit is encoded using the matching/non-matching voice print of the authorizing user to a predetermined known print. The next level of such an approach will be the replacement of a check for compliance/non-compliance for a similarity/non-similarity check with a predetermined threshold. This improvement will eliminate the necessity to store the voice print of the owner’s secret in any form.

Welcome to the June issue of Interface Magazine! Read the latest issue now! This month’s cover features Gary Steen, TalkTalk’s…

Welcome to the June issue of Interface Magazine!

Read the latest issue now!

This month’s cover features Gary Steen, TalkTalk’s Managing Director of Technology, Change, and Security, Gary Steen regarding the telco’s commitment to thinking, and acting, differently in a highly competitive marketplace…

TalkTalk is an established telecommunications company that fosters a youthful, pioneering spirit. “I like to think of TalkTalk as a mature start-up,” says Managing Director of Technology, Change and Security, Gary Steen. “We are mature in terms of being in the FTSE 250, with over four million customers, relying on our services every day through our essential, critical national infrastructure. But that said, I definitely think we start our day thinking as a start-up would. What can we do differently? How do we beat the competition? How do we attract great talent? We’ve got to come at this in a different way if we are going to succeed in the marketplace. We are mature, but we think like a start-up.”

Elsewhere we speak to Natalia Graves, VP Head of Procurement at Veeam Software who reveals the secrets to a successful procurement transformation. Graves was tasked with looking at the automating, simplifying, and accelerating of Veeam’s procurement and travel processes and systems around them, including evaluating and rolling out a company-wide source-to-pay platform. “It has been an incredible journey,” she tells us from her office in Boston, Massachusetts. We also feature exclusive interviews with PTI Consulting and cloud specialists CSI.

Plus, we reveal 5 of the biggest AI companies in fintech and list the best events and conferences around.

Enjoy the issue!

Kevin Davies

The World FinTech Report (WFTR) 2019, published today by Capgemini and Efma, indicates that even though Open Banking has yet…

The World FinTech Report (WFTR) 2019, published today by Capgemini and Efma, indicates that even though Open Banking has yet to reach maturity, the financial services industry is entering a new phase of innovation – referred to as “Open X” – that will require deeper collaboration and specialization. The report advocates that banks and other financial services ecosystem players must begin to plan accordingly and evolve their business models.

The WFTR 2019 identifies a dual challenge: FinTechs are struggling to scale their operations and banks are stalling on FinTech collaboration. As a result, industry players are looking to leapfrog beyond Open Banking towards Open X, which is a more effective, structured form of collaboration, facilitated by Application Program Interface (API)[1] standardization and shared insights from customer data. The era of Open X will create an integrated marketplace, with specialized roles for each player that will enable a seamless exchange of data and services, improving customer experience, and expediting product innovation.

Key findings of the report include:

Open X will transform industry norms and assumptions

The advent of Open X is being driven by four fundamental shifts:

  • A move away from a focus on products to an emphasis on customer experience
  • The evolution of data as the critical asset
  • A shift from prioritizing ownership to facilitating shared access
  • Emphasis on partnering to innovate instead of buying or building new solutions

Open X will lead the financial services industry to a shared ecosystem or marketplace, in which the industry reintroduces the re-bundling of products and services, and both banks and FinTechs must re-evaluate their strategy for innovation and serving customers. 

APIs will be critical Open X enablers

APIs, which allow third parties to access bank systems and data in a controlled environment, will be catalysts to creating the Open X marketplace. While customer data is already widely shared and leveraged in the industry, standardized APIs are not commonplace. Although requirements and regulations are complex, standardization will help to reduce fraud, improve interoperability, increase speed to market, and enhance scalability.

The WFTR 2019 also finds that industry players are looking at two potential monetization models for APIs – revenue-sharing (which 60% of banks and 70% of FinTechs think is feasible) and API access fees (supported by 46% of banks and 55% of FinTechs). However, only about a third of banking executives said they are currently well equipped to monetize APIs.

Privacy, security and collaboration concerns may slow progress

While banks and FinTechs said they understand the importance of collaboration, apprehension over privacy and security remain top of mind. When asked what concerns them about Open Banking, the vast majority of banks identified data security (76%), customer privacy (76%), and loss of control of customer data (63%). FinTechs were more optimistic about Open Banking, but 50% expressed fears over security and privacy, and 38% over the loss of control of customer data.

When asked about roadblocks to effective collaboration, 66% of banks and 70% of FinTechs pointed to a difference in the other’s organizational culture/mind-set, 52% of banks and 70% of FinTechs mentioned process barriers, and a lack of long-term vision and objectives were listed as gates by 54% of banks and 60% of FinTechs. Only 26% of bank executives and 43% of FinTech leaders said they had identified the right Open Banking collaboration partner. These responses suggest that many banks and FinTechs remain unprepared for Open Banking, let alone for the increased demands of data sharing and integration that Open X will bring.

Open X participants must choose strategic, specialty-based roles

Within the Open X marketplace, banks will need to enhance their integrated (traditional) model first and then focus on areas of specialized strength. The WFTR 2019 identifies three strategic roles expected to evolve as a part of Open X:

  • Suppliers will develop products and services;
  • Aggregators will amass products and services from the marketplace and distribute them through internal channels, holding onto customer relationships;
  • Orchestrators will act as market connectors and coordinators, facilitating partner interactions.

According to the report, integrated firms[2] are likely to struggle to match the time to market of an ecosystem of specialists and find it challenging to meet the unique demands from customers. Within the Open X marketplace, many incumbents may not be best positioned to compete as an Orchestrator and their strengths may lead them to other roles. No matter what role they assume in Open X, however, they must recruit the right talent, leverage data and technology, and collaborate with FinTechs to first ensure better internal capabilities for competitive delivery of relevant services in the current Open Banking scenario.

“Open Banking has long been regarded as transformational for financial services, but this report shows it is just one part of a much bigger picture,” said Anirban Bose, CEO of Capgemini’s Financial Services and Member of the Group Executive Board. “The industry is on the verge of a more comprehensive evolution, where there is opportunity to leapfrog into an integrated marketplace that we are calling Open X.  In Open X, there will be seamless sharing of data, and ecosystem partners will be able to collaborate in a far more comprehensive way. Our research suggests that banks and FinTechs need to prepare themselves for a more radical change than many previously anticipated.”

“The findings of the report could not be clearer: collaboration will be the foundation of the future of financial services,” said Vincent Bastid, Secretary General of Efma. “In the era of Open X, ecosystem players will have to work together more effectively than they have previously. Only by embracing collaboration and new, specialist roles can both banks and FinTechs thrive and best serve their customers. It’s clear that many barriers to collaboration still exist, and there is an urgent need to overcome them for collective benefit.”

Report methodology

The World FinTech Report 2019 is based on a global survey encompassing responses from 116 traditional financial services firms and 40 FinTech firms including banking and lending, payments and transfers, and investment management. Questions sought to yield perspectives from both FinTech and traditional financial services firms— exploring the emergence of Open Banking in the financial services industry. It sheds light on the impact the new ecosystem will have on all the stakeholders, the challenges and concerns that firms will face, and the emergence of new businesses and monetization models in this space.


[1] Application programming interface (API) refers to a set of functions and procedures that a player opens to the external world to allow the creation of applications that access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.

[2] Integrated firms refer to the firms that perform all the functions on their own without collaborating or leveraging other firms in the ecosystem. Many of the banks in the current ecosystem are integrated firms as they build, produce, and distribute their own products for all business lines (without leveraging FinTechs or other players in the ecosystem)

The Digital Insight speaks to Mike Dargan, Group CIO at the Switzerland-based bank UBS regarding digital transformation, as part of…

The Digital Insight speaks to Mike Dargan, Group CIO at the Switzerland-based bank UBS regarding digital transformation, as part of an exclusive series of podcasts…

Could you tell us the five pillars to digital transformation that UBS is implementing and how you’ve been getting them off the ground?

So, we introduced a framework for innovation or digital transformation, which were really the levers by which we achieve things, which is the A, B, C, D, E. A for AI and Automation, B for unbundling, C for cloud, D for data, and E for experience. These are really the levers we pull to try and drive the transformation. It’s also a good way for people to remember what we’re doing, and that will give the right focus to each of the areas.

Now, all of these are super linked. You can only really do this if you’ve got a cloud strategy because you can operate, obviously, in a hyper-scale environment. Getting the data organised is important to drive the right experience.

AI and automation is one of the biggest. We’ve been focused first on robotics or robotic process automation and moving along the value chain to try and drive AI, which can come in many different forms. The first is doing it in a very structured way, so almost like an event, and then moving into machine learning, which can be NLP (natural language processing) and chatbots.

The first area of focus is really in the non-client facing space, so what we’re doing in HR is to have a chatbot. What we’re doing in technology is to have a smart bot which helps everyone when they have a technology issue. They can communicate live if they do. The computer itself will resolve issues and drive things in that way. Click here to listen to the podcast!

IPsoft has introduced 1Bank, the first conversational banking solution featuring virtual agent Amelia. It has been rated the top virtual…

IPsoft has introduced 1Bank, the first conversational banking solution featuring virtual agent Amelia. It has been rated the top virtual agent in conversational AI by Everest Group.

Chetan Dube, CEO at IPsoft, commented: “With 1Bank we provide the most humanlike digital experience in the marketplace, built from the knowledge we’ve gained serving six of the world’s leading banks with conversational AI. We are giving banks the possibility of providing customers with their own personal banker around the clock.”

1Bank answers FAQs, but also resolves complex customer needs, by understanding customer intent. It can also switch context, mid-conversation. Its machine learning Learning (ML) abilities also mean that 1Bank can improve over time.

Some of the tasks 1Bank can carry out are:

  • advising on unpaid bills, proactively informing customers of an incoming bill and communicating any insufficient funds, making a money transfer and asking if the customer wants to set up payment for the bills when they are due.
  • recommending and setting up recurring payments, making payments from different accounts, opening and closing accounts.
  • helping customers locate transactions.
  • assisting with individual and potentially fraudulent charges on credit cards and disputing them, getting a new pin, getting a balance transfer or applying for a new credit card.
  • creating travel alerts after a customer made an airline purchase and proactively recommending the next step, such as, when traveling to exchange and withdrawing cash.

1Bank can integrate with existing tools and interfaces, and it can be added to existing applications to help customers quickly access the information and service they need. This includes mobile apps, desktop or kiosk apps, website modules, or within consumer chat applications, such as Facebook Messenger and Amazon Echo.