Financial Technology

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Setbacks of Using Fintech

Fintech has become a big part of our lives, even if we don’t realize it. Fintech essentially refers to any financial technology and can fall into something as simple as the banking app you use on your smartphone or more complicated such as companies that focus on things such as mobile payments or insurance. Fintech has made our lives easier in a lot of ways, but like most things, it’s not without its problems. Here are some of the setbacks of using fintech.

 

Data Security

The rapid growth of financial technology in Europe led to a 78% increase in the number of people using it in 2020. However, this growth has been accompanied by unintended consequences. One of these is the rise of cybercrime, in which attacks occurs at least once every minute. Unfortunately, many of the companies that are using fintech are also being targeted by hackers. Due to the rise of digital money, the number of people who rely on financial technology to manage their money has increased significantly. This has increased the amount of data that banks and other financial institutions can collect. Unfortunately, this has also led to the potential for data breaches at major companies such as credit bureaus and foreign exchange brokers, such as Pepperstone, an Australian brokerage company that had its own customer data stolen in 2020.

 

Regulations

One of the biggest challenges the fintech industry typically contends with are the regulations that come with it. Government regulations and fees affect fintech banks in a big way, and they typically end up straining the resources of the bank. Regulations such as the Dodd-Frank Act and the Financial Account Standards Boards’ Current Expected Credit Loss play a big role in how a bank utilizes fintech, to the point where some may provide their customers with more limited options due to wanting to avoid compliance fees and the like.

 

Keeping Up With Evolving Tech

While operating through digital platforms can be extremely beneficial and sometimes even necessary for the survival of many financial institutions, making the actual jump to digital platforms can be costly and risky. Financial platforms that haven’t made the jump to digital need to make an important decision; do they take the risk in order to keep up and stay relevant, or do they stick with what they know and not have the same offerings as other platforms?

 

There are many drawbacks to using fintech beyond the three mentioned here, but many would argue that the pros outweigh the cons. As we continue to move through this digital world, financial institutions will have to do their research to see if investing more into fintech will ultimately help them succeed.

How Your Company Can Harness Fintech

How Your Company Can Harness FinTech

Covid-19 may have slowed down business, but Fintech has achieved double-digit growth in volumes and transaction numbers in the same period. In addition, many companies required employees to work remotely during the pandemic and needed to develop new working methods.

The fintech industry became the choice for businesses that needed to implement digital tools for working at home. Companies found out that Fintech has more uses beyond sorting disruption of traditional business practices. Some teams in accounting and finance found fintech tools can streamline operations, improve productivity and cut costs in these ways.

Simplifying complex processes

Corporations became less productive during the pandemic. Spend reconciliation was one way that finance teams could create efficiencies, but innovation in the area has been slow, and it consumes a lot of labor-intensive time.

Fintech reduces that challenge with tools to automate most of the processes such as:

  • Three-way matching to approve incoming supplier invoices
  • Complex and fragmented area travel and expense spend

Fintech tools can automatically link expenditures to individual employees and functions. As a result, they simplify and hasten budget allocations that are ordinarily time-consuming.

A company can harness fintech to provide greater visibility into:

  • Employee spending
  • Delivering control
  • Flagging out of policy expenditures real time
  • Automated analytics

Another upside is the chat AI that interprets customer questions. Requests increase efficiency by automating financial tasks that involve answering questions about expense processing and invoice payment.

Solution to Fraud

An ACFE survey found that organizations lose 5% of annual revenue to fraud, and detection can take 14 months. A third of all fraud cases occur because organizations lack internal controls.

The pandemic created a perfect environment for fraud as it thrives during recessions and economic instability. Fintech AI and machine learning algorithms in its software control fraud mastering standard patterns of company finance and flag anything unusual or new. The team in charge will notice and review. A/ML has a higher level of sophistication to root out fraud than the rule-based approach. The tools can search and compare data to sense questionable correlations or other irregularities.

The payoff for shifting to newer processes is transformation. Finance practices in an organization will gain the same benefits that the financial sector has gained by adopting Fintech tools. It only requires collaborating with a reliable Fintech provider.

Jacobparkerbowles.co.uk

FinTech 101: What is a Green Bank?

What Is a Green Bank?
You may have heard the term “Green Bank” and wondered what it meant. This short article will explain the term and concept behind it.

Green Banks in a Nutshell
A green bank is a bank that exists for the sole purpose of battling earth climate change by funding projects that may be able to decrease the global carbon emissions and increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels and energy. They tend to support infrastructure spending in wind, solar, and other renewable energy space.

Green Banks: Functional Model
Green banks are not climate charities. Their funding is expected to be paid back with a profit for the bank. Currently, they are supported by some states in the U.S. and also by private funding. Green Banks utilize philanthropic and public funds. They generally fund energy projects that beyond the research stage and “good to go”. The Coalition for Green Capital (CGC) is a nonprofit agency that is deeply involved in advocating for green banks’ continued development.

Where Did the Idea for Green Banks Originate?
The idea for green banks started in 2008 when two entrepreneurial-minded, Ken Berlin and Reed Hundt, came up with the concept as part of the Obama transition team’s plans for promoting cleaner energy changes in US society. A proposal to enact federally supported green banks was attached to the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The concept never made it as legislation at the federal level. Green bank supporters were not daunted. Consequently, green bank advocates persuaded some states to take up the cause.

Green Banks: Some Statics
Currently, there are at least ten states that have at least one green bank. In addition, they are in the early stages of catching on globally as well. They also exist in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Malaysia. Within the U.S., green banks have already been involved in the funneling of some $3 billion in funds for clean-energy projects.

Green Banks: Their Future Development
With the advent of the Biden presidency, green banks may again find a firmer footing at the federal level. Indeed, in December 2020, Mr. Biden proposed the idea of a national green bank. They appear sure to gain more traction internationally as the desire to dampen climate change takes hold.

How To Forge A Career In Fintech - Jacob Parker -Bowles

How to Forge a Career in Fintech

Fintech companies offer innovative solutions to financial problems. They help banks to improve their customer service and be more flexible. Due to the growing popularity of the fintech industry, their jobs can be very rewarding. But what does it take to forge a career in fintech?

Start Small, Learn and Grow

Fintech is a booming industry, meaning that there’s more to be discovered. As a result, there’s a lot of opportunities in this industry. It helps to get into the industry with some experience in the financial sector.

However, it’s not necessary. A person with a law degree can learn on the job and become an expert in no time. Therefore, one shouldn’t procrastinate. If they think this is the industry for them, they should go for it. They can start at the bottom and work their way up.

What’s Fintech All About?

Fintech is an interesting industry because an individual works in two vast industries: technology and finance.

An example of an emerging fintech trend is open banking. Here, the bank allows tech startups to facilitate customer service and transactions through an app. The customer has to consent before using the app. Once the customer agrees, the bank discloses that person’s banking details to the startup.

Any person that works for the bank or startup is already involved in the fintech industry. That’s how easily one can find themselves working in the fintech industry.

Skills Required

There are three sets of skills that are important in the fintech industry: software and hardware engineering, finance, and communication.

A person with coding skills can work in the product development department. Their work will be to code programs or applications that can be used to improve the financial sector. The person with finance skills helps the coders comprehend what the app is supposed to do. The person with communication skills will help to monetize the fintech solution.

Finally, the fintech industry can be very demanding. If one wants to succeed, one has to consider work and personal life. They have to be in perfect balance. Too much work can leave a person feeling exhausted and unmotivated. Therefore, it’s always good to think about one’s health and happiness.

Benefits Of Fintech For Small Companies Jacob Parker Bowles

Benefits of FinTech for Small Companies

Financial technology, known as FinTech, is changing the way many small business owners run their companies. Struggling to find financing from lenders and strict regulatory compliance is leading many smaller companies to focus on FinTech. Instead of relying on traditional lenders to help support their companies, many entrepreneurs are now turning to affordable solutions from financial technology companies.

 

FinTech Product and Service Offerings

FinTech companies offer a range of solutions for small companies. Business owners have access to lending, foreign exchange services, and digital business solutions. Many finance experts agree that the rise of FinTech is not just a passing fancy, but a real shift in the way small business owners generate revenues and profit. A report from the World Economic Forum suggests that FinTech will change the entire business environment.

From invoicing solutions, peer to peer lending, and supply chain financing, FinTech companies are gaining a real market presence in the business world with their low-cost solutions. Additionally, these companies are not hamstrung by the regulations that many traditional banks face.

One of the largest gaps FinTech companies fill is lending solutions. Traditional banks often turn away small business owners seeking smaller loans. By offering so-called “micro-loans,” FinTech companies provide a critical lending solution for smaller companies that need less than $50,000. The Small Business Administration considers any loans of $50,000 or less as “micro-loans.”

Many FinTech companies also offer strategic invoicing and expense solutions. In many cases, small business owners have free access to these solutions using easy to download apps.

 

Other FinTech Solutions

Lending and tracking invoices are only two of a countless array of solutions offered by FinTech companies. Property management companies can accept payments from tenants using the solutions. Additionally, loans are available to help some of the costs of repairs and security deposits that many residents struggle with while property management companies still receive those funds upfront.

 

Many experts agree that FinTech for smaller companies is still in its infancy. Adopting FinTech as the primary source of business solutions for entrepreneurs is still a challenge. However, many experts do agree that FinTech companies have found a niche by providing services to smaller companies that largely go unrecognized by bigger banks.

Jacob Parker Bowles Fintech Around The World

Fintech Around the World

Fintech, short for financial technology, is a commonplace term in first world economies such as those of the United States and Europe. Even if you don’t work in the finance sector, you are probably familiar with it. It makes its way into the news all the time with hyperbolic speculation about how fintech will be the ultimate disruptor of traditional banking, overturning archaic legacy systems. It’s true that financial technologies have shaken up traditional financial markets to a certain extent, but exactly how much and in what ways varies across the globe.

To get a sense of how much the fintech sector is disrupting markets, we should look at stock investments in the major fintech markets around the world, on both a macro and micro scale. Overall, fintech has taken the world by storm. According to statistics collected from the 2017 FinTech Adoption Index, the average adoption rate of fintech products around the world is 33 percent- up from 15 percent in 2015. Even in emerging markets such as India, Brazil, China, Mexico, and South Africa, the adoption rate is about 50 percent. Fintech funding around the world totaled $49.7 billion between 2010 and 2015, and $25.8 billion in 2016 alone. As of 2016, there were approximately 1,400 fintech companies throughout 54 countries.

In the macrocosm, it is clear that fintech is a dominant and growing force, but to understand its impact on a deeper level, one should examine regional trends. Here is how the fintech sector plays out across European, U.S., and Asian markets, based on recent data from GP Bullhound and CB Insights.

United States

The United States is a hotspot for fintech activity, representing nearly half (46%) of all global fintech startups valued at $1 billion or more (or unicorns, in finance speak). The United States exhibits a fairly consistent trend over recent quarters where the volume of fintech deals being made is decreasing while the amounts are increasing. The reason for this trend can be attributed to a shift toward large-scale private investments, which could affect the supply of venture capital funding to other startups.

Europe

Fintech investments in European markets, in contrast to the purely capitalist United States, tend to be smaller and more regulated. Only one European fintech investment as of the second quarter of 2017 exceeded $50 million in value. Although the volume and value of investments have decreased since the first quarter of the year, investments follow a pattern according to the European financial year, whereby investors seeks to capitalize on early-stage fintech startups before the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, traditional banking models in the UK are starting to give way to technology-driven ones, as can be seen in ClearBank, the first UK clearing bank built on cloud technology rather than legacy systems.

Asia

The Asian fintech market has experienced rapid growth in the second quarter of the 2017 fiscal year, with deal value and volume both experiencing five-quarter highs. The reason for the spike in Asian fintech markets can be explained by huge investments in financial technologies alongside traditional financial institutions. Rather than disrupting traditional institutions, fintech businesses in Asia tend to supplement the existing infrastructure.

It’s easy to make generalizations about fintech and the effect it has on traditional financial markets around the world, but when we take a step back and examine how it plays out across key markets, it becomes apparent that fintech has a long way to go before it becomes the ultimate disrupter of financial markets people speculate. For now, it exists within a highly volatile market where traditional systems such as legacy banks continue to exist alongside fintech startups, many of them gradually morphing their financial offerings.

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How Retailers Are Retaining Relevancy

It’s not hard to spot the decline in brick-and-mortar stores. If you were alive in the 90s, you probably remember lounging with a book and listening to the CDs in Borders, testing out the gadgets in Sharper Image, checking out the flat-screen TVs at H.H. Gregg, picking out your next VHS for movie night at Blockbuster, and trying on sneakers at Sports Authority. None of these stores exist today. Even shopping malls are gradually becoming obsolete, with many closing a vast majority of their retail stores and becoming these cavernous, eerie ghost towns.

As more and more retail stores switch to e-commerce only or become acquired by other retailers, the ones left standing will have to get creative and come up with ways to retain their relevance in a tech-dominated world where 79 percent of U.S. consumers shopping online and 42 percent ranking convenience as an important factor for shopping online versus traveling to a store, according to a study from Pew Research. Online shopping grew at a rate of 12% year-over-year since 2009 compared to 4.5% for retail sales according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail report.

When technology is the name of the game, the most logical thing retailers could do is utilize it to appeal to a tech-driven society- and that is exactly what some retailers are starting to do. According to leading technology research and consulting firm, Gartner, “traditional stores will have a place in the future with a new model that will blend the digital with the physical.” Enter, artificial intelligence (AI).

Artificial intelligence is the use of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. AI has both amazing potential and also some concerning implications- if we continue to outsource human tasks to robots, will we reach a day when there is no longer the need for human labor? Thankfully, that day has not yet arrived, and maybe it never well. AI is just starting to manifest in the form of personal assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

One of the ways brick-and-mortar retailers are competing with online retail is by collecting customer data through video surveillance. Online vendors have always had an advantage over physical retailers in combatting cybercrime in that they store all of their customers’ data. Now, facial recognition technology and floor-level cameras allow retailers to predict the age and gender of customers and even analyze customer reactions to products. Retailers like Walmart and IBM are already implementing this technology.

Another way retailers are employing data and AI to stay on the cutting edge is through in-store help. Target plans to equip all associates with technology that will enable them to deliver superior customer service by searching inventory across the company, setting up shipping, and taking payment from the customer mobly. Lowes is taking it one step further by launching robots to assist customers on the floor, keep track of inventory, and analyze shopping patterns.

A final way retailers can take advantage of AI is by leveraging the internet to obtain key data about customers and make their shopping experience more personalized. By monitoring trends among shoppers, retailers will have a better idea of what to sell and how to attract customers.

Technology ultimately encroaches upon every corner of human life, albeit at a slower place in some parts of the world, and it is the difference between institutions that succeed and those that fail.

 

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Fintech: Startups vs. Big Banks

Fintech is taking control of the future of finance across the world. There are multiple aspects of financial technology that will be shaping the way we handle the exchange of money. Whether it be transactions from smartphone or advancements in accounting, fintech has full control of how we manage finances in the 21st Century.

Adapt or Die

With apps already out like Venmo, large corporations are trying to get ahead in the technological race to adapt fintech. Apple has already begun to get a leg-up on the fintech world by releasing Apple Pay. The accessibility of money has been demanded by consumers and Apple is listening. Big banks are starting to find they may be losing the battle against financial technology if they do not adapt. While this may be bad news for traditional small banks, large financial corporations are beginning to invest in fintech start-ups.

The advantages for big banks to invest in these start-ups are due to their ability to have fast innovation and edge. As well, financial technology allows users to make decisions that are more precise and fast. Why would customers stay at slow financial institutions when they have the ability to utilize resources like one-click loans or secure credit card processing?

A Mutual Relationship

Banks have viewed the growth of financial technological companies as a threat to their business and industry. Yet, there is a great opportunity between large financial corporations and fintech companies trying to gain traction. Large banks need the innovation that these start-ups have and the start-ups need the financial support and tracking that the banks can give them. Partnerships between the industries could prove beneficial for both.

Essentially, it comes down to both parties finding a middle ground to benefit from one another. The heart of fintech comes down to innovation, collaboration, and openness. If banks do not realize this and change their business model, they may end up on the sidelines while small start-ups take their place.

Across The Globe

Countries like Brazil have started to see the effects of banks not collaborating with new fintech businesses. Many large banks such as Itau and Banco Bradesco has slowly been closing their physical banking centers due to the changes in the industry.

India’s banks, which dominate the country’s financial landscape, also have a grim outlook. An online payment company, Paytm, announced a $1.4 billion invest while large banks are struggling to keep up.

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Convenience Over Customer Service? How Online Banks Appeal to a Changing Clientele

There is an unfortunate tradeoff with the implementation of new technology: the more advanced technology becomes, the less personalized our world is as a result. When simple jobs can be performed by robots, as many now can, there’s no need to invest the money into human labor. At certain restaurants, people can place their orders via iPads. You can pay your friends back through an app on your phone without having to travel to an ATM to take out cash. You can book an entire vacation from your phone. You can place an order online without the need to talk with a human until your food arrives at your doorstep. Luckily, the need and desire for human interaction in the way we conduct business still exists, so technology has not eclipsed customer service entirely. But it seems that things could be headed in that direction, and banks are one sector where we can already see that trend.

Without that crucial customer service element, what remains to retain customers? As paradoxical as it may sound, banks are attracting new customers by keeping them away. “Banks are finding new growth opportunities through online and mobile channels, proving once more that consumers are increasingly attracted to the convenience and speed of mobile and online solutions,” says letstalkpayments.com.

When so many people, especially the millennial generation, turn to their phones for just about everything, it only makes sense that banks would tap into that lucrative channel, prioritizing convenience over customer service. Bank transactions dropped off by nearly 50 percent between 1992 and 2012, as online and mobile capabilities came into play. In order to retain customers, banks have had to play by new rules to appeal to a changing clientele.

Some banks are combining new technologies with traditional banking elements to appeal to a younger generation. For example, Savings Bank of Danbury in Connecticut just opened a new branch, and they pulled out all the bells and whistles to cater to tech-savvy millennials. Instead of a person, a large screen recounting the bank’s history in an ongoing loop greets customers as they walk through the door. The new branch features lounges with iPads and laptops where customers can interact with bank staff through technology, rather than face-to-face in a traditional teller line.  

According to Martin J. Geitz, president of Simsbury Bank, the millennial generation are outgrowing the baby boomer generation, and as such are coming to define the economy. Says Geitz:

We are now embarking on the threshold of the millennial generation driving the economy as so many are entering the workforce and their demands and tastes for products and services will really define what banks offer and other consumer-driven products. The millennial generation grew up with a smartphone in their pocket. They have a different relationship with technology than we do. It’s important that we provide functionality at their fingertips.

Banks are offering a variety of features that allow customers to conduct all of their finance needs remotely, without ever setting foot in a bank. For instance, people can now transfer money to one another through cardless ATMs and checks can be deposited through an app on one’s phone just by taking a picture of it. In fact, there is an entirely new breed of banks that’s risen up in response that is moving away from brick and mortar locations entirely, operating solely online. An example of an online bank is Simple, aptly named for its mission to make the banking process as simple and convenient as possible. The bank gained more than 100,00 customers in its first two years and was promptly snatched up by Spain’s second largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA).

For the time being, brick and mortar banks are here to stay. They may not be the grand, pillared buildings of years past, with imposing high ceilings and marble floors, but nonetheless, there is a large fraction of the general populace that doesn’t fully embrace or understand technology, and still desires a certain degree of customer service. Mobile banking technology will continue to expand, but it will need to do so in such a way that combines the service of traditional banks with the convenience of online banking.

Jacob Parker Bowles: When Technology Turns Tumultuous

When Technology Turns Tumultuous: 2017 Tech Predictions

Following the Tesco Bank hack in November 2016, many are led to wonder what this breach of security means for the future. On Monday, November 7, Tesco, a major UK bank, reported that over 9,000 customer accounts had been compromised and a total of £2.5 million had been taken from those accounts. This was the largest-ever cyber attack on a UK bank to result in a mass loss of money. Yet, following the attack, Tesco released the statement, “Tesco Bank has not been subject to a security compromise and it is not necessary for customers to change their login or password details.” They were careful to avoid using the word “hacked.”

But isn’t that exactly what it was? Well, according to an opinion piece from Payments Industry Intelligence, not exactly. Tesco itself could not even explain how this “systematic and sophisticated attack” even happened, only that (unlike the Yahoo! data breach), no personal data was compromised. Mark Weston, head of information technology at international law firm Hill Dickinson explained that, whether the attack was internal or external, no bank is immune to fraud. This could have happened to any bank.

The author of the opinion piece theorizes that there are one of two things that could have led to the security breach, the first being that criminals made fraudulent debit card transactions by securing a large batch of real Tesco Bank debit card numbers from a third party (like one of Tesco’s core outsourcing partners), which would have contained both the CVV and CVV2 numbers and account numbers. The second theory is that the criminals made transactions using US magnetic stripe contactless debit cards (which the US is gradually phasing out in favor of chip cards) and Tesco Bank’s authorization systems did not recognize this transaction type; therefore, they did not validate the CVV values and the criminals could have inputted random values.

As technology becomes more and more advanced to the extent that nearly everything, even banking, is done by machine, there exists a much greater risk of fraud. According to BBC News, “The more connected the world becomes- think connected cars, smart homes, sensor-laden cities- the more opportunities for hackers to break into the system and wreak havoc.”

Therefore, BBC predicts, according to cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, that in 2017, the internet of things (IoT) and industrial internet of things (IIoT) will play a larger role in targeted attacks, and another major bank will fail as the result of a cyber-attack. The firm also predicts that hackers will continue renting out their ransomware infrastructures that allow them to break into computer systems, encrypt data, and demand a ransom to decrypt it.

Worse yet, hackers are no longer interested in merely stealing data and acquiring money from it; they are figuring out how to alter it, which could have potentially disastrous consequences. Major companies and entire stock markets could collapse. Essentially the entire modern world is run by a delicate web of data; data alteration has the power to bring down power grids and water supply systems. Life as we know it could be at risk. Additionally, hackers will continue to target human vulnerabilities by tricking people into transferring money into criminals’ accounts. In the US in 2016, the average payout was a whopping $140,000.

Some of the other tech trends projected for this year may sound exciting in theory, but advances in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and automation could spell out doom as well. If we keep entrusting robots with human jobs, such as call center and customer service jobs, then there will no longer be a need for those workers and the labor market and economy will suffer unless some kind of system is put in place to accommodate for the loss of jobs.

So, the lesson here is simple. Changes in technology can be exciting and life-changing, but according to BBC, “2017 could also be the year that the world is forced to deal- finally- with the tangible impacts of technology upon human society.” Technology has the power to save lives, to revolutionize the way humans work and function- but it should be taken with a grain of salt, because technology also has the power to lead to the destruction of the lives we have become accustomed to.

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