Webinar: How to Breakdown Barriers Preventing IT Automation

Webinar: How to Breakdown Barriers Preventing IT Automation

Date: Thursday, August 20, 2020 | Time: 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

Register now >>

Within a financial services organization, there is a list of focus areas that IT automation can address: patching, provisioning, out-of-compliance identification and remediation, security vulnerabilities identification, and remediation. However, internal resistance and cultural roadblocks can still prevent financial institutions from getting the most from IT automation.  

But the benefits of automation remain and continue to strengthen, from streamlining operations to unifying new and existing IT resources. By automating manual, time-consuming IT processes, organizations can better collaborate between IT and business units to deploy modern application platforms that adapt easily to changing requirements. In the new and rapidly shifting global economy, this will be more critical then ever. 

Financial institutions now need to refocus their efforts to identify and break down the barriers holding their automation strategies back. 

In our latest #FinovateWebinar, we explore the common challenges and solutions to ensure your business can get back on track. 

Featuring Jamil Mina, Chief Architect for Financial Services, Red Hat and David Penn, Finovate Research Analyst.

Find out more and register for free >>

Customer Knowledge Augmentation and Activation

Customer Knowledge Augmentation and Activation

Today we feature a sponsored post from Celfocus. Henrique Cravo also sits down with Greg Palmer on the Finovate Podcast to talk about intelligent use of data, the importance of tailored experiences, and overcoming barriers left by legacy systems. To get a deeper insight into the topic register for the webinar: Delivering Customer Knowledge Augmentation and Activation here >>

There aren’t many industries where organisations have so much data about customers for such a long period of time. For example, I have had the same bank for the last 25 years which, by the way, is the same as my father’s.

My bank has been my partner when I wanted to go to university or buy my first apartment. It knows how much I make and where I spend it, but I never truly felt they used that knowledge to either enrich my experience or deliver tailored offers. Why is that?

There is a wealth of value to explore in untapped customers’ financial behaviour and banks are in prime position to reap the benefits, but they need to adapt.

The transformation has already begun with banks introducing more channels, learning best practices from digital native banks and fintechs, and even creating new digital business models to test what works, aiming to later integrate those learnings into the core business.

Still, banks are drowning in data and have very little insight on how to transform it into actionable knowledge to better serve customers, personalise offers, and deliver a consistent customer experience.

Furthermore, through segmentation, banks can use their knowledge about current customers to define campaigns and other initiatives to fulfill one of their main objectives, attract new customers. Their continuous appetite for growth steams from delivering unique and innovative value propositions to current but also future customers which today can be, in many situations, hallenging.

From risk takers, tech-savvy, and hungry for innovation customers to techavoiders that value human touch, banks must accommodate different engagement approaches and insights to differentiate customer profiles. This happens not because they don’t have the data, but because they can’t mine it.

It’s clear that very soon ‘Customer intelligence’ will be the most important predictor of revenue growth and profitability. The use of behavioural analytics will be key to identify customer friction points and there will be a surge in building technological capabilities to get more insight on customers’ needs.

A New Engagement Model for the Digital Age

By nature, financial products are complex and both companies and individuals are deeply affected by their financial choices, so there’s a foreseeable need for contact, ensuring a correct understanding of what is at stake.

Bank tellers, financial advisers, and other resources are key in accommodating customers’ requests and providing value-added and timely information. They benefit first-hand from customer insights, which enable them to provide not only a better service, but also to increase the customer value by offering the best solutions.

In addition to assisted channels, there is the emergence of self-service applications aiming to allow customers to engage on their terms, when they want, going as far as allowing customers to configure product features, including pricing. If, in this case, the human factor is eliminated, the need for accuracy is even greater, otherwise, the sale may fail or the inquiry can go unanswered.

Customer expectations have changed mainly due to the experience from other digital native organisations, coming or not, from the financial sector. The easy interactions, the tailored offers, integration between physical and digital channels or the unmatched service, creates a gap between what many financial institutions can deliver and what customers are getting elsewhere.

Responding to the pressure to change, banks must find a balance between opening but guaranteeing trust continues to be paramount, at all levels. Up to this point, the perspectives presented argued for the need for banks to not only gain insights and knowledge from the data they already have, but also the challenge in adjusting to new customers’ demands and how they choose to engage.

However, the biggest challenge is how to orchestrate these two dimensions and provide customers with experiences that leverage the knowledge banks have delivered in a seamless way, using whatever channel customers choose from.

The holy grail of an enhanced experience in the banking sector is to have an holistic and end-to-end perspective of the customer experience.

Introducing Celfocus Customer Knowledge Augmentation and Activation

Celfocus Customer Knowledge Augmentation and Activation is a modular and integrated framework tailored to leverage banks’ customer knowledge and deliver tailored services.

This framework is anchored in 2 main modules. The first comprises the tools and technologies to augment customer knowledge by activating every single customer through automated AI and Cognitive data insights, and the second aims at delivering tailored experiences that trigger new targets, portfolios, and customer lock.

By encompassing the Customer Value Augmentation and Enhance Customer Experience modules, the solution provides banks’ full control of the customer journey from planning to execution, focusing on building the technology capabilities to get more intelligence about customers’ needs, and how to best serve them.

Download the full whitepaper from Celfocus, Customer Knowledge
Augmentation and Activation >>

The Finovate Fintech Halftime Review eMagazine

What a week it was for the first Finovate Fintech Halftime Review; we heard from experts across the fintech spectrum, covering LendingTech, PayTech, FraudTech, BankingTech and WealthTech.

Missed some of the live sessions? Want to dig a little deeper and get the Finovate Analyst view of the first half of 2020? Well look no further, as the Finovate Fintech Halftime Review eMagazine brings all the content from the week together in one place.

Download it now and have all the latest insights at your fingertips.

Mastering Digital Collaboration in the Financial Industry

Financial organizations are managing mass amounts of information on a daily basis. 

Whether it’s a loan application, credit approval, or new customer records, sharing documents securely is key for effective task completion and departmental collaboration. 

With a variety of document formats needed for each of these tasks, professionals must often switch from application to application to complete processes. Standard processes are often outdated and inefficient. 

Discover how financial organizations can streamline their workflows and collaborate more effectively within their current applications.

Read the Accusoft infographic to learn more.

MyLife’s Jeff Tinsley on Creating a “Reputation Score” and the Future of Personal Data

MyLife’s Jeff Tinsley on Creating a “Reputation Score” and the Future of Personal Data

It’s the FraudTech day of the Finovate Fintech Halftime Review, and we welcome Jeff Tinsley, CEO of MyLife to talk fraud management and prevention and how MyLife can be used by financial institutions to educate and add value for their consumers.

David Penn, our own Finovate Analyst, asks what sort of things go into creating a Reputation Score, and how MyLife protects people from fraud?

Watch the full interview.

Find out more about MyLife and get in touch with Tim (timp@mylife-inc.com) for any questions or partnership inquiries.

ITSCREDIT’s João Lima Pinto on the Genie Advisor App and a New Direction for 2020

ITSCREDIT’s João Lima Pinto on the Genie Advisor App and a New Direction for 2020

As part of our Finovate FinTech Halftime Review, Finovate Analyst David Penn sat down with João Lima Pinto, Chairman of ITSCREDIT. With nearly 20 years of solid experience in the financial sector, actively participating in the design and implementation of innovative omnichannel and credit solutions, Pinto has garnered much success by leading a variety of business development, product and project management, business analysis, and product operations functions.

Among the topics discussed include ITSCREDIT’S Genie Advisor app, how the company has seen the COVID-19 crisis impact its customer base, and its plan to address the challenges and move forward in 2020.

Watch the full interview now.

The Not-So-Secret Secret to Getting Innovation Right

In the midst of the myriad challenges COVID-19 has thrown up for financial institutions and the people and businesses they serve, the crisis is also propeling innovation forward, proving the worth of past technological investments, and shifting the view of digital initiatives from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘need-to-have’, particularly in a time of social distancing.

Against this backdrop of crisis-galvanized change, senior content producer Laura Maxwell-Bernier caught up with Sunayna Tuteja, Head of Digital Assets and Blockchain at TD Ameritrade, to talk about how she is seeing this play out, and how financial institutions should approach digital transformation to ensure relevance in the ‘new normal’.

We are also delighted to announce that Sunayna will be expanding on the themes covered in our conversation at FinovateFall in September, where she will look at the next phase of this trajectory, how changed consumer behaviors will drive further change, and what role technology will have as the dust settles.

Laura Maxwell-Bernier: Crises like COVID-19 have historically shown us how quickly technology can go from a nice-to-have to a real necessity for consumers. How are you seeing this play out in the context of COVID-19?

Sunayna Tuteja: Innovation often gains traction in times of turbulence. We are certainly witnessing that play out at massive and magnified levels in the context of COVID-19. Technologies and trends that were already in motion reached escape velocity – in scale and speed of both investment and adoption accelerating in the span of weeks vs. years. Examples include tele-medicine, online learning, and omni-channel commerce. The necessity of solving a pain point combined with a sense of urgency is activating laser-focused action that otherwise might be slowed down by inertia. In short, digital transformation is now a matter of business resiliency, representing an ultimate shift from “nice-to-have” to “need-to-have”. 

Perhaps my favorite example is the Supreme Court of the United Sates (SCOTUS), an institution steeped in tradition which until recently conducted all oral arguments in person, behind closed doors and without cameras present. They too have had to adapt and transform. Last week the SCOTUS moved to hearing arguments via tele-conference, and also opened it to the public to listen in real time. While the new format may lack the usual pomp & circumstance, it ushers in an era of transparency & inclusivity. It’s a joy to witness this epic transition. Necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case adoption!  

LMB: What similarities are you seeing in the way financial services organizations are responding to COVID to how they responded after the 2008 financial crisis? What lessons should we be drawing from this in our planning for the longer-term repercussions of COVID?

Tuteja: An imperative for institutions (private and public) to innovate is the rapidly closing delta between novelty and necessity. It wasn’t that long ago that the notion of banking and trading on your mobile device was unfathomable – mobile phones were for playing Candy Crush and Angry Birds!  But within a matter of years, driven by a shift in consumer behaviors and expectations plus the rise of Fintech, incumbents have had to evolve and for many, the nice-to-have digital venues are now need-to-have primary on-ramps to attract, engage and retain consumers. Ergo, shocks like the global financial crisis and COVID-19 further reinforce and validate that tapping into the power of nascent yet powerful technologies to break down barriers and create next generation products/client experiences must be an evergreen endeavor. You need to maintain a persistent and pervasive focus on client-centric innovation to keep up with and surpass the evolving expectations and norms. 

At TD Ameritrade, we saw this thesis come to fruition as we embarked on transitioning our employees to work from home in a matter of 10 days whilst serving millions of clients during tumultuous market conditions. The firm’s steady investments over the years in capabilities like cloud, Artificial Intelligence, messaging, mobile etc. enabled a speedy and smart transition.

LMB: What implications do you see this crisis having for the rate of adoption of digital assets – stablecoins, CBDCs and the like?

Tuteja: Digital assets are uniquely qualified for these present times. Be it as an investment vehicle akin to bitcoin’s value proposition of ‘digital gold’ or the prospect of modernizing payments, remittances, money movement or banking the unbanked/underbanked driven via stablecoins, digital wallets and CBDCs, the opportunities abound. It’s fertile ground for projects in the digital assets space, including DeFi efforts currently focused on solving these important problems. Again, this momentum is driven by heightened need as we reimagine and reconfigure our day-to-day norms in the time of/after COVID. For example: In my role leading emerging tech and partnerships, I had the opportunity to work with several Asia Tech firms in China. As someone who needs her daily dose of Starbucks, it was always amusing when I tried to pay for my drink with cash or credit card. In a society that has adopted end-to-end digital payments driven by digital wallets embedded within messaging apps like WeChat, the notion of a cash or physical credit card interaction could not be more antiquated. While the proliferation of digital wallets and QR codes have been slow to gain momentum in the U.S., current circumstances may mark a significant shift as consumers are more conscious and concerned about what they touch and who touches their card.

In this new world order, businesses will have to strike a balance between efficiency and resiliency, and as business leaders we must deliver a compounding and comparative advantage to our constituents – customers, employees, and the communities we serve. All of which will enable a good deal of change management and digital transformation to ensure long-lasting relevance. Yet in these times of hyper-change, innovation guided by the voice of the customer is always in vogue.

The confluence of these developments combined with the current macro environment garner an important inflection point in the proliferation of this nascent technology & asset class. It is therefore incumbent on the institutions that consumers know and trust, to lead with prudence and pragmatism in addressing this growing demand from consumers for education and access to digital assets, and continue the journey of bringing Wall Street to Main Street.

LMB: What does the path forward for digital transformation look like as a whole, and what do you anticipate the long-term effects on technology adoption being?

Tuteja: I’ve long maintained that anything that can be digitized will be digitized, it’s a matter of timing and led by the consumer, with technology as the enabler vs. the driver of change. An evergreen approach is key because the timing and pace of adoption is often influenced by external factors as we are witnessing at the moment. I’m reminded of examples like Webvan and Pets.com, which are often cited as failures of the dot.com bubble. Yet their contemporaries, Instacart and Chewy.com, are gaining tremendous adoption today. As an organization, you don’t want be caught off guard and unprepared, hence a persistent evaluation of the evolving consumer needs combined with a “perpetual beta” mindset in deploying new technologies is critical.

While starting with the technology can be alluring, it can lead to “shiny object syndrome” and innovation theater without much value for the end constituents. The not-so-secret secret sauce is an obsession with customer-focused innovation. A myopic focus on solving gnarly problems to deliver meaningful value by breaking down barriers that enable consumers to take charge of their financial future with confidence. If that’s powered by blockchain and AI, great, but the tech ought be secondary to the problem statement. The litmus test we apply is: What is the problem we are solving? Why is this problem worth solving? And why are we or is this tech uniquely qualified to solve this problem? It’s always better to be solving the hard problems and shipping pain-killers vs. vitamins. A strong anchor to the problem statement is also useful in maintaining focus on investing in, experimenting with and operationalizing new capabilities while averting the trappings of fads or fear of missing out.

In this new world order, businesses will have to strike a balance between efficiency and resiliency, which will enable a good deal of change management and digital transformation to ensure long-lasting relevance. Yet in these times of hyper-change, innovation guided by the voice of the customer is always in vogue.

Customer Experience and Member Engagement in the New Era

Financial services organizations have significant and unique roles to play in the societal responding to COVID-19 – both as we are in the midst of the global pandemic and as we emerge and eventually start to rebuild and recover. In light of this unprecedented challenge, Senior Content Producer at Finovate, Laura Maxwell-Bernier, spoke with Norman Buchanan, First Vice President of Design & Transformation at Alliant Credit Union, to discuss the implications of these unprecedented times for the customer experience and member engagement.

LMB: Thanks for taking the time to join me today. Let’s start with how customer experiences are changing… what does a good customer experience look like in these unprecedented times?

Norman Buchanan: The definitions and fundamentals of member experience stay the same no matter what external forces are at work. Throughout our 85-year history, Alliant has been committed to serving and supporting our members in good times and in bad. 

However, times like these do reinforce the human condition and highlight the importance of a human-centered member experience.  Establishing authentic, empathetic connections in these times is even more appreciated and critical during the crisis.

LMB: So, how can financial services institutions offer support and reliability to customers when they need it most?

Buchanan: It is critical for financial institutions to show support to our members and customers in this crisis. At Alliant Credit Union, our lending, product management and marketing team quickly developed a new unsecured loan product offering for our existing members within the first week of the crisis. In addition to our unsecured loan product, we have also made our Payment Deferral, Modification and Payment Reduction programs more readily available and easily accessible. These offerings are critical to providing a small amount of relief and peace of mind to members who are experiencing a sudden and dramatic change to their financial condition. 

We have been doing scenario planning for the last 10 years and some of the scenarios track closely to what we’re seeing in the market now.  We’ve prepared for times like these and will continue to monitor the situation every day so we can make rate change decisions that are in the best collective interests of our more than 500,000 member-owners nationwide.

LMB: How is Alliant Credit Union responding from the customer and member perspective?

Buchanan: During this uncertain time, we are focused on four priorities: continuing strong service to our members, employee and member safety, helping members impacted by COVID-19 and keeping members and employees informed.

Alliant instituted an initial work from home policy on March 13 and implemented a 100 percent virtual work from home call center within 3 business days to help support our members.  We had never implemented this type of a call center before in Alliant’s history, (and honestly something I never thought we would ever see) but we were able to accomplish it in rapid time thanks to our resilience as an organization.

Our contact center NPS Scores for the first month of being 100 percent remote are 2 points higher than the same period last year.  We mobilized a 100 percent work from home call center and have had slightly improved YOY satisfaction response from our members.  This is something our credit union takes a great deal of pride in having accomplished.

LMB: With social distancing now the norm, how can we harness digital services to best serve customers and engage members?

Buchanan: Digital Transformation has been the lynchpin of Alliant’s strategy over the last five years.  As our CEO, Dave Mooney puts it, “Banking is something you do, not a place you go.”  This strategy has driven the transformation of our Mobile and Online Banking offerings based in research and continual feedback from our members as well as investment in our call center infrastructure and analytics.  This strategy enabled Alliant to be in a position to close the majority of our branch network in 2018 so that we could focus on serving our members needs exclusively through our digital and phone channels. 

LMB: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge COVID-19 presents us in terms of delivering best-in-class customer and member experience?

Buchanan: The COVID-19 situation highlighted that a frictionless member experience needs to be supported by a frictionless employee experience, especially when that employee experience is 100 percent remote! 

Areas of the operation that historically have been underinvested in automation have been highlighted by this historic experience.  Operations like loan deferrals and modifications, which typically handle transaction volumes in the teens per week for us, have been overwhelmed by the current environment.  This allows us the opportunity to re-prioritize our focus to ensure that we can support our members with optimized and automated back office processes.  That will be an immediate legacy of the COVID Member experience challenge. 

A Journey to Purposeful Fin(tech)

The following is a guest post written by Theo Lau, Founder of Unconventional Ventures, Public Speaker, Writer, Podcast Host of One Vision.

2020 did not turn out the way we expected. With a tsunami of megadeals being announced in the first few weeks of the year, many predicted that it would yet be another banner year for fintech funding and M&A activities.

Then came the pandemic. And the economy came crashing down like Jenga blocks.

As COVID-19 has destabilized pretty much every aspect of our lives – companies big and small are preparing themselves for the long-term impact of the extended shutdown and economic downturn. With jobless claims hitting unprecedented levels, what do consumers need the most? How will financial services react and what roles do fintechs play?

Does the world need (yet) another metal credit card or another investing app? Do we really want to talk to our virtual assistant to figure out how much money we spent at Starbucks last month?

A new normal – and a different world

The U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent this month — a devastation not seen since the Great Depression. According to MarketWatch , “as many as 43 million new jobless claims have been filed since the pandemic began in mid-March, using unadjusted figures. That is one of every four people in the U.S. labor force.”

Goldman Sachs projected that the unemployment rate in the second quarter could hit 25%.

The health crisis has laid bare the structural inequalities that we face in the society, for those who are poor, non-white, women, and gig workers. According to the Washington Post , “20 percent of Hispanic adults and 16 percent of blacks report being laid off or furloughed since the outbreak began, compared with 11 percent of whites and 12 percent of workers of other races.”

Unsurprisingly, 70 percent of the people in line at a food bank had never been in a food line in their lives, according to Feeding America, the largest US hunger relief organization.

With so many who have yet to recover from the Great Recession, the added stress from the current downturn is unthinkable. How do we begin to think about recovery, when so many are in need? How do we build not only financial value, but also economic value? How do we, as an industry, put our focus back on the human experience? It is time to refocus on what matters.

Back to the basics

Give cash – fast

First and foremost, we need to get money in the hands of those who need it the most. Propel, a New York-based fintech startup and maker of Fresh EBT app, widely used by millions of SNAP households, is doing exactly just that. In partnership with non-profit GiveDirectly, the team delivers $1000 direct cash to 100,000 low income families in dire need of assistance amid the
COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Citizens Bank of Edmond, a community bank in Oklahoma, and Chime, a challenger bank, have both offered consumers early access to government relief.

Expand digital offerings

With more than half the world’s population in some form of lockdown, online and mobile banking adoption has increased dramatically for both incumbents and challengers. My favorite story is the one from PayPal, who reported that people over 50 were the company’s fastest growingsegment from March to April.

At a time when consumers are looking for safer and more convenient options to bank – this is the perfect opportunity to double-down and expand digital footprint.

  1. Be where your customers are. Engage with them via digital channels; augment capabilities of conversation interface and leverage online communities to share information and provide assistance.
  2. Create self-help or “how to” guides to walk users through different features of the digital offerings. And keep in mind accessibility needs – ensure that the design is inclusive of the demographics you are serving.
  3. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What information would they be looking for and what services would they need the most? Do they know what bills will be due – and if they would have sufficient funds to cover the expenses?

When deploying new digital solutions, design the experience around the end user – your customer – by having a deep understanding on what they want to be able to do with their money, not by what your legacy processes have dictated.

Improve long term financial security

While COVID has accelerated the move towards digital, financial institutions have the opportunity to become heroes in helping consumers tackle financial challenges and achieve long term financial well-being, beyond managing day-to-day transactions.

According to estimates by TransUnion, nearly 15 million credit card accounts and almost three million auto loans are in “financial hardship” programs. Using insights drawn from consumers’ financial activities, financial institutions can work with them to find best possible solutions to
navigate the outstanding debt. Fintechs such as BillShark can also be employed to help bank consumers trim monthly subscriptions.

Now is the time to help consumers better understand their full financial picture, and offer guidance on next steps forward – beyond offering insights on past behavior. Take into account their life stage, not age – and the financial obligations they have.

Another untapped opportunity is financial caregiving for loved ones. With older adults being physically isolated at homes, adult children need ways to help their parents manage finances. But beyond paying bills, consumers can leverage fintech solutions such as those offered by Eversafe, which can analyze activities across financial institutions and help protect their assets
from financial exploitation.

(You are) Always on my mind

It is as much the title of a song from Pet Shop Boys, as it is what firms should be telling their customers. As the saying goes: Actions speak louder than words. How companies treat their employees and their customers during moments of crisis speak volume – to their true values.

Now is the time for incumbents to partner with fintechs and offer the best-in-class solutions for consumers – as we slowly emerge from the crisis and navigate towards an uncertain future. We must turn our focus back at the core of what financial services is about: It is time for purposeful fintech – one that uses technology to do good – and serve the true needs of the society – beyond a shiny user interface.

Webinar: Critical Steps to Accelerate Digital Transformation in Customer Support

Webinar: Critical Steps to Accelerate Digital Transformation in Customer Support

When COVID-19 hit, the financial services sector was faced with an abrupt realization that digital transformation needed to accelerate. While moving to a digital-first approach is a massive undertaking, it can be tackled over a period of time. Financial services can see impactful digital changes implemented in hours, not years.

Most importantly, digital transformation places clients at the center of business. An exceptional customer support experience distinguishes leading financial services from the rest, helping to retain clients well beyond these unprecedented times.

Watch Zendesk’s Alex Mack, Sr. Solutions PMM, and Bank Novo’s Head of Customer Success, Brian Kale, for a live webinar. They’ll discuss quick steps financial institutions can take to digitize their customer experiences at a time when scaling support operations is crucial.

They’ll walk through digital customer support initiatives that are quick to deploy and can deliver big results. Learn how to:

  • Express empathy and build trust through personalization
  • Scale customer support with help centers and AI
  • Move customer conversations to SMS, social, and third party messaging platforms
  • Empower remote collaboration to expedite requests

See how these customer-centric initiatives can help scale your support today while strengthening your client experience for the future.

What Leading Challenger Banks Have Learned on Their Journey to Build a Digital-Only Bank

What Leading Challenger Banks Have Learned on Their Journey to Build a Digital-Only Bank

Finovate’s Charlotte Burgess spoke to Michal Kissos Hertzog, CEO, digital bank Pepper and insha’s Founder and Managing Director, Yakup Sezer, about the challenges of setting up a digital-only bank, and how to get the customer experience right with zero face-to-face interaction.

What key lessons have your challenger banks learnt as you looked to be digital only?

Michal Kissos Hertzog: One key lesson businesses have learned is that you can’t just paste a “digital core” over an incumbent bank. They have to be truly digital or there will be limitations and barriers.

The benefits of having a business model that is digital to its core is that banks can adapt quickly to constantly evolving customer demand, technology and innovation. Incumbents with legacy systems need to adjust quickly or partner with tech and fintech companies, or innovation will always be slower.

Yakub Sezer: The learning curve is very steep. When building a bank from scratch, especially in countries with strong regulatory bodies such as Germany, there’s a myriad of things to consider on the way, and many hurdles to overcome.

Courage is a necessity: If you have too many reservations about what you do as an entrepreneur, you’re inclined to fail. Learning to fail fast and get back on track even faster is crucial, and so is a strong partnership network. With Albaraka Türk, we’re lucky to have a strong investor with roots in our market segment behind us, but building a fintech-spirited bank out of a corporate culture is a completely different challenge.

Why do you think we have seen such a boom of “digital-only banks,” and do you think these challengers have the ability to take on those more entrenched players?

Sezer: Consumers are used to a level of convenience from their personal lives that it’s only natural they want to handle their finances in an equally convenient way.

Challenger banks have much faster innovation cycles and often enable a company culture that encourages a team to try out things, and fail where necessary, and learn from that, and then go on and improve, facilitated through digital organizational patterns, something legacy banks have been lacking for the longest time . However, I don’t necessarily see challenger banks and legacy banks as mutually exclusive. We’ve seen many great partnerships developing over the last years and both sides can benefit from each other in various areas.

Hertzog: The profit and loss model no longer works. Unlike the incumbents, digital-only banks have the advantage of being able to utilize data to operate on customers first, profit second basis. Customer needs and demands are changing and they expect so much more from the companies they engage with on a daily basis.

For example, Pepper’s research found that two thirds (67%) of Brits don’t feel well-equipped to make the best financial decisions for themselves, yet nearly half (47%) believe it’s a bank’s duty to help them make better financial decisions. This shows that banks need to do more in providing the necessary tools to help consumers make the best financial decisions.

This is something that many challengers have already achieved and are excelling at, so for the incumbents, it really is a question of adapt or die.

How do you ensure a great customer experience when you are a digital bank?

Hertzog: Unlike traditional banks who have implemented technology solutions to improve how they currently work, digital banks tend to do things differently. They work hard to identify customer pain points and then implement tech solutions to solve them.

Another way is by leveraging data. Digital banks might not have the long history of data that the incumbents do, but they are far better at utilizing it to adapt to consumer demand and offer personalized services. This typically creates a much better experience for the customer. For example, we know that debt is a huge problem for many people, so at Pepper, we use data to provide our customers with the necessary guidance before this happens; such as suggesting cheaper loan alternatives to an overdraft.

Sezer: For us, it’s been very important to find a strong niche. As a digital bank, we’re obviously attracting people that are looking for a very high level of convenience in banking; but we also have strong moral principles when it comes to what we do with our customers’ money. We’re also convinced that legacy banks have been doing certain things right: personal customer service is definitely a plus.

We’re combining the best of both worlds: a mobile-first banking experience, that offers consumers the possibility to get in touch with their beliefs and moral convictions through a personal banking partner.

Finally then, how do you see fintech as a whole evolving over the next decade?

Sezer: B2B solutions, especially will continue to gain traction across the board, and co-operation between digital and legacy banks will play an increasingly important role throughout Europe. But B2C is going to evolve as well; handling your financial situation will not be only banking anymore. With the ability to monitor personal spending habits and saving goals on your phone, customers will always be aware of their financial situation.

Hertzog: In the next decade, we can expect to see a lot more partnerships and collaborations – not just between banks and fintechs, but also fintech to fintech partnerships. Many successful businesses realize the importance of collaboration, so they can focus on what they do best and use other companies for the rest.

The other trend we can expect from fintech is increased personalization through the use of AI. At Pepper, we envisage a world where a consumer enters their favorite coffee shop, and we drop money into their account to pay for their coffee as a reward. This level of personalization and customer obsession will dramatically reform the banking industry in particular, as consumers opt for products that truly understand them and their needs.

How Accusoft’s FormSuite for Invoices Puts Machine Learning and RPA to Work

How Accusoft’s FormSuite for Invoices Puts Machine Learning and RPA to Work

This is a sponsored post by Accusoft. For more information on sponsored contributions please email sponsor@finovate.com.

Machine Learning continues to dominate conversations across the fintech ecosystem, but one aspect that rarely gets into the limelight is where the data to train the algorithms actually comes from.

Finovate sat down with Tracy Schlabach, Senior Manager, Product and Customer Marketing at Accusoft to discuss the company’s latest technology, the data challenges they overcame, and why having a symbiotic relationship with their clients drives their strategy.

Finovate: Give us an overview of what FormSuite for Invoices does.

Tracy Schlabach: FormSuite for Invoices is a toolkit for developers that are building invoice processing software solutions. FormSuite for Invoices does the heavy lifting of invoice processing, solving the hard part of finding and extracting data, such as invoice number, purchase order number, total due, line item quantity, line item description, and other data. It is configurable by the developer to extract the data specific to their needs.

Finovate: What are the technical differences between FormSuite for Structured Forms and FormSuite for Invoices?

Schlabach: FormSuite for Structured Forms deals with fixed forms, where the location of the information doesn’t move, such as a tax form, while FormSuite for Invoices deals with what we call semi-structured forms since the locations of certain values might move around the page based on the data.

For example, the “Total Due” field would move down in an invoice that has more line items. While FormSuite for Structured Forms does use AI to identify which form was passed in and to extract the data, the AI is more limited than what is required to process more dynamic content such as invoices.

FormSuite for Invoices uses some of the latest machine learning (ML) to be able to extract data from the line item tables found in invoices. This type of ML is what you hear about most often these days; deep learning with supervised and unsupervised training of a custom ResNet convolutional neural network. This technology “learns” from the changes that users make to the output results. For example, if the Total Due information on ABC Company’s invoice is located in a different quadrant on the document, the user will correct the output information. The ML technology in FormSuite for Invoices learns from these corrections, ultimately increasing confidence values.

A lot of our customers are dealing with both types of forms, structured and semi-structured, so we see people using these toolkits in combination to solve their overall forms processing challenges.

Finovate: What role does Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) play in FormSuite for Invoices?

Schlabach: Both FormSuite for Invoices and FormSuite for Structured forms have been used to serve as a data input source for RPA. When companies are using RPA to automate data entry on legacy systems, that data has to come from somewhere. Before RPA, a data entry person might key data from a piece of paper or from a computer screen into another screen that has the legacy application running on it. RPA performs the typing in place of that person, but now that data has to come from somewhere. If the data isn’t digital, for example, it is on a piece of paper, that paper can be scanned and the data extracted with one of our FormSuite products allowing the RPA robot to type that data into the legacy application.

Document capture and RPA make great partners in this way, automating what was previously a tedious and time-consuming job. Having that data available in systems quicker allows people to have quicker access to the data and make decisions faster. And the people doing the data entry are freed up to do more valuable work.

Finovate: What was the biggest challenge your team had to overcome in launching FormSuite for Invoices?

Schlabach: Line item tables are particularly challenging on multiple fronts. Their format varies a lot. Some have graphic lines surrounding each cell, but some are what we call white space tables which just use spacing to align the rows and columns. All the variation makes it really hard.

In addition, in order to use any ML, you have to have a lot of data to train with. We tried to solve the table detection and recognition using data from the leading research papers in this space, those that were winners of various ML competitions. But, we found they always fell short in some subset of our test data. 

Eventually, after working with various algorithms, one of our Principle Engineers identified a way to make a significant improvement in the ML algorithm, and the results are quite impressive. To solve the data challenge, we used a number of unique ideas to source the invoice images and used raw manpower (internal crowdsourcing) to create the “ground truth,” the correct values that are used in training and testing the machine learning.

It was an impressive effort that had the entire Accusoft organization contributing to our training data. We even had our CEO helping with the data creation at one point.

Finovate: Aside from the obvious benefit of saving time on data entry, what other benefits does FormSuite for Invoices bring to an organization?

Schlabach: There are several benefits. With Accusoft specializing in solutions for content processing, conversion, and automation solutions since 1991, developers can focus on their core strengths and let Accusoft handle the heavy lifting of content capture. As a toolkit, FormSuite for Invoices helps developers solve the most challenging aspect of the invoice process: data extraction. By embedding FormSuite for Invoices, developers significantly shorten their product’s time to market.

On the end-user side, automating invoice processing has been shown to contribute many benefits. The data entry, as mentioned, is the obvious benefit. However, companies also see dollar savings by paying invoices sooner and recognizing early payment discounts. In addition, with the speed of business today, having visibility to data is important. Invoice processing automation helps companies see a more accurate picture of their cash flow much quicker.

Finovate: So, what do you see as the next evolution of this technology?

Schlabach: As customers provide feedback, sometimes in the form of challenging images, we make improvements to the technology. That is the symbiotic value we have seen in many of our partnerships for document capture products. When partners report challenging images, we incorporate improvements into our products to better handle those images. We see this in our forms processing solutions, our barcode recognition product, our OCR and PDF products, and our viewer. We continually evolve our products, and as the exposure to documents in the wild increases, our products improve. 

We also see this technology expanding into other semi-structured forms use cases. Credit card statement processing, bills of lading, and purchase orders are just a few of the documents that could be processed using this technology. There are some different challenges in those types of documents, but there are also a lot of similarities to invoices that we can take advantage of.