FinovateFall Digital Features Ten Keynote Speakers in its Upcoming Autumn Event

In less than two weeks our all-digital, fintech conference, FinovateFall Digital will begin. If you haven’t registered yet for our week-long live and On Demand event – September 14 through September 18 – then there’s no better time than the present to visit our registration page and save your spot.

To whet your appetite for the latest in fintech thought leadership and technical innovation, we wanted to introduce you to ten of the industry experts who will be presenting keynote addresses during the week.

Pablos Holman – Futurist, Innovation Speaker, Inventor at the Intellectual Ventures Lab, Founder, Turing AI. LinkedIn.

There is no try but do: Raising the bar, passing the test, and innovating in a post-COVID landscape. Preview

Scott Gnau – Vice President, Data Platforms, InterSystems. LinkedIn.

“There’s a growing opportunity to lay the foundation for game-changing business data transformation that leverages both automation and analytics for sustainable success in any business climate.”

Digital Transformation’s Journey Toward Automation and Analytics. Preview

Jeremy Balkin – Head of Innovation, HSBC. LinkedIn.

“From robotics to wearables, how is technology being used to make us more human, to further financial inclusion and to allow for greater wealth creation?”

Technology and partnerships to bring people together, and the impact of COVID-19 on partnerships. Preview

Adam Dell – Head of Product, Marcus by Goldman Sachs. LinkedIn.

“What fintech trends will emerge as a result of the pandemic and how will consumer banking be changed forever?”

The Future of Finance: Predictions for a Post-Pandemic World. Preview

Sarika Sangwan – Global Head of Strategy & Marketing – Financial Services, Pinterest. LinkedIn.

“As one of the most trusted platforms, Pinterest allows FinServ partners to reach their target audience when and where it matters most.”

Rebuilding, capitalizing and maintaining customer trust in financial services. Preview

Tom Feher – Banking industry executive, U.S. financial services, Microsoft. LinkedIn.

“As the world continues to respond to COVID-19, we’re equipping our customers with the tools they need to respond, recover, and reimagine the future.”

Coming together to respond, recover, and reimagine during COVID-19. Preview

Paul Rohan – Head of Business Strategy – Finance, Google Cloud. LinkedIn.

“In the digital 21st century, customers expect their favorite brands to collaborate to provide extended and connected digital experiences.”

Open Banking is 21st Century Branch Banking. Preview

George Anderson – Founder and CEO, Ninth Wave. LinkedIn.

“Learn how leading banks are staying ahead of the surge in demand for transparent, secure, and scalable data connectivity from business, consumer, and wealth management customers.”

Open Banking: Ignore at Your Own Peril. Preview

Mike Burr – Lead Android Enterprise Security Evangelist, Google. LinkedIn.

“Discover how to debunk security myths, and learn how the latest, multi-layered security protections, encompassing software, hardware, and application levels, now leverage the power of machine learning to protect your device fleet.”

Redefining the approach to mobile security in fintech (and why it works). Preview

Oliver Hughes – CEO, Tinkoff.

“Learn about achieving profitability as a digital bank, launching new products in the time of COVID-19, and what you need to be thinking about in terms of current and future trends in fintech.”

Digital banking in a post-COVID-19 landscape: The bright future of fintech. Preview

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Innovating in a World of Exponential Change

Describing the opportunity to use AI to create tools and solutions that make society better off, Pablos Holman (pictured right) said, “we get the chance to work for the humans yet to come.”

I like the way of looking at a controversial technology in such a positive light. Instead of focusing on the potential of AI to displace us at our jobs or make our lives unfair in some ways, maybe it is better to examine how we can use AI to craft products, technologies, and services that make our world better to live in.

To do this we need to ask ourselves and the community we work in, “All of this technology is in our hands, what do we want to accomplish with it?” It’s important to ask questions like these in the fintech sector, so that the industry can control how we use new technologies such as AI. As Holman puts it, “Speculate about the possibilities, focus on the positives.”

Holman is a hacker, inventor, entrepreneur, and technology futurist who is on a quest to solve the world’s problems through the innovation of technology. He will be the keynote speaker kicking off FinovateFall on September 14, offering his thoughts on innovating in the post-COVID landscape.

He is certainly a speaker you won’t want to miss. Holman has helped build spaceships; the world’s smallest PC; artificial intelligence agent systems; and the Hackerbot, a robot that can steal passwords on a Wi-Fi network. He is a world-renowned expert in the fast moving 3D printing space, and is currently working on printing the food of the future among other things.

Holman will discuss some of the invention projects under way at the Intellectual Ventures Lab, and their efforts to create an Invention Capital market. He will also be showing off some of the super powers that hackers possess.

FinovateFall Digital will run September 14 through 18 and will be broadcast live in Eastern Standard time. There’s still time to register (at a discount!) so take advantage and book your ticket today.

Photo by Sinjin Thomas on Unsplash

A Place for Robots at the Banking Table

The new, low-touch economy has set me thinking about robots recently. The less society is able to interact with fellow humans, the more voids exist, especially in the services industry.

And I’m not just talking about restaurants and hair salons (though, are robot barbers in our future?). The banking industry is a prime candidate for the intervention of a physical robot in a world suffering from a highly transmissible disease.

Perhaps the most famous robot in fintech is HSBC’s Pepper, a humanoid robot created by Softbank. HSBC has deployed Pepper at branches around the world and has been praised for boosting ATM transactions, increasing credit card applications, and more.

At last year’s FinovateFall event I caught up with HSBC’s Head of Innovation Jeremy Balkin, who discussed the bank’s traction with Pepper the robot.

In a world still struggling to collectively fight the virus while remaining socially distant, HSBC is leveraging technologies such as AI, wearables, and robotics to bring people together. The bank is using these enabling technologies to help promote financial inclusion, spur wealth creation, and support equality through language translation.

These goals may require heavy-lifting but the technologies we have are more-than capable for the tasks at hand. At FinovateFall this September, be sure to catch Balkin’s keynote address as he discusses HSBC’s efforts amidst the global health crisis.

FinovateFall will take place in a digital format– complete with live, remote networking– on September 14 through 18. Discounts are available so be sure to book today.

Photo by Erik Binggeser on Unsplash

Jim Marous on the Future of Work in Banking

Finovate VP and host of the Finovate Podcast Greg Palmer (@GregPalmer47) recently caught up with Jim Marous, co-publisher of The Financial Brand, and owner and CEO of the Digital Banking Report.

The two discussed Marous’ latest research on the changing face of work in banking and financial services in the age of COVID-19. Here are a few excerpts from their conversation.

On the future of work-from-home (WFM) and working remotely in financial services

What we would found was that a lot of jobs worked almost as well if not as well from a work-at-home or work remotely environment as they did at the business place. One of the biggest examples were call centers. A lot of call centers, when they went remote, found out there wasn’t really a dramatic negative impact. In fact, from a quality of life basis, there actually was a better impact from the standpoint of employee happiness, awareness, and the ability to actually get the job done.

On the ability of new video and audio technologies to transform the way bankers work with small businesses

Let’s say you’re a small business banker. You can do a better collaborative call by not being in-person. (Instead) bring in three or four other specialists from the small business world into a (video) call to serve the client. An innovation example from Deniz Bank in Turkey was that for their agricultural division they found that their business bankers spent a lot of time traveling from farm to farm. But when they did it centrally (with video conferencing), they were able to bring in meteorologists, fertilizer people, equipment people, people that dealt with crop rotations and different elements that brought value to the farmer …

On overcoming the skills gap that can accompany rapid adoption of new technologies

Organizations and governments are going to be required … to help up-skill employees to be ready for the future. The challenge is going to be that employees and companies can’t wait for this to happen. Organizations right now need to find the people to fill those skill areas. Amazon, I believe, has committed to training 100,000 of (its) employees in moving to the digital world in their organization. They’re going to train their own employees because they realize it’s going to be easier to train them than it is to find them in the outside marketplace. But that’s not going to be enough. Employers and organizations are really going to have to encourage people to do this training on their own.

Check out the rest of the conversation. Join Jim and Greg on Episode 55 of the Finovate Podcast.

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FinovateAsia: Finding Opportunities in Emerging Markets and Financial Inclusion

Day Four of FinovateAsia Digital focused on two issues that have only become more pressing in recent months: the role of emerging markets as sources of innovation and new markets in fintech, and the rise of financial inclusion as a moral – as opposed to simply economic – imperative.

For many entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and consumers the fact that these themes have come to the forefront in 2020 is bittersweet. Global interconnectivity is now challenged by coronavirus-fighting lockdowns and quarantines. Efforts to bring more diverse voices to the fintech industry – and to bring the benefits of financial technology to more people – will put additional pressure on companies and entrepreneurs who are already negotiating technological disruption, increased competition, and economic uncertainty.

Here are some of the highlights from the fourth day of our all-digital conference. Visit our FinovateAsia Digital hub and register today to join us for hours of live and On Demand access to more insightful commentary on the trends shaping fintech innovation in the Asia-Pacific region.

On the importance of technology as a tool in advancing financial inclusion around the world

How can we use technology to include more people in the formal financial system? How can we reduce (the number of) unbanked and underbanked? Perhaps by 50% or more by 2022?

Half of the world’s unbanked adults reside in Asia. And there are more women than men who are unbanked. We can use technology to change that. Some of the top reasons for not having an account in a financial institution include: not having enough money, it costs too much to open an account; it’s too far to get to a branch; there’s not enough or insufficient documentation to prove you are who you say you are; or a lack of trust. A lot of these can be resolved with the proper business models, value proposition, and technology.

–Theodora Lau, Founder, Unconventional Ventures

On the biggest challenge Singapore faces in maximizing its opportunity as an international fintech hub

For us, for Singapore in particular, I think the ability for the cross-border business activity to start to pick up again (is key). Clearly during COVID-19 elements of that would have slowed down. So at the moment most countries are thinking about how do we get our domestic market back in shape again.

And the way that Singapore (sees it) – and I think this is a view from quite a few countries, not just around the region, but around the world – is if we start to think just domestically, then we miss a big trick here in terms of real growth and that will materially impact GDP. And so you have to start thinking about things as collections of countries, as regions, as a world. Because that way, if we all kind of plug together, we can stand up together rather than the opposite of that where everyone becomes a bit more nationalistic, the barriers come up, and we all end up a little bit worse off in terms of business activity.

–Pat Patel, Principal Executive Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore

On the role of readiness and the public sector in helping the fintech industry survive COVID-19

It’s a difficult time to be a fintech, but when you look at the various different aspects that make this challenging, with collaboration, sales, these are things that many successful fintechs have had in place in southeast Asia for many years – and indeed globally.

We’ve been talking to a number of B2B fintech companies that are doing very well in the roboadvisor space, in the payments space. It’s one of those areas that, before COVID-19 started, you really needed to be ready for it. And after COVID-19, it’s even more important to have those collaboration tools and remote sales tools in place.

–Zennon Kapron, Founder & Director, Kapronasia

Available both live (Singapore time) and On Demand during the conference week, FinovateAsia Digital is a unique opportunity for those interested in learning more about fintech in the Asia-Pacific region. Browse our all-digital presentations, interviews, and discussions; network with fellow attendees; and gain key insights into the trends driving fintech innovation in critical, emerging markets. Visit our FinovateAsia Digital Hub and register today.

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Adapting to Make Payments from 6 Feet Away

NCR has been in the finance industry since 1884, so it’s seen a lot of changes in how consumers make payments and interact with their bank.

Adam Crighton

A lot of those changes have taken place in the past six months as the coronavirus has driven massive changes in consumer habits.

To get a sense of what the industry looks like from a company that makes not only software services but also self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, ATMs, barcode scanners, and more, we consulted Adam Crighton, Senior Vice President & General Manager at NCR Digital-First Self-Service Banking.

What changes in demand for contactless banking have you seen since the coronavirus hit?

Adam Crighton: Obviously at a time when bankers and tellers are unable to service customers face-to-face, digital experiences really have become a lifeline for many people. People are using digital banking to conduct transactions from home, they are connecting with tellers and branch staff through live digital chat sessions, and self-service capabilities like Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs).

With that heightened need for customers and businesses to connect remotely, some financial institutions may be feeling they have fallen behind in terms of digital delivery and digital transformation. The pandemic has not created this level of demand, but it is fair to say it has certainly accelerated it. We do see that many customers that prior to banking were not using digital banking are now much more inclined to try a digital app or self-service kiosk.

How has NCR adapted (or accelerated the scale of) its products and services to suit these new needs?

Crighton: From an NCR perspective our mission is to help our customers keep commerce running whether it’s banking, retail, or restaurants and to really stay connected with their customer base. Many of our customers that have invested in our digital banking solutions and ITMs over the last several years have told us that it has really been their go-to in terms of leveraging these technology platforms to compensate for things like branch closures, and generally more limited access to branches based on restrictions around the world.

Keeping their staff and customers safe is obviously something very top-of-mind at the moment while still trying to provide a high level of service that is convenient, intuitive, easy-to-use, and accessible on an extended basis. The digital and self-service channel has always been safe and trusted channel from a customer and client perspective, and I think that the situation and circumstances around the pandemic have actually strengthened and reinforced the strategic value of how it can help our customers support their customers.

Additionally, we have introduced innovative new offerings. Take, for example, our Anti-Microbial Coating Service for self-checkout machines, ATMs, point-of-sale machines including restaurant kiosks – which significantly limits the ability for viruses to live on surfaces, reducing the possibility of transmission through touch.

What types of systems did you have in place before the virus hit that helped you remain agile to pivot or accelerate operations to serve the increased demand for contactless banking?

Crighton: NCR is uniquely positioned to help our customers continue to deliver great service to their customers in the new environment that we are all operating in. We are migrating at different paces in different countries and geographies out of the pandemic slowly but surely and encouragingly, and we need to be thoughtful about which consumer behavior expectations will remain with us going forward and how can we provide value add and assist our customers in how they evolve the branch ecosystem going forward.

Self-service historically has been very much focused on the consumers for obvious reasons, and the pandemic from a work environment point of view has considerations and implications for all of us. So one aspect of the environment that the pandemic has created is the opportunity to collaborate with our customers and consider how the branch ecosystem evolves from the perspective of the branch staff and what we can do from a self-service technology and software point of view. We can evolve our operations in a way that adds value and helps staff to be more efficient going forward and realign their focus potentially, but most importantly, support a very safe working environment.

Specifically looking at in-person payments, what do you think the landscape will look like a couple of years from now after the dust has settled with the coronavirus?

Crighton: NCR is helping retailers minimize the amount of time spent touching things in the store via touchless tech that helps customers go through self-checkout without touching anything, by scanning and paying on their mobile device in the store, and physical distancing tech, which helps store clerks clear transactions on mobile device while staying six feet apart from the customer.

NCR is helping restaurant customers shift to a digital-first mindset and stay operational enabling the restaurant for takeout, with contactless solutions, curbside ordering and pick-up, mobile payments — from the way food is served to how we pay the check.

How about in-person banking needs such as ATMs and teller services? What will these services look like?

Crighton: From our perspective we feel strongly that banks, financial institutions and credit unions should really shift their focus to a digital-first mindset. Not a digital-only mindset, but certainly a digital-first mindset.

Obviously at a time when bankers and tellers are unable to service customers face-to-face, digital experiences really have become a lifeline for many people. People are using digital banking to conduct transactions from home, they are connecting with tellers and branch staff through live digital chat sessions, and self-service capabilities like ITMs. Certainly we believe many of these behaviors will continue into the future.

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

Kids Love Cash: Insights from the COVID-19 Crisis

If digital transformation is sweeping financial services – and this trend has been accelerated by the global public health crisis, as we are often told – then what’s up with the huge and enduring demand for cash?

“I certainly would have expected, if you’d asked me prior to COVID: would COVID put a big dent in cash? I would have said “absolutely” because not only are people not going out, it has a dirty connotation to it,” Fiserv Senior Vice President David Keenan said during the Q&A portion of his recent webinar presentation, Looking Under the Hood of Today’s Payments Ecosystem.

“And yet if you look at the data,” he added, “that’s not what’s happening.”

This was one of many fascinating takeaways from Keenan’s research on payment trends in the COVID-19 era. That research was presented this week in a webinar that also looked at the rise of digital enablement in financial services and the inevitable transition to real-time payments. Keenan’s presentation is now available for viewing on an on-demand basis.

Toward the end of his discussion, which explained how and why companies need to be able to provide “the right options at the right time to create a winning payment experience,” we asked the Fiserv SVP why he began his presentation, which featured insights on digital enablement and real-time payments, with a discussion on the importance and endurance of cash.

Keenan said the decision to start with cash was deliberate – and given the program’s theme of “safe, fast, convenient payments” it is perhaps easy to understand why. For all of cash’s drawbacks – including the fact that paper money increasingly is seen as “dirty” in an ever-more touchless world – Keenan showed research from the Federal Reserve indicating that cash remains a preferred payment method in the U.S. – only trailing debit. Moreover, for about 85% of those surveyed, cash usage over the past 12 months had remained the same, or increased.

But perhaps most interestingly, this data also revealed that cash’s most passionate champions are under the age of 25. And this preference for paper money does not take away from GenZ’s appreciation of debit, which is on par with 25-to-34 year old, 35-to-44 year old, and 45-to-54 year old cohorts. Nor was credit usage impacted by GenZ’s preference for cash; GenZ credit usage was comparable with both 25-to-34 year old and 35-to-44 year old age groups. The main difference between GenZ and other cohorts was in the use of electronic payments, where its usage was typically half that of other groups surveyed.

A further note on the enduring preference for cash: while cash usage patterns have returned to trend after a brief, coronavirus-induced drop in March, the amounts of cash being used – which began increasing in March – have remained elevated.

Keenan speculated that what might blunt these accelerating cash trends could be a major response to the coronavirus – such as a vaccine. He said, “as long as we’re living in this one-step-at-a-time, back-to-the-new-normal, we believe cash is going to be an important part (of payments).”

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Ethical AI, Corporate Governance, and the Future of Financial Services

For every conversation about AI that begins with insects, moves quickly through primates, and then launches into the stratosphere of high-minded conceptions of superintelligence, talk about artificial intelligence among executives and entrepreneurs in the financial services and fintech world is far more grounded.

This was the message from Clara Durodié, CEO of the Cognitive Finance Group and author of Decoding AI in Financial Services: Business Implications for Boards and Professionals. Among the more provocative speakers at our conference in Berlin earlier this year, Durodié is likely to make an equally strong impression in her return to Finovate as part of our all-digital FinovateAsia conference in July.

“Technology is a tool to support the business, not a toy to engage and have fun in excellence centers,” she announced early in her address to our FinovateEurope audience. “Technology in our industry is a serious tool. (Technology) needs to follow business strategy, not the other way around.” She likened the responsibility to use technology ethically and with purpose to the responsibility of earning a license to drive. Durodié made it clear that, like a driver and a passenger sitting side by side in a moving vehicle, both technology creators and technology users stand to benefit from a commitment to responsible behavior.

Businesses that embrace a more ethical approach to technology – especially a technology as powerful as AI – are also those that are most likely and able to transition away from what Durodié has called a “product-centric” today to a “customer-centric” tomorrow. She has pointed out that AI can be a powerful tool for personalization in business contexts, while simultaneously enabling companies to move to a qualitatively and quantitatively new level in terms of automated business processes.

“The work we do is around deployment of ethnical AI for business growth and profitability.”

Who makes sure this happens? While the immediate onus is clearly on the business leader, CEO, or founder, Durodié emphasized that much of the business’ leadership will – or should – come from its board of directors, particularly in high-level areas like corporate governance, business strategy, and fiduciary responsibility, where ethical guidance is paramount. “This is challenge number one,” she said of startups and their relationship with their board of directors.

And not just any board of directors. Durodié referenced a study from MIT that indicated that simply having one individual with a “technology” background on a board of directors improved the likelihood that the company working with that board would yield 38% return on assets on a yearly basis. “And if you compound that every year,” Durodié added, “you can see why the people who actually do things right from the beginning will be ahead of the game.”

For Durodié, the conversation on governance is intimately linked (“married forever”) with the conversation on ethics, and it is important that companies develop processes and systems that are “explainable, auditable, and accountable.” This is especially important when the data involved is financial data, and when the technologies to be deployed against this data are as powerful as AI.

“Financial data on our customers is highly sensitive. And we need to treat it as such and protect it as such,” Durodié said. She noted that the companies that will succeed in effectively deploying AI will understand this challenge, and have the moral compass to build tools that are “robust and helpful.” “Algorithms have parents,” she noted. “Every bias, every conditioning we have, comes through the way we generate the data and design systems. It’s very important.”

Check out Clara Durodié’s keynote address from FinovateEurope. And visit our FinovateAsia page to learn more about her upcoming participation in our all-digital, fintech summer conference in July.

Cognitive Finance Group is a specialist consultancy that advises boards of directors on best practices in the adoption, selection, and implementation of AI-based systems.

Tools for Digital Transformation in the COVID-19 Era

Photo credit: Georg Eiermann

With ongoing stay-at-home orders in place due to COVID-19, companies of all sizes across many industries have had to find a way to take their operations into the digital realm. So while digital transformation had previously been on financial services firms’ radars, it has quickly evolved into a priority.

Bajaj Allianz has experienced particular success with its digital transformation efforts. To get some insight into best practices, we caught up with KV Dipu, President – Head Operations, Customer Service & Communities of Bajaj Allianz.

Many firms have recently had to fast-track their digital transformation efforts. What is your advice to ensure a smooth transition?

KV Dipu: The key is to move from the classic two-speed approach to a big bang approach. Since the accelerator (CEO, CXO or COVID-19 – no prizes for guessing!) for digital transformation is obvious, the most effective starting point is the touch point which generates maximum friction in terms of process performance vs. customer feedback. Secondly, transformation efforts follow use cases, not the other way around. Only when business owners own use cases do transformation efforts bear fruit! Thirdly, look for early wins to create competitive fervor across departments.

Disproportionate awards for early birds can help propel the lagging units forward. Fourthly, since deployment and adoption are entirely different buckets of fish, a strong reward program for fast adoption helps. Lastly, agility – defined here as the ability to recalibrate one’s approach with amoebic speed- in an era when the situation is changing by the day is important to carry the transformation through!

Bajaj Allianz has success in collecting and digitizing data with IoT-based devices. Talk to us about this initiative.

KV Dipu: Charles Darwin said, “It is the long history of humankind that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

At Bajaj Allianz, we strongly focus on collaboration and 100% adherence to regulatory compliance when initiating IoT projects. DriveSmart, our IoT-based telematics program, offers five unique benefits to customers: driving optimization, geofencing, 24/7 road assistance, social integration, and gamification. Some of these benefits are possible only through IoT. For instance, geofencing lets you know if the car strays off the beaten path! Similarly, social integration lets you know if a friend is on the route to your weekend destination!

Likewise, when we launched our “connected school” initiative which included an IoT-enabled solution combining safety, security, as well as insurance coverage for school students, we addressed parents’ worries around school travel. We tracked children using RFID cards and geofenced their travel routes to ensure maximum safety.

Do you have other IoT device projects in the works?

KV Dipu: We have also leveraged IoT to digitize our health insurance medical check-up process. It is now automated and paperless end–to-end; we even won the Celent Model Insurer 2020 Award for the same!

What other tools have you relied on to enhance digital operations?

KV Dipu: We have deployed an array of tools to enhance digital operations. For starters, we walked the talk on blockchain when we deployed it in the area of claim settlement for international travel insurance. In case your flight is delayed beyond the terms and conditions in the policy, you don’t even need to notify us of the claim! Once you submit your documents, we get to know of the flight delay and can send you the amount even when you are still in the airport. Similarly, our bot leverages AI to offer 24/7 assistance via the website, Whatsapp, and even Alexa! We have also deployed robotic process automation (RPA) to automate a range of activities in the back office.

One of the most difficult aspects to digitize can be tools that rely heavily on collaboration and communication. What was your experience in making communication digital?

KV Dipu: We have had a wonderful experience making our communication digital! Our motto during the current phase of social distancing was to stay digitally connected with our employees, customers, and partners while being physically distanced. With our employees and partners, work from home became an opportunity to bond from home by celebrating virtual birthday parties and organizing painting, cooking, and singing team activities using digital collaboration tools. With customers, digitizing communication involved a shift from the call centre to digital servicing tools such as Whatsapp, bots, website, app, and portal.

We also leveraged social media to connect with customers. The highlight was digital launches of new products! In fact, based on recent engagement levels, we scored the highest brand engagement rate in the insurance industry! Since we continuously engaged our customers using email, SMS, and digital platforms and enabled transactions on digital assets, our customer satisfaction scores actually improved!

How are you balancing the need to keep things as stable as possible for customers and employees during an uncertain time with the need to drive digital change?

KV Dipu: Communication is the key when trying to perform a balancing act between stability for the present and digital change for the future. We embarked on a multi-modal communication exercise, informing customers that we are just a call or click away. With employees, we propelled our home-grown engagement program christened “Celebrating You” with a strong focus on four fulcrums: fun at work, digital learning, virtual town halls, and videos and podcasts for mental health and physical workout tips.

Digital change gets established as customers experience the ease and convenience of digital assets. Work from home, for instance, given the win-win for both – employees save on commutes to work, firms save on expensive real estate – is likely to be a permanent feature. Similarly bots, Whatsapp, portals, and websites with 1-click features are here to stay. Tomorrow’s organization chart may well show a manager leading a team of both humans and machines!

Personalization and One-to-One Communication

Gregg Hammerman has seen first hand what works when it comes to personalization. In fact, in 2012, he launched a company built around the entire premise of personalization.

Hammerman is now CEO of Larky, a mobile engagement platform that enables financial institutions to put the right message on an account holders’ lock screen at the right place and time. However, personalization and push notifications– while effective– can be difficult to implement. Not only do the timing and location have to be perfect, there is a careful balance between messaging and spam. On top of that, privacy is often a top concern for both financial institutions and their end users.

We caught up with Hammerman to tap his expertise on implementing a personalized user experience.

When it comes to personalization in fintech we often hear of sending offers to the right consumer at the right time in the right place. What is the most challenging aspect of this?

Hammerman: It’s critical to make sure that these communications are relevant, meaningful, and helpful to the consumer. We work closely with financial institutions to create experiences that use these communications to make people feel like they are part of a special club.

Three key things make our programs a success. First, we recommend segmenting an audience so you can tailor messaging for a person who has a mortgage, someone who recently purchased a car, a student with a new checking account, and other unique parameters that shape consumer habits. Second, scarcity is a powerful component. Consumers want to know that they have access to something special that isn’t available to everyone. Third, communications need to be fresh. Consumers want to see new messages and new experience opportunities on a regular basis.

What measures does Larky have in place to keep banks from fatiguing their customers with too many alerts and messages?

Hammerman: We work closely with our financial institution clients to give them complete control over how they communicate with their customers. The financial institution is always able to increase or decrease messaging frequency based on what is the best fit for their audience.

From an end-user perspective, account holders can snooze messages, turn off some types of notifications, and more. A lot of this discussion returns to making sure that these communications have high value. If every time I go for an auto repair, my financial institution tells me that I can save $100 because I’m a valued account holder, I’ll never fatigue from that message.

Thinking about geo-targeting, how does Larky balance a user’s privacy with the need to know their physical location?

Hammerman: Larky has been on the forefront of user privacy since our initial solution launched in 2013. We believe that users have the right to access any information that is collected or stored about them, and the right to obtain that information and have it destroyed if desired.

We are in compliance with all regulations from Europe and California. We plan to continue to lead and innovate on privacy. We don’t sell the data that passes through our servers. It’s not part of our business model. We have never and will never share any user information with any third parties.

Aside from knowing a consumer’s location and the best time to send a relevant offer, how else does Larky help banks with personalization?

Hammerman: We’re now working with financial institutions to leverage data from their other systems to help personalize communications. For example, we help improve new account holder onboarding with touchpoints that welcome and educate new clients and help them become more engaged with the financial institution.

We’re able to help financial institutions create campaigns that reach out to only their account holders who have an auto loan, just one account with the financial institution, recently started direct deposit of their paycheck, and much more. We’re finding that partnering with financial institutions to personalize the right message to the right consumer increases the impact of the campaign and includes account holder engagement.

Apiax on Why 2020 is Turning Out to Be the Year for Regtech

News from regtech companies has been flowing in 2020. Not only that, we saw significantly more regtech companies at FinovateEurope earlier this year than we have at previous events.

To get some insight into what’s driving this, we caught up with Apiax Co-founder Ralf Huber, who has over 16 years of legal and compliance experience within the financial industry and helped launch Apiax in 2017.

Talk to us about how Apiax makes regulations digital. Aren’t most regulations already available in a digital format?

Ralf Huber: Yes and no. It depends on your definition. PDF documents are technically a “digital format” but they are one-dimensional and still require a lot of manual interpretation. Truly digital is, in our meaning, responsive and machine-readable regulations.

Considering the pace of innovation in business you would expect to find more digital solutions in legal and compliance, but in reality it is lagging far behind with manual processes and text-based resources. As well as costly and inefficient, the ambiguous terminology can be difficult to interpret, which ultimately puts the business at risk. We want to change that.

At Apiax, we transform text-based manuals into responsive and machine-readable compliance rules. These rules combine individual case attributes with relevant regulations for precise dos and don’ts to any given business scenario.

In practice, you can access guidelines through user-friendly apps and be compliant at the touch of a button – as opposed to reading 50+ pages from a policy or manual. Alternatively, companies can integrate the rules directly into their internal applications and workflows to serve as a “compliance plug-in.”

What is behind the name “Apiax”?

Huber: Apiax simply refers to what it enables you to do.

API stands for Application Programming Interface and is the technology we use to integrate our compliance rules into digital processes, like a compliance layer. It allows for rules to work behind the scenes of existing infrastructure to identify, block, or notify of noncompliant actions. Once compliance has gone digital, it supports business growth and helps create highly efficient processes whereby compliance is the only possible outcome. This is also known as compliance by design.

AX refers to “ask,” a spelling version used historically and still today in some parts of the world. In other words – ask the API!

How has COVID-19 impacted Apiax? Have any opportunities arisen out of the crisis?

Huber: COVID-19 has shaken entire industries and many companies have had to re-evaluate core business practices and compliance frameworks because of it.

We at Apiax trust the capabilities of technology and understand its central role in making organizations lean and resilient. Our digital-first solutions reflect the way we already operate and do business ourselves.

Lately, we have seen broader industry endorsement as financial institutions aim to keep their compliance units operational when team availability becomes challenging. Many companies look for ways to digitalise their core client-facing processes, a transition which requires machine-readable compliance expertise. Paper-based documentation and text-based policies do not fit into this digital workplace and accessibility is poor.

Now, more than ever, it is important to share know-how seamlessly and independently of team availability — especially with business stakeholders. Adapting to today’s challenges will help shape future best practices and key processes. We will all learn and come out of this better equipped to tackle uncertainties and change. In the meantime, we are here to help with that transition. Simply drop us a message.

Regtech seems to be becoming more mainstream in fintech. Tell us why 2020 is turning out to be the year for regtech solutions?

Huber: RegTech has traditionally taken hold in the financial services industry with its undergoing wave of technology and constant regulatory scrutiny. Building on a tough decade of post-recession initiatives and an influx of financial regulations, many organizations look for ways to minimize the burden and spend of compliance measures in favor of growth objectives and innovation.

Meanwhile, technology has made it possible to add user experience and accessibility to regulation – two concepts that used to be far away from each other. RegTech enables organizations to better stay in line with compliance standards whilst materializing growth plans with a stronger go-to-market readiness.

If you missed Apiax’s demo at FinovateEurope earlier this year, you can watch the full demo video below.

Building a Financial Advisor for Main Street America

We recently chatted with SuperMoney Founder and CEO Miron Lulic to give us an update on the company’s platform that helps consumers reach their financial goals.

Miron, who strives on “creating something from nothing,” founded SuperMoney in 2013. The California-based company has raised $1 million and topped $2 billion in loan requests on its platform last August.

SuperMoney’s mission is to help Americans reach their financial goals. Tell us a bit about how you do that.

Miron Lulic: SuperMoney offers the most comprehensive, transparent and objective resource to compare financial services. There are a lot of personal finance blogs that write articles for whatever service is offering the best payout. SuperMoney is built as a platform to help find any financial product or service. The content found on our product profiles are dynamically generated based on stored data attributes. We are better than anyone at giving people the facts. Our community members provide a qualitative dimension about their experiences by indicating whether they would recommend or not recommend a service. These two dimensions combined help people make better financial decisions.

Furthermore we’ve made it easy for people to get competing personal loan, auto loan, auto refinance, and student loan refinance offers through our loan offer engine. We’re tightly integrated with all the leading online lenders so that consumers can submit a single application and get real loan offers back in real time.

Lastly, we provide a lot of financial education content that is financial goal focused. We are diligently working on expanding our ability to give people actionable advice that goes beyond basic content.

SuperMoney helps users with a handful of financial goals– from buying a house to getting out of debt. Which of these goals is most popular among your user base?

Lulic: Getting out of debt is the most common goal among our users. Our platform helps consumers find the best financial strategies for their unique circumstances. In some cases, that means refinancing credit card debt with a debt consolidation loan. For others, it might mean talking to a credit counselor.

We like to refer to ourselves as the “Financial Advisor for Main Street America.” Most Americans are not looking for help with tax loss harvesting strategies. They are looking to get out of debt, establish savings, and eventually buy a home. We are building the tools to help tackle these basic goals.

What is SuperMoney’s business model? How do you make money?

Lulic: We sometimes, (but not always), receive compensation when we refer users to financial service providers found on our website. This is similar to the model sites like Nerdwallet and Credit Karma use. The difference is that our unified platform provides the tools to compare a wide selection of financial services in an objective way, not just the ones that provide us with compensation.

In 2018, SuperMoney launched a product to help small businesses offer POS financing options to their clients. Do you plan to extend this further, for example, to larger businesses or to online retailers?

Lulic: Yes, we are in the final stages of launching an exciting new service that will open our financing platform up to a broader set of partners. We hope this will help millions of new users make smarter and more informed choices.

What’s next in the innovation pipeline for SuperMoney?

Lulic: We feel there is a huge opportunity to leverage artificial intelligence in the financial advice and planning arena. This is already happening in the investment sector with roboadvisors and AI-powered analysis. Yet, we have hardly scratched the surface when it comes to personal financial planning for everyday consumers. Our goal is to simplify the experience and provide smarter suggestions to users who are looking for basic financial advice.