Suits The C-Suite

(Last of three parts)

Anyone who has transferred money to another person’s account without having to deal with a bank employee — by e-mail, text, call or physical visit to a bank branch — is no longer a total stranger to financial technology. But keeping up with developments in the market can be dizzying, as fintech has grown exponentially of late, helped in part by the global health crisis that provided the impetus to reexamine processes and put the customer at the core of solutions.

Fintech trends have been disruptive and will continue to be so especially now that the mobility restrictions since 2020 forced financial institutions to take a good look at what a digital economy is going to look like. Looking at the practical responses of banks to stay agile during the pandemic by examining processes that can be automated and making them more customer-centric, we can see that financial institutions have already set into motion what could be the beginnings of digital transformation.

In some countries, financial firms are proactively taking steps to understand how their organizations can benefit from the wide array of available and emerging technologies. The experience over the past two years points to an acceleration of technological innovation in the years to come. Making sense of all the buzzwords can be a task for the uninitiated in the fintech world. It would be wise to identify which tech trends to focus on in relation to how they can impact the industry and diverse organizations.

In the first part of this three-part series, we discussed the key themes anticipated within the next two years in the fintech market in Asia. In the second, we looked at tax considerations in the Philippines. In this last part of the series, we take a look at a few of the tech trends that are worth keeping an eye on as the industry continues to experience dramatic change.

White labeling allows firms to sell products without incurring significant development expense, time or navigating regulatory compliance. Also referred to as “Banking as a Service,” it is an authorization to brand and sell products or services developed by another company. This allows fintech firms to create a branded front-end offering layer over white label application programming interface or API-enabled platforms.

This solution leverages the innovation ecosystem without the need to reinvent, reinvest in and go through the entire technology development life cycle. It significantly reduces go-to market offerings to customers and seamlessly integrates technology innovation, creative product offerings and compliance requirements in a highly regulated industry to better serve customers.

White labeling is a great and attractive option for businesses to leapfrog into the modern digital world. It is a strategy for emerging companies to reduce risks and free up resources to focus on what they’re good at — develop products, build the brand, and grow their client base. For fintech startups, white label solutions allow them to meet the demands of customers, minus the learning curve. Companies availing of these solutions, however, will have limited control over product development, and the drawbacks can range from bugs and security weaknesses to failure to observe the law.

A customer’s financial footprint is distributed across various institutions, instruments, and platforms, making it difficult to have a full view of their transaction history. Data aggregators collate customers’ bank accounts, mortgages, brokerage accounts, and credit card data, among others, so they could provide one financial view of customers, irrespective of channel and the businesses the customers transact with. They accomplish this through APIs used by fintech firms through which customers log in to their platforms.

This aggregation of data at scale is also the backbone of open banking and a free-flowing financial ecosystem. Data aggregation powers a wide gamut of fintech applications to provide financial services on demand like advising, lending, quicker money transfers etc. The portability enabled by data aggregators cuts down paperwork and allows customers to improve eligibility and access to better products/services. With a free flow of data in the financial ecosystem, firms can have a better view to offer personalized products in real time.

Data aggregators’ connection with many institutions, however, can equate with multiple points for possible breaches and leaks. Security risks can also arise from web data scraping, a process that involves a computer program logging into a bank’s website using a client’s credentials and reading code to extract financial data. The industry though continues to look into superior ways of aggregating data without compromising the protection of customers. This, nevertheless, brings to the fore the question of greater regulations that establish guidelines on how financial data is accessed and stored safely. 

Customer experience drives loyalty to brands. Financial institutions, in turn, grow revenue and margins based on customer loyalty. Hence businesses are increasingly automating core operations to focus on enhancing customer experience and loyalty.

Robotic process automation or RPA accomplishes mundane and repeatable backend processes better, faster, and more accurately. RPAs are easy, flexible, budget friendly, and quick to deploy, improving productivity while enhancing serviceability and incremental revenue. RPAs ensure mistake proofing, compliance, real-time reporting and insights in a highly regulated fintech sector.

Automation is a great boost to operational efficiency. RPA’s future popularity in the world of fintech will likely be borne out of its utility to compliance and regulatory needs. With automation, businesses are able to efficiently keep audit trails for every process, supporting high compliance.

More and more people get recommendations, shop for the best deals, and perform tasks using rapidly evolving voice assistants (e.g., Alexa, Siri, Google) backed by sophisticated natural language processing and artificial intelligence. Digital voice assistant-enabled devices are estimated to double to 8.4 billion by 2024 providing a smarter and more connected ecosystem than ever before.

Many banking services are rapidly being integrated and are accessible through voice assistants. As voice encryption, voice-biometrics, multifactor authentication and voice tokenization advances, a secure voice assistant has the potential to disrupt how customers will pay in the future. The pandemic and millennials comfortable with voice over typing will accelerate adoption. VEP is projected to be used by 31% of the US adult population in 2022.

This technology allows seamless, end-to-end, integrated concierge-like experience, allowing customers to multi-task better. As digital payment is the largest segment within the global fintech sector, voice integration with digital touch points will separate fintech leaders from laggards. To drive new opportunities, growth and leadership, fintech players will need to continue to rapidly adopt disruptive VEP technology.

As we keep an eye on these and many other tech trends, we will continue to witness the evolving behavior of consumers, which in turn will feed into the appetite of organizations to embrace and capitalize on this wave of technological innovation. There is, however, an element of uncertainty in technologies that, although disruptive, have yet to pass regulatory scrutiny. Financial firms will have to look at how best to jump onto the bandwagon, so to speak — to work on their own projects or fire up their collaborative spirit and forge alliances with industry peers to push new technologies to wider adoption.

The potential of these tech trends to help make a world of difference in how processes are improved and productivity raised can be astounding. At the end of the day though, leaders will have to go back to what matters most when embracing innovation — enhanced customer experience, services transformation, and a proven track to successful business models.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.


Anurag Mishra is a technology consulting principal of SGV & Co.