Banking on Tech: Hot Topics from Sibos 2017
Some of the brightest minds in banking and financial services gathered in Toronto this past October for Sibos 2017. Held just steps away from Bay Street – Canada’s Wall Street – the event attracted over 8000 delegates to discuss, learn, share and explore all things banking and financial services.
What were the hot topics making the rounds in Toronto? Certainly, things like blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have been grabbing eyes, ears and headlines in finance and mainstream media.
These were also part of a much broader theme explored throughout the conference: technology and the banking sector. Specifically, the application of new technology – from cloud computing to distributed ledger technology (DLT), from APIs to apps – to improve banking and financial services for both the masses and the business itself.
Collectively known as “fintech,” the integration of technology into the financial services sector is having a profound effect. In Toronto, that came alive in the first-ever Fintech Marketplace Discovery Zone – a part of the conference floor set up to demonstrate and explore new technologies designed to help the financial services sector deliver better service to their customers. Trulioo was delighted to be part of the Fintech Marketplace.
How we communicate, how we gather information, what we do with it – technology has disrupted nearly everything. Some industries balk at it or cower in fear of innovation, data and the digital space; others embrace and integrate it into their business. This is equally true in the banking and finance sector. While some are adhering to their traditional systems or legacy methods, a number of players have eagerly welcomed new technology, doing their best to keep at the forefront of implementing the latest advancements into their business practices.
Part of the reason is that they’ve had to – for both market and regulatory reasons. Yet another more encouraging part is that they understand its value and have reaped the rewards of investments in technology. The constant challenge is that technology is always changing, evolving and expanding. And the big question remains: What can new technologies do for financial services and, more importantly, how can they be employed to serve the needs of clients and customers?
Here are some of the tech-focused conversations and ideas from Sibos 2017.
The main reasons technologies like AI and ML have attracted so much interest is because of what they can do to improve efficiencies. By automating processes and then evolving and optimizing them at scale, AI/ML can help identify trends, uncover errors and fraud, and help perfect financial forecasting models. AI/ML powered solutions also instantly handles routine or repetitive tasks that take up valuable human resources’ time, such as answering client questions or processing data, while ensuring that your human brainpower is focused on the right kind of work.
Reducing Errors and Risk of Fraud
And speaking of human work, we should also address human error. Human beings are remarkable creatures, but give them repetitive tasks, a list of mundane procedures and a stack of process-in, process-out duties and they’ll get restless and fatigued. That’s when people make mistakes – and sometimes, big costly ones.
AI is less prone to do so. Programmed to identify anomalies, oddities and other problems, AI and related technologies can process enormous volumes of data, helping to pinpoint errors and potential risks to the business. A misplaced comma or decimal point can be costly; an invalid identity or a fraudster evading proper verification can be dangerous – from denying a family access to banking services to allowing a terrorist to launder money. AI technology is emerging as a tool for reducing these kinds of problems.
For example, traditional methods for verifying a business entity require lots of procedures, paperwork and patience; automating the process with AI cuts that significantly – generating clear insights and decisions in seconds. AI technology can also be used to reduce the risk of fraud. Previously, business clients submitted documents in person, which left the gate open for forgery or tampering of official documents. AI-powered solutions close in on that, allowing for immediate scanning and extracting of data from government records, business registries, official documents and other sources. With that, you can instantly verify a business, its beneficial ownership and the people who exercise significant control over the company. Protecting against fraud, money laundering and other nefarious activities isn’t just doing good due diligence, it’s also doing good business.
Attracting a global audience of financiers from nearly every corner of the world, improved collaboration is a shared value for Sibos attendees. Tech is doing its part to help power greater collaboration. For example, open banking and APIs (application programming interfaces), driven in particular by innovators in the fintech space, are helping banks redefine their business for the benefit of their customers and clients. Allowing the big FIs and banks to connect their data to third parties, these technologies are allowing faster, better collaboration to help identify new and improved products and customer service opportunities – precisely the kinds of things customers want from their banks.
Tech sounds pricey, but as an investment, it pays off. Efficiencies, error reduction, and vastly improved product offerings aside, there are also regulatory and compliance reasons – such as Know Your Customer (KYC) rules – for making the right tech investment.
Don’t think tech and automation are worth the investment? Consider what happened to U.S. Bancorp in February. Flaws in their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) processes resulted in over $600 million in fines and penalties from the U.S. government. A more robust tech solution could have saved them hundreds of millions and a damaged reputation.
Improving Customer Service
For the ultimate measure of success for any business, turn to your customers. Their expectations have changed and if those are not satisfied or exceeded, they’ll readily go elsewhere. Powered by tech, people have a new set of demands from their FIs and banks and those include real-time processes, instant and ready access, and top-tier service at every interaction – to name just a few.
From onboarding to everyday service, FIs must put the customer experience as their top priority. Technology is doing much to improve that, from mobile interfaces to instant verification of accounts and transactions.
The Bottom Line at Sibos 2017
But ultimately, the bottom line is customer (or client) experience. They expect it to be seamless, effortless, convenient and delightful – from account creation to daily engagement. Ignoring those demands is a serious risk. Can technology help today’s financial service providers provide a better service? The short answer from Sibos 2017 is “yes” – you just have to make it work and find the right tech solutions to help power your success.