Martin James, Regional Vice President, Northern Europe at DataStax
Artificial Intelligence offers huge opportunities to banks, but how can they use the data they hold more effectively?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is getting huge amounts of investment from enterprises – according to IDC, spending on AI and cognitive computing went up by more than 50 percent in twelve months from 2017 to 2018 to an estimated $19.1billion worldwide.
The financial services sector is currently leading on AI investments, with the emphasis on real-time transaction analysis and smart fraud detection through to algorithmic trading and AI-managed funds. Banks and financial institutions are beginning to see the inherent potential of AI, especially when it comes to attracting new business by delivering better, more personalised customer services.
Understanding the different technologies – and why they matter to banking
The real attraction of AI is that it goes far beyond the boundaries of traditional computing into the realms of to understanding and extracting value from the massive amounts of data banks possess.
For example, Macquarie Bank talks about creating both oversight and foresight as part of the bank’s AI-based digital banking platform. This includes providing information to individual customers on their accounts, and using analytics to give the bank more insight into customers. AI is not only about smart automation – it’s about the insights that come from analysing data.
Machine learning enables computers to ingest data in order to ‘learn’ how to progressively improve the performance of a task. With this ability to sift and make sense of large amounts of information, machine learning in the banking industry has been able to reduce the time spent processing credit agreements, for example, from hundreds of thousands of man hours to seconds. With hundreds of different tasks across banks that can benefit from automation, the potential for AI to reduce costs is huge.
However, the majority of banking interactions rely on context. Customers may have multiple accounts and services with their bank – however, many banks struggle to build up that complete picture of the customer. For customers, the issue of feeling that their bank does not get them or understand their needs is one of the principal reasons for dissatisfaction. Yet the reason why banks have failed to build up single customer views is not due to a lack of data. Instead, the problem is how to manage this data effectively at scale and across different silos.
Using data effectively – based on new technologies like graph analytics – is an effective first step to delivering more joined up services. With this improved understanding of customers, it is then possible to look at how AI can be applied to understand customer behaviour and expectations. This can now be applied to customers with accounts across multiple banks as well – the advent of PSD2 and Open Banking means that banks have to share account data with each other and with third parties, which should make it easier to build up this picture of each customer based on their real-world activities and history.
It’s here where AI becomes so attractive. By recognising patterns in customer behaviour based on the data that they create, banks can make more recommendations to customers that actually fit their needs. By looking at what is taking place for that customer at that point in time – rather than thinking about group behaviour and what might be useful – banks can target their service offers more efficiently and stand a better chance of success. Secondly, automation and AI can spot services that customers may benefit from and make the process to use them easier.
Customers are always more likely to return to a service that’s easy to use and genuinely helpful. The benefits of AI are obvious, but if banks set themselves on a path to further adopt it, they will also need to pay greater attention to the underlying technologies that enable it.
What steps are necessary to improve the customer experience, and how are banks able to get there?
With the growth in mobile and web-based applications, there’s never been so much choice for customers who want to access banking services through their desktop, phone or tablet, whenever and wherever. In today’s fast-moving ‘right-now’ economy, customers have come to expect an immediate, integrated and seamless user experience, and service providers that don’t deliver get dropped.
Often, the most complex part of AI is not developing the algorithm but managing the data layer. For banks exploring exciting new AI use cases, their deployment strategy can become just as much about data management as AI. How do they extract the data they need out of traditional core banking applications in order to successfully deploy these AI technologies?
Across most businesses, data has historically been gathered – and is often still gathered – in an unstructured way. In banking, customer information can be spread across multiple accounts and many siloes. Getting the most out of data in order to gain insights into customer behaviour and to give more personalised customer experiences can be difficult when using legacy database technology to understand complex data relationships.
Platforms with capabilities to build a Single Customer View (SCV) from various sources of internal data are able to more easily identify individual customers. They not only help with compliance and privacy, but also give context to customers’ relationships with the company meaning personalised CX can be delivered.
In order to support new service design and delivery, data must always be available. Downtime can cost banks millions of pounds, so it’s important to ensure critical applications have always-on access to data. A solid data structure that eliminates any single point of failure in any kind of multi-cloud and/or on-premise architecture is essential.
Real-time access to data is also important. Combined with internal customer records, real-time capabilities and transaction analysis can give instant insights into customer behaviour, telling banks when someone might be receptive to new product marketing or when they might be unhappy with a service. Theis information give banks a competitive edge when it comes to delivering personalised recommendations, support and even innovative new services.
Analytics are important for helping to meet the needs of the today’s hyper-connected ‘right-now’ customer. In banking, the ability to respond quickly to issues such as errors and fraud is essential, and this means understanding the data landscape moment-to-moment. Without this real-time insight, customer experience will be poorer and issues will be flagged too late. In banking, a service offer that is made five days or five minutes late will be treated in the same way – with disdain.
For banks that operate on a global scale, it’s critical that customers can immediately obtain their information from whatever location they’re based in. But that means the data must be accessible anywhere too. In order to achieve this, it’s necessary to use a data platform that can manage widely distributed data and that replicates and synchronises data across whatever server infrastructure is being used, whether that be hosted with a cloud provider, on a bank’s own data centre or combinations thereof.
Today, the amount of data, the types of data and the speed at which data can be created are growing exponentially. Traditional systems are sometimes unable to process massive increases in data and are not always built to be adaptive. Data platforms must, therefore, be able to manage data with continuous and predictable scalability.
Data platforms with built-in analytics can also help banks plan for future architecture, understanding where they need to build in flexibility and scalability. Data management is a fundamental layer of AI technology, so getting the key architectural decisions right today will help companies wanting to embrace AI to prepare for tomorrow.
Useful source materials:
RegTech 2020: The rise of Open Banking
This month on the RegTech 20:20 podcast, host Alex Ford is joined by industry experts Gavin Littlejohn, Chairman of The Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) and Jamie Leach, Regional Director of FDATA ANZ and Founder of Open Data Australia, to discuss developments in Open Banking, and the place of RegTech.
Today, the focus is on the digital customer experience and the insight offered indicates that there has been a major shift in the FinTech ecosystem as a source of potential innovation for banks, rather than being a direct competitive challenge.
In the podcast, Alex quizzes Jamie on the concept of sharing data and the impact of the introduction of Open Banking rules under the Consumer Data Right (CDR) in Australia. Jamie shares that it is an exciting time to be involved in the sector:
“…what we really need to consider is that Open Banking in Australia is very different to Open Banking in the UK. Really, what has spurred Open Banking in Australia under the Consumer Data Right is the pursuit of creating greater competition and greater innovation, while allowing consumers to do more with their data.”
Gavin, who has many years of experience in the industry and, as well as his role with FDATA is also a key member of the UK Open Banking Implementation Entity, speaks on the theme of advocating Open Finance in the UK.,’
Delving deeper into Open Banking, he highlights the fact that it has been an interesting journey and states that “the important thing to understand is the difference between the UK’s Open Banking order and the wider payment services directive.”
Not only concentrating on Australia, Jamie also works across the sector in the UK and, also looking at its evolvement here, she suggests that the people creating the rules are now taking notice, adding: “We are just getting started – the UK has been at it for nearly three years and it is still gaining momentum.”
With regards to future predictions, Jamie believes “It’s going to take 12, 18 or 24 months before we see any mainstream major adoption and where the potential of Open Banking can go in this market”
Moving to the differences between Open Finance and Open Banking. Gavin defines the latter as “payment initiation and access to payment data, which enables a third-party provider or fintech with a customer relationship to initiate a payment and get access to the data relating to transactions.”
“…the concept of Open Banking is a bit like electricity – you don’t use it directly; you use an appliance that uses it. This could mean loans, money management apps, or cloud accounting platforms, which all use Open Banking.”
Throughout the episode, both guests provide interesting insights and hint at the significant potential of Open Banking.and the connection to RegTech within this domain.
It is clear that what we see today is only the beginning. Despite the industry still being in the early stages of implementation in almost all cases, there is increasing interest in moving beyond this to include a far broader spread of financial products.
You can listen to the full episode at https://www.encompasscorporation.com/regtech2020-podcast/ or across all major platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify.
New digital first bank – Monument – announces its key technology providers
- Monument selects Mambu, Salesforce, Amazon Web Services, Persistent Systems and Accenture as key providers for its technology build
- Monument is the first challenger bank in the UK to service the unmet demands of more than 3.5 million mass affluent clients: professionals, property investors and entrepreneurs
- It is building a modern, unique, lego-like technology platform which takes best of breed SaaS providers and integrates them in a cloud based microservices architecture
- This will deliver an exceptional client experience and enable Monument to innovate and to introduce new components on a frequent basis
- Monument today announces that Mambu will be the central core banking engine in the platform alongside Salesforce for CRM, and AWS for cloud services
- Monument has also engaged Persistent Systems and Accenture Interactive to support the platform build
Following receipt of its banking licence with restriction on 6 October 2020, Monument has now signed agreements with a number of key technology providers to enable the build of its bespoke technology platform.
Monument wants to deliver exceptional client experiences by using technology solutions that are modern, flexible, easy to integrate and ultimately, if necessary, able to be replaced should the need arise. The design of its lego-like technology platform is Monument’s solution to the huge challenges faced by the legacy systems of established banks. Having assessed the market over many months, Monument concluded that no appropriate single solution existed in the market for the products and services that Monument will launch in 2021.
In addition, Monument only wishes to develop its own technology where it can deliver significant competitive advantage, for example in the mobile and web services to be used by clients. Much of the technology platform is therefore based on best of breed solutions from modern, cloud-based providers.
Mambu has developed the leading cloud banking engine which is an excellent fit for the platform that Monument is building. Similarly, Salesforce provides an industry leading CRM (customer relationship management) solution which can easily be integrated with Mambu and other solutions. AWS, as a leading provider of cloud-based infrastructure, provides a range of components to ensure the platform is reliable, scalable, secure and flexible.
To support Monument in building and integrating a platform with more than 18 different components/providers, Monument has chosen to work with Persistent Systems, a leading global solutions provider specializing in digital with extensive experience in software as a service (SaaS) solutions. To support Monument in rapidly building its mobile app and web-based channels, Monument has chosen to work with Accenture Interactive, which has significant expertise in building innovative digital experiences in both the financial and non-financial sectors.
Steve Britain, Monument’s Chief Operating Officer said:
“We have been working closely with our chosen providers for some months now, to lay the foundations for the build of our platform. We are delighted at how much we have already achieved, particularly as much of the work has been done by a highly distributed team because of COVID-19. We are now focused on completing the work to build a unique configuration of best in class software components that will make us highly flexible for the future and deliver market leading client service.”
More announcements will be made shortly as other key components of the architecture are confirmed.
Sudip Dasgupta, Monument’s Chief Technology Officer added:
“It was essential to me that we selected the strongest providers available. Those that offer us modern technology solutions with the best degree of integration that we need, together with flexibility for the future and proven operational reliability. In Mambu, Salesforce and AWS we have certainly achieved that objective and we are excited about our future engagement with them. Equally, as we rapidly build our platform for launching with clients in early 2021, we wanted support from providers who have been on this journey before and in Persistent and Accenture Interactive, I am delighted to say we have found that.”
Monument will be the only bank to offer its clients an entirely digital journey for buy-to-let and property investment lending of up to £2million. It will offer market leading, top quartile savings rates and its model is designed to reward loyalty. So, if a saver deposits money for a subsequent fixed term, they will get a better rate than a new customer. And a borrower who renews their loan will also be offered a favourable rate.
UKRSIBBANK, part of BNP Paribas Group, announces a strategic partnership with financial wellbeing startup Dreams, to enhance the digital user experience of its 2 million customers in Ukraine
- The technology powering popular consumer app, Dreams – which has helped 460,000 users save over 440M EUR – will be made available to UKRSIBBANK’s users in Ukraine.
- Through the integration of the Dreams platform within UKRSIBBANK’s own digital tools, customers of the bank can set and achieve money-saving goals, track and improve their financial lives.
Dreams (https://www.getdreams.com/en/b2b/), the Stockholm-born fintech empowering millennials to save and feel better about their money, today announces a strategic partnership with Ukrainian commercial bank UKRSIBBANK, a subsidiary of French international bank BNP Paribas Group.
This partnership follows the announcement earlier this year of Dreams’ first enterprise partnership with banking software provider Silverlake Symmetri, and the recent unveiling of a new department in Stockholm dedicated to the development of Dreams’ B2B partnerships. The announcement marks an expansion of the company’s business model as it consolidates its B2B offering and evolves its services as a provider of white label solutions for financial institutions.
Through the integration within UKRSIBBANK’s own digital tools of the Dreams Platform – which is rooted in scientific principles – customers can set and achieve money-saving goals through clever, automated saving features, in addition to nudges and saving hacks.
The Dreams Platform will be included as part of UKRSIBBANK’s digital banking offering for its 2 million+ customers, and is set to grant millions of potential consumers across Ukraine access to products which will help keep their finances on track and improve their financial lives.
The rise in digital self-help tools has long been anticipated by Dreams and forward-thinking financial institutions. The current global economic uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has also placed significant strains on people’s finances, and the demand for better personal finance tools has only accelerated. The partnership with Dreams is welcomed by UKRSIBBANK which is currently striving to equip its customers with the best possible banking solutions whilst helping them achieve a more sustainable lifestyle.
Dreams is firmly established as an authority in its industry, having launched its consumer-facing app in its native Sweden in 2016 and Norway in 2018 – where it has already achieved a 16% market share of all 20-39 year olds.
Henrik Rosvall, CEO and founder of Dreams, comments: “It’s a true honour to be partnering with UKRSIBBANK and BNP Paribas Group, and we’re incredibly excited to be introducing the Dreams solution to UKRSIBBANK’s customers and the wider Ukrainian market.
“Dreams and UKRSIBBANK can now lead the charge, with BNP Paribas Group’s corporate strategy having shifted in recent years to focus on guiding customers towards responsible consumption and sustainable personal finance management. I’m confident that our mission of helping millennials save more and feel better about their money makes us the ideal partners.
“Our financial wellbeing platform – which is built upon behavioural science and personal finance management principles – will provide the perfect tool for UKRSIBBANK to help its customers make better financial choices and become more sustainable in the way they handle their finances. This partnership will also help UKRSIBBANK safeguard the loyalty of its customers and futureproof its digital banking offering against a growing number of challenger banks and fintechs.”
Konstantin Lezhnin, Head of Retail at UKRSIBBANK BNP Paribas Group, comments: “I believe that banks have a role to improve their customers’ lives. Planning and saving for important life events improves our quality of life by reducing stress levels, and we wish to make our customers feel more confident and in-control of their lives.
“UKRSIBBANK has always applied innovative ways to assist our customers in financial planning, so we are very happy to now be working with Dreams, the best European player in behavioural savings. They have an extremely solid track record in Sweden and Norway based on scientific research, so we are confident that this partnership will work positively for our customers in Ukraine. This also demonstrates our strategy to cooperate with startups and innovative companies that seek ways to expand their operations.”
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