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Driving Constructive Economic Outcomes from the FinTech Ecosystem in Africa saymore than 200 international fintech leaders and pioneers gathered at the Finnovation Kenyaevent – but highlight that collaboration is the way forward

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FinnovationKenya 2018 opened today at the Radisson Blu Nairobi, where more than 200 international FinTech experts together with African pioneers, investors, entrepreneurs and leading bankers, gathered to harness the FinTech revolution to boost strategic economic priorities such as financial inclusion and deepening – and how FinTech can make a positive and profitable difference in Africa. The event also explored how the major banks and financial institutions on the continent are addressing the digital transformation of financial services; and how their own digital innovations are being shaped and accelerated as a result of the gathering momentum of FinTech disruptors.

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The impact of Blockchain, Open Banking, Mobile Money and Payments innovation are radically transforming the financial services landscape as FinTech disruptors intensify the challenge to incumbent banks in Africa and kickstart new opportunities. The unique environment for financial services in Africa is fertile ground for innovative FinTech players who are capitalizing on the opportunities to disrupt or leapfrog established business models to make financial services more affordable, accessible and profitable across the continent.

Finnovation Kenya 2018 is delighted to welcome a stellar list of keynote speakers, including Paul Muthaura, CEO of Capital Markets Authority Kenya; Dave Van Niekerk, Founder and Executive Chairman of MyBucks; Aaron Fu, Managing Partner, MEST; Jeremy Awori, Managing Director of Barclays Bank Kenya Ltd; and Declan Magero, Founding Partner, Afrinet Capital. The opening keynote session will define directions on Aligning the Role of Government Policymakers, Banks, FinTech Innovators, Investors, Multilateral Agencies, MNOs and the Private Sector to Advance the FinTech Ecosystem in Africa.

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Speaking ahead of his participation in Finnovation Kenya 2018, Dave Van Niekerk, CEO of MyBucks, said that: “The global microfinance, retail banking and credit landscape has long required a revolution and this rapid and dramatic change, with financial inclusion at its heart, is already well underway. FinTech innovations are enabling the distribution of financial products at competitive pricing, providing the basis to rapidly scale-up as well as effectively manage credit risk. Incumbent financial institutions will eventually be forced to embrace this technology to acquire clients, determine risk and retain clients, effectively closing the divide between FinTech and traditional finance organizations. The Finnovation Kenya 2018 event will create a powerful platform for start-ups and trail-blazers, to understand the broader ecosystem as well as for incumbent Financial powerhouses from across Africa to engage and learn from each other.”

Paul Muthaura, CEO of Capital Markets Authority Kenya Ltd, speaking ahead of his participation in the event, said that: “Kenya has rapidly become an internationally recognized pace-setter for FinTech innovation as global players increasingly look to learn lessons especially in areas where the country has built world-class capabilities such as in mobile money. We have built a supporting infrastructure and are strengthening our regulatory framework to foster FinTech innovation and drive capital market activity to the next level. The Authority is at an advanced stage of implementing a Regulatory Sandbox to provide a safe space for innovative ideas to transition into the regulated environment. Across emerging markets, and particularly in Africa where there is an absence of the legacy infrastructure found in most developed economies, Fintech presents a transformational opportunity to leapfrog traditional costs and time delays in rolling out world class financial services infrastructure, products, services and distributions channels. The pioneers and experts gathering at Finnovation Kenya 2018 will provide critical insights on this exciting journey.”

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From the perspective of a leading fintech pioneer, Paul Mitchell, Fintech and Blockchain Lead of PwC South Africa, reinforced that “South African financial services players, old and new, are uniquely positioned on a high growth continent to seize the opportunities to create innovative solutions and harness the impact of FinTech in Africa, which could well make a more significant contribution and impact than what we are currently seeing in the US and Europe. Customers’ behaviour, and their expectations around how financial services companies traditionally interact with them, is changing rapidly. FinTech is accelerating these changes and the established players who recognise this are having to learn fast. This is leading to a reassessment of many elements of the customer experience and engagement process that will play out over the next few years. I look forward to participating in Finnovation South Africa 2018 and engaging with Fintech pioneers and thought leaders to address the most pressing questions for the digital transformation of financial services in South Africa.”

Another major highlight of Finnovation Kenya 2018 was the Leader’s Dialogue Live!in conversation with An African FinTech Pioneer session which presented a unique opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and first-hand insights in conversation with an African FinTech Pioneer. The live interview session featured renowned industry leader Jeremy Awori, Managing Director of Barclays Bank Kenya Ltd, who stressed the innovative potential of financial technology in Africa: “The FinTech sector is driving disruptive innovation and transforming the financial services landscape across the continent. We firmly believe that the rapid growth in the application of financial technology is providing a platform to enable payments and increase access, helping the drive to digital financial services.”This high-profile session was moderated by well-known media personality, Colin Don Schouw, Managing Director of the Fixer Group in South Africa.

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In-depth sessions continued throughout the day featuring bankers and FinTech pioneers deliberating on key issues such as Blockchain – from Hype to Reality in Africa; Collaborate2Accelerate; Finclusion; and Silicon Savannah Kenya. High-profile speakers included Tamara Cook, Head of Digital Innovations at FSD Kenya; RynoRijnsburger, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft4Africa; Sunny Walia, General Manager- East Africa at VISA; and Russell Akuom, Head of Digital Banking Experience of Co-operative Bank of Kenya.

The post-lunch sessions at Finnovation Kenya 2018 were focused on identifying and engaging exciting new African FinTech entrepreneurs. The Silicon Savannah Kenya showcased the exciting innovations currently happening in Kenya, including trail-blazers such as Pezesha, Musoni Systemfintech kenya finnovation-6Bonyo Mwongela & Co. Advocates, Asoko Insight and Make-IT in Africa.

 

The day concluded with the much-anticipated Wolves’ Den session, which again lived up to its billing as a powerful and ruthless session that enabled innovative FinTech start-ups and trail-blazers to real-time test the positive impact of their solutions with a panel representing savvyInvestors/Venture Capitalists and seasoned African Fintech Pioneers.FinTech trail-blazers Grass RootsBima, Tozza Plus, Flexpay, and Microcapall made their respective pitches while the “Wolves” asked the tough questions and provided the illuminating insights during a dynamic closing session to the event.

Finnovation Kenya 2018is part of the FinTech Africa Series which regularly gathers leading stakeholders and influencers in the African FinTech ecosystem, from start-ups to banking powerhouses, from the key markets across Africa and internationally.

Ethico Live Limited UK is an international trade & investment nexus that focuses on the digital transformation of financial services and the role that Fintech is playing in driving positive and profitable change through blockchain, AI, mobile money, finclusion, ethical finance/Islamic banking, payments, and datadriven innovations. We support our clients who are transforming the global financial markets through our high-profile engagement platforms that connect investors, government policymakers, bankers and game-changing start-ups from across the Middle East and Asia – with a special focus on the exciting high-growth markets of Africa.

 

Technology

How to Build an AI Strategy that Works

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By Michael Chalmers, MD EMEA at Contino

Six steps to boosting digital transformation through AI

In the age of artificial intelligence, the way we interact with brands and go about our work and daily lives has changed. No longer blithe buzzwords, AI tools and algorithms are solving real business problems, streamlining operations, boosting productivity, improving customer experience, and creating opportunities for advantage in a competitive marketplace.

However, many businesses struggle to unlock the full benefits that come with its adoption across the whole organisation. Making the most of AI requires a strategic focus, alignment with the specific operating model of the business, and a plan to implement it in a way that delivers real value.

Not all AI strategies are equal. To be successful, businesses need to set out how the technology will achieve objectives and identify the specific assets and case uses that will set them apart from competitors. The process of creating and delivering a successful AI strategy includes the following six essential elements that will help to bake in business success.

  1. Start with your vision and objective

One slip-up companies often make when developing an AI strategy is a failure to match the vision to the execution. Almost inevitably, this results in disjointed and complicated AI programmes that can take years to consolidate. Choosing an AI solution based on defined business objectives established at the start of a project reduces the risk of delay and failure.

As with any project or initiative, it’s crucial to align your corporate strategy with measurable goals and objectives to guide your AI deployment. Once a strategy is set and proven, its much quicker and easier to roll it out across divisions and product teams, maximising its benefits.

  1. Build a multi-disciplinary team 

AI is not an island. Multi-disciplinary teams are best placed to assess how the AI strategy can optimally serve their individual needs. Insights and inputs from web design, R&D and engineering will together ensure your plan hits objectives for key internal stakeholders.

It’s also important to recognise that with the best will and effort, the strategy might not be the perfect one first time around. Being prepared to iterate and flex the approach is a significant success factor. By fostering a culture of experimentation, your team will locate the right AI assets to form your unique competitive edge.

  1. Be selective about the problems you fix first

Selecting ‘lighthouse’ projects based on their overall goals and importance, size, likely duration, and data quality allow you to demonstrate the tangible benefits in a relatively short space of time. Not all problems can be fixed by AI, of course. But by identifying and addressing issues quickly and effectively, you can create beacons of AI capability that inspire others across the organisation.

Lighthouse projects should aim to be delivered in under eight weeks, instead of eight months. They will provide an immediate and tangible benefit for the business and your customers to be replicated elsewhere. These small wins sow the seeds of transformation that swell from the ground up, empowering small teams to grow in competency, autonomy and relatedness.

  1. Put the customer first, and measure accordingly

Customer-centricity is one of the most popular topics among today’s business leaders. Traditionally, businesses were much more product-centric than customer-centric. Somebody built products and then customers were found. Now, the customer is, and should be, at the heart of everything businesses do.

By taking a customer-centric approach, you will find that business drivers determine many technology decisions.  When creating your AI strategy, create customer centric KPIs that align with the overall corporate objectives and continually measure product execution backwards through the value chain.

  1. Share skills and expertise at scale through an ‘AI community of practice’

The journey to business-wide AI adoption is iterative and continuous. Upon successful completion of a product, the team should evolve into what’s known as an ‘AI community of practice’, which will foster AI innovation and upskill future AI teams.

In the world of rapid AI product iterations, best practices and automation are more relevant than ever. Data science is about repeatable experimentation and measured results. Suppose your AI processes can’t be repeated, and production is being done manually. In that case, data science has been reduced to a data hobby.

  1. Don’t fear failure: deploying AI is a continuous journey 

The formula for successful enterprise-wide AI adoption is nurture the idea, plan, prove, improve and then scale. Mistakes will be made, and lessons learned. This is a completely normal – and valuable – part of the process.

Lighthouse projects need to be proven to work, processes need to be streamlined and teams need to upskill. Businesses need a culture of learning and continuous improvement with people at the centre, through shorter cycles, to drive real transformation.

An experimental culture and continuous improvement, through shorter cycles, can drive real transformation. A successful AI strategy acts as a continually evolving roadmap across the different business functions (people, processes and technology) to ensure your chosen solutions are working towards your business objectives. In short, let your business goals guide your AI transformation, not the other way around.

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Iron Mountain releases 7-steps to ensure digitisation delivers long-term benefits

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Iron Mountain releases 7-steps to ensure digitisation delivers long-term benefits 2

Iron Mountain has released practical guidance to help businesses future-proof their digital journeys. The guidance is part of new research that found that 57% of European enterprise plan to revert new digital processes back to manual solutions post-pandemic.

The research revealed that 93% of respondents have accelerated digitisation during COVID-19 and 86% believe this gives them a competitive edge. However, the majority (57%) fear these changes will be short-lived and their companies will revert to original means of access post-pandemic.

“With 80% still reliant on physical data to do their job, now is a critical time to implement more robust, digital methods of accessing physical storage,” said Stuart Bernard, VP of Digital Solutions at Iron Mountain. “Doing so can enhance efficiency and deliver ROI by unlocking new value in stored data through the use of technology to mine, review and extract insight.”

Why revert?

When COVID-19 hit, companies had to think fast and adapt. Digital solutions were often taken as off-the-shelf, quick fixes – rarely the most economical or effective. But they are delivering benefits – those surveyed reported productivity gains (27%), saving time (20%), enhancing data quality (13%) and cutting costs (12%).

So what now?

The Iron Mountain study includes guidance for how to turn quick-fixes into sustained, long-term solutions. The seven-steps are designed to help businesses future-proof their digital journeys and maximize value from physical storage:

1)     Gather insights: The COVID-19 pandemic allowed organisations to test and learn. Companies should ensure these insights are fed into developing more robust solutions.

2)     Use governance as intelligence: Information governance and compliance are fundamental to data handling. But frameworks aren’t just a set of rules, they hold valuable insights that can be turned into actionable intelligence. Explore your framework to extract learnings.

3)     Understand your risk profile: A key early step is to analyse where you are most vulnerable. With data in motion and people working remotely, which records are at risk? What could be moved into the cloud? Are your vendors resilient?

4)     Focus where you will achieve greatest impact: To prioritise successfully, you need to know where you will achieve the largest impact. This involves looking beyond initial set-up costs towards the holistic benefits of digitisation, including reducing time spent on manual scanning, and the risk of compliance violations.

5)     Reach out and collaborate: We are all in this together. Your IT, security, compliance and facility management teams are all facing the same challenges. Ensure you collaborate across functions to develop robust, integrated solutions.

6)     Find a provider who can relate to your digital journey: For companies that still rely heavily on analogue solutions, digitisation can be daunting and risky. It pays to find a vendor who has been on the same journey, understands your paper processes and can guide you through the digital world.

7)     Prioritise and evolve communication and training programmes: To reap the full rewards from any digitisation initiative, thorough and continuous communication and training is critical. Encouragingly, our survey found that 81% of data handlers have received training to work digitally which is an excellent step in the right direction, but consider teams beyond data handling to truly succeed.

The research was commissioned by Iron Mountain in collaboration with Censuswide. It surveyed 1,000 data handlers among the EMEA region. It found that the departments that have digitised more due to COVID-19 include IT support (40%), customer relationship management (36%), and team resource planning (34%).

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3D Secure: Why are fraudsters still slipping through the net?

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3D Secure: Why are fraudsters still slipping through the net? 3

By Tim Ayling, VP EMEA, buguroo

There is a constant tension between keeping online payments secure, and offering an easy and frictionless user experience. Digital transformation – especially accelerated by the global pandemic – leaves consumers expecting online services to be seamless. Customers are even liable to abandon a process altogether if they encounter a hurdle.

Financial regulation and security protocols exist to help ensure that a balance is maintained between offering customers this frictionless experience, and keeping them and their funds safe from fraud attacks.

What is 3D Secure?

3D Secure is one such protocol. This payer authentication system is designed to keep card-not-present (CNP) ecommerce payments secure against online fraud. The card issuer uses 3D Secure when a card is used to pay for something online, authenticating the customer’s identity based on personal identifiers, such as the three-digit CVV code on the back of a card, as well as the device they’re using to make the payment and their geolocation or IP address.

3D Secure is important because although transactions can be accepted or denied based on the level of risk, it’s not always as clear as ‘risky’ or ‘not risky’. A small number of transactions will have an undetermined or questionable level of risk attached to them. For example, if a legitimate customer appears to be using a new device to buy goods online, or appears to be attempting to make the transaction from an irregular location. In these instances, 3D Secure provides a step-up authentication, such as asking for a one-time password (OTP).

Getting the right balance

3D Secure is a helpful protocol for card issuers, as it allows banks to comply with Strong Customer Authentication as required by EU financial regulation PSD2 as well as increase security for transactions with a higher level of risk – thereby better filtering the genuine cardholders from fraudsters.

Tim Ayling

Tim Ayling

This means that the customers themselves are better protected against fraud, and the extra security helps preserve their trust in the bank to be able to keep their money safe. At the same time, the number of legitimate customers who have their transactions denied is minimised, improving the customer’s online experience.

So why are fraudsters still slipping through the net?

Fraudsters are used to adapting to security protocols designed to stop them, and 3D Secure is no exception. The step-up authentication that is required by 3D Secure in the instance of a questionable transaction often takes the form of an OTP, a password or secret answer known only by the bank and the customer. However, there are various ways that fraudsters have devised to steal this information.

The most common way to steal passwords is through phishing attacks, where fraudsters pretend to be legitimate brands, such as banks themselves, in order to dupe customers into giving away sensitive information. Fraudsters can even replace the pop-up windows that appear to legitimate customers in the case of stepped-up authentication with their own browser windows disguised as the bank’s. Unwitting customers then enter the password or OTP and effectively hand it straight over to the fraudsters.

Even when an OTP is sent directly to a customer’s phone, fraudsters have found a way to intercept this information. They do this through something called a ‘SIM swap scam’, where they impersonate their victim and manage to get the legitimate cardholder’s number switched onto a different SIM card that they own, thereby receiving the genuine OTP in the cardholder’s place.

This is especially an issue for card issuers when taking into account the liability shift that is attached to using 3D Secure. When a transaction is authenticated using 3D Secure, the liability moves to lie with the card issuer, not the vendor or retailer. If money leaves a customer’s account and the transaction was verified by 3D Secure, but the customer says they did not authorise the transaction, the card provider becomes liable for any refunds.

How AI and Behavioral Biometrics can be used to plug the gap

Banks need to find a way to accurately block fraudsters while allowing genuine customers to complete online payments. AI can be used alongside behavioural biometrics as an additional layer of security to cover the gaps in security through continuous authentication of the customer.

Behavioural biometrics can collect and analyse data from thousands of parameters around user behaviour such as their typing speed and dynamics, or the trajectory on which they move the mouse, throughout the entire online session. AI processes are used to dynamically compare this analysis against the user’s usual online profile to identify even the smallest of anomalies, as well as against profiles of known fraudsters and typical fraudster behaviour. AI then delivers a risk score based on this information to banks in real time, enabling them to root out and block the fraudulent transactions.

As this authentication occurs invisibly, the AI technology can recognise if the customer is who they say they are – and that it isn’t a fraudster trying to input a genuine OTP they have managed to steal through phishing or SIM swapping – without adding any additional friction.

Card issuers cannot decline all questionable transactions without losing customers, while approving them without additional checks poses security issues that can result in financial losses as well as losses in customer trust. Behavioural biometrics is a foundational technology that can work simultaneously to 3D Secure to keep customers’ online payments safe from fraud while maintaining a frictionless experience and minimising the risk of chargeback liability for banks.

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