There’s a revolution brewing that the layman is not really aware of, and it’s a changing the face of digital financial transactions – and perhaps much more. Its origins remain a mystery. Created by someone (or a group, as many claim), with the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, the blockchain was brought into being in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger for bitcoins. It has applications in areas beyond crypotocurrency, and it is being enthusiastically embraced by the financial services industry.
But what exactly is blockchain?
Imagine information on a spreadsheet, but the spreadsheet is duplicated thousands of times across many computers in diverse geographic locations. If the spreadsheet is updated, a new ‘block’ of data is added, and it is simultaneously updated everywhere. A same picture is presented to viewers across the world. It is cryptographically secure and no data can be clandestinely removed or changed without the knowledge and consensus of all parties.
And there is no single server vulnerable to the hacker, all the data is easily verifiable and continually reconciled. It’s safe.
To quote Don & Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution*, “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
The immediate banking applications for blockchain technology are financial transactions like money transfers. Say you are sending money from a small town in Texas to a small town in India. The transfer is handled by at least 3 (and possible more) banks or financial entities before it reaches the transferee’s account. The transferor’s account is checked for funds, service charges are applied, and currency conversion takes place.
In a blockchain, each of these sub-transactions is represented as a digital block that needs to be verified before it is allowed to enter the system. And a record of every step is securely communicated to all the participating banks – nothing can be edited. Every bank knows exactly who did what, and when. Transparency is absolute.
There are many other uses of the blockchain. Australian Securities Exchange, for instance, is moving all its post-trade clearing and settlements to a blockchain system.
Trade finance with its letters of credit and bills of lading can be an obvious beneficiary of blockchain technology. The current system almost entirely paper based – and if goods are being shipped from China, for example, as many 50 people need to access the data.
So what can blockchain technology do outside the financial arena? Medical records, for one. In this day and age where medical diagnosis (and even treatment) is often being done from a remote location, a complete medical history is essential. A history from which no detail has been accidentally omitted. Absolutely ideal for a blockchain. What about privacy of the patient’s medical data? The blockchain can be double-encrypted so that only the attending physician with the password or digital fingerprint can access sensitive information.
Many big shopping chains are gearing up to incorporate the blockchain in their food management system. Why? Because one of the critical questions that we should ask whenever we consume anything is: “Where is this food coming from?”
In 2006 , there was a major E-Coli outbreak in the United States. Almost 200 people were affected, of which 31 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Ultimately, 3 people died in the outbreak. It quickly became clear that all the victims had eaten spinach. But from where?
The supermarket chains and the food industry as a whole panicked – spinach went off the market across the country – causing huge commercial losses. It took the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) weeks to trace the source of the spinach – grown on just one farm. Deaths, disruption, financial loss – all could have been prevented with blockchain technology.
Some observers remain skeptical. More than one tech guru believes that the blockchain has been hyped, that the claims are unrealistic, that it’s a passing fad. But interest is not abating – rather, speculation is expanding to newer areas. Smart property, where every detail is recorded in a land registry and is accessible. Music distribution, so that the artist can control (or at least be aware) of how a song is being used. Insurance…
…the list is endless and the future is blockchain bright.
Best Banking Technology Overhaul Africa 2020,Best Banking Technology Overhaul LatAm 2020, and Fastest Growing Payment Solution Provider Europe 2020
Global Banking and Finance Review is pleased to announce BPC as the 2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards® winner for Best Banking Technology Overhaul Africa 2020,Best Banking Technology Overhaul LatAm 2020, and Fastest Growing Payment Solution Provider Europe 2020
Global Banking and Finance Review has awarded BPC in recognition for its banking and payments technology leadership,growth,and innovation. “BPC is redefining banking and payments. They are focused on developing innovative technology solutions that make banking and payments more efficient, cost-effective, and readily accessible. Their attention to what is most needed in local markets, as well as their ability to adapt their services, marks BPC as an exceptional organization. Their continued investment in technology, strategic vision, and growth made them the clear winner this year,” said Wanda Rich, Editor, Global Banking & Finance Review. “We look forward to seeing more from them in the years to come. “
The awards honour companies that stand out in particular areas of expertise in the banking and finance industry. BPC was awarded Best Banking Technology Overhaul Africa 2020, Best Banking Technology Overhaul LatAm 2020, and Fastest Growing Payment Solution Provider Europe 2020 because of the company’s outstanding performance and achievements and by scoring well in the following categories:
- Investment in technology to improve compliance and user experience
- A wide range of secure, customizable solutions
- Continued commitment to improve user experience and access
- Excellence in customer support
About the Global Banking & Finance Awards®
The Global Banking & Finance Awards® honour institutions that stand out in their particular area of expertise in the finance industry. They recognize achievement, challenge, progress and inspirational change in finance globally. Global Banking & Finance Review is a leading online and print magazine, which has evolved from the growing need to have a more balanced view for informative and independent news for the global banking and finance industry. It is reflected in the quality and in-depth insight provided by our experienced contributors in a clear and concise way. We have objective and respected editorial contributions from all major sectors, such as Banking, Technology, FOREX Trading, Asset Management, Corporate Governance, Islamic Finance, Project Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Tax and Accounting and Inward Investment; all under one global umbrella.
For Further Information, please visit www.globalbankingandfinance.com
NextGen Communications – the future of customer experience
By Andrew Beatty, Head of Global Next Generation Banking at FIS
As software development increasingly resembles push updates in services, how can financial institutions best take advantage of their investments? The answer is leveraging today’s technologies to empower institutions to elevate their customer experience with personalised and integrated communications.
Long a staple of the British market, digital banks are expanding worldwide. The pandemic played to the strengths of these organisations. With branches closed or restricted, the accessibility and flexibility of these banks were major assets.
To better understand just why digital banks succeed, we need to look at their operating models. Using Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) operating models rather than more traditional and slower alternatives allows them to supercharge development.
These new technologies can elevate customer experience (CX), with a specific focus on customer communications – an area often neglected in favour of purely aesthetic upgrades to flashy-looking front-end systems.
Every minute of every day, institutions globally generate 18 million texts, 188 million emails, 511,000 tweets, 232 VoIP calls and use 4.4 million GB of internet data. This colossal amount makes it difficult to provide a consistent experience that meets ever-higher customer expectations across all communication interactions and devices. Banks need to be accessible and provide a seamless experience through any and all of the channels their customers prefer, be that Native App Push, email, SMS, print, social media, Call Centre or bots.
FIs typically lack an integrated experience. What’s needed is enabled by a consistent data schema and workflow foundation that elevates the communications experience. Customers may not know to specifically request these, but they will notice their absence. Fundamental to these capabilities are application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable banks to pick and choose best-of-breed technologies, allowing banks to focus on improving the CX and increasing Operational Efficiency and Governance.
Banks succeed on the backs of loyal customers. What inspires loyalty in customers is a banking relationship that includes both listening and speaking. Research shows that 63% of customers would consider switching banking providers if communications don’t meet their expectations. For customers who said that their banks did not proactively offer them personalised services, the customer satisfaction experience rate fell to 39%.
Research shows that more than 70% of CX leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty. Contrast this number with 75% of enterprises aiming to beat their competitors by offering the best digital consumer experience, and we can gain a sense of just how crucial communications are; a seamless CX is more important than ever to meet these goals.
These last few months have been a testing ground for banks old and new. Every email, every statement about actions taken during the pandemic is a chance to prove (or disprove) that a bank has a robust, customised communication solution. Integration across all interactions is critical.
Questions to ask
Here are six questions executives who want to improve CX at their banks need to ask when evaluating infrastructure improvements:
- How will capabilities evolve without requiring extensive development to support new data schemas, workflow, communication types and new channels?
- Will the new solution allow accelerated change management (business user-enabled) of all communications to meet internal and external demand, or will we be handcuffed to an internal or external software release for these updates?
- Will our middle/back office and call centre benefit from this solution by having the capability to send ad-hoc communications from a previously approved library?
- Will we have end-to-end tracking of all our as-delivered communications for all stakeholders (call centre, back office, etc.)?
- How is delivery remediation handled? (e., failed email delivery to SMS)
- Are all required delivery methods supported in one centralised platform?
Consider these questions before embarking on a major project. This should help ensure the selected solution results in improved Customer Experience, superior Operational Efficiency, and better Governance for your financial institution.
FIs must take advantage of emerging technologies and investment in core technologies by considering service options for all key elements of their CX. A robust data integration and workflow layer along with API integrations allow the different components of technology infrastructure to have seamless real-time integrations with third-party Customer Communication Management technologies. This can accelerate existing digital transformation initiatives and take full advantage of a modern core transformation investment – putting technology to work for FIs and their customers.
5 reasons to rebrand now
By David Langton, president of Langton Creative Group and co-author of Visual Marketing (Wiley Publishers).
- Ineffective Logo. How well does your name and image support your company’s mission? Organizations must change and evolve and sometimes that cool logo from the 80s no longer pulls its weight. Are you defending your logo just because it’s old? We often hear about how an old logo has equity with clients. But just because it is recognizable as your logo, doesn’t mean that this is how you should be known. What impression is the logo making on your behalf? Is it classic, or just old-fashioned? One healthcare client had an old logo with bad typography that was difficult to reproduce. But the CEO loved his logo and told me that the old company logo wasn’t going anywhere, “I expect that to be on my gravestone,” he told us. And that’s exactly where it should be.
- Non-descript.Is your company or service getting lost in the shuffle? If your logo looks just like everyone else’s logo, then it’s not doing its job. You must distinguish who you are in your marketplace. What are the special attributes that make your company, product of service the right solution? Find that spark of novelty that makes you special. The FedEx logo is famous for its hidden “arrow” that implies forward-motion. (They’re ones who move your packages quickly.) The UPS logo is a golden shield. (They’ll protect your packages.) AT&T has a globe. (They want to be seen as world-wide, more than just an American telephone and telegraph company.) Designer Tom Geismar says, “Symbols don’t make clear what you do; it makes it clear who you are.”
- Leadership Change.Whenever the top management at a company changes there is an opportunity to inject new energy into your messaging and redefine your mission. Capture the vision of their leadership. How does your brand reflect their goals for the new year? When General Re acquired New England Asset Management (NEAM) the new company name became “GR-NEAM.” When a new leadership team took over they decided to reclaim the “NEAM” name since it was easier to say and it gave them an opportunity to promote their new vision for the organization.
- Mergers/Acquisitions. Newly combined companies usually are in a state of chaos. Inside and outside the company people are searching for what the newly combined company will be about. This is the time to reevaluate how your brand presents who you are and what your values and strengths are in the new combined company. A report in Harvard Business Review states, “Because a merger’s success relies in part on preserving positive feelings among customers and employees, it’s smart to pursue a branding strategy that explicitly seeks to transfer equity from both merging companies to the new one.” When United and Continental Airlines merged they kept the Continental logo and aligned it with the United Name. Companies that use this “fusion” method actually exceeded their market return by 3%.
- Technology.Is your field changing while you are being left behind? This is an important time for companies to re-evaluate how their brand is presented in the marketplace. An upstart may be perceived as quicker and more technological than an established player. Can you show how important your experience and know-how is for tackling the challenges in your industry? Domino’s Pizza keeps reinventing itself with new tech to stay ahead of newly emerging rivals like UberEats who use apps to deliver food. Fast Company shows how as early as 1973 Domino’s was introducing a 30-minute guaranteed delivery then continued to reinvest in tech that utilizes voice recognition, GPS tracking and artificial intelligence to keep on top of tech revolution. Successful companies develop tech solutions that keep them ahead of the competition and then make sure their brand communications reflect their inventiveness.
Be the brand you ought to be.
Keep in mind that even if your brand experiences any of these telltale signs, don’t embark on a rebrand without making sure your business can back up the brand promise. The key to effective branding is that you must be what your brand says you are. If you are rebranding to be more technological, then you must become more tech-savvy. Just rebranding yourself without improving your services and really redefining who you are is not going to be effective in the long run.
The key to a successful rebrand is in identifying a core story that expresses the brand’s connection to its audience. Why are you important in the eyes of your target customers? And how do you tell that story? The re-brand launch is just as important as the logo artwork and the naming of the organization.
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