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How will AI change the face of banking?

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How will AI change the face of banking?

By Dr Giles Nelson, CTO Financial Services, MarkLogic

Research firm IDC is predicting banks worldwide will spend more than $4bn on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2018. If we factor in PwC’s Sizing the Prize report to understand the broader trend for global business, it seems AI could add a further $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Undoubtedly AI will lead to a significant change in the way banking operates, but let’s consider what that might look like.

Firstly, think about customer relationship management in retail banking. Most traditional banks still have a largely transactional relationship with their customers, providing deposit and payment services. But consider for a moment the information that a bank typically holds about an individual – their financial history gives a unique insight into a customer’s commitments, preferences and desires. By using AI techniques to analyse this treasure-trove of information, banks can deliver suggestions to tailored financial products and, indeed, other consumer products.

This kind of personalisation has begun with the introduction of chatbots in banking. AI is enhancing customer relationships by using natural language as a way in which customers can interact and ask questions and promises better customer satisfaction and lower call centre costs.

Fraud and anti-money laundering (AML) are also perennial issues. AI techniques, particularly using machine learning, are used today in these areas, and their use will only increase as models and databases of source information get more sophisticated. This is also a constantly evolving area as anti-fraud staff battle with bad actors who are also employing the latest technologies. With richer datasets and more advanced AI techniques this will only get better, leading to less financial loss and less annoying false positives. With the right data of past and current transactions the typical behaviour of customers can be learnt, and anomalies detected. Transactions can then be stopped, perhaps even before they have occurred, or confirmation from the customer requested before the transaction can proceed.

Last but not least is AI’s impact on trading technology. Much investment over the last 10-15 years has gone into making automated trading systems, whether trading equities, FX or derivatives, faster and more responsive to changes in the market. AI techniques, such as neural network machine learning systems, have also been used for some time. As AI tools and the data available to them become more sophisticated and richer, so these systems will get better.  Better at spotting opportunities to trade, and better at spotting the occasional examples of abusive behaviour.

Tackling a fractured data landscape

This is all seemingly beneficial and promises a lot, but here’s the rub. AI thrives on lots of data. To make AI useful, data from different parts of an organisation need to be accessible so the AI systems can use it. Data sitting in remote technology silos may be vital to a particular application, but if it isn’t easily accessible it may as well not exist. What’s more, that data has got to be well organised too – there is no area of technology where the aphorism ‘garbage in garbage out’ can be applied more strongly than with AI.

Furthermore, the data systems underpinning AI need to be agile enough to deal with new challenges quickly. Businesses cannot afford to spend months waiting for the right data to become available before launching new services – by then the competition will likely have an edge.

So, having the right data technology foundations is critical to delivering the process of AI, but a lot of banking organisations today don’t have this and are dealing today with a fractured data landscape.

The path to data-driven decision-making

Data silos are an undoubted issue together with the rigidity of most conventional data management systems. If financial organisations can go beyond this – delivering a holistic view of their data together with the agile data models that can evolve easily as business requirements change – then they can become truly data-driven. Competitive advantage will come from how smartly that data can be accessed and deployed.

More personalisation of retail services will occur, and banks will have the opportunity to strengthen their customer relationships and become more valued partners with end customers rather than just providing commoditised banking services. This will enable banks to provide services traditionally only targeted at the wealthy through private banking, to a much bigger segment of their customer base. Similarly, risk, fraud and AML should all ultimately reduce with the greater insights that AI can bring making the whole financial system safer.

As with any new generation of technology, change can be both positive and negative, but one of the most scrutinised areas of disruption is the jobs market. With the introduction of AI, jobs will also change, and that’s the key point. One of the main purposes of any new technology is to make people more productive and to get ‘up the value stack’. This will need a willingness on behalf of people to embrace and, indeed shape, new AI powered tools.

AI has the power to transform the banking sector, but only with the right data infrastructure. Banks should be acting now to ensure they have the right tools in place to make the most of the data at their disposal.

Banking

StanChart profit falls 57% as COVID-19 inflates bad loans

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StanChart profit falls 57% as COVID-19 inflates bad loans 1

By Alun John and Lawrence White

HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) – Standard Chartered PLC (StanChart) on Thursday posted a 57% fall in annual profit, missing analyst estimates, on higher credit impairments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

StanChart, which earns the bulk of its revenue in Asia, posted a pretax profit of $1.61 billion. That compared with $3.71 billion in 2019 and the $1.85 billion average of analyst forecasts compiled by the bank.

Credit impairments last year more than doubled compared with a year earlier to $2.3 billion because of the pandemic, the bank said, but noted the majority of these took place in the first half of the year.

The London-headquartered lender said it would return capital to investors via a 9 cents per share dividend and $254 million buyback, with the total payout being the maximum permitted under temporary ‘guardrails’ set by the Bank of England.

The central bank last year told Britain’s largest lenders to suspend dividend payments and share buybacks for 2020 to help them maintain capital buffers against an expected hit to loan books from the pandemic.

“Having now resumed it, we expect to be able to increase the full-year dividend per share over time as we execute our strategy and progress towards a 10% return on tangible equity,” Jose Vinals, Standard Chartered’s chairman, said in the exchange filing.

The bank said its return on tangible equity, a key profit metric, would climb from 3% to 7% by 2023.

It also said overall income in 2021 is likely to be similar to 2020’s because of the impact of global interest rate cuts.

(Reporting by Lawrence White and Alun John; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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Banking

Reasons Why You Should Be Opening an Offshore Savings Account Today

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Reasons Why You Should Be Opening an Offshore Savings Account Today 2

No one has to convince you that savings accounts are a bad idea. As a safe investment, this approach is hard to beat. It also has the benefit of allowing you to set aside funds for all sorts of purposes while you earn a little interest.

While this can be done with a domestic account, there are compelling reasons to consider opening an offshore savings account. How can you eventually use those funds, and why would it be better to house them in an offshore setting? Here are some ideas to consider.

1. Setting Aside Funding for a Short-Term Goal

You have a specific financial goal that you want to reach in five or ten years. It could be saving the money for a down payment on a home or possibly buying real estate. Any such goal requires dedicating a part of your income to reach it. Placing funds in an interest-bearing account in the interim is a good option. That’s where an offshore savings account comes in handy.

The temptation to withdraw money from an offshore account is less likely. While doing so would be easy, it’s not unusual for people to turn toward the balances in their domestic accounts before pulling money from offshore ones. The result is that you’re more likely to consistently make progress toward building the funds needed to reach your goals successfully.

2. Creating a Contingency Fund

No matter what your life circumstances happen to be, it’s a safe bet that you’ll need emergency funds at some point. Think of what it would mean to have six months to a year’s worth of cash to carry you over if your company went out of business or if you lost your job. Even if it took some time to find another full-time position, the money in a contingency fund allows you to maintain a reasonable standard of living while you’re in search of opportunities.

Using an offshore account to house your contingency fund works well because you are less likely to withdraw funds until the need is significant. By opting to set up recurring funds transfers from a domestic account to your offshore account, you can add to those emergency funds without having to give the process much thought. When the day comes when you need the money, it will be easy to transfer the funds back to a domestic account or use the debit card supplied by your offshore bank.

3. Building Assets for Retirement

As many people learned during the last recession, employer-provided pension funds may or may not be around by the time you retire. If the investments made with the retirement contributions tank, there goes all or at least most of the money you planned on using to live after leaving the workforce. Establishing your resources for retirement, and diversifying them, protect your financial future.

An offshore savings account can be one of those solutions. A time deposit account lets you build more reserves for retirement. Since the account is not tied to your employment status or to the investments used to shore up your pension fund, it will be there when you need it.

4. Growing an Education Fund for the Kids

Perhaps the plan is not so much about investing in your financial future. Education for your children may be what’s driving you right now. Knowing how much a college education costs these days, you realize that now is the time to start saving. Even if the kids can secure scholarships that cover much of the expense, there will still be costs that need attention.

An offshore savings account provides an excellent means of setting aside funds for education. Let the balances roll over from year to year and earn more interest. Take advantage of offshore accounts that provide higher rates of interest when the balances exceed specific amounts. This strategy will make funding college a lot simpler.

5. Building Reserves for Purchasing a Vacation Property

You’re reaching a point in your life when having a second property to use for vacations sounds appealing. Now is the time to start setting aside funds that will aid in the purchase. An offshore account can be the means of growing the balance a little faster. The result is that when you’re ready to buy that second property, there will be considerably less that needs financing.

This solution also makes the process of transferring funds for purchasing international real estate easier. For example, you decide to buy a vacation home in the same country where your offshore account is based. Your bank can make withdrawing the funds and remitting the money to the seller much simpler.

6. Protecting Some Assets Just in Case

You don’t have to work in a high-profile field to be sued. What would you do if things didn’t go your way? The court could order most of your domestic assets seized to settle the judgment. How would you get by then?

Here’s something that you may not know about the money in offshore accounts – domestic courts can’t order a seizure of the account balances. Even if a lawsuit means every asset you have at home is taken away, there is still the money in your offshore savings account to help you rebuild. It may also be the way that you keep a roof over your head and food on the table while you decide how to go about rebuilding.

7. Taking Advantage of Higher Interest Rates
If you compare the interest rates offered in many international settings with what you can command at home, the difference is immediately evident. It’s possible to open an offshore savings account with a relatively low balance and gradually add to the balance. Over time, you reach a balance level that allows you to earn some of the best rates found around the globe.

When the plan is to place money in an account to accrue interest for over many years, an offshore savings account is the way to go. Once the day arrives when you want to use those funds, the balance will be noticeably more than if you had invested the same proportion in a domestic account. Think of how good you’ll feel knowing that your money was able to grow simply because you chose the right offshore location for the account.

8. Enjoying Peace of Mind

At times, it seems increasingly difficult to find peace of mind in today’s tumultuous world. With money placed in an offshore savings account, it’s possible to secure a little bit of tranquility even when everything else is upside down.

By establishing an account in a politically stable country, offers excellent returns in the form of interest, and is protected from any domestic court action, you know there will be assets to draw on no matter what. That’s a good feeling.

Get Help Setting Up an Offshore Savings Account

These are just a few reasons why opening an offshore savings account is a smart financial move. There is no better time to start than now, and an excellent offshore location to choose is Belize.

Caye International Bank, located on Ambergris Caye island in Belize, Central America has helped thousands of people establish offshore financial accounts. We can help you, too, in determining which offshore accounts work best based on your goals. You’ll find that setting up an account is a lot simpler than you anticipated.

Author bio:

Luigi Wewege is the Senior Vice President, and Head of Private Banking of award-winning Belize based Caye International Bank, a FinTech School Instructor and the published author of The Digital Banking Revolution – now in its third edition. You can follow his posts on innovation trends shaping the banking and financial services industry on Twitter: @luigiwewege

 

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Former BOJ executive calls for ‘genuine’ review of central bank stimulus

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Former BOJ executive calls for 'genuine' review of central bank stimulus 3

By Leika Kihara and Takahiko Wada

TOKYO (Reuters) – The Bank of Japan must abandon the view it can influence public perceptions with monetary policy and conduct a “genuine” review that takes a harder look at the rising cost of prolonged easing, said former central bank deputy governor Hirohide Yamaguchi.

The BOJ will conduct a review next month to make its monetary policy tools more sustainable, nodding to criticism its policy is crushing bond yields, drying up market liquidity and distorting stock prices.

But Yamaguchi, who was deputy governor when the BOJ first began buying exchange-traded funds (ETF) in 2010, said the costs of the bank’s stimulus programme have become too large to mitigate in the review in March.

“It’s unlikely the BOJ can come up with an outcome that has a substantial impact on the economy and markets,” he told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

“The review will probably be just a show of gesture that it’s doing ‘something’ to address the cost,” said Yamaguchi, who retains strong influence on incumbent policymakers.

Under its yield curve control (YCC) framework, the BOJ guides short-term interest rates towards -0.1% and 10-year bond yields to around 0%. It also buys risky assets such as ETFs to fire up inflation.

Ideas floated in the BOJ, which could be discussed at the review, include allowing the 10-year bond yield to deviate more from its 0% target, and making its ETF buying nimble so it can slow buying when stocks are booming.

Tolerating bigger yield swings, however, could undermine the feasibility of YCC by highlighting the limits of the BOJ’s control over the yield curve, Yamaguchi said.

“It’s hard to control long-term interest rates within a tight range for a long period of time,” he said, calling for an overhaul of YCC – something the BOJ rules out as an option.

Yamaguchi also called for halting the BOJ’s ETF purchases, as the bank could “end up using monetary policy to prop up stock prices” if the programme continues.

“At the very least, the BOJ must end as soon as it can the current situation where its ETF holdings keep accumulating.”

When the BOJ began buying ETFs in 2010, it used a pool of funds to ensure purchases remain at a manageable level, said Yamaguchi, who was involved in the decision.

That cautious approach was replaced by Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, Yamaguchi said, after he took over as head of the BOJ in 2013. Kuroda ramped up purchases dramatically with his “bazooka” stimulus deployed that year under a pledge to deploy all available means in a single blow. Eight years on, inflation remains distant from the BOJ’s 2% target.

“It’s impossible for the BOJ to guide public perceptions at its will,” Yamaguchi said. “It’s time now for the BOJ to conduct a ‘genuine’ policy review and use the findings to modify its policy framework.”

(Reporting by Leika Kihara and Takahiko Wada; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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