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INVEST IN DIGITAL TODAY TO CHALLENGE MOBILE-ONLY BANKS TOMORROW

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By Michael Allen, Solutions VP, Dynatrace

Michael Allen

Michael Allen

The financial crisis of 2008 left the banking industry in ruins, and none of the established institutions emerged unscathed. To prevent a similar meltdown, the requirements to obtain banking licenses were relaxed to encourage market competition through the creation of new banks. This paved the way for the emergence of a new generation of mobile-only challenger banks, who are seeking to rejuvenate the industry. The big question is: Should traditional banks be worried?

The march of mobile

The British Bankers Association predicts that in 2020 consumers will use their mobiles to manage their current account 2.3 billion times – more than all other channels, including internet and telephone banking, combined.  Mobile banking is particularly popular with the younger smartphone natives; the generation that will become the lucrative banking customers of tomorrow. From taking out student loans to fund education and credit card spending on travel, right through to the time when they come to get a mortgage, it is this generation who will be most profitable in the years to come. Getting mobile right is therefore increasingly important, so it’s unsurprising that we’re seeing a number of new players – such as Number26, Ospel, Simple and Atom – cashing in on this insatiable appetite for mobile. These new contenders are cutting out the shop-front and going mobile first.

Mobile-only banks have a strong potential to entice millennials, who are more interested in app store ratings than interest rates. Without a branch or website to distract them, these pure mobile offerings have only one thing on their mind – delivering a flawless mobile experience. With mobile being the number one channel for most customers, for high-street banks to compete effectively, they need to ensure that their mobile applications are just as good – if not better – than their upstart competitors. When you consider the new Current Account Switch Service, introduced by The Payments Council – which enables consumers to switch banks in just seven days, rather than the 30 days it took previously – this should act as a wakeup call to banks with underperforming mobile services, as it will be even easier to switch after a bad experience.

Competing with the challengers

Atom has already been granted a license to operate in the UK, but it has been reported that the company has refrained from launching its mobile application until it is confident it can deliver a flawless user experience. The resources invested into the performance of Atom’s application prior to launch highlights how seriously the company values the user experience. Research suggests Atom is getting its priorities spot on, particularly if they want to get to that lucrative millennial market: 49% of millennial smartphone and tablet users would go elsewhere if a mobile site or app fails to load in three seconds or less.

Yet mobile services from the established banks are still often plagued by high profile outages. Many of these outages resulted from the complexity in merging new technologies with legacy systems, but as mobile-only banks don’t have these legacy systems underpinning their services, they should find it easier to deploy new technologies and minimise service degradations. With mobile-only banks geared-up to better serve customers in the digital age, how can high street banks compete?

Turning threats into opportunities

For high street banks to reduce the impact these new banks have on their market share, they need to focus on the performance of their mobile application with the same gusto as mobile-only banks. If they can integrate their mobile application with their IT infrastructure effortlessly, and manage performance effectively, they stand a much better chance of outperforming their rivals.

To create and deliver an outstanding mobile application, it’s essential that banks monitor the digital performance of those services throughout the entire development lifecycle. If banks can identify problems early on that could eventually lead to service degradations, they can iron out any issues before they impact the customer. This can be particularly important when dealing with a complex web of legacy infrastructure – by seeing how each element interacts in the testing and development stage, you can have a clearer picture of where problems may occur and spot any integration issues before customers start using it.

During deployment, banks need to view the performance of their mobile application through the eyes of users in real-time, so they can intervene to resolve issues as they arise. By closely monitoring user experiences, banks can also identify the most popular interactions and determine which mobile transactions need to be improved to benefit the most customers. However, protecting the performance of a mobile application once deployed is easier said than done, as the service is at the mercy of external factors, such as the behaviour of a user’s device or network. To protect the user experience successfully, banks need the ability to profile user behaviour in relation to experience and monitor the underlying performance of their transactions across a range of devices and locations.

Committing to the customer

If banks can channel resources to maximise the quality of their mobile services, they’ll stand a good chance of nullifying the impact mobile-only banks have on their market share. As the market becomes increasingly crowded, the ability to manage performance to protect end users will be essential for banks to stay ahead of the competition. To put it simply, to compete with mobile-only banks in the future, the established institutions need to invest in digital performance today.

Banking

Who Needs an Offshore Bank Account?

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Who Needs an Offshore Bank Account? 1

By Luigi Wewege is the Senior Vice President, and Head of Private Banking of Belize based Caye International Bank

Even today, many people believe that offshore bank accounts are only for the rich. Those in the upper-class ranks can indeed benefit from establishing international accounts and depositing into them regularly.

You should also know that people with more modest incomes can also benefit from choosing to open one or more offshore bank accounts. If any of the following applies to you, then looking into accounts with the right offshore bank is something you should seriously consider.

People Who Want Resources for a Rainy Day

It’s always nice to have some money set aside for a rainy day. One way to do that is to set up an account for use in emergencies. While you want to access that account at will, you don’t want it to be one of the bank accounts you use for typical purposes.

This is where an international bank account can be helpful. Many of these accounts require a minimum deposit to become established. If you put in enough, the balance will generate some interest. In the best-case scenario, that interest would be enough to handle whatever emergency has arisen without depleting the remaining balance.

Anyone Who Likes the Idea of Competitive Interest Rates

Speaking of interest rates, did you know that some offshore locations offer better rates than what you can get from a domestic bank? For example, there are time deposit accounts that allow you to earn an impressive amount of interest if the balance is kept over a certain amount. Some offshore accounts like this one have a tier system for interest; as the balance reaches different levels, you qualify for higher interest rates. That’s a great way to make money and save, letting your money work for you.

Remember that you don’t have to start the account with more than the minimum deposit required. It’s always possible to start with a smaller balance and then gradually add to it until you reach a level that generates interest. For people of more modest means, this is often a great way to get started with offshore banking.

Those Who Plan on Living Abroad

You may have a dream of retiring to another country someday. Now is a great time to begin preparing for making that transition. If you establish accounts with an offshore bank now, it will be easier to ensure the process of transferring assets from your domestic accounts will be more straightforward.

Since you plan to visit that intended retirement location between now and when you make it your permanent home, it’s nice to know there are funds on hand if you need them.

Don’t forget that those who are preparing to be expats may receive certain tax benefits. Depending on your country of origin, those benefits may be based on confirming that you are an expat. Bank accounts that are located offshore and have local addresses attached to them can satisfy that requirement.

People Who Travel Internationally

Right now, the primary focus is on making sure you have an account complete with a debit card for use while traveling abroad. Depending on where you’re going, a card associated with an offshore account may work better than using the one related to a domestic bank account.

Why could this be the case? The exchange rate between the country you’re visiting and where the account is based may be more favorable. Perhaps the banking laws that apply to the country where your account resides is more favorable for some other reason. Whatever the combination of circumstances, you end up finding it advantageous to use your offshore debit card rather than withdraw from your domestic funds.

Anyone Who Wants to Build Nest Eggs for Retirement

In an uncertain world, setting aside money for the retirement years is a must. You’ll find that establishing an offshore savings account can help you with this goal. Depending on the terms that come with the account, it’s likely to be a better choice than depositing funds into a domestic savings account.

It’s not just the interest rate that may be more attractive. The fact that the account is based in another country may make you less tempted to withdraw the funds unless they are seriously needed. In this way, you protect yourself from falling into a pattern of making deposits and then withdrawing funds to pay for things that you don’t need. The result is that the money remains in the account, earns interest, and leaves you more financially comfortable when you retire.

Those Who Value Their Privacy

Privacy is another reason to consider opening an offshore account. The fact is that you don’t want everyone to know where you have your funds deposited. While the information will come to light should you die, there’s no reason why you have to share it now. You’ll find that an international bank is a great way to protect your privacy as well as your money.

International banks are known to be careful with information about depositors. You are free to designate authorized people to access your account. However, without your permission, there is little than can be done by others to gain information regarding your account other than through specific courts.

People Who Want to Reduce Their Tax Obligations Legally

Depending on domestic tax laws, the funds you place in offshore accounts may be subject to less taxation. In some cases, the money may not be taxed unless you choose to transfer it to a domestic bank account. Thanks to this measure, it may be possible to deposit up to a certain amount in your offshore account annually and reduce your tax burden.

Keep in mind that the offshore banks in many countries do provide limited information to domestic tax agencies. Do keep accurate records and report offshore funds by following the requirements of your country’s revenue agencies. Doing so ensures that you get to enjoy the benefits but do not create any issues that could make things difficult at home.

Anyone Who Wants to Protect Their Wealth from Political Risk

If the political climate at home is somewhat unstable, you may be wondering what would happen if things got worse. How would it affect your holdings or possibly the ability to make use of them? The money in your domestic accounts could indeed become difficult to utilize if things get worse. That won’t happen with your offshore accounts.

Even if there are problems with domestic banks, they won’t affect the funds found in your offshore bank accounts. They could end up being the means of keeping your head above water until things are more stable at home politically.

Those Who Want to Protect Assets in the Event of Domestic Legal Actions

While the political situation may not be a pressing concern, there’s another issue that you may want to consider. What would happen if someone sued you, and the judgment was not in your favor? What would happen to the financial assets held in domestic accounts? The most likely outcome is that the court would authorize the seizure of those balances to satisfy the judgment.

If that happens, the funds kept in your offshore savings, term deposit, or checking account cannot be automatically seized. You can use the balances in any way you see fit. That includes being able to support yourself while you re-establish your domestic accounts after the judgment is satisfied.

How to Open Your Offshore Bank AccountHow HHsdalfasd

Have you been thinking about establishing one or more offshore bank accounts? There is no better time than now to open an account.

Caye International Bank, located on Ambergris Caye island in Belize, offers a full range of banking services. We’ve been helping individuals and corporations with their financial needs for almost two decades.

Contact one of our financial service professionals today to discuss your many offshore banking options.

This is a Sponsored Feature.

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Banking

More Regulations on the Horizon for Banks as Pandemic Exposes Security and Identity Deficiencies

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More Regulations on the Horizon for Banks as Pandemic Exposes Security and Identity Deficiencies 2

OneSpan Global Financial Regulations Report reveals coming regulations on identity verification, Open Banking, AI, cryptocurrencies and biometric authentication aimed at enabling secure, digital economies

OneSpan™ (NASDAQ: OSPN), the global leader in securing remote banking transactions, today released the inaugural OneSpan Global Financial Regulations Report. The report examines regulatory and legislative initiatives impacting financial services globally in fraud prevention, digital identity, data protection, payments, Open Banking, e-signatures and more.

Governments around the world are considering and enacting laws, policies and regulations to enable and protect digital transactions and commerce, with the global COVID-19 pandemic further increasing the focus on remote banking, telehealth and other remote alternatives for essential activities. This is in large part due to the pandemic having exposed shortcomings in the current security, data management and privacy policies of financial institutions and others. At the same time, the race to digitize the industry to keep pace with evolving customer expectations and competition is also driving rapid regulatory change.

As a result, there will likely be more data privacy and data protection laws enacted throughout the world, each bringing unique regulatory requirements for financial institutions. To help financial services leaders navigate the uncertainty, the OneSpan Global Financial Regulations Report includes guidance on the following trends:

  • Artificial Intelligence is under increasing scrutiny as adoption grows: Regulators and governments worldwide are grappling with the creation of frameworks for the development and application of AI that focus on data protection and privacy, as well as the ethical and transparent use of the data.
  • Digital identities and remote account openings are gaining traction worldwide: Regulators in Hong Kong, Pakistan, Greece, Macedonia, Mexico and Turkey approved remote bank account openings in 2020 – a clear indicator that even processes rooted in traditional face-to-face meetings in the branch are now going digital and touchless around the globe.
  • Open Banking is growing rapidly throughout the world: As third-party providers (TPPs) are allowed to use banking information to help consumers save money, borrow more easily and pay efficiently, banks will increasingly work with TPPs. In the U.S., the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on consumer authorized access to financial data, which could be the catalyst for Open Banking in America.
  • Facial recognition is driving the greatest changes to banking regulations: As banks increasingly use facial recognition technology for Identity Verification requirements, they are housing large amounts of consumer biometric data. Standards organizations such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) Alliance and are developing frameworks that could be adopted at the national level and would stipulate how banks protect and store their customers’ biometric data.
  •  Regulation is on the way for cryptocurrencies: As digital banking platforms have experienced massive growth, many governments and industry bodies worldwide have begun to look to Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and cryptocurrencies in terms of what they might add to the financial sector. This has resulted in new and refreshed conversations around the possible uses of CBDCs and cryptocurrencies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic could become the most serious challenge to financial institutions in nearly a century, while at the same time the industry grapples with massive changes driven by regulatory developments,” said OneSpan CEO, Scott Clements. “Banks must act now to prepare for the significant changes coming their way in 2021. OneSpan’s inaugural regulations report will arm banks and financial institutions with the information they need to plan accordingly and be well-positioned for the industry transformation that has already started.”

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Bank be nimble, bank be quick[1]: how financial institutions can become more agile in times of pandemic

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Bank be nimble, bank be quick[1]: how financial institutions can become more agile in times of pandemic 3

By Peter Simon, Financial Institutions Data Science Practice Lead, DataRobot

If banks want to survive and thrive in and after COVID-19, AI and machine learning are very important, but the current approach to making these technologies happen simply isn’t fit for purpose.  Automating development, deployment and monitoring processes unblocks the bottleneck.

You’ve probably heard the one about COVID-19 doing more to change the way we work and to make global business digital in one year than the last thirty years of the “paperless office”[2].  Something similar seems to be going on in financial institutions: the rapidly-shifting environment in the pandemic is driving changes to how banks work more urgently than a decade of competitive threats from fintechs and challenger banks ever did.  At the same time, it’s unleashing a gale of creative destruction[3] that could threaten the very fabric and existence of venerable financial institutions if not addressed.

Let’s cut through the hype and take the following premises as read:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is awful in many ways and devastating human lives and livelihoods.
  • There are unprecedented (yeah, sorry, that word) downside risks to the global economy as a consequence of both the pandemic and policy reactions to it. These are affecting businesses across all industries and countries; the business of money is no exception.
  • COVID-19’s effects are different from a typical recessionary downturn in a number of ways, and unpredictable. Yes, the pandemic has felt like a slow-moving train wreck this year, but business conditions have been moving fast, and one month’s certainties quickly become the next month’s history.

So what’s a bank to do?  There are three challenges to address; let’s call them the three stages of ‘Rona Response.

First, survival.  Banks’ short and medium-term survival will depend on their ability to identify and mitigate risks as the economy changes during and after the crisis.  One would think that, almost a year into the pandemic, this stage would be complete, but arguably the worst of it will only arrive once fiscal policy ‘life support’ measures finally expire.  As it is, the number of large corporate bankruptcies in the US this year already looks to be on track for an all-time high[4], with correspondingly high risks of collateral damage—and correspondingly difficult decisions to be made.

Next, resilience.  Survivors will need to be proactive with identifying at-risk clients and help them before it’s too late. This will earn customer loyalty, better protect shareholders by reducing loan losses, and help banks and their communities to recover more quickly (thus being an investment in the institutions’ long-term viability as businesses).  It will also shore up the odds of survival should the economy and/or the pandemic take another turn for the worse.

Finally, long-term adaptation and growth.  The focus here is on preparing the post-COVID world, whatever shape it may take.  It looks like we won’t see a return to “business as usual” anytime soon, but the ability to adapt quickly to whatever shape the “new normal” takes will ensure long-term profitability. There’s no time to wait and see how this new shape will pan out, as by then the most responsive institutions and fintechs will have stolen a march.

The common thread in addressing these challenges successfully is the ability to be nimble in the face of rapidly evolving conditions—effectively becoming an “agile bank”.  It’s not going to help anyone if ensuring survival, by changing the way your institution does business, takes a 2-year big-bang transformation programme involving comprehensive re-engineering of all the business processes, hundreds of PowerPoint slides and thousands of consultancy hours; at the end of all of that, it could well be too late.  Far better to address these challenges by a series of small, incremental, but immediately impactful adjustments which are fast to deliver.  A good place to start is the way in which financial institutions make decisions; not the big, strategic decisions, but rather the hundreds of thousands of everyday operational decisions a typical bank makes, such as which customers to approve, how to target the marketing, what pricing to offer to new and existing customers, which transactions require supervision or investigation, and so on.

Example AI applications in financial institutions, by stage of ‘Rona Response

Survival Resilience Adaptation
●     Rapid-response models (address specific short-notice needs and gauge speed and extent at which drivers are evolving)

●     Anomalous activity detection for risk flagging (compare to pre-crisis activity patterns)

●     Explanatory models of previous crises (what drove KPIs? what is different this time?)

Survival use cases, plus:

●     Customer forbearance models: where to extend maturities, reschedule payments, grant temporary limit increases, reduce rates, and/or waive late fees

●     Regulatory capital and liquidity needs scenario modelling[5]

●     Sensitivity analysis5

Resilience use cases, plus:

●     Determining new channel usage patterns and preferences

●     More efficient client outreach, to increase value, positive brand awareness, and loyalty

●     Automated pricing and targeted marketing of new products

Peter Simon

Peter Simon

AI and machine learning have made inroads in this space, but banks have often struggled to realise these technologies’ promise. A recent McKinsey study[6] found that reasons for this include, inter alia, a lack of clear strategy, inflexible infrastructure and outmoded working models that make it difficult for business and technology teams to collaborate.  Let’s add slow and largely manual development processes, poor communication between technology and business silos, and the glacial pace of governance and implementation to the case for the prosecution.  If banks want to become more responsive and agile, the current approach to making AI happen quite simply isn’t fit for purpose.

Modern automated approaches to machine learning and AI (“autoML”) help financial institutions achieve this, unblocking the bottleneck and sweeping away some of the problems described earlier, by:

  • making the people who build the models to automate the decisions much more efficient and productive, automating their repetitive tasks and massively shortening the development cycle;
  • exposing the ability to build powerful predictive models to a wider audience, such as business intelligence (BI) specialists who currently focus on building current-state or historical information—this allows the business to get much closer to the models than was previously the case; and
  • making governance, deployment, ongoing monitoring and model refresh a much faster process, by enforcing a structured, repeatable approach to addressing the business problems at hand—even automating much of the documentation needed for model validation.

What can be automated?

Embracing these technologies can lead to some quite astounding results.  One of DataRobot’s fintech customers has accelerated their credit model governance process to the point where credit scoring models can be built and deployed in a matter of hours.  This allows the business—which approves over three thousand loans each day—to react quickly to the changing realities of their marketplace by ensuring that their decisions are based on the very latest data.  Of course, not all banks will be able to achieve quite as drastic an improvement in process speed, but it’s realistic to expect substantial benefits; typically, we see the model development cycle shorten from three months to less than three weeks, with model validation, governance and implementation times also substantially reduced.

Around the world, we’re seeing increasing numbers of financial institutions of all shapes and sizes adopting these technologies.  This newfound ability to finally “do AI right” is therefore becoming an increasingly important ingredient in the recipe for financial institutions’ long-term endurance, resilience and adaptability.

[1] Bank jumping over the candlestick is optional.

[2] The fully paperless office apparently being on track to arrive at around the same time as the fully paperless toilet.

[3] Perhaps even in the original, Schumpeterian sense, but that debate is well beyond the scope of this article.

[4] Source: https://www.ft.com/content/277dc354-a870-4160-9117-b5b0dece5360

[5] Special care is needed with this use case, as the unprecedented nature of current events results in an absence of historical data on which to train the machine learning models, and models trained on what is available may not extrapolate well, or at all.  We list it nevertheless, as it can be very powerful when used wisely.

[6] Available at https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/ai-bank-of-the-future-can-banks-meet-the-ai-challenge

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