Path Solutions provides the industry’s widest range of software solutions to Islamic banks and Islamic financial institutions. Mohammed Kateeb, Group Chairman & CEO of Path Solutions, answers our questions about Islamic Finance Technology.
Hi Mohammed, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Path Solutions has been providing software solutions for over 20 years. How do you address the growing competition within the Islamic banking market and stay ahead of your competitors?
Over the years, Path Solutions has established itself as a dominant player in the growing Islamic financial services sector. The main differentiator between ourselves and our competitors is that we’re 100 percent committed to Islamic banking, in that our system is designed and built from the ground up based on the Sharia rules and regulations. Not only were we the first Sharia-compliant software firm to be recognised and certified by AAOIFI, but we have tremendous expertise in the market and understand the importance of technological advancements if the Islamic sector is to rival its conventional banking counterparts.
How does technology address Sharia compliance and regulation concerns?
If technology has to address Sharia compliance and regulation concerns, it has to incorporate the compliance tools in the system. The first starting point is the importance of a software compliance with Islamic financial standards. Islamic financial institutions/ operations include specific transactions, contracts, rules and regulations to follow; An IT system to be used for Islamic operations’ coverage should support such functions through its processes and system controls that do not enable processing of non-Sharia compliant transactions.
When new standards are issued, Islamic banks also expect from their supporting IT system to enable the institution’s compliance with the new standards, and as such software companies have to always be up-to-date with new standards, and proactive in developing whatever is needed in the system to empower the client’s compliance with these standards, ahead of the client asking for them.
What challenges does technology address for conventional banks that are just now beginning to offer Islamic banking services?
Conventional banks starting to offer Islamic banking services face many challenges in their legacy system on multiple levels:
- Their system is fully conventional-focused and as such does not enable offering Islamic products and services and the related operations
- Their system does not include built-in procedures and processes for such operations
- It does not allow the segregation of funds between restricted and unrestricted accounts which are standard types of accounts in Islamic operations; and it does not allow segregation of funds between conventional operations and Islamic windows operations
- Last but not least, is the profit distribution procedure to investors in Islamic banks. It is a specific procedure that is totally different from conventional interest computations.
To properly support Islamic banking operations, a financial institution must move from the legacy conventional system to specialized software for its Islamic operations.
Is technology helping Islamic finance to grow?
Yes, to a big extent by automating day-to-day operations, supporting compliance with local and industry regulations, and reaching wider geographies. In today’s era, no industry can grow and sustain growth without a supporting technology, and the specialized technology is the best to minimize costs, enhance operational efficiencies and reach growth.
What products and services does Path Solutions offer to address operational issues such as efficiency and cost savings?
All of Path Solutions’ products maximize operational efficiencies, ensure internal controls and automated process flows. Our Islamic banking suite is very user friendly and supports Islamic operations with swift services to clients. We also offer reporting and business intelligence solutions that empower banks to develop reports and dashboards and set up alerting messages on specific operational areas. These modules relate to iMAL*BusinessIntelligence & iMAL*ReportDesigner. In addition, Path Solutions recently released iMAL*XDashboards, a powerful executive intelligence tool that provides a consolidated view of the financial institution’s performance, through graphically rich, highly interactive and user friendly dashboards. The solution helps bring critical information to CxOs (‘C’ level executives) and decision makers through its remarkably intuitive interface.
Is Path Solutions planning on releasing any new products or services in 2014?
Yes, our strategy is to always keep up with market trends and directions and offer related products to empower our clients with their operations and increase their market share. The plans for releasing new modules cover multiple areas especially in what relates to regulations and compliance, such as Release 1.1 of iMAL*FATCA for FATCA regulation compliance, improve transfer pricing offering, and delivery channels related such as branchless banking and unified channels management services.
For further details, please go to www.path-solutions.com
Delivering Innovative Wealth Management Solutions
For more than half a century Deltec Bank & Trust has been providing global private banking services to high net worth clients. Deltec Bank & Trust has delivered comprehensive financial solutions and exceptional client support to meet the international wealth management needs of successful individuals, families, and businesses.Since becoming CEO in 2019, Odetta Morton has focused on leveraging Deltec’s unique global network to serve its private and corporate banking clients with an emphasis on efficiency, innovation, and the highest ethical standards.
In the process, Mrs. Morton has made Deltec Bank & Trust an agile, innovative and solutions-driven institution. Deltec has consistently built on its client service, and Mrs. Morton is committed to growing shareholder value by building the bank of the future with access to the most unique network of opportunities for its clients. On the occasion of winning Best Private Bank in the Caribbean 2020
Global Banking & Finance Review interviewed Mrs. Morton, CEO of Deltec Bank & Trust to find out more about the bank and their plans for the future.
Congratulations on your award- winning success. What initiatives do you feel have led to your success?
I attribute our success to the extraordinary talent that extends across our organization. Our success has always been because of the people who work tirelessly to ensure that we give exceptional service to our clients.
As a team, we’re focused on the future, trusting disruption and investing in technology that delivers 24/7 financial solutions. This audacious approach drives our team to offer award-winning wealth management and financial services.
What are the biggest challenges you see taking place right now and how is Deltec Bank & Trust prepared to help clients navigate this difficult time?
Within the last few years, Deltec’s main focus has been to ensure we have a business model that can withstand the pressure of an ever changing financial environment, which is faced with major disruption due to new regulations, a changing customer base, and emerging digital technologies.
These preparations have helped us tremendously to transition to the COVID-19 dilemma we see today. We have been focused on resilience, having developed a robust and tested business continuity plan as part of our enterprise risk management framework as an essential of component of the Bank’s business model.
With our headquarters positioned in a hurricane belt, we are no stranger to facing crises and our enterprise risk management framework has served us well in this unique environment.
Additionally, our conservative strategy serves as one of Deltec’s advantages – with healthy liquidity ratio, no debt, no proprietary trading, zero commercial loans, and no leverage. We remain conservative in our credit policies and commitment to sound capitalization. These prudent practices ensure that there is no threat to the Bank’s sustainability, safety and soundness.
We are well-served by our commitment to and investments in technology to transform the way we work: rapidly responding to this challenge, finding opportunities and quickly scaling effective solutions for our clients.
In our discretionary portfolios, we have ensured that we are in the best possible position to deliver both investment services and ongoing performance in the face of the uncertainty posed by COVID-19.
As the pandemic has unfolded, we have been proactive and agile in our strategic response. Our team has come together with a renewed commitment to confront new challenges to ensure that we thrive in the new normal.
We believe that these times have revealed why Deltec is so special:
- our team is guided by our mission to serve and protect our clients; and
- our commitment and flexibility to rise above the challenges of this moment by solving difficult problems in real time.
How has client’s attitudes towards wealth management changed over the past few years?
With new digital technologies and an always-on culture, clients expect wealth management solutions to be available 24/7. It’s important to add that there is a new generation of clientele emerging- the savvy and empowered digital consumer – who is interacting with their bank in completely new ways.
This is why the role of fintech has become so prominent. Clients want to be more involved in the way their wealth is managed and protected.
At Deltec Bank, we have embraced this and invested in a digital transformation designed to not only provide 24/7 financial services but revolutionize how wealth management and financial services are offered today.
Client relations have always been at the core of your banking operations. Why is this and how do you continue to strengthen these relations?
Quite simply, we provide a network of unique opportunities with white-glove service to our clients. Our approach is two-fold. On one hand, we take the time to understand our clients, their unique situations and we build around that. On the other hand, we have embraced that our service must be available in real-time and available across different time zones. Our technology plays a big role in that. Our clients can interact with us based on their preferences and our expert team of professionals are committed to giving our clients world-class solutions and service.
How do you support clients’ in achieving planning for and achieving their financial goals?
We believe that understanding the financial needs and goals of our clients is one of our most important responsibilities. Whether the client already knows what they require, or would like help developing an appropriate investment and wealth plan, we seek first to understand. This allows our team to more accurately leverage Deltec’s in-house financial and investment expertise and match clients with the right solution for them.
From an investment perspective, we simplify the process for our clients by offering a selection of discretionary model investment portfolios to match their risk profiles. From there our experienced team of investment analysts and portfolio managers make clients capital work for them, applying Deltec’s robust investment framework to investment markets.
Moreover, one of the distinct advantages of Deltec is that we’re a true financial partner to our clients. The Deltec International Group offers diversified solutions, ranging from fund administration, corporate advisory, merchant banking, global insurance to digital asset financial services, therefore at Deltec Bank, we’ve been able to create synergies to match our clients with a wide range of financial solutions.
With over half a century of operations, you are now servicing several generations. What are the challenges in multi-generational wealth management?
Every generation has a distinct set of values, thinking patterns and expectations. For example, we know that the new generation of wealth management clients, which include Gen X and Gen Y, even baby boomers who have been influenced by the younger generation expect to have more control over their finances and are less concerned about authority than previous generations – in fact, they lean on their peers for feedback and advice.
One of the ways we’ve been able to successfully service multi-generational wealth is by being a pioneer in the wealth management industry. At Deltec, we always embrace the future and anticipate what’s next. This approach has positioned the Bank to meet and exceed the expectations of the many generations of clients we serve.
What role is technology playing in the development of services for wealth management?
Technology is changing the way our clients interact with us and enhancing how we deliver financial solutions. We see this transformation happening in many other industries and wealth management is no different.
At Deltec, we’re leveraging technology to provide one of the most advanced wealth management platforms, pioneering models and algorithms for real-time financial solutions based on individual client suitability and preferences. As an international bank, we’ve place priority on 24/7 wealth management and financial services, and technology is the engine behind that.
How does Deltec Bank & Trust support the socio-economic development in the Caribbean?
Deltec Bank has long held strong ties within the local community in The Bahamas through our Deltec Initiatives Foundation, which was designed to foster an environment that empowers young Bahamians to drive positive social impact through the power of arts, entrepreneurship and education.
Since 2013, the foundation has discovered, launched and mentored many talented, motivated and driven Bahamian artists, artisans and entrepreneurs. The Deltec Initiatives Foundation comprises three pillars: The Initiative for the Arts, The Initiative for Young Entrepreneurs and The Initiative for Scholarship & Education.
What can we expect to see from Deltec Bank & Trust over the next 3 years?
Over the next 3 years, I expect to see a complete transformation of wealth management and financial services, and Deltec will be at the forefront of the advanced thinking emanating from the industry. Our technology and processes will provide a model for private banks and wealth managers around the world and deliver even more value to our global clients 24/7.
Enhancing Customer Experience
Absa Bank Zambia PLC is part of Absa Group Limited, an African financial services group that aims to be the pride of the continent. Formerly known as Barclays Bank Zambia PLC, the Bank has operated in Zambia for over 102 years. The Bank rebranded to Absa on 10 February 2020. Absa is a truly African brand, inspired by the people it serves and determined to always be brave, passionate and ready so that the Bank can make the African continent proud and bring possibilities of its people to life.
How is Absa Bank Zambia PLC working towards becoming the pride of the continent?
Absa Bank Zambia PLC is an award-winning commercial bank that has been serving the financial needs of the Zambian population since June 1918. The Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Absa Group Limited (AGL), a well-capitalised banking group listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
With a strong heritage anchored on local, pan- African and international knowledge as well as a legacy of providing innovative banking solutions with a number of industry firsts, Absa is well positioned to be the Bank of choice of the continent as it aims to provide revolutionary products and services that stem from its wide success of previous accomplishments such as being the first bank to distribute the newly independent Zambian currency at its Ndola Branch in 1964 following the country’s independence. The Bank also launched the first Debit Card and ATMs in Zambia in 1996 and thereafter the first cash accepting ATMs in 2010. In addition, the Bank launched the country’s first Kwacha Credit Card and subsequently the first mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) in the country in 2016 revolutionizing convenient banking. In 2018, the Bank was first to provide online insurance premiums.
Following the announcement of a change in operating name from Barclays to Absa by June 2020, the Bank also adopted a new strategy focused on being a digitally-led organisation.Over the last three years, Absa Zambia have invested over ZMW 100 million in technology to enhance the banking experience of its customers. This has resulted in the Bank having the largest network of intelligent ATMs with deposit-taking, bill payment and funds transfer capabilities. Through a strategic partnership with mobile network operator MTN Zambia and Fintech company Jumo, the Bank introduced the award-winning KONGOLA, a lending product and KASAKA, a savings product that allows customers to borrow and save funds respectively on their mobile wallets.
As a key player in the growth of the economy, the Bank has invested in excess of USD 7 billion in key sectors that drive growth in the economy and continue to look for opportunities to be a key growth partner. Notable projects comprise of infrastructure development financing which include the Eurobonds arrangement and Public sector financing, Agricultural support particularly with the Zambia Sugar (Illovo) expansion project and support to the energy sector through the Maamba Coal Mine project adding 300 MW of power to the national grid. The Bank also extends support to Small and Medium Enterprises through its Business Banking proposition as it understands that this sector fuels the economy.
Absa Zambia has continued to be a key partner in addressing societal challenges by playing a shaping role in society and has invested more than K15 million in the last three years. Some notable projects include donation of the country’s first Dexa machineto the leading public hospital in the Country, University Teaching Hospital. This machine is critical for the diagnosis and treatment of bone-related illness; sponsorship of Zambia’s biggest football tournament which was rebranded from Barclays to Absa Cup giving local players an international platform to showcase their skills; financial literacy for SMEs and adolescents to spur entrepreneurship and money skills among others.
The transition from Barclays to Absa reiterates the Bank’s commitment to continue operating in Zambia and the continent at large, further according it with an opportunity to enhance its services by offering home-grown banking solutions for the thriving African continent.
How widespread is your presence throughout the region?
Absa Group Limited, Absa Bank Zambia PLC’s parent company, has a presence in 12 countries in Africa, with approximately 42 000 employees. Across the continent, the Group has over 1,000 branches and about 10,000 ATMs.
The Group’s registered head office is in Johannesburg, South Africa, and it owns majority stakes in banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa (Absa Bank), Tanzania (Absa Bank Tanzania and National Bank of Commerce), Uganda and Zambia. The Group also has representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria, as well as insurance operations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
In addition, the Group also has representative offices in London and New York.
Absa Group Limited offers an integrated set of products and services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management and insurance.
What type of local challenges do you help your clients overcome and how do these solutions add value?
The biggest challenge most clients face in the market is the lack of access to capital. Absa Zambia is currently the biggest lender in the country among financial institutions providing support to key sectors of the economy.
Absa Zambia realises that the biggest challenge most clients face in the market is lack of access to capital to finance growth projects. Lending to SMEs in Africa is also difficult using traditional credit scorecards because of lack of data and insufficient collateral/security. In informal funding markets, rates can range between 20 – 50%, which is not sustainable for the SMEs. The Bank has therefore taken time to understand our corporate and SME businesses, including the entire sector so that it can support their financing needs adequately. Some of the initiatives the Bank has done include tailoring its lending criteria to the SME sector and collateral provision.
Other initiatives include:
- the introduction of Business Internet Banking which allows 24/7 convenient banking
- the SME tool kit, an initiative to assist our customers develop financial statements and business plans in an easier and structured manner
- Supporting value chains that the African continent relies on for growth through conferences like the Africa Procurement Summit.
- Linkages to intentional suppliers of goods and services through SME trips to China
The Bank continues to be a key financier of projects that positively impact the economy like the Zambia Sugar expansion project, the infrastructure projects resulting in the building of various malls in the country and the energy sector where the Bank supported the coal-fired electricity plan in Maamba.
Most recently, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Absa Zambia became the first Bank in the country to announce a Loan Payment Relief Programme in response to the financial impact on a number of economic activities.The Relief Package is a comprehensive solution that applies to the Bank’s credit products, including home loans, vehicle finance, personal loans, as well as commercial asset finance and mortgage-backed business loans. These solutions cut across Corporate, Business and Retail Banking customers to ensure that customers receive adequate support.
With the Zambian society mainly driven by formal employment,Absa understands the growing need to drive an agenda of a more diverse skillset and entrepreneurship. The Bank realises this challenge and has taken deliberate steps to work with different partners to encourage entrepreneurship. Absa Zambia has worked with organisations like the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to provide business clinics that offer financing advice including generation of business plans through to unlocking access to finance opportunities.
The Bank offers financial literacy education as part of our support to communities it operates in line with the corporate social responsibility agenda. As part of Absa Group Limited, the Bank has identified playing a shaping role in society as a key enabler and remain committed to being a force for good in society.
With Financial inclusion being a topical issue in Africa, what is Absa Bank doing to improve access to financial services?
The Bank has been a major supporter of Government initiatives that encourage financial inclusion. Absa Zambia works closely with the Bank of Zambia to develop and roll-out programmes that are targeted at the underprivileged, unbanked and rural population with limited access to banking facilities.
The bank has partnered with the country’s Mobile Network Operators to allow the public to access and move money from the bank to the mobile phones through the bank-to-wallet and wallet-to-bank services.
The Bank has collaborated with MTN Zambia to ensure that members of the public with mobile phones access banking solutions without using data.
Through the Financial Inclusion pillar, the Bank has developed banking solutions that are market relevant speaking into our customers’ needs. The Bank has developed products like the Ignition Student Account especially tailored for the youth with features such as no minimum balance and free ATM withdrawals to encourage youths to use and have access to banking facilities.
Furthermore, the Bank has the CashSend facility which is a mobile banking platform function allowing customers to send cash transfers to any mobile number in Zambia and the recipient can withdraw from any Absa ATM using the Bank’s cardless services. The recipient does not need to be a Bank customer or have a bank account. Customers can also pay bills and check account status through mobile banking.
In addition, the Bank has collaborated with MTN and Jumo to offer the award-winning wallet services KONGOLA and KASAKA that allows customers to borrow and save on their mobile phones. More than 27 million loans have been disbursed to customers since the product was introduced on the market over a year ago.
What range of financial management solutions do you provide?
Serving about 200,000 customers, Absa Zambia has a network of 34 branches in all 10 Provinces across the country. The Bank has a network of 124 ATMs with cash accepting capabilities and over 2,000 active Point-of-sale terminals. The Bank is one of the largest employers in Zambia’s financial services sector employing over 800 people across its operations.
Absa Zambia offers a diverse range of banking services for individuals, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as larger corporates. The Bank continues to be a strong foreign exchange business focused ondelivering a unique product portfolio to support customers’ investment plans. In addition, Absa Zambia has robust digital banking offering transactions easier and convenient.
The Bank’s offering can be categorised as follows:
- Cash Management
- Operational and Investment accounts
- Foreign currency solutions
- Payments, Collections and Channels solutions
- Trade Finance
- Documentary trade that includes Letters of Credit, Bank Guarantees and Documentary collections
- Working capital solutions to include Invoice Discounting, Trade Loans and Supplier Finance
- Debt and Capital Markets as well as Vehicle and Asset Finance
- Sales & Trading, Treasury Services, Wholesale Deposit and Investment Banking
- Africa Access online platform allowing FX spot, forwards and swaps as well as real time execution in local and major currency pairs up to one year forward
What makes Absa bank stand out from other banks?
Our agenda transcends just meeting the financial scorecard. It is about being a force for good in society. We want to bring possibilities to life. As a Bank that has been in Zambia for over 100 years, we have a deep knowledge of the market and are able to tailor solutions suited to this environment.
Absa Zambia is a forward thinking Bank that has exciting propositions to offer customers in Zambia and across the continent. As part of its new brand identity, the Bank has committed to being a digitally-led organisation making extensive investment in technology to meet the ever changing needs of its diverse customer base.
The Bank prides itself in being a pioneer in technological advancements that have revolutionised the Zambian banking landscape. Its long history in the country gives the Bank an advantage based on the heritage and local knowledge of trends. Absa Zambia is a model investor committed to being part of the solution to a number of societal challenges.
Going forward, the Bank remains committed to offering unique business propositions that are relevant to various customer segments so that it truly is a financial partner to help customers achieve their financial needs.
Absa Zambia is committed to complement Government efforts in fuelling sustainable growth in the economy by supporting key sectors that include Mining, Agriculture, Public Sectors, Energy, Manufacturing, Telecoms, Financial Services, Wholesale and Trading.
Financial inclusion remains one of the Bank’s key focus areas so that financial services are delivered to different customer segments in the country through strategic synergies.
As a new brand in Zambia that is customer obsessed, the Bank endeavours to offer an enhanced customer experience.
*For more about Absa Bank Zambia PLC, its products and services, visit www.absa.co.zm
Exclusive interview with Mr. Mohammad Yaghi, Managing Director, Orbex
Who is Orbex?
Orbex is a fully regulated financial services provider, headquartered in Limassol, Cyprus. Our business was founded almost 10 years ago with a mission to serve traders both ethically & responsibly.
Your tagline is “serving traders responsibly.” What was the inspiration for that mantra?
As passionate professionals in the FX industry, we got tired of the flashy advertising shamelessly scattered all over the market, making baseless promises of wealth and profit. This caused a warped perception of the industry as a whole, and that didn’t sit well with us.
We wanted to change the way people looked at the forex market and create a community of responsible traders who know how to both respect the market and invest in it wisely.
We wanted to be the only company out there that didn’t promise you success but gave you everything you need to achieve it.
What are the advantages that traders experience when trading with Orbex?
Our traders can expect industry-standard top-tier trading conditions. Our spreads are as low as 0, our execution is seamless, our account types are well-crafted to suit a variety of trading styles, and of course, we are fully compliant with a clean regulatory record since 2011.
But, beyond that, our research team is unparalleled. Few brokers grant their clients free access to research and analysis of such a high caliber.
Our team consists of experienced analysts that curate and create technical, fundamental, and educational content on a daily basis. In fact, our research is so highly coveted that it is being featured on Refinitiv Eikon Financial Analysis Platform.
So, as an Orbex trader you don’t just get good spreads and low commissions. You get to expand your knowledge, develop as an investor, and engage with a thriving community of informed traders.
In your opinion, what are the most common pitfalls that traders tend to fall into? And how do you advise they avoid them?
Well, as you may have noticed, I think trading without research is the ultimate mistake. But when you combine ignorance with emotion, it’s a recipe for disaster.
The number one piece of advice I give to all traders is that they must work as diligently on their trading psychology and discipline as they do on their research.
Entering the market with the right mindset and a realistic set of achievable goals is the key to avoiding significant losses.
What are some of the online tools you have available?
Aside from our blog, which is where our daily content is published, we work with a number of helpful online tools to facilitate our traders’ experience.
Trading Central, for example, is an investment hub that offers support, trade ideas, strategy-building services, and risk-management tools, among others. Orbex traders gain access to this hub when they open a live account, in addition to all our other services.
We also have a Telegram channel, which is the preferred platform of communication among most traders. That way, we can get the latest market updates and trading opportunities to you in real-time, straight to your phone.
What trends do you see taking place right now that investors should take note of?
Well, it’s clearly a very different time for the markets right now. The oil markets turned negative, and the COVID-19 pandemic has already ‘killed’ off many trends. So, the question now is, will others follow, and will new trends emerge?
Undoubtedly, some of the existing trends will die, but others will resurrect. I would say the golden opportunity lies with big data.
Existing and emerging technologies require data management, governance, data storage, smart platforms, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). And all of these are all driven by consumer demand.
What would you say has been the standout milestone for Orbex in the past year?
Without a shadow of a doubt, it would have to be becoming regulated by FSC Mauritius via Orbex Global Limited, in addition to Orbex Limited’s CySEC license and FCA registration.
These licenses are badges of honor that prove to our clients that their safety and security is our number one priority.
Sure, there were other fantastic milestones, like receiving the “Best Forex Broker” award from two renowned financial magazines, but I think getting licensed by yet another respected regulatory authority definitely takes the cake.
What are your plans for Orbex moving forward?
I think we’ve made some incredible strides in the last year or so, and I’d like to see us continue on this path.
In our future, I see more regulatory authorities on board, an even higher standard of research and analysis provided for our clients, a few more trophies from respected institutions recognizing our efforts, and a bigger and stronger community of responsible Orbex traders.
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