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Ojas Rege, VP Of Strategy At Mobileiron

Ojas Rege, VP of Strategy at MobileIron shares with us some of the big trends that MobileIron has been seeing in financial services and answers our questions about BYOD and the year ahead for mobile in banking.

What are the big trends MobileIron is seeing in financial services in regards to mobile?

2014 does feel to us as a catalyst year for financial services in mobile. Clearly financial services in general has been mobile for a while, they were one of primary adopters of BlackBerry. So mobile email has been a much imbedded and deeply valued capability in most financial service organizations, certainly in banks both on the retail and investment banking side.

Ojas Rege, VP Of Strategy At Mobileiron

Ojas Rege, VP Of Strategy At Mobileiron

That being said, financial services has not been an early adopter over the last several years in the move to this new generation of modern operating systems, IOS, android etc. They have not been an early adopter of BYOD and they haven’t been the early adopter for mobile apps, except in certain retail banking situation.

That’s all changing now in 2014. The ways it is changing is the following there have been a couple of drivers of this. First what we see changing within banks is the CIO is realizing or has realized that mobile isn’t only an email platform, it’s not just a communications platform but it is a computing platform. Why that’s important is that for the first time really the banks are looking at what of their business processes they should be putting on mobile device which translates of course into apps.

The move from email to apps is now starting for mobile in banking. That is a really important transition. We’ve seen this transition already happen over the last two years in healthcare, in retail, in pharmaceutical.  So in some sense this is actually not a bad time for financial services to do it because there has already been early adopter industries that have gone through it and so the best practices have started to emerge. So that’s number one, which is they’re moving now from email to application so thinking about mobile as a computing platform.

The second key thing that is affecting their strategy is the migration off BlackBerry. And what is interesting about this from the banking perspective even though the financial issues that BlackBerry has had over the last few years have been a big contributor to that the primary reason that’s driving that migration is not the finances of BlackBerry but the end user demand. The users are demanding the next generation of platforms and that combined of course with some of the instability around BlackBerry has really lit a fire under many financial organizations to move quickly. The big catalyst was in September of last year, Gartner released a global research note telling all of their clients that they needed to have either migration complete or alternatives in place over the next 6-9 months to move off BlackBerry for a variety of reasons. That note had a big impact in the financial services community because financial services and government were the two core verticals that were still heavily BlackBerry centric.  The first big trend was the move from email to apps the second was an acceleration of migration off of BlackBerry.

The third one is actually related to the second which is the increasing demand in the user community to use their own devices.  I mentioned earlier that financial services were not an early adopter of BYOD. In financial services the BYOD adoption has been slower for all of the reasons we would expect around security and around auditability. In the end the acceptance from of IT of BYOD in financial services is very much going to be based on the confidence IT has in their ability to prevent data loss and to do that across IOS, android and even windows phone. That is the lay of the land and what we are seeing at this time.

Is this going to be a primary area of focus for banks and are they going to be able to spend enough of their IT budget in this area? How does regulation come into play?

Mobile is not discretionary any more. It has become one of the top two or three initiatives, certainly from a strategic perspective across financial services. Mobile is no longer an island, it’s not a separate thing the bank does to mobilize their email onto BlackBerry’s.   It is the fundamental way that their employees are accessing their business data. So any regulatory program that a bank puts in place will have to include mobile because so much of the data that the regulations deal with is being consumed on a mobile device.

The challenge of course then is if you have this new set of end points and these new set of user experiences that my employees and my customers want then how does all this regulation apply. What we have to do is move away from thinking of mobile as a set of technologies, being a set of devices, operating systems and more of thinking of mobile as a way in which their users are going to be consuming data. So whatever regulations they have regarding data is going to be the same whether the user is accessing it via laptops, mobile, paper.  Then we can take those protections and make things work effectively in a mobile context without damaging the end user experience.  That’s really the key thing in mobile. The moment you start damaging the end user experience in mobile the user starts going around IT and it creates all kinds of data lose. Locking down mobile ends up backfiring because the user continues to do things but through other services and out of ITs control. This all hits the BYOD question head on. In BYOD you have an example of the user bringing technology of their choice to the organization.

We did a study in June of last year on privacy. The study took 1000 employees in Germany, UK and US and the questions we were asking were. Are you using your own device for work? This was not financial services only but 80% said yes. Even in Germany 80% of employees said yes I’m using my own device for work and in Germany less than 20% have a BYOD policy in place.  So the key finding in that was BYOD is here whether you like it or not. Every bank has a BYOD program but the question is do they know they have it because their users are using their own personal devices for work. That is why this becomes so relevant. To get ahead of the curve banks need to ask themselves am I purely reactive or do I have a program in place.

What new concerns have arisen recently to the banking sector concerning Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD)?

The umbrella around this is that banks have realized their end users are using their own personal device. The biggest concern is I have this shadow IT problem. If the IT department isn’t moving fast shadow IT springs up fast organically.  What are the concerns then?

Top 3 concerns

  • Data Concerns:  Documents being lost, core bank documents that are covered by regulation being left out and ending up in the user personal cloud service.  Document transfer into unauthorized cloud storage services is the number one data lose vector in financial service. The number one thing IT has to do is enable users to use documents on their mobile devices but protect those documents from being lost to unknown services.
  • Number two concern is the unknown. These platforms are so new to banking IT they don’t know where the other risks. The mobile market is moving so quickly there could be unknown vectors of data lose. There is a lack of education around these new services
  • Third is privacy. What they realize is the old world where everything was controlled by IT doesn’t work in a BYOD context because now the user has personal information on the device also. Now you have to be able to keep the professional information secure while keeping the privacy of the user.

How to address these issues

  • How to prevent the loss of documents into unsecured cloud application: The way to manage this is to protect the data flow. That document exists somewhere in the organization and generally it comes to the device through email. When that document comes into the device you need to ensure that it can only be opened in a secure environment. The document needs to be encrypted when it comes to the device and should only be allowed to be unencrypted by an authorized device. The only applications on the device that should be able to see them are secure applications the company has provided. The gateway is the key. No accidental security breaches.  This allows the user to be happy because they access the documents they want on their device and it provides IT with peace of mind because if somehow the document is get into an unauthorized application it will be useless because the document will be encrypted.
  • The uncertainty around mobile: How does the organization address this?  There are technical solutions for the other issues. This is more of an organizational issue. To become an expert in mobile requires the IT organization to invest deeply in education. Many banks have teams in place now that their job is to stay on top of the latest changes occurring in mobile.  The pace of mobile is completely different than that of traditional enterprise technology and reason for that is mobile moves at the speed of the consumer. IT organizations are going to have to become much more agile, have training  and dedicated expertise on staff who keep up to date on all these new mobile technologies and can put in place the appropriate policies.
  • BYOD and privacy: Requires the organization to have full control over the enterprise persona of the device. The employee wants to have access to their business email, business apps, web access to the corporate intranet and business documents and IT needs you to have access to business policies, the configuration setting, the concatenative settings so you can get on to the internet and the certificate which are used for identity. All of that together is what we think of as the enterprise persona. You as the bank need to be able to provision that enterprise persona to the user, you need to be able to secure the data on the device, and you need to be able to secure the data in motion and the fourth thing need to be able to delete all of the data when the employee leaves. All four of those things you need to be able to without interfering with any of the personal data that’s on that phone.  Why that’s challenging of course is there is a lot of technology that needs to be involved.  You need an enterprise mobility management platform to do this effectively. The other thing you have to do is ensure that the user has seamless experience.

Does IT currently have a preferred device?

The two systems in the lead post Blackberry by financial service organizations are IOS and Samsung Knox because they’ve been through the most testing and they are the most secure. There are regional variances. The main drive behind that is cost. Android has taken all the low price devices so the more price sensitive the market the more Android adoption you’ll see. We did some research recently that showed how quickly the user preference for BlackBerry has dropped. There are still those prefer it.  There is no one size fits all. You have to be able to support the broadest set of mobile operating systems out there because if you don’t you cannot serve the needs of your customer.  In a consumer market things shift pretty fast.

What role is privacy regulation playing?

Each organization needs to understand the privacy policy they have in place.  The question has been how is privacy involved and what your privacy obligations to your customers are.  You have to spend time with each of those regulatory bodies to describe what controls you are putting in place to prevent unauthorized access to data.  The important thing on this though is there are always exceptions though so there really is no black and white policy on this. When companies deploy BYOD operationally they absolutely don’t access personal data. That being said there are always edge cases. For example if your device is sitting on my desk and I see your device, if the screen saver on your device is a personal photo I have seen your personal data.

The bank has to put in place a user agreement that allows them and gives them the authority in specialized circumstances that allows them to confiscate a device and wipe data if needed, however then what they have to communicate clearly what is done on a daily basis. 99% of the time this is what we are doing and having that process in place is there is another piece to this as well. Having this in place is important not just from a legal standpoint but from an end user perspective.

Users will also need to be educated. There will always be a clause in the user agreement that allows for the employer to wipe a device. Knowing that the potential is there it is important for the user to be educated on how to back up their personal data so that they don’t lose personal data in the event that they have to wipe a device.

If you do this you will have a combination of a technology platform that supports BYOD. A really clear communication plan with the user so they know what you are and are not doing  and third  educating the user on how they can protect their personal data allows a bank to deploy a BYOD program without taking on the risk of data lose or privacy breach.

In a BYOD world communication is just as important as your technology. Transparency drives trust. If you are transparent with your users on what you are doing it will drive trust. Without transparency you cannot have a successful BYOD program because users won’t use it.

So perhaps you have to have the HR department working with the IT department to ensure it is being communicated effectively?

HR is core to mobile. Mobile is as much an HR program as it is an IT program for two reasons, one it is a benefit to for your users and secondly for the relationship with the employer. It’s a triad of functions that need to work together to provide mobile in a way that users are going to want to adopt. That triad is IT who that is responsible for the technology, HR who is responsible for employees and legal who is responsible for protection of data. If one of these is not involved it won’t work. This can be challenging and involve a lot of meetings.

Is there a huge benefit to the financial organizations by implementing a good BYOD policy? Security is not the driver it is the inhibitor. They are looking at it now because they are migrating off of BlackBerry. By putting in place a BYOD program that they feel secure about it will save them money because they will not have to purchase new devices. It is potentially a way to migrate off of BlackBerry that is cost effective. User demand is the other reason.


Q&A with Clare George-Hilley, co-founder, Centropy PR



Q&A with Clare George-Hilley, co-founder, Centropy PR 1

Clare George-Hilley is the co-founder of Centropy PR

Global Banking and Finance Magazine recently caught up with Clare George-Hilley, co-founder of fintech and financial services specialist PR agency Centropy, as the company toasts to three years of trading. We asked Clare about what life is like running an agency in the city, the trends she is seeing in the financial services space and what the future holds following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Why did you decide to set up Centropy PR?

I was looking for an opportunity to launch my own agency, both my husband and I had been in the public affairs and public relations industry for over a decade and we thought the time was right to go out on our own.

Clare George-Hilley

Clare George-Hilley

We could see that the financial services industry was surging, with challenger brands and new technology transforming traditional banks and setting new standards of customer service. There was a huge market opportunity to create and launch a PR agency that could provider first class comms support, alongside a deep understanding of complex regulations such as AML, KYC, and the GDPR. Likewise, many traditional technology firms are diversifying their offerings, to tap into the growing market opportunity posed by the fintech boom.

So, we worked on a business plan, designed a strategy for winning clients and officially launched in September 2017. Within a few months we had a growing portfolio of clients and a thriving business, since that point, we have never looked back!

How is Centropy doing now and what are you plans for growth?

The last three years have flown by and our client portfolio has grown and diversified quickly. We now manage PR campaigns for clients on everything from cryptocurrency, wealth management to payments and trading software.

We’ve also hosted parliamentary debates with key industry figures, including Members of Parliament (MPs) on topics such as the future of the financial services industry and the impact of challenger banks on traditional providers. The team is expanding quickly and we’re investing heavily in the latest training and support to ensure our team members are equipped to reach their full potential.

How do you see the next 12 months?

The Covid-19 outbreak has crippled the economy, forcing millions of people to work from home due to the very serious health risks. The knock-on effect of this crisis will lead to companies cutting costs where possible to save jobs, so tech will play a vital role in ensuring many businesses stay afloat.

We are already working with contactless payments specialists and other fintech companies that offer solutions to help companies survive and thrive despite the inevitable challenges ahead.

We aim to continue building our portfolio of expertise, testing ourselves with new challenges and delivering the best possible service to clients


This is a Sponsored Feature.

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Lessons from past recessions and advice for business owners during the coronavirus pandemic



Lessons from past recessions and advice for business owners during the coronavirus pandemic 2

By Neil Davis, managing director and co-founder of Sterling Networks

What is Sterling Networks?

Sterling Networks is a professional organisation founded in 2014 which facilitates networking events for businesses across the Midlands, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and the South West. Over 300 members attend our fortnightly breakfast and lunchtime meetings.”

What is your background prior to establishing Sterling Networks?

“During the 1990s, I worked in the corporate team for Halifax. My wife, Tracey, and I went onto own a manufacturing business, which was also called Sterling, and produced a range of gifts, merchandise and promotional items.

“We soon realised tradeshows were a great way to meet distributors and clients. From there, the business grew exponentially, and we managed to build a network of around 500 distributors. Eventually, we became ground down by the manufacturing business – in part because the local manufacturing sector was being devastated by competition from China – and took the decision to sell the business and relocate to Spain.

“After spending several years living abroad, we moved back to the UK to set up Sterling Integrity (EXPO’S) & Sterling Networks (Networking) We were inspired by a desire to help businesses make meaningful connections with one another, and we haven’t looked back since.”

The UK has recently entered a recession, brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. What have you learned from past recessions and how are these experiences helping you to navigate the current crisis?

“I’ve lived through a number of recessions and have seen the pain that insolvency causes companies on a large scale. It’s taught me that there are those who win and sadly those who lose, and that businesses must adapt to a rise in demand for certain products or services at a time of financial crisis.

“Given the nature of what Sterling Networks offers [an opportunity for business owners to connect and grow together] I decided we could build upon the brand due to the demand for new business during the pandemic. We therefore moved our networking events from face-to-face to virtual via tools like Zoom and have gained a steady stream of new members in recent months, reaching an overall total of well over 300.

“On top of that, we’ve taken new staff on during the crisis and have launched a number of new regional groups across the country. I was determined that Sterling should come out of the pandemic with a head start, so my attitude to the recession has been much more positive than those who are forecasting nothing but doom and gloom.

“We can’t pretend high street retail wasn’t suffering long before the pandemic came along, and thousands of new businesses are sure to start up to meet the demand for the products and services that people require at a time such as this. In order to develop and grow businesses need to focus on where changes need to be made to meet this demand.”

Sterling Networks has been providing emotional support to its members throughout the pandemic. What advice have you been giving to members that could be useful to other business owners?

“I try not to be too opinionated and respect other people’s views when giving advice to members, as there are always two sides to every circumstance. I’ve been careful not to say to people that they should be doing one thing or another, as I don’t know their business and its needs quite like they do. The only thing that I have been telling members is the importance of setting up one-to-ones with one another. By doing so, they can listen to the needs and concerns of other, like-minded business owners and work out ways that they might be able to help one another.

“The pandemic has meant we all have a bit more time on our hands, so the advice I would give to people is to use this extra time wisely. Not having to travel physically from one meeting to another means there is a greater opportunity to connect with more people. It’s important to remember that individuals outside of your business can be just as valuable as those within it.”

What makes you hopeful for the future and are there any words of encouragement you can give to budding entrepreneurs?

“The key events that have happened to this country during my lifetime – whether wars, recessions, or the pandemic – have enabled me to take stock of things. While these experiences are certainly challenging, we all become stronger for living through them, and it gives me great confidence that the world will ultimately improve as a result of the pandemic.

“The whole world is effectively rebooting right now, as is the business community. I like to think entrepreneurs will recognise this opportunity to take better care of their peers, and this translates to greater collaboration between organisations. Speak to as many people as you can, ask all the questions that you need to and do your homework. This might well be a difficult time for us all but planning for the future must start now if it is to become as prosperous as I know it can be.”

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Exclusive Interview with Ugo Loser, CEO of ARCA Fondi SGR



Ugo Loser, CEO of ARCA Fondi SGR

 Arca Fondi SGR is a mid-sized Italian active asset management company. Founded in 1983 by a consortium made up of 12 regional banks, the company has grown in time, expanding its network of distributors and its client base. Nowadays Arca manages Mutual Funds, Pension Funds and Institutional Accounts with total AUM exceeding 30 € bln, reaching more than 100 banks and financial institutions and serving more than 800,000 final clients.

What are the key contributors to ARCA Fondi SGR’s success over the past 35 years?

Arca has always put clients and distributors first. That is to say we have always privileged fair pricing for funds and developing high quality products and services for our customers. This requires constant innovation as an objective and looking for people’s talent to be free to produce its effect

Why are people the founding element of ARCA Fondi SGR and how have you sustained this vision over the years?

We work in small teams, people are young and motivated and can perform duties with a high level of autonomy and responsibility. Innovation is asked to everyone, everyday

What makes Arca Fondi SGR different from other asset management firms in Italy?

Arca is a company focused on doing what it can do very well, that is to say mutual and pension funds, services for clients and banks. We never follow short term trends but always look for long lasting impact on the industry, like we’ve done may times in the past

What products/services has ARCA Fondi SGR pioneered?

Arca has been the inventor of “Arca Cedola”, fixed-horizon, coupon paying funds, which have been with no doubt the greatest product innovation of the past 12 years on the Italian market. This type of funds, at first strictly based on bonds and later as a balanced product, has encountered an enormous success both with clients and distributors due to its simple and effective value proposition. Arca is a market leader also in the “PIR” segment of funds, a range of product focused on mid and small sized companies, that have been the best performers in the Italian stock market for the last few years. In services, Arca is a leader in technology applied to asset management. Our website, app and digital services for clients and banks are award winning, state of the art combination of data, technology and channels, and the best is yet to come on this side.

What strategies do you have in place to sustain your market position and withstand professional competition in the country?

As I mentioned, we do not waste resources on projects with dubious results, instead we constantly invest on people, products and services. The high level of profitability that Arca has been able to maintain even in difficult years for the markets of the banking sector is a further testimony that this strategy works very well

How do you use technology to create meaningful experiences for your customers?

First of all, we have created a whole new division, Arca InnovAction Lab, dedicated to technology, data and processes. This ensures projects are delivered quickly and they are free to leave bad past practices behind., Arca’s website, provides distributors with detailed information on clients’ portfolios, asset under management and subscription/redemption requests. It monitors aggregate selling data offering to our partners a suite functions and analytics to track commercial campaigns. And if the banks branches need assistance, they may ask Sara, our digital chatbot. A broad and timely multimedia production, covering exclusive reports, comments, presentations, videos, webinars and newsletters is also available on the website.

Customers, subscribing Arca’s funds through its distributors’ network, may access Arcaclick, a dedicated area on With Arcaclick the client can easily browse through her portfolio of funds, analyze its characteristics, view transactions and historical funds’ performance in customizable views. Arcaclick is also a powerful source of information on Arca product range: Prospectus, KIIDs and other literature is easily accessible along with news, comments and reports. Arcaclick may also be accessed via Arca Fondi App, a free application for mobiles and tables, running on both iOS and Android. Available 24/7 and in mobility, Arcaclick gives clients the opportunity access information, news and details of their personal portfolio anytime and anywhere.

What key trends will drive pension growth in 2020 and beyond?

The Italian market for pension funds is still very small and therefore there is a great opportunity to grow. Arca Fondi manages the biggest open ended Italian pension fund and it’s been constantly at the top of its rankings. As people and workers are looking for yield and to weather short term volatility, the pension fund is very well poised to profit from this trend.

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