By Edward Berks, Director of Platform Business at Xero
We’re about to enter into a new decade. This time 100 years ago, post-war Britain was prosperous – but by the end of the 1920s the country was in a period of decline.
The 2010s have been equally disruptive, in every sense of the word. Starting amid a financial crisis and a global recession, the global political landscape has undergone huge disruption. And the world woke up to the prospect of a global environmental crisis.
In business, technology advancements have completely transformed ways of working. Out with the old legacy systems and in with the new agile cloud-based tools. Smartphones became mainstream, social media became ubiquitous and machine learning became a real thing.
It’s been 10 years of change and our recent research found that nearly half (46 per cent) of SME owners in the UK have genuine concerns about the future. But what do the next 10 years have in store?
Our Business Rewired report explores the trends set to shape the future of small business over the next decade. These include things like being more socially-conscious, relying less on email, or hiring staff who have multiple jobs.
Future technologies like AI will mean 50 per cent of all jobs will be automated, and that AI powered robots will make superior workers. In reality, just 5 per cent of the jobs that exist today can be fully automated, and 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.
Rather than worry, business owners should prepare for a future where they are constantly relearning, adapting and innovating in order to thrive. The trends highlighted represent a huge opportunity for those ready to embrace change.
Death of the 9 to 5
In the next 5-7 years, technology will become smart enough to significantly augment human work. It will perform routine tasks that do not require human-only skills. People will then be able to spend more time on what really matters; creativity, fulfilment, happiness and building relationships.
This will boost productivity, and start to unbundle the traditional concept of the job. Working fewer hours and delegating routine work to smart machines will become a real option for many. Especially given that a third (33 per cent) of entrepreneurs say cutting down working hours is already a priority.
Restrictions on bandwidth availability and internet affordability have been holding business back. 28 per cent of SME owners say they’ve been impacted by connectivity issues. But this will soon be a thing of the past. Investment in 5G and the rollout of ubiquitous high-speed internet access is on the horizon and it will allow us to seamlessly communicate and interact with one another.
This will unchain people from their desks and allow businesses to service customers from anywhere in the world. And in the UK, will lead to the creation of more regional business hubs outside major cities.
When cash isn’t flowing properly it’s a matter of life and death. Late payment is an everyday concern for most businesses and on average, small business owners say that they could only survive for about 12 weeks if they had a month or two of poor cash inflows.
As technology evolves, late payments could be a thing of the past with invoicing and payments handled by intelligent software and digital assistants, within new e-invoicing and ‘smart contract’ frameworks. There is a real potential to create a payments environment where all payments are made instantly and at no cost.
The fintech – financial technology industry – has been booming and the UK is very much a market leader. Its rise has already begun to revolutionise the way small businesses operate. Things like how businesses make and receive payments, manage their cash flow, access working capital – and even currency exchange are all being reimagined by fintech businesses.
In 2020, we will continue to see the rise of the ecosystem approach, in creating new propositions and delivering banking and financial services to customers.
From email to Face Time
Over the next five years, reliance on email will decrease. More than a third (37 per cent) of small businesses already use WhatsApp and tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Slack. But even these instant messaging apps aren’t going far enough. As the technology behind voice, video, AR and VR develops, communication will shift to these forms.
BNP Paribas joins forces with Orange Business Services to deploy SD-WAN for 1,800 retail sites in France
- Co-construction approach ensures business continuity during deployment
BNP Paribas has chosen Orange Business Services to deploy an SD-WAN solution in more than 1,800 bank branches across France. Focused on developing and integrating new digital solutions, BNP Paribas continues to provide the highest standards to improve user experience for customers and employees alike.
By integrating Flexible SD-WAN from Orange Business Services, BNP Paribas benefits from a modern and agile technological platform to accelerate its digital transformation. This enables quick and easy deployment of multiple services, such as dynamic routing and path selection, with scalability and flexibility. It also empowers administrators to monitor infrastructure performance and resolve potential network congestion through simple software modifications, thereby optimizing application performance. By deploying SD-WAN, BNP Paribas can take advantage of a fully secure hybrid network that is natively multi-cloud, multi-access and multi-application. The Bank will also benefit from optimized and centralized management and intelligent routing for its new infrastructure.
Close collaboration between business and IT for greater agility
From the start of the project, experts from Orange Business Services and BNP Paribas built the solution design together and prioritized the features to be deployed. More than 3,600 access lines—two per branch, including one Internet access line – are currently being rolled out with a focus on maintaining business continuity for each site during the migration. In addition to the SD-WAN overlay, firewalls for enhanced security are also part of this deployment.
“It was paramount for us to choose a partner who already had proven experience implementing and operating SD-WAN solutions. Orange Business Services stood out as this trusted partner. In addition to their IT expertise, the Orange teams demonstrated a great ability to understand our business challenges, and they knew what needed to be done to support our end-to-end digital transformation. This close collaboration between our teams from the very beginning of the project was one of the keys to its success and to a smooth roll out,” said Bernard Gavgani, Chief Information Officer at BNP Paribas Group.
“We are delighted to support BNP Paribas in their transformation program and deploy the first large-scale SD-WAN project in the retail banking industry for the French market. An indepth understanding of our customers’ business needs is essential to co-develop customized and innovative solutions. Orange Business Services will continue to accompany BNP Paribas’ central and local teams to learn and develop their SD-WAN skills,” said Nadine Foulon-Belkacémi, Executive Vice President, French Major Clients at Orange Business Services.
How to ensure you bullet proof your IT in a hybrid finance workplace
By Caleb Mills, Chief Technical Officer at Doherty Associates outlines the dangers faced by finance and private equity firms when it comes to IT infrastructure in a pandemic. Caleb warns that maintaining security is critical as firms continue to work remotely in the current lockdown while making plans to return to the new blended workplace in 2021.
2020 was a year of rapid change – for the technology sector in particular. Virtually overnight, IT firms had to meet the growing demands of many businesses accelerating their technology plans in a bid to stay ahead of the new virtual business environment we suddenly found ourselves in. Covid-19 forced many organisations to automatically relax their security policies so that employees could operate in the remote-only world which followed the UK’s first national lockdown in March.
Can personal devices ever be compliant?
When the announcement of the first March lockdown was made, employees were sent home to work, and largely did so on their personal devices; home PCs, personal mobile devices or shared laptops. Compliance calls for organisational data to be encrypted and kept private, access to be audited and for its transmission to be only over secure channels. Many of these requirements are not met if the use of personal devices is allowed carte blanche – so it’s very likely that some firms are falling short of their compliance obligations.
Added to this is the fact that many employees do not want to allow their organisation to install management software, enforce policies, or limit their freedom on the use of personal devices. They may feel that their company is infringing personal liberties or ‘spying on them’. The most simple and effective (yet costly) solution is to issue company devices for all staff – although there may be some resistance from some to having two devices.
There is an option for controlling company data on personal devices that can satisfy some compliance requirements. Technologies now exist to allow organisational data to be kept in a separate virtual container on the device where policies around encryption and such can be enforced without contravening your employees’ privacy. The company portion of the device can be kept in a secure bubble, without enforcing rules or infringing on individual’s freedom with their own personal devices.
New risks and responsibilities
The accelerated adoption of remote working has meant many risk and compliance teams are still rushing to catch up. Many firms have not thoroughly identified the risks associated with remote or hybrid working, which continue to evolve as the constant demands for businesses change. Even those who have identified risks are likely only considering the ones they understand. In many cases, compliance teams need assistance from a cyber security expert who can help define the risks they are not aware they are taking. An expert will understand the wide and varied attack vectors and provide context and insight into how they could impact risk. The changing environment might call for updates to your IT use policy, cyber security policy, or other IT related policies.
Navigating risk and liability
The approach for managing risk must start by having a clear understanding of what your organisation’s risk appetite is. It is not possible to mitigate or eliminate all risks – there will always be some residual risk and it is important for your organisation to know what level of risk it is willing to accept.
When creating treatment plans for each of your risks, the business should consider the many different angles for controlling and mitigating. There are many technical controls which can enforce your policies, but often organisational controls such as processes or workflows can be just as effective. Choosing to adopt a program like Cyber Essentials can help to ensure that your organisation meets certain requirements. Even the very low bar of its framework can help you to ask pertinent questions about your organisation’s security posture.
Changing security boundaries
In days gone by, businesses took some comfort from knowing they had a secure network. They invested in firewalls to build a border around their network, and they trusted workers and the data they accessed to be protected against security threats. Now, many things have changed.
Data is no longer kept solely on servers in the office, it’s now stored largely in the cloud. And, thanks to Covid-19, many users are now operating outside of this safe and secure network too. The net effect of these two key changes is that the approach of building a highly secure boundary around your network no longer delivers the desired results. The post-pandemic workplace, even more so in finance and private equity, needs to be productive and secure from anywhere in the world.
The modern hacker is not just focused on defeating a firewall – they want to steal your firm’s data – and the way they achieve that is typically to hijack an individual’s identity. Modern security now focuses on protecting the data and the identity of workers by using multiple layers of security controls. This multi-layer, or “onion” approach, works on the assumption that a determined attacker can breach anyone or two layers of security protection. To keep your organisation protected, you should have multiple security controls in place to ensure coverage to help keep your environment safe.
Securing and supervising data rooms in a hybrid world
Data rooms provide a critical function by allowing third party organisations to securely access confidential data, so it’s important that the sensitivity of this is considered before embarking on any data room project. Appropriate policies about how the data should be accessed and used can then be enforced by the technology, and these clearly defined policies will allow for tightly configured security controls to limit access appropriately.
For example, data room guests might be allowed to view documents, but prevented from downloading them or copying and pasting content from them. Modern capabilities even include the ability to “timebomb” documents – for example to block access to documents after an NDA has expired.
Finally, consider taking Cyber Insurance. This can provide help with investigations, guidance on reporting to the ICO, help with public relations and communications, and help cover other expenses incurred as part of a cyber event.
The ongoing events of 2020 have changed the way we work forever. New risks and opportunities have continued to emerge through this period, and it’s ever more apparent that the world will never go back to how it worked before. Hybrid working is here to stay so we need to understand the implications and take appropriate steps to ensure we meet our compliance obligations and control risk exposure through a mixture of controls to stay ahead of the game.
Fraud prevention and user experience: how finance institutions can navigate the increasingly complex digital challenge
By Frank Teruel, Chief Operating Officer at Adara.
Well, here we go again. As Covid-19 cases continue to surge and local officials impose restrictions, brick and mortar companies are once again limited in their ability to deliver their services forcing them to double down on their remote location strategies. From curbside pickup, to Uber eats, to an “Amazon Prime” Christmas, the surge in the last 90 days has exacerbated an already difficult business environment. And banking has been no exception. In fact, the consequences have been more significant given the nature of in-person banking…just imagine the difficulties inherent in bringing that service curbside. So, what exactly has the pandemic done to banking?
With in-branch services limited, less digitally-savvy, first time, digital customers have made the jump to online banking products like Klarna for real-time loans, and digital-only bank account offerings like Starling Bank, Atom Bank, and Monzo. The move has been a digital consumer bonanza for online financial institutions which, while happy with the new customers, are left with the daunting task of determining who they are and whether to trust them.
Who are these people?
Unquestionably, the transition to digital banking has brought positive benefits to first-time users such as greater convenience and transparency, but it has also resulted in a less than desirable outcome: increasing levels of fraud and sophistication in attacks. The reality is that many of these nascent digital customers have very little on-line transaction history and virtually no digital identities as a reference point for identity and verification. Consequently, with more and more of them moving their banking online, traditional methods of determining “who is on the other end of a transaction” have been tested, and in many cases become less effective or completely obsolete. And here’s the rub; with little to no digital identities, limited transaction history, and never before seen devices, financial organisations are defaulting to more draconian verification methods…stepping up customers, challenging them with KYC questions, and generally increasing transaction friction.
Go easy on them
Yet, before we castigate the institutions in question, a degree of understanding is warranted. After all, the tsunami of new online transactions represents a significant challenge. And what’s a bank to do? If a bank falsely deems a transaction fraudulent, they are ruining a customer’s on-line experience by creating unnecessary friction which predictably leads to transaction abandonment. On the other hand, if the bank defaults to no friction and allows all of these new transaction to run, it could be a fraudster’s paradise…”free loans, credit cards, and other financial instruments on isle 3!” So, determining the person on the other end of the transaction is paramount to a customer’s experience as well as the future success of a financial institution in maintaining account holders and preventing fraud losses.
Fraud fighting is a full-time, real-time business…and it isn’t cheap!
Fraudsters learn, adapt, share insights, and then repeat the cycle. Always searching for vulnerabilities, they create new and complex methods to circumvent detection. For example, during the pandemic, banks and other on-line business are seeing a significant increase in spear phishing, cross-site scripting, and man in the middle attacks. Tack on impersonation scams, scary intrusions like the SolarWinds hack that has left government and commercial organizations scrambling, and incessant BOT attacks and its clear the velocity and diversity of attacks add a whole new level of complexity…and the dollars start adding up quickly! Not only do these attacks result in higher costs for financial organisations but they create significant brand blow back. Online businesses, especially banks, need to rethink their identity verification protocols landing on those that balance digital identity solutions that factor in identity, context, and behavior. Context is a key element to ensure a balanced approach and mitigate overreactions. Because with fraud currently surging, there is a danger that financial institutions over-correct and prevent customers from completing legitimate transactions. Organisations need to resist the urge to implement stringent measures or checks and instead they need to be smarter in rooting out fraudulent purchases in the first place.
Harmonizing Identity…the only real verification
Effective identity verification starts with harmonizing all of a customer’s disparate digital personas into one digital identity. Every customer has multiple digital personas with which they transact in the online world. For example, assuming email as the common credential denominator (along with an appropriate password), a customer may use Gmail to access Lloyds Bank, Yahoo for a Gumtree ad, and Hotmail to place a Tesco grocery order. While each of these are all different digital personas, they represent the same customer. Understanding the collective personas and associating them with one harmonized identity provides the necessary confidence as to the integrity of the identity. Next, understanding the context derived from prior transaction history, device information, location, and intent data like searches and outcome data, allows organizations to also add a predictive element to the analysis. Together, these factors help build confidence that the customer is legitimate and, equally importantly, whether to trust the customer within the context of the transaction.
The Time Space Continuum
Context can help interpret behavior that would otherwise be immediately flagged for fraud. Consider a customer that has just purchased a jacket at John Lewis using a London IP address and then immediately purchases a package tour from an IP in Reykjavik. Relying solely on the IP signals would flag the second transaction as likely fraud. However, if the person routinely uses a VPN while making transactions and using the Reykjavik IP is a known transactional attribute, then the time distance conundrum is nonexistent because the 1173-mile journey is just a quick digital hop…it’s likely legitimate and hasn’t broken the laws of physics. If it’s also determined that the customer has been searching for Iceland trips and subsequently books a flight, the tour purchase becomes even more credible because every transaction that uses those elements is mapped to that digital identity and strengthens the association between that specific transactional element and the identity’s behavior.
While one imaginary purchase is certainly not the whole picture, financial institutions need to make these decisions around fraud in an instant. Without the proper contextual information, banks and other organisations can easily flag a genuine purchase as fraudulent and is so doing, aggravate the customer and because of transaction abandonment, hand market share to their competitor. The only solution that fits the bill is to harmonize digital identities. Armed with a verified identity, deterministic facts (the customer is in London) and probabilistic measures (the customer is planning on visiting Iceland) the transaction assessment will be accurate and eliminate friction.
Use digital identities that are:
- built on global consortiums that provide a global view of a customer
- harmonized to ensure no single digital persona is compromised or acting anomalously
- provide both deterministic and probabilistic insights
- and most importantly, built on consented and permissioned data
COVID-19 and the subsequent increased use of digital banking products have opened the door to fraud. While fraudsters try to take advantage of the current situation, financial institutions can ruin their schemes by ensuring that they work with the best data partners in order to provide the context needed to verify transactions and reduce friction.
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