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Providing personalised banking with the right technology

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Craig-Ramsey

Craig Ramsey, ACI Worldwide, discusses how with the right technology, financial institutions can provide banking packages for “markets of one

No two businesses are the same. They have different models, different customers, varying products and cater for a vastly different array of needs and requirements from their clients. However, every business does have to make payments, and as such they require unique, sophisticated online banking tools that help them manage their cash flow, make payments and instantly assess the financial status of their businesses.Craig-Ramsey

For banks’ customers it is essential to provide tools that allow visibility into their total cash position and the ability to easily move funds to trading partners and employees around the world. This must be supported with easy to use transaction initiation, advanced data-gathering capabilities research and notification work-flows, delivered via a user interface tailored to their specific needs.

Yet achieving this level of personalisation can be a major challenge for banks that often work with a number of siloed payments systems and tend to treat customers in three groups: consumers, small to medium sized business, and corporate clients. The result is that traditionally systems can sometimes lack flexibility and as such customers often face complications when managing finances and lack clarity when it matters most.

Today’s customers are more demanding than ever. Financial institutions looking to win market share can beat the competition by differentiating their internet offerings and delivering solutions that provide customers with flexibility, visibility and convenience. Those institutions wishing to come out on top may want to consider offering tailored solutions for each of their customer segments – and if that means creating a bespoke package for a “market of one”, so be it. In the end, it will be these forward-thinking financial organisations that others will ultimately loose customers to.

Achieving this in-house can be expensive and time consuming, with many banks struggling to control escalating costs – thus making it hard to justify the investment. On top of this, in-house developed software can rapidly become out of date and immediately start to fall behind again.

This is why ACI Worldwide has introduced ACI Universal Online Banker, which allows institutions to serve the needs of sole proprietors or micro businesses as well as the requirements of large corporate customers, using the same solution in a single instance. This enables the bank to simply create a service that suits the needs of the specific customer group or even the individual customer.

ACI Universal Online Banker allows customers to pay bills, initiate transfers and stop payments, check balances, assign account nicknames, view images of cheques and deposits, as well as view online statements, make loan payments, order checks and more.

The flexible user interface delivers global and local payments such as ACH, SEPA and expedited payments, domestic and international wires, foreign exchange, positive pay, optional two-way OFX support and enhanced reporting for superior funds management.

The result is that institutions can meet customers’ needs in real time, evolving their online banking functionality as customers grow or vary their business model and require additional services, with a fully maintained and up to date product. Whether those customers are based in Europe, the United States, Latin America or Asia, it provides a single solution for a truly global bank.

Security is also a key element of ACI Universal Online Banker. It’s out-of-band authentication solution simultaneously uses two separate networks to authenticate the user with a single-use code sent to the mobile phone and the user’s self-selected four-digit PIN.

In addition, risk management features are built into the software providing approval options, payment limits and activity reports for bank personnel and customers to help mitigate fraudulent activity and provide visibility into online activities.

Further security is available through integration with third-party providers for multifactor authentication support, which includes transaction monitoring and authorisation as well as challenge questions, pass phrases and tokens for login or transaction initiation. Users can initiate real-time security alerts to thwart possible fraudulent activities.

Throughout all of this ACI still maintains a customer focus, working with financial institutions to deliver agile, innovative solutions and help streamline business processes, delivering measurable, demonstrable cost savings and increased revenue.

Integration is key
One of the biggest complications with introducing a new payments solution is integration from a technological and operational point of view. Getting to grips with any new solution can be a challenge. ACI understands this and therefore provides E-learning training packages that are designed to educate bank staff and customers through web-based training modules, as well as instructor-led onsite training.

In terms of software integration, ACI Universal Online Banker has been designed from the ground up to compliment ACI Worldwide’s growing software portfolio. It provides simple integration with ACI Global Trade Manager (which enables the import and export customers to manage trade instruments) and ACI Money Transfer System (facilitating the origin and remittance of payment information).

Ultimately, Universal Online Banker expands customer relationships, increases revenues and reduces costs for financial institutions while giving them the opportunity to offer packages of tailored products and services that offer a personalised user experience and pricing to any business segment worldwide. Importantly, banks can gain lower total cost of ownership through a single platform that unifies all business segments.

BOX OUT

Product features

  • Tailored service offerings: customise and create different product packages to meet the needs of distinct markets. Administrators can easily define product func¬tionality, pricing and audience
  • Dashboard: the dashboard is an at-a-glance integrated view for users to quickly assess their account balances, make quick transfers and payments, and identify items needing their attention
  • Interactive information reporting: corporate customers enjoy a personalised view of prior day and current day account balance information at any bank, in any currency, whether reported via BAI or SWIFT. They can format data presentation to meet their needs; perform advanced data aggregation, calculations, sorting and filtering; automate report delivery; and access pixel-perfect reports on account balances, ACH, wire, and transfer payments, uploads and check services information
  • Global payments: comprehensive global payment types such as ACH, domestic and international wires and local schemes for in-country processing such as UK Faster Payments, BACS and CHAPS. Our global payments framework focuses on business process orchestration to deliver common services, allowing you to easily add new payment types
  • Integrated payables: a bulk file upload module transmits multiple payment types, in multiple currencies, in a single payment file — with optional approval levels and flexible upload, review and approval capabilities. Any-to-any translation means banks can offer a variety of file formats, including NACHA, CPA005, BECS and SAP IDOC. End users can modify file content before approval and submission
  • E-learning: training solutions are available to help maximise return on investment by educating bank staff and end users through self-paced online modules, instructor-led onsite training and/or web-based training
  • Cheque services: review and reorder cheques or stop payments is necessary

Technology

CEO Hisham Itani and Resource Group Recognized in the 2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards®

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Global Banking & Finance Review has awarded Hisham Itani the Chairman and CEO of Resource Group, Technology CEO of the Year Middle East 2020 in recognition of his vision, strategy and strong leadership that have contributed greatly to Resource Group’s success in winning the Most Innovative Holding Group Middle East 2020 in this Global Banking & Finance Awards®.

CEO Hisham Itani and Resource Group Recognized in the 2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards® 1

Resource Group is an investment group with a portfolio of diversified businesses that capitalizes on technology and human talent for value creation. The company has proven that it has gone the extra mile to develop innovative solutions aimed at improving people’s lives and helping Lebanon transition toward a knowledge-based economy. Global Banking and Financial Review, the renowned online and print magazine identified a number of areas that Resource Group has excelled. The company has been awarded Most Innovative Holding Group Middle East 2020, and Hisham Itani the Chairman and CEO, receives the award for Technology CEO of the Year Middle East 2020. Under his leadership, Resource Group has grown from a family security-printing business to a diversified international investment group, with a portfolio of companies across 10 sectors in over 75 countries.

Wanda Rich, editor Global Banking & Finance, said “Mr. Itani took the security printing business to another level and expanded into different technology verticals in an impressive list of success stories”. The list includes digital security, smartcard manufacturing, mobile value added solutions, cyber security and secure communication solutions, telecom infrastructure and managed services, elections supply chain services, lottery systems and operations, mobile and virtual reality games, among others.

Resource Group’s focus on technology has had a constructive and tangible impact on government automation and on citizen experience in target markets.

Editor Wanda Rich says “We are proud to offer Resource Group these prestigious awards and wish them continued success and growth into 2021 during these challenging economic times”.

Global Banking and Finance Review is a renowned online and print magazine. The magazine’s website alone receives over 7 million page views annually. Global Banking and Finance Review provides a balanced view with formative and independent news from the financial community. The Global Banking & Finance Awards® were created to recognize companies of all sizes that are prominent in particular areas of expertise and excellence within the global financial community. The awards are known throughout the global banking and financial community. They reflect the innovation, achievement, strategy, progressive and inspirational changes taking place within the financial sector.

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Bouncing back in 2021: Digital Transformation is no longer a choice as dependence on 5G, IoT and Data increases in society and business

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5G and Open Banking: Explosive growth or business as usual?

By Ivan Ericsson, Head of Quality Management, Expleo Group Limited

The global pandemic has put enormous strain on businesses and brought into sharp focus the importance of being agile, adaptable and able to increase the pace of innovation and change at short notice – catapulting technology right to the top of the agenda for many organisations.

As the economy works to get back on its feet, technology is only going to play a bigger role in our lives. At Expleo, as experts in digital transformation and the reliable implementation of technological innovations, we’ve outlined the biggest tech-driven trends that we expect to see in 2021 and beyond.

1)     “Digital transformation” no longer a choice

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s that they need to be poised to respond to abrupt market disruption at any moment, making digital transformation mandatory overnight.

With no room for delay, hugely complex corporations – that have historically been slow to adopt technology – have had to accelerate their reliance on technology just to keep afloat in recent months. Digital change, at speed, has become the norm.

Even last year, the idea of an unscheduled video conference call might put people on edge – now most of us wouldn’t think twice about calling a colleague over Teams or Zoom even for a 2-minute conversation. At the same time, social infrastructure has moved with the needs of its users, with telecoms giants strengthening and opening up networks so we can keep communicating despite social distancing.

There are now very few excuses left for operating in a non-digital way. All businesses need to be intelligent businesses that can change direction nimbly, with speed, confidence and composure. As we see more businesses putting this into practice, it’ll likely result in an increased number embracing and normalising some of the behaviours of tech-savvy giants like Apple and Amazon, who have no doubt thrived during this period.

Their success can largely be attributed to normalising an agile approach. By ensuring all applications have testing facilities built in – a “quality shadow” if you will – it allows for continuous improvements, and the ability to change direction quickly and confidently, when needed. This is particularly valuable today as the world becomes more fast-paced and increasingly unpredictable.

2)     Big data/AI/predictive analytics

We’re moving into a space where big data can be extracted from the most seemingly innocuous places. In a hyper-connected world, a move as simple as a dog walk could offer huge swathes of data to the right companies. Many businesses already realise the benefits of capturing and utilising big data, but not all have taken advantage of it. The businesses that move quickest are most likely to reap the rewards in a more impactful way than their ‘data shy’ competitors. Where data used to be a side effect of business operation, it is now the driving force.

As businesses begin to rely more heavily on data to make critical decisions, independent assurance becomes increasingly important to get those decisions right. Forward-thinking, data-driven organisations must therefore assure that the data is correct in the first place, to avoid giving businesses false confidence and risk them moving in the wrong direction – something that is rarely affordable in today’s competitive and fast-paced environment. If businesses are not 100% confident in assuring the quality and accuracy of their own data, they should look to a third party for support.

A key data trend we expect to see moving further into 2021 is the increased use of predictive analytics. At the moment, businesses will often use data analytics to give us insights into our past activities, or to tell us where we are right now. However, the real value lies in knowing where we are going and how we are going to get there. Data analytics will help to identify the optional levels that can be pulled to drive change and realise business benefit.

Secondly, as intuitive technology advances and becomes more accessible, we expect over the next 12 months to see companies of all sizes begin to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) to drive intelligent analytics. In this context, AI refers to various technologies that allow machines to learn, sifting through ‘messy’ big data in order to find and unlock valuable predictive insights into future events. This allows businesses to better adapt their strategy to likely future outcomes and get a head start in the market.

However, with this ever-increasing emphasis on data and data protection, ethical AI will have a more prominent role to play in 2021 and beyond. Protected, usable Data is a by-product of good data security and privacy measures; however, the public remain wary of how their data is being used, particularly after the fallout from Cambridge Analytica’s use of data to influence an election[1]. Businesses, therefore, must give their customers confidence that their data is secure and protected.

3)     Moral relevance/corporate altruism

Research shows that young people are increasingly researching and considering the ethics of brands they’re purchasing from. And it won’t be long before this attitude starts seeping into every other aspect of their lives, with more and more people wanting to work for what they consider to be “purpose-driven” businesses.

Talent is the lifeblood of any company, so for big corporations, many of whom were born to create profit, this could put them in a tricky position. They might already be influencing society in a positive way – but this is unlikely to have ever been their main goal.

Moving forward, however, all organisations will have to start thinking about the “Triple Bottom Line”. That means considering the environmental and social impact of your business, alongside your commercial imperative.

We’ll soon see a mindset switch across businesses, from ‘competing’ to ‘advancing’. Instead of wanting to be the “best,” the question will be, how can I better serve the world around me?

In line with this, businesses will have to start thinking more about how to use tech for good, as we’ve seen with the likes of Microsoft Teams connecting tens of millions of people every day, during this very dark time[2].

2021 is likely to bring even more inroads when it comes to using technology to improve society, whether it’s developing bespoke problem-solving technologies or using IT to ‘eco-proof’ existing sectors, the goal for businesses is to rise to this challenge and build a better future for people and the planet through the use of technology. But all organisations will continue to need to be able to justify technology use and prove that they’re using it ethically, and in a secure manner.

4)     5G new networks – just about all big trends are driven by/reliant upon faster networks – particularly relevant for a more distributed workforce

Greater access and utilisation of 5G networks across the country will underpin and accelerate all of the key trends discussed. Everything we do on our smart devices we can expect to do at higher speed, greater capacity and with lower lag times.

As our digital footprints extend beyond simple web browsing and into our daily lives through smart technology, we are creating huge amounts of data every minute. This vast flow of data is increasingly dependent on new high bandwidth networks to facilitate it. Therefore, the merging of technology and engineering will become critical in ensuring big data is carried successfully to drive analytics and drive business.

The fact we have managed to successfully work from home during COVID is a glowing recommendation for the quality of the networks as they exist today, and they will only get better.

The telecoms industry is already working overtime to ensure that people all over the country get reliable access to the internet – and the fact that there is still inequality in this area proves just how challenging this is. But, in line with this trend toward hyper automation, which will make data extraction and analysis a part of everyday life for businesses, the consolidation of tech and engineering will be ever more important.

Forward-thinking companies will look to incorporate 5G networks into their business strategy. This could be from an internal perspective to enhance the abilities of their remote workforce. Alternatively, this could relate to their own products or offerings – developing an internet of things (IoT) strategy, improve user experience, or bring products to market faster by analysing big data and adapting quicker. Either way, with increasingly improved networks, businesses are expected to take advantage of the huge increase in accessible and usable data.

Concluding comments:

For businesses to truly reap the benefits of these new technologies, they must be developed and adopted in the right way.

Quality assurance, trust and security are three key requirements that the technology of the future depends on to succeed. Having these requirements at the heart of any digital transformation will ensure that systems perform reliably, having been tested and assured.

By prioritising a seamless customer experience combined with an ability to create, test, and scale digital solutions and operationalise at pace, businesses will be in the best possible position to take advantage of the potential being unlocked by these new technologies.

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Ahli Bank, Oman, is SunTec’s 50th customer for its Indirect Taxation Solution

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Ahli Bank, Oman, is SunTec’s 50th customer for its Indirect Taxation Solution 2

SunTec’s GCC VAT compliance solution to help Ahli Bank automate end-to-end VAT compliance process, manage regulatory changes, and seamlessly integrate it with the existing IT ecosystem

SunTec, the world’s #1 relationship-based pricing and billing company and the provider of #1 GST and VAT compliance solution for Banks and Financial Services in GCC and India, has partnered with Ahli Bank, Oman, to provide its GCC VAT compliance solution.

The win is a landmark one for SunTec as it marks the 50th customer for its indirect taxation solution. SunTec has garnered 24 customers in India and this is the 26th customer in the Middle East to acquire the solution.

VAT is likely to be introduced in Oman in early 2021 and Ahli Bank has taken the proactive step of adopting a VAT compliance solution to ensure operational efficiency, enhance revenue, and augment customer experience.

Amit Dua, President – Client Facing Groups, SunTec, said, “We are delighted to partner with Ahli Bank, Oman in what marks a historic win, in their journey to ensure VAT compliance. We understand that the VAT landscape is evolving within the GCC, and therefore, our solution offers agility to respond to these changing regulatory requirements. With the Xelerate platform and GCC VAT compliance solution, Ahli Bank can digitize the entire VAT compliance process and comply with least number of changes to their existing technology infrastructure.”

He added, “VAT is a crucial step that the GCC countries have taken to implement tax regimes. It is imperative for banks and financial institutions to have a robust and scalable solution to accommodate their specific needs. Ahli Bank joins the list of more than 20 banks who have adopted our GCC VAT Compliance solution.  I’m proud to say that approximately 3 billion transactions per annum are processed through our GCC VAT/ GST compliance solution across our client base.”

Said Abdullah Al Hatmi, CEO at Ahli Bank, added: “It is extremely crucial for us to be ready for VAT compliance. We are very happy to partner with SunTec to deploy GCC VAT compliance solution. With SunTec we will have a single solution in place covering all aspects of VAT compliance and we will be future-proofed given that any future regulatory changes will be handled by the solution with ease.”

SunTec’s GCC VAT compliance solution based on the Xelerate platform will enable the bank to smoothly comply with GCC VAT regulations and manage potential regulatory changes with ease. The single end-to-end solution helps automate the entire VAT compliance process including centralized rule-based tax determination, input tax recovery, tax invoice, reconciliation, corrections, adjustments, statements, and regulatory reporting.

SunTec GCC VAT Compliance solution is architected to meet the unique needs of banks and financial services firms and can easily integrate with existing IT systems. The solution is designed to process all taxable transactions across business lines and applications, reduce cost of compliance, mitigate potential risk of compliance violations, penalties, and reputational risk.

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