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THROW CAUTION TO THE WINDS: GO DIGITAL FASTER TO KEEP YOUR FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS AFLOAT

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THROW CAUTION TO THE WINDS: GO DIGITAL FASTER TO KEEP YOUR FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS AFLOAT

by Nick Pike, VP UK and Ireland, OutSystems

Just like business leaders in almost every industry, if you’re a decision-maker in financial services, it’s likely you’re turning to digitisation to execute on your strategies. Mobilising business processes improves customer satisfaction and response time. Mobility boosts employee productivity. And, mobile apps can increase competitive advantage. With those kinds of benefits, it’s no wonder your financial services organisation is keen to find solutions that enable them to go mobile faster.

It’s no secret that the financial services sector is on the path to becoming a digital industry. Yet, the speed and extent of the transition is slow. The Financial Conduct Authority’s 2015/2016 Business Plan identified technology as one of four top priority areas. Many companies are proceeding cautiously with new technology, but that can come at a price. It opens the door to disruptive newcomers, who are happy to use technology to attract a younger audience that wants speed and apps that are easy to use.  In fact, a 2017report found that more than 40% of financial services businesses are worried about how they’re going to appeal to their new generation of customers. To adapt to the new demands of the marketplace, it’s time to throw caution to the winds.

What’s holding financial services back? Older IT infrastructure, for one. Adding new software to existing systems isn’t going to work in the long run. The systems can’t handle it. However, going digital isn’t only about what’s within. It’s also about delighting customers. Customers are spoiled. They expect awesome, eye-catching and smooth experiences. Oh, and did I mention they want it all now?

This is where low-code solutions really prove their worth. With low-code, businesses deliver apps and software on demand, responding to specific requirements. A great example of this comes from our work with global professional services firm Deloitte. Deloitte differentiated itself in their highly competitive market by focusing on services. Recently, reducing and eliminating conduct risk is at the top of their agenda, along with responding to regulators. High profile scandals made the problem a priority.

Identifying conduct risk is generally done manually. Firms spend considerable time reviewing help desk calls from hundreds of thousands of customers. The costs are considerable. OutSystems changed that for Deloitte and a client.

Deloitte used OutSystems to develop its first artificial intelligence app while competing for the business from a large life insurer. And they did it with a hackathon. The result was BEAT, short for “Behavioural and Emotional Analytics Tool.” With BEAT, Deloitte and its client prevent the fraudulent sale of insurance to customers. Insurers listen to calls from a call centre and identify which segments pose a risk based on machine learning and AI algorithms. Because the app was developed visually, the potential clients contributed design ideas. Deloitte won the bid.

Mobilising processes improves bottom lines and delights customers. As a result, financial services firms can compete with fast-moving and disruptive industry newcomers. And, when these new competitors raise the bar time and time again, traditional firms who use low-code technology will be ready.

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England 1

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.

Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.

The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.

Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.

Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.

Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.

“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.

Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.

“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.

“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”

Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.

He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.

“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.

Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.

“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.

It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.

The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.

Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)

 

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.

“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.

Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.

Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.

The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.

“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.

Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.

The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.

It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.

“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.

“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”

SCALING UP

Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.

“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.

A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.

“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.

The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)

 

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