The financial services sector is rapidly walking up to the potential of video to transform the customer experience, but adding AI into the mix takes it to a whole new level, says David Fulton, CEO of computer vision leaders WeSee.
The most forward-thinking banks, finance houses and insurance companies are deploying video to dramatically improve both customer service and operational efficiency. A recent report by media management company Imagen reveals that many of the traditional giants like Barclays now offer remote face-to-face banking via video call, while in wealth management, high-end video conferencing is being deployed to offer personalised services globally.
Unsurprisingly, the disruptor digital banks are taking this a stage further, harnessing video to accelerate customer onboarding and verification. Carrying out customer checks traditionally takes on average 26 days, says the Imagen report, which reveals that smartphone-only bank Monzo is aiming to slash this to just five minutes using video. These market challengersare also making video a key part of their secure ID and sign-in process, as well as for biometric identification. Starling, for example, asks customers to record a short video of themselves reading out a specific phrase, which is then used for biometric identification if they get locked out of the bank’s app.
However, this is only scratching the surface of what is possible across the financial services space with video. Add artificial intelligence (AI) into the mix and a new raft of exciting options opens up. The problem with video to date is that it has been notoriously difficult to categorise. So, for example, if you film a meeting – something that’s happening more and more in finance – it would be difficult to search for a specific part without scrolling through the entire video. This is where the latest developments in AI-driven deep learning computer vision come in, which can understand every multi-layered element within images and videos in the same way humans do, only multiple times faster. This enables videos to be categorised and searched quickly and easily. With more and more client video footage being taken, this could prove critical when a company is asked to disclose the data it is holding on a particular client, as required under GDPR, helping avoid a large fine.
Combining computer vision with video also has significant potential in terms of safety and security. AI is being used increasingly to identify individuals through facial recognition, but now it’s possible to take this a significant stage further and detect human emotions through the analysis of facial micro-expressions, pupil dilation, eye movement and gaze. By combining this information with speech patterns and tone of voice analysis, it’s possible to identify seven key human emotions. What’s more, the technology only requires low resolution video footage – namely that frequently used for CCTV and other identification purposes.
By viewing someone’s face live or on recorded video in real time, this technology cannot only identify an individual, but also assess their emotional state more deeply than any human is able to. Rather than simply spotting whether someone is happy or sad, it can gauge integrity – essentially, the likelihood that someone is being truthful. It can also categorise scenes in real time through streamed video footage, detecting unrest, disturbances and conflict, or whether someone is stressed or anxious, as well as suspicious behaviour. In fact, it has already being deployed in the security sector for validation and real time analysis.
Applied to the financial sector, it could be used to tighten safety and security at the cash point, in store, or on the trading floor by assessing people’s emotional state in real-time. In insurance, meanwhile, this deep learning computer vision has the potential to significantly reduce claims fraud by providing assessors with key insight into a claimant’s trustworthiness at point of application or first notice of loss in real-time via video or mobile phone app.
Video innovation may have arrived in banking and finance, but it’s the latest developments in computer vision that will enable companies to squeeze the maximum value out of it, transform the employee and customer experience, and create a safer, more secure environment for all parties.
David Fulton is CEO at computer vision pioneers WeSee.
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
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)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
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 Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™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)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
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.”
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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