By Richard Farrell, Chief Innovation Officer at Netcall
Aged 332 years, the London Market isn’t new to the need to modernise. For many years, the insurance market has been cautious regarding change and technological advancement, whilst facing mounting pressure to radically transform and keep pace in the digital world. The pandemic, however, has amplified this need for change. Following a year of economic instability, London Market firms risk becoming obsolete if they do not take immediate and urgent action to modernise.
In September 2020, the London Market reported a half-year loss of £400m, compared with a £2.3bn profit in the first half of 2019, and expects to pay out around £5bn in COVID-related claims. With further turbulence and financial uncertainty ahead, the corporate body must keep its sights firmly set on cutting unnecessary costs and transforming internal processes to facilitate this.
Whilst throwing the sector into chaos, the pandemic was a true eye-opener for the Market. Relying on systems and processes built years ago, which were centred around people doing business in a City office, left the London Market at a crossroads and facing once-in-a-lifetime challenges and opportunities. Lockdown created an urgent need for new systems to support a new hybrid workforce, and within this need now lies the opportunity for London Market firms to rejuvenate – building greater efficiency into systems and processes to enable agility and future growth, as well as long-term digital ways of meeting and working. Intelligent automation technologies such as low-code platforms, when combined with robotic process automation (RPA) and powered by artificial intelligence (AI), will be pivotal to this transformation. With these platforms, London Market business users can collaborate and build new applications with IT teams without the need for costly and time-consuming traditional coding methods.
As a result of redesigning processes, London Market businesses can identify where efficiencies can be made and then rapidly develop optimised systems that keep both technology and people at their core. This will be crucial to achieving significant long-term cost savings and maintaining the London Market’s current position on an international level.
Using 2020 challenges as inspiration to evolve
The last year has seen a range of hurdles for both the London Market and individual businesses: a shift to remote working, the need to optimise costs, and the imperative to maintain status in the global order. These have not been easy, and these challenges are likely only the start of greater change that we will see in the coming months and years.
Businesses have proven in the last 12 months that they can adapt and shift when needed with the Blueprint plan, Lloyd’s of London’s ambitious plan to create the world’s most advanced insurance marketplace. Blueprint Two, which was released in November 2020 and built on March’s Blueprint One, established new ways of doing business, underpinned by the need for digital channels that enable advanced data collection and management. The right tech and tools can enable brokers, insurers and partners with delegated authorities to operate at a materially lower cost, estimated to be at least £800m as part of this evolution.
As John Neal, Lloyd’s of London CEO, states, the London Market needs to make itself ‘more relevant, more innovative and much more cost-effective’. Solutions that enable rapid digital transformation, whilst boosting efficiency and lowering costs, will be crucial to achieving this goal.
Future-proofing the London Market
Due to its ease-of-use, low-code platforms can empower London Market teams to collaborate to build new applications in the fastest way possible and speed through application backlogs. Rather than taking a rip-and-replace approach to innovation, the technology can enable London Market organisations to stitch legacy systems together with new applications – effectively building upon existing investments to provide a better user and customer experience.
With the right technologies, the London Market can rapidly reduce inefficiencies by automating manual or broken processes, whilst also integrating with a number of different systems. This will enable organisations to provide a central platform that can give visibility across all parties – and in turn enable better decision-making through richer data and the use of AI.
Perhaps one of the more pressing London Market processes brought into the limelight during the pandemic has been the process of claims management – which intelligent automation solutions can help with too. With so many stakeholders involved, managing the claims lifecycle can be extremely complex, and the sheer number of claims being processed means that teams face huge pressure to provide swift service, and to keep claims pipelines moving. By consolidating data and processes under one platform, the lifecycle management can be improved to provide real-time information relating to a company’s claims exposures, including aggregates, and other elements such as supplier management. Greater visibility of these elements will, in turn, drive greater sector efficiencies.
Reshaping the London Market once and for all
The next few months will bring myriad challenges and opportunities around reshaping how London Market businesses work and trade for the benefit of its clients and people. There are considerations for all organisations, including new ways of employee and trading partner engagement. A one-size-fits-all strategy simply won’t work in such a complex environment, but using the right software can unlock business benefits and growth potential for London Market firms large and small.
Fundamentally, London Market firms must invest in and prioritise the technologies that will enable their workforce to save time and drive value back to the organisation – as well as work how they want to work. Whilst the social nature of the London Market, which is largely based on personal networks, indicates a strong return to office work when lockdown restrictions are lifted, there is still likely to be some level of remote working moving forward.
Flexible and agile intelligent automation technologies can empower the London Market to join data together across numerous back-end systems to provide an easy-to-use workflow across complex process requirements. By enabling employees to make better-informed underwriting and claims decisions, based on better access to enriched information, organisations can not only drive greater efficiencies, but keep up with the demands of a digital-first future.
Dissecting the expansion of online checkouts
Daniel Kornitzer, Chief Business Development Officer
Card payments have long existed as the preferred payment method for online consumers. But in recent years we have begun to see a rise in the use of alternative payment methods. Although card payments continue to serve the majority, it is becoming increasingly clear that consumer preference is diverging rather than reaching a consensus. Across the globe local preferences have developed as eCommerce has grown, and across the global digital payments landscape card payments are being passed over for new ways to pay.
Alternative payment methods are on the rise as they address several of the hurdles which have prevented cards from achieving total rule over consumer preference for online payments. Here are four key reasons for this:
- Alternative methods offer a superior consumer experience, particularly when it comes to mCommerce. With the rise of new regulations such as Strong Customer Authentication and developments in Open Banking, alternative payment methods can be faster and easier to use for consumers.
- New payments methods such as crypto are growing in popularity thanks to a more attractive offering to consumers such as lower cross border payment fees.
- With the digitalisation of services forcing many customers to pay online for the first time and many experienced online shoppers looking for more secure ways to pay, the security of financial data is a major concern. Alternative payment methods can protect customer details by removing the need to share bank details at the checkout.
- Not all consumers have bank accounts or a debit card. By offering alternative payment methods businesses are enabling these customers to join the digital economy.
Businesses have been watching these trends closely and are constantly looking to improve their checkout experience for consumers accordingly.
The impact of COVID-19 on online payments
The need for businesses to expand their online checkout to meet changing consumer expectations is not a new trend. However, it has certainly been accelerated by COVID-19. The majority of businesses agree the pandemic has shifted consumer payment preferences, with alternative payment methods gaining in popularity.
Research shows businesses have seen more alternative methods chosen at their online checkouts with a greater percentage of consumers choosing digital wallets (57%), mobile wallets (39%) and eCash (28%). This has caused businesses to reconsider the way they understand payments, looking beyond traditionally methods to newer consumer friendly alternatives. With this is mind, reports suggest more than 60% of businesses are now making improving their checkout a top priority to fulfil the new high standard of consumer expectations.
Businesses are actively expanding their online checkouts
If we compare data from 2020 to 2021 on the payment methods offered or planned to be offered by businesses in the next one to two years, the trend is clear.
The number of businesses not offering or not intending to offer alternative payment methods is falling, as more and more start to recognise the importance of offering choice at the checkout. In the last year alone the increase in the adoption of alternative payment methods has risen dramatically, particularly crypto and eCash. As businesses begin to understand the urgency of upgrading the checkout experience, it is clear that alternative payment methods will play a key role in making this a reality.
Establishing crypto as a key player
One of the most interesting areas of payments which businesses should be watching is crypto. Research shows businesses are already backing this trend with almost half considering adding crypto as an alternative payment method as an immediate priority, believing it will help them reach new markets, and more than 50% already have confidence in crypto as the future of payments.
Diversifying the checkout as a form of defence
As well as offering a better customer experience and reaching new markets, businesses are expanding their checkouts with alternative payment methods to combat other familiar problems.
Most businesses see their current levels of cart abandonment as an issue, with research showing almost half have experienced an increase in levels of abandonment at the checkout in 2021. Businesses consider two of the most significant causes of this to be card declines and absence of the customers’ preferred payment method. Offering alternative payment methods is an effective way of tackling these problems at the checkout.
The rise of fraudulent transactions is also becoming a more pressing concern for businesses, with the number of fraudulent transactions increasing since the start of the pandemic. Diversifying the checkout with alternative payment methods can be used as a valuable strategy to lower fraudulent transactions.
Looking to the year ahead
2022 looks set to be another year where we will see businesses continue to adopt new payment methods at their online checkout in a bid to keep up with consumer expectations.
By working with a leading payments partner, businesses can benefit from access to a range of payment methods through a single API integration, allowing ambitious plans to become a reality in the year ahead.
All data from this article is taken from our recent research report Lost in Transaction: Finding competitive advantage at the checkout.
How bug bounty programs can help financial institutions be more secure
Rodolphe Harand, Managing Director at YesWeHack
Financial services have been one of the most heavily targeted industries by cybercriminals for several years. One alarming stat from the Boston Consulting Group found these firms to be 300x as likely as other companies to be targeted by cyberattacks.
Furthermore, the pandemic has led to a significant increase in the number of cyberattacks targeting financial institutions (FIs), with around 74% experiencing a spike in threats linked to COVID-19.
With FIs holding some of the largest collections of sensitive and private data, it’s clear they will remain an attractive target for malicious actors, especially as any data stolen can be used for fraudulent activities. This leads to the reputational damage of the financial entity that was compromised and has a knock-on effect in terms of monetary and reputational damage to affected customers.
For CISOs at FIs, the conundrum faced is how do you protect intellectual and customer data, and ensure accountability and transparency for clients and stakeholders, at a time when the pandemic has created budget constraints. Research from BAE Systems found that last year alone, IT security, cybercrime as well as fraud and risk departments had their budgets cut by a third.
Below we look at how bug bounty programs can help to address these pressing issues.
Protecting valuable data
Protecting customer and intellectual data has always been a top priority for FIs. However, as opportunistic cybercriminals have a lot to gain by stealing this valuable data, there is a constant evolution of threats, which means FIs must stay on their toes. By deploying a bug bounty program, FIs can work with ethical hackers that have a wealth of experience and unique skills when it comes to identifying security weaknesses within a FI’s defence, thus helping to implement effective security measures to help prevent data breaches.
Building trust among various stakeholders such as customers, suppliers and investors is critical for achieving business goals. By deploying a bug bounty program, FIs send out a message that they care about protecting the security of the data of those they work with – which in turn can have a cascading effect resulting in better business performance.
For FIs to win customers and keep them happy, amidst the growing threat of neo banks and customer-centric fintech organisations, speed of innovation is crucial. As such, many FIs have adopted an agile approach to build, test, and release software faster to bring online and mobile banking solutions to market quicker. However, this can create frictions between development and security teams. Security mandates are deemed to be unnecessarily intrusive and a cause of delayed application development and deployment.
Yet, with DevOps teams needing to build and deploy applications faster than ever before, an epidemic of insecure applications has emerged. According to Osterman Research, 81% of developers admit to knowingly releasing vulnerable applications, while research from WhiteSource found 73% of developers are forced to cut corners and sacrifice security over speed.
With developers often not having the time, tools, skills, or motivation to write impeccably secure code, there is an evident need to provide developers with more support when it comes to building applications securely Fortunately, bug bounty programs can provide a “fact-based” financial implication of inherent security flaws within the process. This makes it possible to hold development teams and service providers accountable for creating or delivering insecure products, thus addressing inherent security gaps within the business units and helping to drive continuous improvement.
Moreover, security awareness and education of developments teams can be improved significantly for those developers that are directly involved with the management of vulnerability reports for their bug bounty programs. This is because, the mere fact of exchanging information with ethical hackers, or assimilating the thinking of a potential hacker and having proof of concepts of vulnerability exploitation on their application components, naturally accelerates consideration of security early in the development stage and provides ongoing learning.
Get more return on your investment
According to Gartner, 30% of CISOs effectiveness will be directly measured on their ability to create value for the business. When security budgets are challenged, CISOs need to demonstrate business value through initiatives designed to enhance efficiency whilst stretching the dollar.
This is where bug bounties can help tremendously. Compared to conventional penetration testing, bug bounty offers a fast, complete, and measurable return on your security investment, with businesses only paying out for successful discovery of vulnerabilities. Equally, businesses get access to hundreds of ethical hackers that can test their programs, each with their own unique skillsets as opposed to only one skilled researcher testing the network. This results-driven model ensures you pay for the vulnerabilities that pose a threat to your organisation and not for the time or effort it took to find them.
Bug bounty programs also deliver rapid vulnerability discovery across multiple attack surfaces. With this approach, organisations receive prioritised vulnerabilities and real-time remediation advice throughout the process to accelerate the discovery of, and solution to vulnerabilities.
Another appeal of bug bounties is that due to the continuous nature of testing, more vulnerabilities are found over time as opposed to pen-testing. This is key to financial institutions that require agility to keep up with the continuous roll-out and updates of applications.
The cornerstone to a successful security programme
The risk posed to financial institutions by cyber threats will only continue, as evidenced by the number of data breaches seen in recent times. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these risks, especially with almost all FIs having needed to shift to a remote working environment – which has only widened the attack landscape.
For FIs, a bug bounty program should be considered a fundamental cornerstone of any security strategy, with it being a modern-day cybersecurity solution that is well-equipped to tackle the immediate security challenges they face. In doing so, FIs will not only prove to customers and stakeholders their commitment to data protection and security but this will also be help them to avoid the monetary damages that could be imposed by regulators if a breach was to take place.
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