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HOW FS ORGANISATIONS CAN USE API-DRIVEN DATA AUTOMATION TO JOIN THE OPEN BANKING REVOLUTION

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By Steve Barrett, Senior Vice President, International Operations at Delphix 

 

Technology is rapidly transforming all industries across the world. However, for the financial services (FS) sector, recent years have been particularly disruptive. Consumer expectations have evolved and convenience, flexibility and choice in banking is no longer seen as a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity. Alongside this, pressure from market forces to encourage innovation and drive competition across the sector has accelerated investment in open banking initiatives. These initiatives are designed to enable FS organisations to leverage customer data, in order to offer new and innovative products and services. It should be the ultimate system to deliver the next generation in customer experience. However, it’s not all smooth sailing.

In fact, research carried out earlier this year by Delphix found that the majority of FS organisations are failing to comply with government mandates such as the EU PSD2-SCA. To make matters worse, at the time of the study, only 3% of firms were confident they could meet the requirements for the next major open banking deadline – a date which has already been delayed by two years.

The open banking revolution could open up a whole new world of opportunity for FS firms. However, data privacy challenges and legacy technology stacks are impeding the transformation that is required. In order to fully unlock the potential of this new era in banking, FS organisations need to find a way to overcome these hurdles.

 

What’s the hold up?

The potential benefits of open banking are undeniable, whether you’re coming at it from the perspective of the business or the customer. For FS firms, the ability to share customer data between banks, fintechs and other technical organisations allows for more innovation and competition within the sector and will ultimately lead to a better product offering. In turn, for customers, open banking will offer better experiences, as well as more options for spending, borrowing and investing.

However, harnessing this innovation is not always easy. Given that data is often siloed throughout different departments within an organisation, it can be difficult to get the correct access. This creates challenges when it comes to effectively delivering data sets to those that need them to innovate and build new applications for customers.  The issue isn’t helped by an overreliance on legacy infrastructure and systems.

Effectively accessing and utilising data for innovation becomes even more challenging when you add privacy and compliance concerns into the mix.  Delphix’s research found that protecting sensitive data across multiple systems and APIs was the biggest data privacy and compliance concern for FS organisations, with 62% of respondents agreeing. By not adhering to compliancy rules, FS organisations are at serious risk of being hit by large regulatory fines. To add to that, without the steady stream of fresh, compliant data for the development and testing of APIs, FS organisations risk falling behind in the race for transformation in the industry.

With so many factors at play, it’s no surprise that FS organisations are currently struggling to find the balance between complying with privacy regulations and not limiting themselves in terms of innovation. In fact, 92% of FS organisations reported that they’re expecting to see a disruption to their operations as they roll out open banking APIs. However, there are measures that can be put in place to ensure success.

 

Harnessing the power of APIs

When it comes to integration testing whilst maintaining compliance, traditional testing tools for data management are actually making life harder for enterprise teams due to the manual requirements resulting in significant labour intensity. FS firms should instead consider implementing DevOps practices in order to deliver compliant data at speed via an API-driven data for DevOps platform. DevOps practices and tools increase an organisation’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity.

One of the benefits of using these platforms is that they allow the user to combine data delivery with compliance. This means that businesses can automate, scale and optimise testing across multi-generational systems, without having to worry about compliance risks. It helps to reduce the latency arising from an inability to find and protect sensitive data and deliver and refresh environments—for dev-testers working on new banking products—while boosting productivity and time to market.

A great example of API-driven data platforms successfully being used is with BNP Paribas (BNPP), one of the world’s largest banks. The business wanted to use data to maximise productivity and performance. The integration of an API-driven data platform allowed BNPP to accelerate application delivery across the globe, which led to development teams accelerating cloud adoption and seeing a three-fold increase in the AI production activity. Overall, the benefits of the project were undeniable. The quality of software being produced was improved with minimal downtime, all the while, adhering to the appropriate regulations.

Data suggests that many organisations like BNPP are starting to realise the potential of Open Banking initiatives for sparking innovation and staying competitive in the market. For example, in the first six months of 2020, the number of users of open banking-enabled apps or products in the UK doubled, and by February 2021, it had grown to over three million. To avoid being left behind, FS organisations should consider integrating an API-driven data platform into their systems. This will enable them to maximise the use of their data and step into the future of banking.

 

Finance

Weathering the Crypto Storm

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Crypto investors may be left reeling from losses over the last few months. But that is not to say all is lost. The good news is that a crypto bear market is unlike a traditional one, with the high volatility and wide-ranging opportunity meaning no two days, even minutes, are ever the same. Here, Kristjan Kangro, CEO and co-founder of Change, a leading Estonian investment platform, explores:

We’ve all seen the headlines. Some say that the crypto bear market could last two years and that a bitter crypto winter is here. That Bitcoin and the like will continue to slump. But that is not to say it’s time to cash in your chips. While the news reports may, by design, ignite worry or even panic, the reality is that the situation isn’t near as grave as it might appear.

For the first part, this is not the first time that crypto investors have weathered such a storm. By its decentralised nature, crypto is much more changeable than the traditional market. Assets can see huge increases or decreases in price from one day to the next.

It’s also important to note that while the current crash may have a short-term negative impact, in the long-term it could mean that the coins and crypto projects that survive rocket in value. Seen as a ‘cleansing process’ of types, this could offer a good opportunity for newbies to enter the crypto market for the first time ever at historically low prices.

With this in mind, there are several tried and tested investment strategies that can help you weather the current crypto storm and build your wealth throughout.

First up, it’s important to be patient. As with anything in life, it’s never a good idea to react out of fear and panic, but rather consider your options. Remember, this isn’t the first time cryptos have lost value, only to rebound and reach new heights. From my own personal portfolio experience, I do believe there’s a lot to be said for ‘the long-term investor always wins.’

At the same time, do your research. Look at your options, your overall portfolio and the broader financial picture to decide your best course of action. Don’t just buy because others are. Don’t short because others are either. Weigh up your options based on exactly what you have and what level of risk you can afford to take. If you don’t need the cash immediately and it feels right, sit tight and try to wait it out.

It sounds obvious too but, diversify. It’s never wise to have all your eggs in one basket, especially during a bear market. A broad selection of investments will always create a more stable portfolio and mitigate some of the risk. I, for example, always tend to mix up my portfolio with a range of established market leaders and a selection of more niche coins with interesting applications across different sectors. This has continued to serve me well and limit my exposure during any difficult period.

As seen in previous crypto winters gone by, there is also a lot to be said for investing in a downturn. Yes it might not be for the faint hearted. You might even think you’re buying at a low, only to see your assets continue to decline in value. However, it could be a risk that pays off. If your coin has a long-term potential it could be a risk which pays serious dividends.

Depending on your risk appetite, another route could be to move towards passive income opportunities such as yield products. Although the gains might be more conservative, it offers a more gradual, and less exposed way to make a profit. Better still, it involves no continuous trading effort. At Change, for example, since launching our Growth Pocket high-yield account at the end of last year, we’ve helped create 100k euros worth of passive income for our community.

Lastly, although it may be hard, it’s important to try to not buy into all the headlines and ‘expert reviews’, much of which may be designed to scaremonger and capture your attention. This is, after all, not crypto’s first crash. And just like the crypto and traditional bear markets before, it will come to an end probably sooner than you think. The likelihood too is that it will drive best practice, as consumers gravitate to those companies who are regulated and offer a certain level of protection.

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Let’s Not Talk Ourselves into a Slump!

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By Dominic Bourquin, Head of the Tax Consultancy and Corporate Finance team at Monahans

 

In the face of the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Quarterly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures, it is important for businesses in the UK to stay calm and not panic otherwise there is a real chance we could talk ourselves into a recession.

The ONS GDP figures are seen as a key barometer of the strength of our economy. On August 12, the ONS announced a 0.1% estimated decrease in GDP for the quarter ended June 2022.

In my opinion, this can be interpreted in a number of ways. Some might say this is a precursor to a recession later in the year, others might argue that such a small estimated fall in GDP might actually be a rounding and, of course, it is subject to revision later as more data becomes available.

Dominic Bourquin Monahans

There is a real mixed bag behind the figures.  The service sector, the largest sector of the UK economy, has shrunk by 0.4% in the quarter, mainly due to the fall in what is termed health and social work activities – this has been caused by a reduction in coronavirus led activities as the COVID-19 virus has become part of normal life and COVID testing, vaccinations and track and trace activities have reduced.

That said, this fall does hide some bright spots, such as the increase in the wholesale and retail of cars and increases in accommodation and food services partly due to Jubilee related activity.

Of course, all data comparisons are dependent on what is being compared, so, to be too gloomy about the shrinking of the service sector, because we are undertaking less coronavirus related health activity, seems to me like an overreaction – surely the economy recovering from coronavirus so there is less of that sort of activity is a good thing?

In the production sectors, there was an overall increase of 0.5% driven principally by increases in gas and electric power generation and transmission, although mining and quarrying activity was down, but not by much, so the part of the economy that actually produces tangible products has done pretty well, with any falls in sectors within the wider production figures being pretty negligible.

The construction sector performance is usually an early indicator of things to come in the economy and is notoriously cyclical so the rise of 2.3% does not yet signal that a recession is coming.

Expenditure and private spending showed small falls of 0.1% and 0.2%, but again, with these first figures being estimated and subject to revision, there is no reason to panic yet.

I am pretty sure that back in 2010 when George Osborne was Chancellor that we “were in recession” and yet when the figures were revised some months later as more data became available, there had not actually been a recession at all! 0.1% given the size of the UK economy is tiny!

Overall, I am sure the Government and all of us would have much rather seen an increase in GDP, but when the reasons for the fall are examined and we remind ourselves that these are early estimates subject to revision, there is no need to panic yet – they might be indicators of the start of a trend that leads us to a recession, but then again they might not!

The fall in the service sector was caused by a drop off in coronavirus related health activity, which you would expect as the virus recedes, so let’s not talk ourselves into a slump!

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