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TECHNOLOGY: THE SAVING GRACE OF THE MONTH-END HEADACHE IN FINANCIAL REPORTING

The end of the month is a challenging time for many accountants and financial analysts as they race to close their books and complete their reporting on time. Whether they are using Oracle Cloud or on premise solutions, the final hurdle has its highs and lows. With accounts to reconcile and financial statements to analyse, accountants and financial analysts are left with little time before the crucial deadlines are in front of them. As a result, time needs to be maximised so that they have all the answers at their fingertips when presenting to the business, board members and executives. These are the aspects of the role that financial analysts adore – and manual intervention shouldn’t be the blocking stone of success.

Preparation for month-end reporting involves financial analysts spending long periods of time focused on analysing spreadsheet after spreadsheet. Tiffany Newkirk, Financial Solutions Manager at SplashBI, explains that month-end reporting shouldn’t be as problematic and frustrating as it is. To move forward, financial analysts need to incorporate technology to provide a visual representation of the data so their role becomes as efficient and sustainable as possible.

 

A new beginning

Overtime and stress are two common issues that accountants and financial analysts experience when completing month-end close reporting. As many as one in four financial analysts describe the pressure of financial reporting being overwhelming, resulting in employees leaving the job they love; a situation that no senior management team wants to occur.

According to a recent survey, as many as 73% of accountants and financial analysts are still operating in a manually intensive, spreadsheet-driven system that limits or removes any time for analysis. In the same survey, 84% said they would prefer the financial close process to take up less time, that could in turn be devoted to more strategic financial projects. From a health and wellbeing perspective, the drive to utilise technology will help improve the efficiency and accuracy, especially at this turbulent time, and allow more time to be spent exploring the results and having the answers readily available for senior-level discussions.

 

A long-awaited transition

Companies of all shapes and sizes have long sought ways to streamline their processes so that accountants can spend less time collecting numbers and more time analysing the impact and results with senior stakeholders. Finding the right equilibrium between speed, accuracy and employees’ needs is key, and financial experts need to embrace technology and its visual qualities in order to achieve this. 

While spreadsheets are a useful tool, they can be prone to errors, especially if formulas are entered incorrectly. Management teams want to understand the implications of the data in front of them, and with the aid of financial experts, bring the data to life in a much more visual and empowering way, ready to spot the next business opportunity. Working solely in a spreadsheet rarely allows this to happen.

Instead, technology can help drive smarter decisions, by making the data come to life and presented in a variety of visual formats. By combining the numerous, disparate systems required to achieve a successful month end close, financial analysts and CMOs can view real time data at a click of a button to make informed decisions in the future. 

 

Conclusion

In an increasingly digitised world, real time financial reporting and accurate forecasting are more vital than ever to achieve a sustainable and efficient business model. Given the circumstances faced throughout 2020, effective financial management provides businesses with a competitive advantage and greater insights to drive profitability and efficiency.

Letting go of tired and archaic practices will drive financial roles forward and open the door for a myriad of opportunities when accountants and financial analysts expand their reliance on technology and move away from traditional methods. Moving forward, organisations that don’t incorporate technology into their month end reporting will be left behind, and not reap the rewards. It’s time for the face of financial reporting and analytics to change to become a seamless, stress-free and data-driven process.

News

AURIGA TO MANAGE BELGIUM’S NEW NATIONWIDE ATM NETWORK: BATOPIN.

Batopin signs ATM as a Service agreement with Auriga to run the new network for Belgium’s four biggest banks

 

Auriga, a global provider of technology solutions for the omnichannel banking and payments industries, today announced a ground-breaking new agreement to provide a complete ATM as a service solution to create and run a new shared state of the art ATM infrastructure for Belgium’s four largest retail banks.

 

The initiative is called Batopin (Belgian ATM Optimization Initiative), which is supported by Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING and KBC, and aims at providing 95% of Belgians access to a modern ATM service within five kilometres of their home or business.

 

To help achieve the goals for Batopin, Auriga will be providing complete end-to-end management of the new ATM network including software development and management, maintenance, security and other managed services. This includes comprehensive monitoring of the ATMs, transaction processing, cash management and asset management. To protect the new ATM network, there will be an advanced state-of-the-art ATM security solution as well as a full incident management system.

 

Batopin’s new ATM infrastructure will run on a single software platform based on Auriga’s multivendor integrated ATM acquiring solution called Auriga WinWebServer (WWS). This will take advantage of Auriga’s unique cloud-based concept for managing all channels consistently and with minimal effort, regardless of the manufacturer of the ATM or self-service device. As result, Batopin will be able to replace existing machines with the latest network neutral self-service machines, and fully leverage how Auriga WWS can enable the development of new revenue generating services alongside traditional cash withdrawal and deposit services.

 

Kris De Ryck, CEO at Batopin says: “We’re responding to how our customers want easy access to cash. By partnering with Auriga who have unrivalled deep expertise and knowledge in next generation ATMs, we can optimise Batopin’s internal operations and minimize the total cost of ownership while ensuring our banks’ consumers remain delighted with their self-service experience.”

 

Vincenzo Fiore, CEO at Auriga comments: “Batopin is a hugely significant initiative that sets a high standard for how European banks can answer customer demands for access to self-service banking. We’re proud to be a key partner in helping to realise this project and deliver a truly 21st century ATM infrastructure that’s designed to maximise how banks can deliver value and service excellence innovations for today and well into the future.

 

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Banking

THE ART OF BIOMETRIC PAYMENT CARDS: WHY BANKS NEED TO GET DESIGN-SAVVY

Lina Andolf-Orup, Senior Director at Fingerprints

 

Biometric payment cards have ticked several important boxes in the last year. The technology has achieved certification from major payment networks, costs have reduced, and manufacturing has become simpler, and the first commercial launches have begun.

But as more banks move to offer this technology to their customers, it is important to consider design. The look and feel of any new technology is central to its success among consumers, but it can be commonly overlooked or an afterthought. In fact, when asked about biometric payment cards, 30%1 of consumers cited design as important, while just 15%2 of banks we spoke to had it on their agenda.

But why is it so important? And what considerations have already been made to ensure this technology offers not only a technical edge, but a desirable addition to a bank’s offering.

 

A makeover on the cards

Even before the pandemic, the physical bank branch was dying out as consumers moved to digital, on-demand services. As such, the payment card is one of the few remaining physical relationships customers have with their bank.

Mobile-centric challenger banks have captured the attention of consumers with design and user-experience (UX) at the heart of their strategy. Beautiful cards alongside sleek mobile apps are helping them build bigger brands, with the traditional card reimagined by the likes of Monzo with its bright coral card, Starling with its sleek, minimalist front and vertical orientation, and Klarna with its card delivered to you in a fluffy ‘fur-lined’ envelope. Other banks have even launched ‘design-your-own’ options.

Lina Andolf-Orup

For traditional banks, there’s huge opportunity to strengthen relationships and build customer loyalty, especially when launching a new technology. The opportunity to strengthen brand is key, which is just one of the reasons the latest generation of fingerprint sensor for cards is even smaller, meaning more space to play with on-card, and hence more space for banks to build their brand.

 

Defining design

For banks, there’s a business case for a wide scope of consumer segments with biometric payment cards – from millennials and gen Z, to business, more premium, or older customers. While unsurprisingly younger demographics rated the card design’s importance highest, 1 in 4 over 50s also noted it as significant factor.

So, any design needs to appeal to a broad audience, but what exactly do consumers want to see from their biometric payment card? We sought feedback from consumers to help decide our latest sensor design and the responses made interesting reading.

‘Modern’ and ‘personal’ were the highest rated design traits across all age groups and geographies, with Europeans especially favouring a ‘modern’ design. It makes sense – the excitement of getting the latest technology would undoubtedly be dimmed if it looked just like any old bank card. Interestingly, the Chinese market ranked a techy feel as important too, with over 50% marking it as a preference.

We also wanted to see how different designs made consumers feel. Here there was some variance but undeniably, responses show that consumers felt that having the biometric sensor in the card was something to be excited about and to show off. Crucially, consumers also responded that it was easy to understand how to use the sensor from the design. Which leads me to another important aspect…

 

“Cool card, now what?”

How a technology feels and the UX it delivers is closely intertwined with design. On this point, our research also found a gap between banks and consumer opinion. Nearly half of consumers cited usability, how the card feels, and knowing where to place their finger as a priority, while just 1 in 3 banks saw it as a concern.

Consumers are quick to feel frustrated and abandon new technologies if they are too complex or difficult to use. Poor design can easily lead to poor UX, compromising successful onboarding and adoption even after significant investment.

The enrollment process is another vital aspect. Our consumer research and trial feedback has shown just how important this initial ‘meeting’ with your new payment card is. Enrolling your fingerprint needs to be intuitive and uncomplicated as a minimum. To truly make biometric payment cards a success, consumers need to feel engaged and excited from the get-go, as well as trust that their new card is going to work from first tap in store.

Last year, we collaborated with UX-specialist BlockZero to create an ‘out of the box’ creative enrollment concept with a companion mobile app, but banks have options to offer to their cardholders, including enrolling via a mobile app, with a powered sleeve, or in-branch. Banks need to carefully consider their customer base to select what option best fits, as undoubtedly the preferred way to enroll will differ between markets and demographics. From our research it’s clear however that both consumers and banks want a simple and secure self-enrollment option and a rich first touch-point with these new cards.

 

Looking good

From our research, we shaped our new sensor design to be one that struck the perfect balance between modern, personal, and techy, while gesturing to our branding. After all, design savvy cards need a good-looking sensor, too!

 

Too often, design and UX is shoe-horned in after the fact but for consumers, it is a priority. Already at an early stage we thought about the actual aesthetic design of the new sensor, and not just the technology and performance. For banks rolling out this exciting technology, factoring in ergonomics and design from the start guarantees their customers – and prospective customers – have something they can be proud of, use, trust and maybe even talk about.

Learn more about launching biometric payment cards.  

Fingerprints research in collaboration with Kantar, Dec 2019, 1,200 consumers across France, UK, China

Fingerprints in collaboration with PayTech, 2019. 25 card issuer/banks in 7 countries

 

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