Connect with us

Business

WHAT SECURITY LESSONS CAN THE WORLD OF TRADITIONAL FINANCE TEACH CRYPTOCURRENCY FIRMS?

Published

on

By Michael Magrath, VP Global Regulations and Standards,OneSpan

 

Cryptocurrency has had a whirlwind of a year. The growth in popularity of currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum saw valuations skyrocket, whilst government crackdowns in countries including China and Turkey – and even Tweets by Elon Musk – caused them to fall just as dramatically.

Meanwhile, financial institutions have bought and sold cryptoassets in vast quantities, mainstream consumer payment providers have started offering digital assets to their customers, and Bitcoin has even become legal tender in El Salvador.

However, these exciting developments have been punctuated by regular reports of significant cyberattacks on crypto exchanges and custodians. Research shows that $1.9 billion worth of cryptocurrency was stolen by hackers in 2020. And just last month, hackers successfully targeted Japanese blockchain-based platform Poly Network and extracted more than $600 million in Ethereum and Binance coins, as well as the stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC) tokens.

 

The crypto regulation challenge

Since the invention of crypto, regulation has lagged behind technological advancements in the space. Nonetheless, crypto continues to edge its way into the financial mainstream. Unlike cryptocurrency firms, banks and other traditional financial institutions are required to comply with complex and demanding security standards. These ensure that they’re equipped with the necessary resources and skills to continually adapt to the rapidly shifting cyber threat landscape.

Michael Magrath

Despite huge efforts from global regulators and international monetary organisations to effectively build frameworks for the secure, safe exchange and storage of crypto assets, the crypto space remains very underregulated. This can be attributed in part to the breakneck pace of innovation in the industry, which makes it nearly impossible for policymakers to ensure that consumers are protected.

Recently, Gary Gensler, US Securities and Exchange Commission chief, urged crypto trading platforms to register with his organisation on the grounds that many cryptocurrencies qualify as securities. He warned that, for the crypto market to still be relevant in ten years, firms would have to start operating within a public policy framework.

Today, many central banks are now working on releasing their own digital currency. These public currencies referred as Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) will compete with private currencies like bitcoin and others. While this is an ongoing process, industry bodies and governments alike are seeking to establish regulations and guidance to ensure fair competition.

 

Lessons must be learned

Any technological innovation inevitably carries with it a degree of cyber security risk. Cryptocurrency is no different in this regard. Every new way to trade, store or monetise digital assets opens a new channel for hackers to exploit. It’s like when Apple releases an updated version of its operating system – a stream of security updates inevitably follows, as developers plug potential exploits and vulnerabilities. The difference is that most crypto firms have nowhere near the research and development resources of a major financial institution or tech giant.

All this doesn’t mean that the battle is lost, and crypto firms are condemned to a future of frequent cyberattacks. Instead, there are a series of practical, achievable steps that firms can take to protect themselves. Let’s examine the recent Coinbase hack. Though a disaster for the 68 million users at risk of losing their assets, by traditional finance standards, the cause of the breach was extremely simple – and therefore relatively easy to guard against in future. According to experts, the attack was a “SIM swap”, where hackers compromise victims’ mobile phone numbers and use these to authenticate themselves as a valid account holder.

For many years, SIM swap fraud was a method commonly used by malicious actors to gain access to the bank accounts of unsuspecting consumers. As a result, financial institutions moved away from using text messages as a form of authentication. Utilising text messages for multi-factor authentication (MFA) often puts the onus of protecting customer data on mobile network operators, whose systems are not designed to withstand such attacks. This is the security equivalent of locking the Mona Lisa away in a self-storage unit, rather than the Louvre.

The U.S. Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) appropriately notes in its updated Guidance Authentication and Access to Financial Institution Services and Systems that not all MFA solutions offer equal usability and security pointing out that “certain MFA factors may be susceptible to ‘Man in the Middle’ (MIM) attacks, such as when a hacker intercepts a one-time security code sent to a customer.”  This is true as NIST uses this example in its Digital Identity Guidelines: Authentication and Lifecycle Management (Special Publication 800-63B). In July 2020, NIST published Special Publication 800-63: Digital Identity Guidelines FAQs reminding readers that SMS-OTP is a “restricted” authenticator.

Instead, most major banks now use Mobile PUSH notifications for MFA, verifying customer identities using a secure mobile app. These apps often employ the latest ID verification technologies – such as AI, biometrics and liveness detection – to ensure that access can only be gained by a genuine account holder. Looking forward, crypto firms urgently need to re-examine their user authentication practices, using these technologies to stem the flow of authentication-based hacks.

 

Implementing user verification policies

Unlike online banking fraud or card identity theft, it’s extremely difficult for crypto firms to mitigate the effects of a hack. This is because cryptocurrency transactions are irreversible and can only be refunded by the recipient. So, once a hack happens, funds are usually lost forever. This makes preventing hacks from occurring in the first place even more important.

What’s more, crypto networks typically rely on pseudo anonymity, where users are identified only by a string of random letters and numbers known as an address. This makes it very difficult to identify the perpetrators behind a hack and bring them to justice. Plus, since networks are decentralised and trustless, there is no way to identify transactions subsequently made with stolen cryptocurrency.

By contrast, traditional banks have for many years been subjected to stringent Know Your Customer regulations, designed to prevent money laundering. In 2019, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) adopted strict AML/CTF requirements on Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs), which include crypto exchanges.  In its latest draft to revise its 2019 requirements, it states, “regardless of the nature of the relationship or transaction, countries should ensure that VASPs have in place effective procedures to identify and verify, on a risk basis, the identity of a customer, including when establishing business relations with that customer; where VASPs may have suspicions of ML/TF (money laundering/terrorist financing), regardless of any exemption of thresholds; and where they have doubts about the veracity or adequacy of previously obtained identification data.”

There’s no doubt that crypto firms need to take security more seriously. The risks of not doing so are enormous. On the one hand, every successful hack chips away at already shaky consumer trust. On the other, there’s the very real possibility of inspiring the ire of regulators, who have the power to impose draconian regulation that would stifle the growth of this nascent industry.

When it comes to security, crypto firms can learn a lot from their older, more established peers in the world of traditional finance. If they are to build and maintain the credibility needed to become trusted, mainstream providers of financial services, they need to avoid repeating past mistakes made by banks and financial institutions. It’s now up to crypto firms to take advantage of the wealth of security resources available to them.

 

Business

SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

Published

on

SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

Dean Fiveash, Head of FinTech Sales, IFX

Without doubt the Coronavirus pandemic impacted every aspect of our lives and fundamentally changed the way in which we all conduct business.

From the widespread adoption of working from home, to the amplified focus on employee wellbeing and work life balance, to simply acknowledging that people are more than their job titles and are often juggling childcare, pets and terrible wifi issues all whilst trying to do their job. The last 18 months have altered the way we work forever and in order to set our businesses up for success we have also needed to rethink how we operate.

Dean Fiveash

In a people facing sector like sales,  it’s  clear that the loss of face-to-face interaction is perhaps the biggest loss and an impending challenge as we slowly emerge from the confines of the pandemic. Gone are the days of instant downloads from ‘water cooler’ conversations with the team discussing deals or general matters. Instead, our inboxes and diaries are full of zoom catch ups. This isn’t to say that success has dwindled. Flexibility of working from home has helped many businesses to grow rapidly. In fact at IFX we have enjoyed our ten best months of company sales, but there is no denying the way in which we work within our teams has shifted. So how can you set up your sales teams to maximise its chances of success?

 

Adapting To The Times

For many businesses operating during these unprecedented times the shift towards the work from home culture has seen its benefits. Speed is key in the fintech industry and video calls on top of isolated working has greatly improved our time efficiency allowing us to do more for our clients in the long run. Equally, with the workforce being spread around the country and in some cases even globally, came the need for further rigorous checks and processes to ensure the high standards set in the office environment are still being met.

Despite this I would argue that this made us better sales people, and in turn a more successful and thriving sales team.

Post-pandemic success is grounded in not just the talent of your employees but also how you choose to structure your teams. For me, the old adage ‘People Buy People’ remains the most relevant factor for developing a slick sales team. At the end of the day, the technical stuff can be learnt over time but the proficient people skills needed in client facing roles is more innate.

When evaluating team skills, individuals who demonstrate determination and the ability to keep smiling through adversity are a vital asset, especially in the fast paced fintech industry.

Having worked in numerous team leader roles within the sales industry,  I know the difference that a collegiate and supportive team can make to successfully securing deals. The key is to have people at your disposal who are going to pitch in to help others, in turn making the team more robust. In the post-pandemic world, this will remain the key quality to look for and embed as a core value across the business.

 

Fostering A Successful Culture 

Whilst the team structure and core skills are an important part of the team set up, good management and personal development structure is crucial to success. At IFX, our sales leadership team all have client portfolios and are regularly signing and navigating deals. It’s through giving my team practical experience and regular client interaction that we can gain far better market insight than through managing team activity or KPIs alone.

More discipline is also required when working at home to retain the sales focus whilst navigating domestic distractions. As such, maintaining your employee motivation and focus is something each business should work on. A difficult feat without the physical presence of your team and one balanced on knowing your employees and their individual needs. But little things go a long way, so incentives and perks such as company socials, bonuses or simply a free breakfast can work wonders to motivate others. Another tip is to set  attainable goals and regular check-ins with your team to keep motivation on track to reach peak productivity.

 

Looking Forward

Team dynamics will continue to change to adapt to the ever-changing and rapidly evolving landscape, the secret to success will remain the same.

Something to look forward to in the next couple of years as a movement,  is the greater adoption of smarter contracts and embedded FinTech, which of course as businesses and as a team we will have to adapt to.

Ultimately, my biggest piece of advice to others is to get the basics right.  A leading-edge solution fails to achieve greatness if it isn’t backed with competent sales/relationship managers and attentive operational support. Traditional ingredients for success such as reputation and trustworthiness are built over time, often through word of mouth, but building a competent team who can make your clients happy is essential to that mix

 

Continue Reading

Business

THE EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT

Published

on

By

THE EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT

Jennifer Sims, Senior Consultant at Xledger

 

The world of finance software is evolving quickly, but with many new software contenders entering the market it can be a mindfield for organisations. Many finance teams are already using multiple accounting apps and software packages for bookkeeping, payroll and invoicing to service individual needs. Whilst it may work fine for now, this segregated approach isn’t sustainable for long-term growth. The world is swiftly moving to agile, automated ways of working. As a result, there is a growing need to choose suppliers that can fulfil multiple functionalities within the one platform.

Financial software is evolving at such a pace that it can be difficult to keep up. Changing up a finance solution is a big step and ease of migration can be a substantial factor in determining which solution provider to go with. But how do you choose a solution that will grow with your business and still offer something innovative in five or ten years down the line? The fear is always that non-techie organisations will end up falling behind, but in such a highly concentrated industry, how do you decide which solution would work best for you?

 

Cloud-first: the term that makes all the difference 

You could find a ‘cloud-based’ service with an application that comes with automated audit trails to make it easier to meet compliance and record-keeping obligations, for example. But for a solution to offer all of the many future benefits promised by the cloud, it needs to have been built specifically for a cloud environemt from the outset – ie. not an on-premise built system that has been later adapted. Cloud-first services (true cloud) were always intended to leverage economies of scale, cope with live updates, be accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, and to scale rapidly, to name just a few of the many benefits.

When we talk about innovation in financial technology, we’re not just talking about software that makes it easier for the financial controller to create reports. If eliminating reliance on Excel spreadsheets is the only tangible benefit you have to really shout about, you are missing out on the real deal. With ‘true’ cloud finance software the sky is the limit.

Finance and accounting technology needs to directly meet the needs of the finance function and support the wider business needs.  When looking at accounting software platforms you’d be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t now promise ‘cloud-based’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) capabilities. The cloud is nothing new, but it’s the way that a solution harnesses this environment that makes a real difference. And here is where there is a need to read between the lines.

 

Automate more with true cloud 

Historically, repetitive and manual tasks are typical of the finance role – from invoice postings to expense claims handling – these can overwhelm the finance team. Research by Xledger[1] has found that an enormous 91% of CFOs and finance decision makers are carrying out at least one of these repetitive tasks as part of their job. What’s more, senior finance leads are averaging a whopping 25 hours per week carrying out repetitive and manual tasks, compared with 15 hours for other finance decision makers.

A modern, true cloud finance system can enable your business to automate repetitive tasks and provide one source of truth so that teams can make informed business decisions that will help to scale a business. Bank reconciliation, dashboard creation and reporting are just some of the tasks that can be handled automatically.These capabilities are aiding overtasked finance teams and saving hundreds or thousands of hours a year.

Whilst different companies are at different stages in their digital transformation what is clear is keeping up with the latest technology is fundamental to the future success of an organisation.

Xledger is a true cloud finance solution. The basics include invoicing, robust general ledger accounting, detailed slice and dice reporting, purchase orders, billing, VAT reporting, and cash and bank payments. It also adds process and structure to the enterprise with procurement and inventory, budgeting and forecasting, and project accounting. Users are always on the latest version of the software and with regulation more stringent than ever today, Xledger is ISO 27001 accredited.

Choosing the right provider for your financial ERP solution comes down to whether it has the fundamentals right. When hosting all of your vital data in the providers’ own servers, it should evidence a highly tested security process that comes with backup services as standard.

As our demand for technology capabilities grows and as ERP models progress, innovation will become the structure for growth – and there is no end to the possibilities.

 

Continue Reading

Magazine

Trending

SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD
Business2 days ago

SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

Dean Fiveash, Head of FinTech Sales, IFX Without doubt the Coronavirus pandemic impacted every aspect of our lives and fundamentally...

THE EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT THE EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT
Business2 days ago

THE EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT

Jennifer Sims, Senior Consultant at Xledger   The world of finance software is evolving quickly, but with many new software...

HOW RETURNS ABUSE AFFECTS RETAILERS HOW RETURNS ABUSE AFFECTS RETAILERS
Business2 days ago

HOW RETURNS ABUSE AFFECTS RETAILERS

By Aaron Begner, EMEA GM at Forter   Accompanying the significant growth in ecommerce over the past 12 months, is the...

TINTRA PLC FINALISES JOINT VENTURE WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PARTNER TINTRA PLC FINALISES JOINT VENTURE WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PARTNER
News2 days ago

TINTRA PLC FINALISES JOINT VENTURE WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PARTNER TO BUILD INDUSTRY CHANGING REGULATORY TECHNOLOGY

Innovative fintech company, Tintra PLC(https://tintra.com/), has formed a joint venture with award-winning Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning business, TMC2, via...

CELLPOINT DIGITAL PARTNERS WITH VYNE TO ENABLE INSTANT OPEN BANKING PAYMENTS FOR MERCHANTS CELLPOINT DIGITAL PARTNERS WITH VYNE TO ENABLE INSTANT OPEN BANKING PAYMENTS FOR MERCHANTS
News2 days ago

CELLPOINT DIGITAL PARTNERS WITH VYNE TO ENABLE INSTANT OPEN BANKING PAYMENTS FOR MERCHANTS

The partnership will allow CellPoint Digital customers to incorporate Vyne into its payment ecosystem and access instant payments without a...

WHY A MULTI-ACQUIRER STRATEGY IS KEY TO GLOBAL GROWTH WHY A MULTI-ACQUIRER STRATEGY IS KEY TO GLOBAL GROWTH
Business5 days ago

WHY A MULTI-ACQUIRER STRATEGY IS KEY TO GLOBAL GROWTH

As online business grows exponentially, finally fulfilling the internet’s promise of a ‘global village’ in which anyone can buy and...

Business5 days ago

TAKE THE NO-CODE LEAP TO DIGITAL INNOVATION WITH A FUSION TEAM

Chris Obdam, CEO, Betty Blocks   In the last couple of years, a new sector has emerged alongside enterprise financial...

Finance5 days ago

HOW FINANCIAL ORGANIZATIONS CAN PROTECT THEIR DATA

Yuval Wollman, President, CyberProof and Chief Cyber Officer, UST   Top executives from Wall Street’s largest banks pinpointed cybersecurity as the...

Top 105 days ago

IF IT’S A LOSS, YOU’RE TOO LATE – WHY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO FOCUS ON FIRST NOTIFICATION OF RISK

Simon Dicks, Insurance Channel Manager EMEA, Lytx   Insuring commercial fleets can be an expensive business. Average repair costs have...

Business5 days ago

IDENTITY SECURITY IN THE ERA OF SOX

By Steve Bradford, Senior Vice President, EMEA, SailPoint   The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) is a federal law that mandates practices...

News5 days ago

EXPERIAN LAUNCHES VERIFICATION SERVICE TO SUPPORT FASTER, MORE ACCURATE LENDING DECISIONS

Work Report™ is the UK’s first service that automates the digital sharing of payroll information on behalf of the consumer...

News6 days ago

TENUREX AND ELUCIDATE PARTNER TO INCREASE FINANCIAL INCLUSION WORLDWIDE

TenureX and Elucidate have announced a strategic partnership with a mission to increase financial inclusion worldwide and tackle the laborious...

Banking6 days ago

WHY THE TIME IS NOW TO BANK BEYOND BORDERS

by Lili Metodieva, MD of Monneo   As our world becomes more interconnected, so too does the need for banking...

News6 days ago

PAYCAST PARTNERS WITH MARQETA AND MASTERCARD FOR NEW MARKETPLACE PAYMENT SOLUTION

Paycast will leverage Marqeta’s modern card issuing platform and the Mastercard network to empower marketplaces with payment solutions that help...

Finance1 week ago

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

By Steve Barrett, Senior Vice President, International Operations at Delphix    Technology is rapidly transforming all industries across the world. However, for the...

Banking1 week ago

IT’S TIME FOR BANKS TO SIT THEIR CUSTOMERS DOWN AND TALK OPEN BANKING

Eugene Danilkis, CEO at Mambu   We are living in an experience economy, and banking is no different. Customers need...

Banking1 week ago

WILL CHALLENGER OR TRADITIONAL BANKS WIN THE SECURE CARD PAYMENTS BATTLE?

By Vince Graziani, CEO, IDEX Biometrics ASA   Challenger banks have shaken up the payment ecosystem in the last decade....

Banking1 week ago

TOP ITALIAN BANK ROLLS OUT FIRST OF ITS FULLY DIGITAL BRANCHES WITH AURIGA

Banca Carige Smart, the new intelligent branch model enabled by Auriga #NextGenBranch solutions , combines digitalisation with a human touch...

Banking1 week ago

HOW BANKS CAN PROTECT THEMSELVES AGAINST RANSOMWARE

Jay Ralph, Managed Cloud Global Sales Lead at SoftwareONE   We’ve seen a slew of high-profile ransomware attacks in 2021. From hackers...

News1 week ago

BLOCKERS TO BLOCKCHAIN ADOPTION LIFT FOR 65% OF FINANCIAL ORGANISATIONS

Four years of data from Visma | Onguard’s Fintech Barometer finds growing confidence in blockchain technology   65% of organisations...

Trending