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Embracing remote work: Why working from home has a positive impact on Finance.  



Paul Wooldridge, Future Workplace Practice Lead at SoftwareONE UK 


When lockdown hit back in March 2020, the numbers of remote workers changed overnight – and Financial Services Institutions (FSIs) also made the high-speed switch from office desks to kitchen tables. This was a very risky move for such a highly regulated industry. Two years down the line, hybrid and remote work have become a staple of work culture. All sectors have embraced hybrid/remote work structures because of employees’ changing work demands and the digital working landscape.

Studies from ACAS show that 3 in 5 employers (60%) have seen an increase in hybrid working staff compared to before the pandemic. As a result, businesses across all sectors have had to invest in technology, such as cloud computing, that will enable their employees to work outside the office. The financial sector, including banks, is no exception. With the current state of the economy and the continuous rise in inflation, banks must invest in the right cost-efficient technologies in order to enable their employees to work to the best of their ability.

Implementing a remote work infrastructure shouldn’t be left to chance. With little prior exposure to remote practices, FSI employees made a cut-and-paste transition from in-person office workings to our new virtual working structure, and simply had to adapt along the way. FSIs should use the knowledge obtained during the lockdown to help build on proven successes and focus on those areas that weren’t developed with remote work in mind. They must analyse, adapt and implement or they risk falling behind.

Top Talent wants the Top Contract.

Flexibility. A simple concept. A concept that is in high demand regarding recruitment amongst the next generation of financial workers. In fact, a recent YouGov survey(  found that 77% of finance professionals are opting for a four-day working week and over half of young employees stated they would leave their job if they were forced back into the office full-time.

Remote work is more than just a luxury for the next generation of workers—the younger generations see that they can get the same work done without the added stress of commuting to and from work. Now that they have realised the benefits; many are opposed or full-out unwilling to go back to office work.

As Boomers take their retirement, Millennials step into leadership roles and Gen-Zers continue to make up more and more of the workforce, FSI leaders need to pay attention to changing trends when it comes to what these younger generations want—or they risk missing out on and not retaining top young talent.

Using technology to improve hybrid productivity.

In 2022, Financial Services Institutions recognise the importance of digital technologies as a powerful lever to improve their profits, improve regulatory compliance, and transform their customer experience. As we look to 2023, and we all brace ourselves for the pending devastations brought on by the economic crisis, we expect digitisation to play an even more central role, as banks find innovative ways to serve their customers during the crisis.

Financial Institutions that leverage technology, such as cloud computing, increase their operational agility more than those that devote IT resources to managing their infrastructure. The Cloud increases the productivity of finance workforces by allowing them to devote more time and energy towards advancing new projects, instead of constantly handling traditional IT issues and upkeep. Another benefit of the cloud is the lower initial costs compared to the numerous costs of acquiring traditional IT equipment. And, if an FSI requires more bandwidth at any time, a cloud-based service can meet that demand quickly.

When reviewing IT budgets, executives need to consider critical questions on how to keep the business running, how to identify the goals that need to be achieved, and how technology can help better facilitate. Cloud computing is here to stay, and if financial organisations aren’t already strategizing and optimising their cloud investment, then they are likely falling behind their competitors.

Cloudy with a chance of virtual meetings.

Recent research found that 9 out of 10 financial institutions have a digital transformation initiative in place, and 80% of them believe they’re not even halfway done with transformation efforts. Many of these FS firms turn to hybrid cloud as it can enable them to reduce their operating cost and enhance their data security simultaneously by splitting their data between on-premises storage for sensitive data, and cloud storage for less sensitive data. This helps FS firms adhere to changing regulatory reporting requirements in multiple operating jurisdictions.

In turn, these solutions help FS firms conduct liquidity and risk calculations and monitor data to detect fraudulent activity. Ultimately, by using hybrid cloud, financial service organisations can maintain and support their legacy systems while simultaneously taking advantage of Cloud technology.

Cloud computing gives finance professionals the agility to access important data instantly. Leveraging the data seamlessly from wherever they are working to maintain exceptional customer experience, not to the detriment of the firm’s productivity. Whether it be responding to the ever-changing customer needs or competitive dynamics, cloud computing allows FSI employees to access and retrieve important wherever and whenever it’s needed quickly and securely.


Exploring the symbiotic advantages of SoftPoS for merchants and consumers




By: Brad Hyett, CEO at phos by Ingenico


Amid the dynamic shifts that have come to define today’s fintech landscape, convenience holds more sway than ever before. Driven by the global surge in adoption of contactless payments in recent years, Software Point of Sale (SoftPoS) has emerged as a transformative phenomenon, taking on a pivotal role for consumers looking to make quick and easy payments, while providing a vast array of benefits to merchants.

At the very heart of SoftPoS technology lies the ability to turn any NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet into a payment terminal. This innovation has sent ripples of excitement and intrigue through the fintech community: by allowing merchants to stray from the traditional method of accepting payments through costly hardware like chip-and-pin machines. The technology has removed barriers that for many years have stood in the way of small businesses looking to adopt digital payments.

With the recent system outages on payment platforms Square and Cash App, which have cost small-business owners thousands in lost revenue, businesses might be looking at additional ways to process payments. In its very essence, SoftPoS solutions allow both merchants and consumers to harness the full potential of the devices they already use in all aspects of their daily lives.

Empowering merchants through customer satisfaction

The appeal of SoftPoS solutions goes well beyond their cost-effective nature. It revolves around enhancing the customer experience by making payments seamless, rapid, and trouble-free. Armed with an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet, merchants can effortlessly finalise transactions with a simple tap.

Through SoftPoS, the ability to accept contactless payments becomes accessible to a broader range of merchants, enabling customers to conveniently use their preferred payment method in more locations than ever before. This streamlines payment experiences, making them convenient, concise, and straightforward. The era of struggling to find the right amount of cash or swiping cards is fading away, being replaced by a smooth payment process that aligns with the fast-paced essence of modern life.

Yet, this transformation isn’t unidirectional. The benefits of SoftPoS have a positive impact on merchant operations as well. The simplified checkout procedure increases the chances of completing sales, and when combined with swift transactions, it leads to shorter lines, happier customers, and a higher number of sales within the same timeframe. SoftPoS solutions grant businesses greater mobility, enabling them to provide a more personalised customer service and expedited checkout experience. The outcome is amplified revenue and a strengthened financial standing.

The convenience of rapid transactions stimulates repeat business, nurturing loyalty among efficiency-minded consumers. In a competitive business landscape, retaining customers is of utmost importance. With the increasing prevalence of contactless payments, enterprises cannot afford to lag behind. The appeal of SoftPoS extends beyond its present advantages. It serves as an investment that prepares businesses for the future, positioning them at the forefront of the payment technology revolution.

Staying ahead of the innovation curve

As we look ahead, the momentum towards a completely contactless future of payments is set to increase exponentially. With smartphones and tablets seamlessly integrating themselves into every aspect of our daily routines, SoftPoS has emerged as the conduit for a secure and streamlined customer experience while addressing the growing demand for convenient and immediate experiences.

Here are the top three reasons as to why SoftPoS implementation is the boost that merchants need to bolster their bottom line and stay ahead of the innovation curve:

  • Enhanced security: As the demand for seamless payment methods intensifies amongst merchants, the imperative expands far beyond convenience to encompass the integrity and security of each transaction. Accreditations such as the PCI’s CPoC standard add an extra layer of reassurance for customers and sellers that facilitate contactless payments.
  • Inclusive financial ecosystem: The meteoric rise of SoftPoS solutions serves as a testament to the disruptive nature of innovative technology in how it is reshaping the business landscape. It signals the dawn of a more streamlined, all-encompassing ecosystem. This accessible and cost-effective technology empowers merchants with modest resources to remain competitive and relevant in the evolving financial landscape – an invaluable boon for small-scale vendors.
  • Customer satisfaction through a cost-effective method: Harnessing the capabilities of smartphones and tablets as payment terminals wields a twofold advantage; a potent combination of cost-effectiveness and elevated customer satisfaction. In a realm hurtling towards the complete digitalisation of payments, SoftPoS is an absolute necessity. Businesses that have been quick to embrace its potential in its early days have positioned themselves to lead the way in the future of payments.

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Building towards an inclusive financial future



By Catharina Eklof, CCO of IDEX Biometrics


From the visually impaired to displaced migrants, the unbanked, and people living with dementia – a burgeoning financial gap exists across many areas of society. In fact, as of late 2021, almost one-third of adults around the world were reported as unbanked according to the World Bank Group. That’s around 1.7 billion people – with half coming from the poorest 40% of the world’s population. Being financially excluded in this way means not having access to common financial services including savings accounts, loans, a credit rating, or even a bank account. Those who are awaiting clearance to join a country’s financial ecosystem, such as migrants, are also finding themselves left behind by the modern financial infrastructure.

As societies reliance on digital and contactless transactions over cash continues to grow, this financial gap is only set to widen. In less than 10 years, the share of Americans not using cash for payments has increased by double digits, reaching 41%. By 2031, cash payments are expected to make up only 6% of all transactions.

Fortunately, biometric smart cards can bridge this gap for people in the Global South, migrant populations, as well as those with visual or cognitive disabilities worldwide, who deserve to feel secure, included, and independent.


The challenges surrounding passwords

 COVID accelerated the transition from cash to contactless payments and the use of digital wallets, creating a challenge for many. By 2024, it is expected that digital wallets and cards will account for 84.5% of all e-commerce spend.

Digital transactions traditionally rely on the use of PINs that can easily be forgotten, as studies have found that we manage 100 passwords on average across various sites and services. In the US alone, consumers report relationships with more than three financial institutions and have more than four accounts per household. The challenge of password recollection is only growing. To counter rising cybersecurity threats, several countries now mandate two-factor authentication for retailers and service providers, creating further complexity.
However, organizations are responding to financial exclusion. Card provider Mastercard introduced its contactless PayPass offering, as well its Touch Card developed alongside Amjan Bank which enables the visually impaired to distinguish between their cards. Both look to provide a better customer experience for people struggling with the digital changeover. For those living with dementia, Mastercard has also partnered with Sibstar and the Alzheimer’s Society to create a specific card where limits, transactions, top-ups and notifications can be viewed and managed via a complementing app. Likewise, Turkish neo bank Papara introduced a Bluetooth debit card that provides visually impaired users with audio prompts when making payments.


Protecting the visually impaired

There are at least 2.2 billion visually impaired people globally. In 2019, it was found that 89% of visually impaired have been victims of fraud or have made errors when paying for goods and services. This figure comes prior to the pandemic, and the proliferation of digital transactions, suggesting an even bigger concern today.

PINs present an obvious security issue for this demographic, with others able to oversee their inputs and then manipulate them. Contactless payments go some way to solving that problem but pose the risk of fraud as there is no PIN verification below the increasing threshold amount, now at £100 in the UK, where the average annual wage is £27,756. In India, where the average annual wage is 9,45,489 rupees (roughly £9000), contactless limits are set to 5000 rupees (£48). Many accounts also require visual-based inputs to prove identity, such as CAPTCHA, proving as a barrier for the visually impaired.

Enhancing awareness on a regulatory level is key for driving change and reassuring vulnerable groups. The EU Accessibility Act is an example of how payment service providers are obliged to comply with accessibility standards. This includes making interfaces perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, to ensure that individuals with disabilities can effectively navigate payment interfaces.


Paving the way with biometrics

 Including braille on cards for easy identification is a crucial step for the visually impaired. This can also be used on biometrics smart cards, with sensor textures to confirm the user has selected the correct method of transacting. Not only do these cards provide convenience and inclusivity, but they also promote ultimate security by linking a person’s identity directly to their fingerprints. This data is encrypted within the card itself, reducing any concerns surrounding fraudulent behaviour or of data being lost via a centralized breach or large-scale hack.

In this context, biometrics can be used to serve the unbanked and those currently unrecognized within national infrastructures. South America is an example of an early adopter of biometrics, turning to the solution to cope with swelling population sizes, and the challenges associated with accessing proof of identity when setting up traditional bank accounts. Meanwhile in India, pension payment fraud has dropped by 47% thanks to bypassing the need for prior credit ratings or credentials.

Liveness detection, however, which ensures the biometric sensor is reading a true biometric source (rather than a false or recreated image of one), is vital to the success of financial aid programs globally. Securing remittances through biometric authentication ensures transparency and better fund control. Directing funds to cold wallets or biometrically authenticated cards can also improve program efficiency, safeguarding the interests of individuals and communities.

Overall, the biometrics market is expected to grow to US$87.4 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 17%. Whilst its value as a simple and secure method of transacting is growing substantially, you can’t put a price on its impact on those who have so-far fallen through the gaps of finance’s digital revolution.

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