Dr. Dorian Selz, CEO, Squirro
How are you involved with the financial services industry?
The company that I co-founded is Squirro, an augmented intelligence solutions provider that works with many firms in insurance, asset management, investment banking and other areas of FS. Our customers include brands such as Investec, ING and Helvetia and we have offices in the US, Asia and Europe, so we are fully understanding of the challenges faced by FS firms at a global level.
What are the main challenges, as you see them?
Since the crisis of 2008, the financial sector has faced a really tough time. It has to manage ever-growing volumes of complex regulatory requirements, it has seen the rise of more agile and nimble financial start-ups, offering a whole array of different products and services, which has meant that traditional corporate FS providers have found their position under threat.
It is also an industry that is fast-paced and relationship-driven. To source and win new business those that work in FS must be able to stay on top of industry trends (and how those trends relate to clients), be aware of what their clients’ priorities are and be able to identify potential deals and opportunities before their competitors do. Lead generation has never been more important and it has never been as competitive as it is now.
What’s the key to addressing these challenges?
When I started Squirro five years ago it was based on a simple insight: Most companies have unbelievable amounts of data with which they do next to nothing. This represents a treasure-trove of opportunity.
The reason for this discrepancy between data holdings and getting data to be put to use is the fact that most data sets are unstructured, siloed in various applications and ever changing. Get companies to be doing more with this data and you have a great company in the making.
In FS (and indeed other sectors), there is more data available on clients than at any previous time in history, and using the right tools, that data contains rich insight as to what those clients are interested in, how they would like to be approached and what market opportunities are likely to emerge.
But many FS firms are not capitalising on the available insight and are unable to truly understand their customers, so they miss opportunities and the bottom line is affected.
What do you mean by unstructured data, and what is the potential of this data?
Unstructured is a clumsy term. It denotes the fact that data sets such as call notes, email, news, research, premium external data source, are – from a computational perspective – difficult to make sense of.
Computers can work with structured data sets only. Yet 80% plus of all data is of the unstructured kind. That is where the potential is.
How does Squirro leverage AI to provide customer insights?
We use a multitude of AI methods to bring structure to unstructured data. Pattern detection, supervised and unsupervised machine learning help us to transform unstructured data sets into computable data. Out of this data, we infer actionable insights that we deliver to end users in the context of their workplace.
Why is insight so important?
Insight is of the highest importance for any business in 2018 and beyond. FS customers expect to be delighted and amazed on a regular basis and any business that does not do so will see their customers finding other providers that do. To become such a customer-obsessed organisation, one that puts the customer experience at the core of everything it does, insight into those customers is essential.
I read an article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year about a rumoured Amazon move into retail banking. Amazon has no track record in FS, but it’s not hard to imagine how it might make a success of such a move. It’s a company that has placed customer experience central to everything it does and applying that to a different sector such as banking doesn’t feel like a huge leap.
How can businesses act on the insights that Squirro helps them with?
The data insight generated by augmented intelligence can help FS firms greatly with their lead generation, not only identifying opportunities for clients but recommending the best product or solution for them.
Augmented intelligence solutions will look at data on competitors, partners and markets and identify catalysts that provide additional upsell or cross-sell opportunities to existing clients, and fresh approaches to prospective clients. In a competitive FS world, this is of the highest value.
What does the future look like for AI in banking?
AI – or artificial intelligence – is a powerful technology but augmented intelligence is where the real opportunity is for transformation in banking. Augmented intelligence builds on artificial intelligence, by enhancing human input and intelligence to create something infinitely more powerful, essentially people and machines working together.
This partnership will address deep but specific challenges within banking and provide insight and recommendations with reasons and with learning.
A PROPTECH FOUNDER’S BEGINNING, THE START OF KLEVIO AND HOW ACCESS-TECH IMPROVES FACILITIES MANAGEMENT
An interview with Klevio’s CEO and Co-Founder, Aleš Špetič
What is Klevio?
Klevio is a smart intercom that allows individuals to enter a building using a mobile app, providing digital access and removing the need to use a key. Teams or individuals can manage access rights from our dashboard or the app, understanding the usage of their buildings better, whilst cutting costs and improving efficiencies. As well as Facilities Management (FM) professionals, Klevio’s technology has been implemented across numerous sectors including short-stay lets and longer-term property management, a recording studio that manages room bookings and a London pub which allows temporary access to delivery professionals via its solution. Klevio is also popular with private homeowners.
How did the idea come about?
The founding of the team and the products we worked on came from several influences along our journey. I was still working on CubeSensors, a company I founded that created miniature sensors for both the home and offices, feeding back data on temperatures, noise, light, humidity and the likes, something of a Fitbit for the room.
My co-founder and now Chairman, Demetrios Zoppos, was involved in the creation of Sherlock, the digital entry system that went on to be the underpinning technology for Klevio. When Demetrios exited his previous company, onefinestay, he held onto the intellectual property (IP) of Sherlock, knowing that there was a future for this technology elsewhere.
We quickly came to the conclusion that my IoT experience and history with physical products for consumers and offices, and the IP he had kept for Sherlock, meant that it would be criminal not to pool our experiences and so Klevio was founded.
How do you compete with the other access solutions on the market?
We have merged the new and the old. Keys have been around for thousands of years in some way or another, so have been ripe for a digital upgrade. With our competitors, although there is some amazing technology, most add confusion or annoyance to the process. There are smart-lock providers whose technology normally requires the changing of locks or at least the installation of an ugly and not always user-friendly pin-pad at the door.
Other options require magnetic cards and in many larger establishments receptionists are paid to ensure that someone enters their email for data capture, further adding to huge setup costs. With Klevio you do not need an extra key, token, or card. Everything is on your phone, similar to Apple Pay.Klevio is installed inside the building and is connected to the existing lock.
For office spaces, co-working and other large blocks, key cards are just one more item that can be shared and lost. With Klevio there’s no need to provide a keycard to anyone and it can be connected to an existing system. Many access systems do not have this benefit, and for offices this means you can change the access to your own unit without affecting the rest of a building.
What are the main challenges for your business?
Changing a mindset. People have used and trusted keys their whole lives. Getting them to accept a simpler alternative isn’t an easy thing to do.
The other difficulty is hardware, especially when it comes to security and people’s offices and homes. With software, if you make a mistake or something doesn’t quite work, you can patch it and update things. If a hardware product has a fault, a product recall is going to be a huge undertaking, and no startup will have the budget to ride the storm like a Samsung or a VW Group. We invested a huge amount of time to make sure that Klevio performs well.
Customers need to build confidence and trust in your offering, rushing to deliver and make a splash can backfire in a huge way.
What trends in tech do you see shaping the future of offices and homes in the next five years?
In the IoT space things are moving fast with the world’s largest companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook all vying to be the centre of the interconnected home and office. There are hundreds of startups carving out their own little corners too, so the next big shift will be consolidation. The industry leaders are already making moves to buy or partner with interesting startups to get ahead on IP and reach.
On a consumer level, people want smart solutions but are increasingly aware of their rights and privacy. Products that offer that on-demand feel, making lives easier and smoother, without taking too much data, will provide that personal touch consumers want and slowly start to manage the offices and homes of the future.
What is the one piece of advice you would give an organisation when looking to digitise its processes?
Do your research – don’t rush to find a solution. There are companies out there that will be able to make your place of work run more smoothly. You just need to find the one that suits your systems, colleagues and budget.
OPPORTUNITIES IN FINTECH: LEVERAGING CROSS-BORDER PAYMENT SYSTEMS
An interview with Aron Schwarzkopf, CEO and Co-founder of Kushki, a payment platform tailor-made for Latin America.
What are some of the biggest challenges in the fintech sector, specifically related to POS payments?
There is a lack of standardization in the way that payments are handled in different countries, and this presents the most significant challenge because it complicates the process of connecting them all across borders. We’re working to address that by adding some standardized connecting processes and using artificial intelligence to help mitigate these complications and make smooth cross-border payments a given.
Why are cross-border payments becoming more of a necessity?
As the world becomes increasingly global, the necessity for cross-border payments grows. People and businesses are expanding their scope and reach and therefore need to be able to operate in different countries. Part of being functional is the ability to make those cross-border payments, and so the demand for better options for those payments will continue to grow.
What are the key opportunities for cross-border payments?
There are four main opportunities that I see for cross-border payments. The first is facilitating fast and direct payments, cutting down on the extra steps required, but still maintaining the security of the transactions. From this, follows the need (and opportunity) to centralize recurring payments. Smart links are also an area of opportunity, letting people make mobile payments through different platforms using personal payment links. Lastly, expanding the opportunity to store payment information, like card numbers, and using tokenization to facilitate recurring payments.
With several fintech startups launching recently, how can you tell which are valid?
One common mistake is to assume that just because a startup has built something innovative that it is going to be useful. Instead, the most important thing to evaluate is whether the company is offering a solution to a significant pain point or just offering a minor improvement. I recommend comparing the startup to the most established version of its product. Which is less expensive? Which is easier? Which is resolving a larger challenge? If the startup is doing well on both counts, they’re probably on to something.
What are the security concerns surrounding POS payments?
The authentication process for credit card transactions is different in different regions due to different technological infrastructure. This inconsistency can generate confusion and concern about the security of various transactions and makes it hard to verify and understand the different fraud management and security processes in place.
2020: THE YEAR BLOCKCHAIN COMES OF AGE
– By Rob Coole, VP of Cloud Technologies at IPC Despite headlines over the years stating that blockchain will...
AI IN THE FINANCE SECTOR: WHAT’S NEXT?
By Rui Vasconcelos, Product Manager for AI/ML at Canonical – the publisher of Ubuntu The last few years have...
6 STEPS FOR BUSINESSES TO ENSURE THAT THEY ARE DATA COMPLIANT
By Alex Hazell, Acxiom UK head of legal Data compliance can be a complex – and ever changing – consideration...
INNOVATION WITHIN TIME
By Richard Hoptroff, CTO and Founder, Hoptroff The Finance Industry has always been quick to innovate, from the ATM...
COMPETING IN A DIGITAL WORLD – SMES FIND THEIR FEET
– Stefano, Product Manager Digital transformation is different for small and medium-sized companies. Or is it? In this article, we...
DATA-DRIVEN BUSINESS OPERATIONS ARE A MULTI-YEAR PLAN FOR TWO-THIRDS OF FINANCE PROFESSIONALS
Data-driven business operations are a multi-year plan for two-thirds of finance professionals (66%). Only 7% think their own organisation is...
AI: CUSTOMER FACING EMPLOYEES’ BEST FRIEND IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY
By Ryan Lester, Senior Director, Customer Experience Technologies at LogMeIn We’ve all heard the old saying “money talks.” Well...
HOW IDENTITY IS SECURELY UNLOCKING THE SME BANKING MARKET
By Mike Kiser, senior identity strategist at SailPoint Have an identification card in your wallet? With a selfie and a...
FIVE REASONS WHY YOUR BUSINESS’ PROCUREMENT TEAM SHOULD BE USING A CONTRACT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
By Daniel Ball, business development director at Wax Digital Even in today’s digital-first environment some businesses are still storing...
EXEGER – CHANGING THE PERCEPTION OF POWER
FINASTRA GLOBAL SURVEY SHOWS APPETITE FOR OPEN BANKING PICKING UP PACE WORLDWIDE
86% of global banks surveyed are looking to use open APIs to enable Open Banking capabilities in the next 12...
STOCK MARKET ANALYSTS DISCUSS HOW TO INVEST DURING A RECESSION
Online tool looks back at how world markets recovered after the last recession in 2008 Analysts take learnings from previous...
PROTECTING YOURSELF AGAINST A RECESSION
James Turner, Director at Turner Little The coronavirus outbreak has spread to businesses, leaving many around the world counting...
LIBERTY BANK REINFORCES ITS FRAUD STRATEGY TO FURTHER PROTECT ITS CUSTOMERS
Liberty Bank, the third largest bank in the Georgia, has reinforced its fraud strategy to address the rising volume of...
COMMERCIAL FINANCE SPECIALIST IGF NAVIGATES THE LOCKDOWN
Leading independent commercial finance specialist, Independent Growth Finance (IGF), entered the lockdown after a record-breaking financial year came to an end in March. In April, it was accredited by...
COVID-19 WILL BE THE TIPPING POINT FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN PROCUREMENT
Seven in ten organisations in the UK say the global pandemic has increased the need for procurement to digitally transform...
TRIO OF NEW REGIONAL DIRECTORS HEAD UP TIGERWIT’S GLOBAL EXPANSION
Following the release of their record revenue for the last financial year, award-winning online trading platform, TigerWit, has strengthened their...
SECURING THE EVIDENCE FOR VAT AND TAX
Filippa Jörnstedt, Senior Regulatory Counsel at Sovos Businesses are almost entirely digital in their nature. With sophisticated technology now...
TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR CASHFLOW DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
By Rita Cool, Certified Financial Planner at Alexander Forbes Financial Planning Consultants The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is...
RETAILERS WHO OPEN THEIR DOORS WILL NEED EXTRA HELP
With thousands of retail stores given the green light to open in the next few weeks the government needs to...