A Q&A with GLEIF’s CEO Stephan Wolf.
Who is GLEIF and what is a LEI?
The Financial Stability Board (FSB) established the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) to support the implementation and use of the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI).
In the past, accurately identifying legal entities on a global level has been a complex task, requiring a significant investment in time, money and resources. This was because there wasn’t a single, open and up-to-date database giving you all the information you needed.
This lack of transparency ultimately led to financial crises, fraud and market abuse.
LEIs trace their origins to the 2008 financial crisis, when regulators and capital market players needed to quickly assess the extent of market participants exposed to Lehman Brothers and each of its hundreds of subsidiaries. This laid bare the critical need for a system to identify and understand exposures at the legal entity level instead of the aggregate, parent-company level. If it had been available at the time, a system that assigns an electronic, standard entity identifier to legally distinct parties would have helped to fill this gap.
In order to remedy this, the FSB, together with the finance ministers and central bank governors represented in the G20, advocated developing a universal LEI for any legal entity involved in financial transactions.
The LEI is a 20-digit, alpha-numeric code based on the ISO 17442 standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Each LEI connects to key reference information describing a legal entity including its ownership structure. LEIs enable smarter, less costly and more reliable decisions about who to do business with, while bringing simplicity to onboarding and transacting.
This is why GLEIF exists. We make available the Global LEI Index, which is the only global online source that provides open, standardized and high-quality legal entity reference data.
Why are LEIs important?
Current identification processes have significant manual components and often require the use of multiple databases in which a counterparty may be identified by a different name. Many banks and corporations still use names rather than identifiers, resulting in confusion. As an example, a large bank’s client services division recently found that it had an average of five names—with minor variations in its database—for the same organization. Additionally, commonly used databases, different divisions and IT systems within organizations can all have varying versions of the same entity’s name, making it harder to trace and to link information from multiple sources.
How do LEIs work?
It’s a simple process. A company that wishes to obtain an LEI chooses its preferred business partner from the list of GLEIF-accredited LEI issuing organizations. Through self-registration, a legal entity that then supplies accurate reference data. This reference information is validated against third party sources, before it’s hosted online for all to use.
By replacing siloed information with a standardized approach, LEIs take the complexity out of business transactions.
Since being introduced, LEIs have allowed public authorities to better evaluate risks, make corrective steps and improve data integrity. And they’re giving businesses the confidence they need to engage in transactions with total visibility, greater certainty and improved control.
How do LEIs fix business problems?
In our report – A New Future for Legal Entity Identification – we looked into the challenges of entity identification in financial services. We found that one of the biggest issues lay in onboarding new businesses, with streamlined onboarding far from a reality within the sector. In fact, over half (57%) of salespeople in banks said they spend 27% of their working week (or more than 1.5 days per week) onboarding new client organizations. With half (50%) of financial institutions using, on average, four identifiers to help identify client organizations during the onboarding process, inefficiencies are plaguing the process for many businesses.
This has significant consequences; 39% of respondents reported that there is a risk of losing business due to the length and complexity of the process. In fact, the respondents in our study believed that 15% of business is at risk as a result of the client losing patience with the process and 14% is lost because the client’s identity cannot be verified.
The stats further highlight how adopting LEIs for each client organization can provide slicker onboarding which leads to improved consistency, less risk of business loss and more efficient use of valuable resources. We’ve found that introducing LEIs into capital market onboarding and securities trade processing could reduce annual trade processing and onboarding costs by 10%. This would lead to a 3.5% reduction in overall capital markets operations costs (or U.S.$150 million in annual savings) for the global investment banking industry alone.
Why all businesses should have a LEI
There are millions of business entities on our planet, and it’s increasingly important that we can identify who is who and what is what. The LEI allows everyone to cut costs, accelerate operations and gain deeper insight into the global marketplace.
This means businesses won’t lose time and money due to an inefficient process. They can make smarter, less costly and more reliable decisions about who to do business with, because the LEI becomes the common link that pieces all records associated with an organization together. This provides certainty of identity in all online interactions, and makes it easier for everyone to participate in the global digital marketplace.
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.
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