PSD2 DEADLINE MAY HAVE MOVED – WHAT WILL CHANGE FOR BANKS?
By Marcin Nadolny, Head of Regional Fraud & Security Practice at SAS
The Europe-wide PSD2 implementation deadline will fall on 14 September. In the UK, it has now been confirmed that the official compliance deadline for the Secure Customer Authentication section of the regulation will be pushed out to March 2021. UK companies must be able to demonstrate that they are moving towards compliance from September 2019, but no enforcement action will be taken for 18 months. For the rest of the EU in general, the timeline is unchanged. However, national competent authorities have the flexibility to provide limited additional time to become PSD2 compliant (see the recent EBA opinion).
The big picture
But whichever country you’re in, it’s essential that companies recognise the urgency at play. In the new digital world, payment security is absolutely essential. The question now is not whether PSD2 compliance should remain at the top of the priority list. It’s how quickly companies can realistically achieve it. In a nutshell, PSD2 simultaneously massively increases the amount of financial data moving into banks’ systems while also making it mandatory that they run fraud controls on that data in real time.
As PSD2 ushers in the age of open APIs in finance, the traffic volume that payment processors will have to handle will be enormous. Consumers’ personally identifiable data will be at heightened risk, and we will observe increased malware attacks and data breaches via the newly created attack vectors. If businesses aren’t prepared for the change, it’ll be a fraudster’s paradise.
Is your organisation ready to cope with this new heavy traffic and identify fraudulent activities? It might be like finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, AI is coming to the rescue. Emerging technologies, such as predictive models, network analytics and anomaly detection, all have the power to increase your efficiency in finding and fighting fraud.
Real-time fraud detection
PSD2 is more than just a regulation. It’s the start of a major transformation for the payments industry. With the move to digital-first, open models, there’s an increased need to operate processes in real time – providing instant payments, for example – and that means that fraud prevention will need to move at the same speed.
Adequate anti-fraud protection is required by the regulation. Banks are expected to fill out certain tests as a fraud assessment, including reviewing behavioural profiles, checking known compromised devices and IDs, applying known fraud scenarios to transactions, and detecting malware signs. Analytics can help speed up detection, find suspicious behaviours and collate data points by ingesting new data sources. This builds a picture of “normal” behaviour against which banks can measure transactions.
At present, not all banks are applying all these anti-fraud measures. Some base their protection on simple rules and aren’t able to detect fraud in real time or stop transactions in progress. These abilities aren’t technically required by the regulator until PSD2 comes into effect. Real-time fraud prevention used to be a luxury – but now it’s a must-have. Banks must take the initiative to ensure they can detect fraud in process in incredibly short time frames.
Third parties enter the market
The other major change included in PSD2 is the arrival of third-party providers in the market. These nonfinancial companies, including GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple), e-tailers and fintechs, will be able to work as payment processors going between customers and banks. This means the banks have a much bigger traffic volume to handle and review for fraud. Legacy systems and processes simply can’t handle it.
In order to cope, banks need to have systems in place that are able to assess for fraud at huge volumes and in real time. Not only that, but transactions from third parties might come with limited contextual information. So banks will have to enrich them with additional data on variables including digital identity, reputation and past behaviour.
AI applications will be essential to handle that ongoing enrichment at speed. Humans alone simply can’t process that level of information. So it’s essential that banks invest in AI to augment the skills they have and lighten the load of compliance.
Managing the risk
The risk to banks posed by these growing data streams is not just in terms of payment fraud. There is also a heightened cybersecurity risk. New data flows and new payment systems present possible system back doors and new attack vectors that hackers will be quick to discover. By attacking third party infrastructure, malicious actors will be able to gain access to consumers’ personal data.
Addressing this problem is not the sole responsibility of the banks. But it highlights the level of risk associated with the increase in data volume and connectedness. Reputational damage and heavy fines are a very real possibility for institutions that don’t get their act together in time.
Compliance will require many changes to anti-fraud and customer identification processes. The technology required to handle this additional burden is out there. Banks must invest wisely and ensure they are fully equipped, whether next month or by 2021.
SAS will be attending the 2019 SIBOS conference in London, where PSD2 will be a key item on the agenda. Visit our stand to find out more about how AI could help you get ready for the deadline.
Top banking trends of 2023 and global outlook of banking and fintech for the year ahead
Author: Professor Marco Mongiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor, The University of Law Business School
You’d be forgiven for assuming that the global outlook for banking and fintech will be dominated by the usual suspects:
Artificial Intelligence – AI plays an increasingly prominent role in banking and fintech by enabling personalised services, fraud detection, predictive analytics, use of chatbots and robo-advisors.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency – the secure, decentralised and swift system for financial transactions that blockchain has brought to the fore a few years ago, is now becoming ubiquitous. An increasing number of transactions are recorded through blockchains technology, primarily in the cryptocurrency market.
Digital Banking and fintech – accelerated by COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of digital banking is a trend that will persist as customers have become accustomed to the convenience and efficiency of digital banking. Moreover, fintech enables access to financial services for previously underserved populations in developing countries or less affluent social groups in more affluent societies. This includes mobile banking services, peer-to-peer lending platforms, and microfinance solutions.
Open Banking – another global trend is the use of open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow third-party developers to build apps to facilitate customers’ access to financial data and services from banks.
Nonetheless, the challenges posed by these rapid changes are reminders that banking, an industry that by its very nature needs to be conservative, risk averse and solid, wobbles on the unchartered grounds of fast and turbulent innovation, where entrepreneurship instead thrives. The underlying rationales of banking and fast digital innovation are not incompatible but do need solid operations and thought-through decision-making to avoid causing catastrophic collapses.
The recent examples of Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate, FTX and Wirecard are stark reminders that digital entrepreneurship applied to banking doesn’t just bring to customers the visible transformation of valuable new services, but also dents (perhaps as an unexpected consequence) the rationale itself of the role of banks in the global economy. Moreover, the central banks’ ability to contain the effects of single banks’ defaults is no longer a certainty, as experienced just over a decade ago and more recently. The markets’ sentiments are hardly reassured by the commitments of even the most coveted players, such as the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, and the President of the United States himself.
Regulators are lagging behind and their attempts to catch up may cause further seismic shocks to the global banking system. For example, another trend that is emerging is one of artificial intelligence decision-centres (i.e., decentralised offices of banks which take autonomous decisions on behalf of investors) outside the most stringent regulatory environments, enabling banks to operate globally more efficiently and more competitively. And we can expect that regulators will close the gap either abruptly, as it is currently happening in China, where private banks are subject to an escalation of regulatory and monitoring restrictions, or more gradually as it is happening in Europe and in the US.
The questions we face, as individual or trade customers of our high street banks, as direct investors or clients of managed funds, are whether banking will become more user-friendly yet, for our daily use but riskier, too, or is it simply becoming more efficient, transparent and also safer.
I’m afraid that the answer is by no means an obvious one. Therefore, caution, level-headed decision- making and critical thinking have never been as important as these days. Whether you are looking after your family savings or growing your pension reserve, the imperative is that you keep updated about the providers of the financial services you rely upon as well as about the general regulations that apply to your financial transactions. This is where, for example, you need to be familiar with your rights in case of cyber fraud, as well as learning how to minimise the risk of becoming a victim thereof. Also, taking additional steps to evaluate the credibility, solidity and reliability of the online provider of that app that was recommended by a trusted friend, may prove a very good move.
Similarly, whether you are the CFO of a medium or large company, or are a sole trader wrestling with your own business’s finances, you need to reflect on what you really want from your bank in the first place. That is before you started to be swayed by the whirlpool of offers of ‘opportunities’ to multiply your financial investments. Chances are that your initial approach to your bank was dictated by either a need for financing your working capital, as per your budget and strategic plans, or to find a safe place for your temporarily idle liquidity. Perhaps you were also after some basic treasury services such as swift payments and debt collection. Maybe some other financial services closely related to your business operations, e.g. factoring. The advice is to give very careful consideration to services that are more remote from your business, because the trend for the next years is that more and more of those will be offered to you. But many new services will disappoint those who, sadly, cannot afford financial mishaps as they look to run and grow their business.
Will ‘Britcoin’ change the way we bank?
The Treasury and Bank of England recently announced a state-backed digital pound is likely to be launched in the UK later this decade, following the popularity of cryptocurrencies. However, the ‘Britcoin’ will be backed by the central bank, ensuring the digital pound will be much less volatile than its sister, cryptocurrency. Could a digital pound backed by the central bank be the answer to utilising technological developments in the finance system for the better?
Ross Thompson, Accountancy and Finance Lecturer at Arden University, considers what we can expect from ‘Britcoin’, how this will impact consumers, businesses, and the economy, and whether ‘Britcoin’ could be the revolution to restore our confidence in the banking system.
Trust in our financial system hit an all-time low post the 2008 financial crash. Even ten years on from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a survey found 66% of adults in Britain still don’t trust banks to work in the best interests of society.
This means there remains to be apprehension for people to sign up to and use a bank to help manage their money. The UK doesn’t seem to struggle too much in this arena, however, as according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), most UK consumers (96%) have a current account from a bank or building society. Regardless, there is still a significant number of adults who do not have a bank account or are what is known as ‘unbanked’.
The lack of trust plays a big part here. More people want better control over their money and to cut out the middleman, hence why cryptocurrencies and blockchain became a tempting option, as it can potentially remove the need for banks for any transactions. However, the volatility of these currencies has been a cause for concern for many investors and regulators.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency are gaining more traction and are becoming more of a viable option for businesses, especially due to talks of regulations coming into fruition. This is especially true with cryptocurrency, with the government announcing crypto assets will be subject to FCA rules in line with the same high standards that other financial promotions such as stocks, shares, and insurance products are held to.
The “Britcoin” aims to solve the issues traditional Bitcoin presents. It would be backed by the central bank, which would ensure its stability and reduce its volatility, making it a more attractive option for investors and providing greater confidence in the stability of the financial system. Britcoin will be as stable as the inherent stability of the British economy and political system. It would also provide an opportunity for the UK to stay at the forefront of technological developments in the finance system – a system in which it can sometimes be slow to react.
One of the key benefits of a digital pound is that it would be much faster and more efficient than traditional banking systems. Transactions could be completed almost instantly, regardless of where the parties involved are located. This would make cross-border transactions much easier and could even help to boost international trade.
The Bank of England’s Governor, Andrew Bailey, stated: “a digital pound would provide a new way to pay, help businesses, maintain trust in money and better protect financial stability”, pointing toward the other advantage of a digital pound. It would offer more security as transactions would be recorded on a distributed ledger, which would make it much more difficult for hackers to tamper with the system. It would also provide greater transparency, as all transactions would be recorded on the ledger and could be easily traced if needed.
However, there are also some potential drawbacks. One concern is that it could lead to a reduction in the use of cash, which could have implications for those who do not have access to digital technologies or who prefer to use cash for privacy reasons. There are also concerns that a digital pound could be used for illicit activities, such as money laundering or terrorism financing. On top of this, more details are required in relation to the levels of personal account privacy; the potential to usher in ‘big brother’ banking systems is a growing a concern regarding state digital currencies.
Around 85 central banks are currently engaged in projects to create digital currencies, according to figures from the Bank for International Settlements. But as it stands, many feel there is probably little need for a digital pound; with a growing amount of people using their debit cards, phones and watches to fulfil the same function, a digital pound is deemed unnecessary. On top of this, many of the public fear that a government digital currency could potentially infringe on their privacy – despite the BoE stating the currency would be subject to rigorous standards of privacy and data protection.
And in countries where a digital currency has already been established, there has been little uptake – widely due to the lack of trust between central banks and citizens. It seems gaining users’ confidence should be the Bank’s first priority. The House of Lords economic affairs committee stated last year that a digital pound would pose “significant risks” such as state surveillance, financial instability as people convert bank deposits to CBDC during periods of economic stress, an increase in central bank power without sufficient scrutiny and could be exploited by hostile states and criminals; it is safe to say that the nation’s ‘Britcoin’ will need to be very well thought out.
It has the potential to revolutionize the finance system, however, and could provide significant benefits to investors and consumers alike. However, the potential risks and drawbacks must be carefully considered before any decision is made to launch such a currency. Having said that, if it is implemented correctly, a digital pound could be a powerful tool for utilising technological developments in the finance system for the better.
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