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Riding the Wave of Change: How Fintech Can Adapt and Thrive in Times of Economic Uncertainty



Sujit J. Chaudhari, General Manager – Solution Consulting, Telecom & Fintech Industries, Tecnotree Corporation


As economies worldwide experience the uncertainty of GDP contraction, corporate bankruptcies, the collapse of banks, rising interest rates and high inflation, there is one industry that has the power to contribute significantly to economic development. As most industries undergo Digital Transformation, Fintech and the digital payments industry have evolved to show strong and steady growth both in terms of volume and value of transactions.

The disruption in the financial services sector has been a huge contributing factor in the development of economies for a number of reasons. A drive towards financial inclusion in developing economies from Asia, Latam and Africa has now enabled large numbers of people with digital payment and banking options where previously they may have gone unbanked. In emerging markets, the combination of growing middle class spend power and increased connectivity thanks to 3G, 4G and 5G network evolution is contributing to an increase in purchases for payment companies from previously untapped and vast tracts of the population. This is largely the result of mobile wallet applications because mobile phone penetration in these regions tends to be high.

In many African developing nations like Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, Fintech has emerged as a growth booster, reforming the financial services value chain, promoting financial inclusion and stimulating development in key sectors. With mobile penetration increasing across developing markets and the popularity of smartphones growing, mobile money and mobile wallet solutions are driving change in the way financial services are delivered. Leveraging technological innovation, these platforms are overcoming geographical boundaries by providing financial services in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and beyond. Mobile money and Fintech offerings now thrive with innovation, adoption and usage in several countries like Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

Fintech is distinct from other technological innovations.  It connects with the real economy to revolutionise financial services. It addresses current gaps in financial services such as customer experience, ease of transactions, self-service abilities and assisted services through agents. This has helped financial service providers to tap untapped markets.

Technological advances in terms of blockchain, AI-ML, robotics automation, cloud computing, Open APIs and regulatory acceptance are alt helping Fintechs transform the accessibility of their services. This enables things like access to credit for example by developing cost effective solutions that allows financial institutions to disburse credit in an easier, more efficient and secure manner.  The simplified user experience and user interface (UX/UI) design capability of Fintechs, backed with complex, advanced artificial and machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms are helping create a dynamic ecosystem for Fintech solutions.

When it comes to further tackling economic uncertainty, there are a range measures that need to be taken to ensure sustained Fintech adoption that allow them to be progressive across markets. For example:

  • Promoting financial inclusion. The development of tech-based solutions in the financial sector is to ensure more and more inclusion. The synergies between financial service firms and Fintech solutions can further enhance the social and economic development in a country.  In many instances, regulators have provided limited banking licenses to Telecom Service Providers as they enjoy huge subscriber bases. Fintech services complement these and provide new revenue streams.
  • Digital banking for economic growth. Digital banking makes financial processes hassle-free for users, allowing them to make secure and well-informed financial decisions. For the past few years many people have adopted such solutions and it has transformed the way people engage with financial services, be it for banking, lending or investments. Younger and tech savvy generations are equipped with digital ways and the Fintech sector riding this wave to empower financial aspirations across varied industries and individuals, thereby fueling economic growth.
  • Digital microfinance. Digital microfinance provides better access to finance for the unbanked people of an economy, which can impact economic growth within a territory, enabling individuals, households and enterprises to do more and embark on new ventures, as well as aiding job creation, etc.
  • Digital microlending or credit access. Digital technology has improved access to credit. Leveraging AI and ML technology, an increasing number of digital lending platforms have started using modern tools to understand a client’s access to credit, risk profiling and payback capacity. Various alternative data sets are analysed to plot the risk profile of a customer. Loan default predictions and credit scope allows microfinance banks or other financial institutions to lend money more responsibly and with greater awareness. Digital solutions make it very convenient for people for apply for and achieve loans.  Individuals and small to medium size enterprises are able to choose from a selection of loan products right from daily small ticket loans up to credit lines needed to run a business.

In times of uncertainty no one can forecast with full confidence how the macroeconomic climate will look in the future. But at the very least, Fintech businesses are discovering  ways to work more efficiently by creating solutions that help clients more completely and intelligently. These intelligent Fintech solutions are promoting the growth of the financial service sector. Actionable insights from market trends and consumer behaviour and technological advancements provide data-driven solutions to an increasingly tech-savvy audience. Moreover, the revolution is leading the fintech industry by expanding its services across all sectors and promoting financial inclusion, gearing up for future economic growth.


Is your business suffering with Fintech FOMO?




FinTech Trends In 2022

Tom Kiddle, Chief Commercial Officer at Equals Money


It’s a challenging time for businesses of all sizes, but the past three years created storms that are particularly hard for SMEs to weather. For businesses dealing with shrinking margins, while a weakened pound is making international purchases more costly, it’s a scary time.

For many businesses this meant initially reigning in any unnecessary costs, reducing investment in anything deemed as a ‘nice to have’, and focusing on keeping the lights on. However, despite not being out of the woods in terms of economic challenges, this year many SMEs have their eyes on growth.

While some might have been buoyed by the news that the UK narrowly avoided a recession at the end of last year[1], data shows businesses were already making investments before this news was released. In fact, UK business investment rose by 4.8% in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2022, coming in at 13.2% above where it was during the same quarter in 2021[2].

So, where are SMEs putting their cash? As well as predictable spending on IT equipment, machinery, and transport[3], businesses are also putting more funding than ever into technology investments – a trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon. UK tech investment is set to grow at its fastest rate in over 15 years, both in terms of budget but also headcount[4]

Tom Kiddle

UK businesses are clearly seeing the real opportunity that technology, in all its various forms, presents to their operations. This may also be bolstered by the fact that tech investments are potentially more cost-effective now that the government has made recent changes to R&D tax relief, which sees things like cloud computing and data included in expenditure categories[5]. When it comes to revamping legacy systems and introducing Fintechs that offer businesses a smarter, easier, automated way of doing business, investing in technology can increasingly feel like a no brainer.

However, it’s rare that a one size fits all solution exists for businesses. What works for your competitor may not offer the same benefits to your organisation. In a world with so many risk factors, making smart investments that are aligned to your individual business goals is key.

Tom Kiddle, Chief Commercial Officer at innovative money movement solution Equals Money, explains four ways businesses can reap the rewards of smart tech investments:

1. Measurement

Can you measure the impact it will have on your business? It doesn’t have to be monetary, but if it gives you efficiency, visibility, or certainty, these can have measurable tangible impacts to your top and bottom line.

2. Insight

Does it tell you something you didn’t know before about your customers, your employees, your suppliers, and their behaviour?  What could you do with that information? Often, businesses lack critical insight on their key drivers, and understanding those can open up new opportunities.

3. Action

Pretty charts and graphs make for good reading, but make sure you’re taking action with your new piece of tech. Setting accountability for action from your latest investment will drive your business to achieve a return on that investment and ensure it doesn’t sit on the shelf.

4. Adoption, adoption, adoption

Often, the latest tech trend may seem like a great investment to the motivated few, but look more broadly: if your intended internal target for your new tech fails to adopt the new practice, you won’t achieve the return promised. Also, more likely than not, you’ll frustrate both the key supporters of the new product and those you’re imposing it on.

Innovative technology, particularly in the finance space, can transform the way you do business, but avoid being lured in by solutions that don’t align to your individual needs. Good suppliers should always take the time to give an honest appraisal of whether their product is right for you and should leave you feeling empowered to devote time to what matters most – growing your business.


[1] HR Solutions, 2022 [2] The Guardian, Feb 2023 [3] ONS, Dec 2022 [4] ONS, Dec 2022 [5] Nash Squared Digital Leadership Report, 2022 [6] BDO, 2023 [1] The Guardian, Feb 2023 [2] ONS, Dec 2022 [3] ONS, Dec 2022 [4] Nash Squared Digital Leadership Report, 2022 [5] BDO, 2023

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Where is the value in generative AI for financial services?




AI and machine learning

Michael Conway, Executive Partner, Data, AI and Technology Transformation Service Line Leader at IBM Consulting


The New York Times recently suggested generative AI has reached a tipping point. According to the newspaper, it’s having a “Netscape moment” – the instant where a technology triggers wide-spread, irrevocable change. Back in the ‘90s the Netscape browser unleashed the nascent power of the internet. Today, generative AI applications that can instantly produce natural language or even computer code are creating a similarly epoch-defining moment.

While it has been the consumer-focused applications of generative AI that have driven sensational headlines and captured mainstream attention, the underlying capabilities have caused businesses to sit up and pay attention. Recent IBM research found that 64% of CEOs face significant pressure from investors, creditors, and lenders to accelerate adoption of generative AI.

The banking sector has a reputation for being on the front foot with technology, but many institutions remain underprepared or unsure about how to profit from generative AI. In tandem, commentators are now talking about us reaching ‘peak generative AI’, adding to the confusion facing leaders. This risks undermining the potential benefits the technology has to offer.

Success in the long-term depends on experimentation and iteration. Here are three fundamentals that businesses can focus on now that will place them among the early winners in the generative AI era.

Michael Conway

Start with the customer experience

Today, every product is a digital product — and every company is selling a digital experience. The increasing demand for a seamless, personalised experience is driving steep competition, but businesses that can tap into the power of generative AI will leap miles ahead of their peers.

For example, a bank could use generative AI to rapidly analyse their own customer data—as well as data from social sources and partner organisations to determine which customers are most likely to take certain actions, such as opening a new account, investing assets, or applying for a loan. The AI system can then help bankers achieve true one-to-one marketing with a personalised strategy and automated, point-in-time customised offers, translated into the customer’s preferred language.

Financial services businesses can also leverage generative AI to shift digital customer service interactions from the customer needing to ask the right question, to the virtual assistant making the right suggestions intuitively. It could ‘remember’ previous conversations with the customer and know which products and services the customer is using, allowing it to provide smarter, more helpful advice. When combined with more human-like language skills, this deeper level of service will help financial institutions to build better, longer-term relationships with customers.

Supporting and upskilling employees

Looking beyond chat bots, AI can also add more value for customer service professionals. With AI and automation tools taking care of the more repetitive, mundane tasks, teams will have more time to work with customers on more complex needs and situations that call for more of a human touch. The businesses that excel in using AI and automation to augment their workforce are likely to have a sizeable competitive advantage.

To be successful, companies must be prepared to invest appropriately in upskilling colleagues so that they can work with the latest AI tools. Working with partners that can bring the right AI transformation expertise can also help businesses to bridge their skills gaps in the more immediate term. At IBM, we’ve set up the Centre of Excellence for Generative AI within IBM Consulting to help clients move forward quickly with putting this capability to work in their business.

Invest wisely in the right AI platform and expertise

It’s important to underline here that, when it comes to business use cases, we’re not talking about any old generative AI tools. While consumer applications can get away with producing incorrect or even offensive output, financial institutions have no such room for error. Customers of banks need accurate, reliable information, delivered in a professional manner that’s consistent with the bank’s overall brand experience. And that’s before you get into the requirements of financial regulators.

Using an AI platform designed for the needs of enterprises in highly regulated industries is therefore a must in financial services. That means the AI models being used are comprised of data that has been screened for things like bias or harmful content and which can be traced to its source. It means the data and the AI models the institution is using have governance controls baked in, so that the outputs are explainable and transparent.

Financial institutions also need AI models that are tailored for the specific domain areas of their business and that are interoperable across different cloud environments, which is important to regulators like the FCA. As IBM AI is built for businesses, we have built all of these requirements into our watsonx AI and data platform for the enterpise.

Commercial value beyond the hype

Are we in a generative AI hype cycle? Yes. But don’t be fooled. This technology is already starting to transform financial services – and virtually every other industry. Those who can harness it effectively stand to reap immense benefits – from more satisfied customers to lower costs, greater productivity and faster innovation.

Don’t wait for the perfect conditions, they’ll never come. Start now, start small, then scale your generative AI applications across the business. Focus on the use cases where you can gain early commercial value – such as customer experience and automating repetitive tasks – and work with technology designed for the enterprise. In a couple of years, you’ll be very glad you did.

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