Connect with us

Business

The need for faster and smarter contracts in Fintech

Published

on

By Richard Mabey, CEO and co-founder of Juro 

 

Fintech accounts for half of the country’s billion-dollar ‘unicorn’ startups, and are having to find innovative ways to create competitive advantage in a saturated market. Part of this revolution will be the shift to smarter and faster contract automation.

Richard Mabey-juro

Last year, UK fintechs raised £7.65bn in equity funding, just over a third of their collective historical raise; the sector is undergoing massive and steady expansion, and would-be leaders will embrace technology that smoothens processes.

So far, pioneers have adopted limited use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to automate a number of time-consuming processes, allowing staff to focus on building relationships with clients and engaging more in strategic thinking. AI is now widely used across the financial sector to analyse risk and detect fraud, while the subset of machine learning helps build buyer personas and improve customer relationship management.

Smart contracts and contract automation will be the first step as financial institutions embrace digital transformation; over the last two years, pen-and-paper processes have been rapidly moved online and businesses are looking for ways to simplify digital bureaucracy. Fintech is ahead of the game on the adoption of blockchain, and as a result has already made some progress with digital contracts that can automate and secure agreements.

Smart contracts will allow parties to make deals online and to be able to trust that a digital ledger exists to secure all records of transactions and signatures. The details of parties can be stored on the blockchain safely and securely, used automatically to update the record once set conditions are met. This allows contracts to be continually updated without the need to drag in manual resources.

 

This is all good news. Smoother processes mean time and money saved. But scaling fintechs will struggle to keep momentum so long as they are bogged down by contract agreements. Secure contracts will encourage better deals, but finance professionals still need to get to grips with the software contracts are written on.

The companies that outgrow their ponds will be those who adopt smart solutions for these problems; as it stands, 68% of in-house lawyers still agree contracts in Word, and only 35% are using Google Docs. The former has parties send different versions back and forth over lengthy email chains; the latter can undermine the process of negotiation where changes are visible for all to see in real time.

Next to Blockchain technology and AI, word processing sounds quite commonplace. But the leaders able to fend off the competition on the way up will be those who can unshackle themselves from the inefficiencies of our most fundamental processes; those merging and acquiring, lending and borrowing large amounts of money on their rise to the top, should consider how technology can improve those steps.

At an average rate of £85,000 per year in London, the in-house lawyer is a much stronger asset when tiresome administrative processes can be automated. The technology gap provides a barrier to simple and effective work, spiralling fees and detracting from time spent with clients, and so on. Automated document generation alone would cut the time spent by lawyers creating these files by as much as 80% – which is significant when 600 hours per year are devoted to these admin tasks, on average.

Fintech transformed the financial sector and automation has the potential to transform  fintech. This is particularly the case with API automation which integrates API product creation and consumption and minimises human intervention for a low-code approach to API lifecycle tasks, accelerating development and time-to-market. According to Gartner, organisations that can combine automation with operational processes, such as API management, can reduce operational costs by 30%.

The technology that moved us online has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, but digitisation creates its own problems of manual inefficiency. In the medium term, we can expect AI and machine learning to help the transition towards seamless contract agreement. But it will be digital transformation that takes the businesses of today forward, whatever their budget. Once again, it will be programmers and software engineers who allow us to take the next great age of efficiency.

Business

How can businesses boost employee experience for finance professionals?

Published

on

By

By Martin Schirmer, President, Enterprise Service Management, IFS

Over the course of the last year, The Great Resignation has seriously impacted organisations across the globe. Staff are quitting in huge numbers, leaving companies unprepared and struggling to fulfil their workloads. In fact, mass departures are happening at all levels of the labour market, as employees attempt to adapt to the hybrid working model and growing socio-economic uncertainty.

In light of this, optimising the employee experience (EX) to attract and retain talent has become a top priority for employers. Organisations have come to understand the necessity of taking immediate steps to drive employee engagement and reshape workplace culture.

The financial services (FS) industry is no exception to this trend. From increasing employee burnout to growing career dissatisfaction, the pandemic has exacerbated the need for transformation across finance teams. This is exemplified by recent data from Spendesk, which found that approximately 40% of finance professionals are willing to leave their roles or already have concrete plans to do so.

Organisations looking to get ahead of the competition must put in extra efforts to retain their existing workforce. The fact is that employee expectations and requirements have irreversibly changed, with more workforces becoming increasingly distributed. Today’s hyper-connected workforce values flexibility and simplicity, and it is organisations which offer these experiences that will succeed in the long term.

As part of this process, finance companies must look towards the power of technology to create seamless user experiences across devices. From automating workflows to improving overall efficiencies, Enterprise Service Management (ESM) can help organisations to boost user satisfaction and go that extra mile for their employees.

How poor EXs are driving finance teams to quit

With over 40% of employees spending a significant proportion of their time carrying out mundane, manual tasks, it is not surprising that poor EXs are having a detrimental impact on job satisfaction. Finance teams in particular have been slower to digitise core processes, leading to a heavy reliance on manual tasks. This not only increases the amount of time spent on each task, but also impacts the engagement levels of finance professionals who cannot focus on more strategic aspects of their roles.

As a result of the pandemic, flexibility has also moved to the forefront of finance teams’ desires. Given the fast-paced nature of this industry, the conversation surrounding work-life balance has increased rapidly. Failure to offer flexible working policies, coupled with a lack of technology to facilitate this flexibility, has led to poor EXs across the board.

Most notably, the overarching move to omnichannel, digital-first approaches has dramatically reset both customer and employee needs. Finance is the third-slowest running corporate function behind legal and IT. Operating in a competitive environment, 73% of finance operations are facing pressures to speed up, improve efficiency, and prioritise automation.

Mitigating the problem using technology

ESM, an offshoot of IT Service management (ITSM), is the cornerstone of smart digital transformation for organisations. It can help finance teams to streamline and automate routine processes, such as monitoring the status of service requests, approving expenses, sending invoices, and tracking payments. In turn, this will free up employees’ time, reducing the burden of manual tasks and enabling them to focus on the more strategic tasks.

Another advantage ESM can offer finance teams is the ability to adapt to each department’s minimum requirements for data privacy. Accounting, for example, needs additional layers of compliance built into the system.

ESM can also facilitate cross-departmental collaboration, helping finance professionals to communicate with the wider business and perform tasks more effectively.  Organisations can use ESM to incorporate all internal services into a single platform, offering employees a well-rounded view of the business and promoting a sense of community across all levels of an organisation. This will boost productivity, whilst enhancing visibility and control.

Ultimately, the current job landscape has brought with it a new set of challenges. Organisations in the FS industry looking to navigate the storm and retain top talent must refocus their efforts on bolstering the EX. Embracing a new era of technological innovation that empowers employees and boosts engagement is a critical step in this process.

 

Continue Reading

Business

CBDCs: the key to transform cross-border payments

Published

on

By

Dr. Ruth Wandhöfer, Board Director at RTGS.global

 

If you work in finance, you’ll have been hearing a lot about central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and the moves different markets are making towards using, regulating and evaluating the viability of moving to an economy based on digital currency.

We are already seeing progress in the research, piloting and introduction of CBDCs into the financial system. The Banque de France for example, recently launched its second phase of CBDC experiments in line with the “triple digital revolution” unfolding in the financial sector. The infrastructures of financial markets and fintechs, however, are not prepared to accommodate their security, stability, and viability.

This could be an issue in the not too distant future. Each year, global corporates move nearly $23.5 trillion between countries, equivalent to about 25% of global GDP. This requires them to use wholesale cross-border payment processes, which remain suboptimal from a cost, speed, and transparency perspective. In fact, the G20 cross-border payments programme considers improving access to domestic payment systems that settle in central bank money, as one of the key components in facilitating increased speed and reducing the costs of cross-border payments.

The current state of cross-border payments

International transactions based on fiat are currently slow, expensive, and highly risky due to today’s disconnected financial infrastructure, messaging, and liquidity. Wholesale cross-border payment settlement can take 48 hours or longer, which is not practical in today’s digital world. Even if not every market moves to CBDCs, in an increasingly digital era, cross-border settlements between central banks will unavoidably involve dealing with CBDCs. So, not only will we have different currencies, we’ll have different technical forms of currency being exchanged – digital and fiat – as markets adopt CBDCs at different rates, adding another layer of complexity to cross-border settlements.

While there is much anticipation about the opportunities CBDCs can bring, the adoption of this technology will only be widespread if payment and settlement capabilities are overhauled to allow for new innovations in currencies.  This need for transformation represents an opportunity to redesign existing infrastructure to support cross-border CBDC transactions.

The current cross-border payments system involves correspondent banks in different jurisdictions using commercial bank money. Uncommitted credit lines used in cross-border transactions are a potential risk for any bank that relies on credit provided by a foreign correspondent bank. Interestingly, there is no single global payment and settlement system, only a complicated network of interbank relationships operating on mutual trust. While trust has allowed financial systems to function smoothly, when it begins to fail, as it did during the 2008 financial crisis, the result can be catastrophic.

Following the crisis, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) implemented the Basel III agreement, which required banks to maintain additional capital against correspondent banking account exposures. These risk-weighted assets impose a costly capital charge on positions held by banks at other banks under correspondent arrangements. While this framework helps combat risk, it neglects to address the inherent problems in traditional correspondent banking that contribute to these risks.

Making the case for CBDCs

CBDCs can offer an improvement in settlement risks and are certainly thought to have potential benefits by the BIS. If implemented correctly, wholesale CBDCs can indeed accelerate interbank transactions while eliminating settlement risk. They can also encourage a more efficient and straightforward method of executing cross-border payments by reducing the number of intermediaries.

It is likely the evolution towards CBDCs will initially see the financial market supplement rather than replace existing payment instruments with new types of digital currency. CBDCs will coexist with current forms of money in a wholesale context, and their payment rails will also work alongside the existing payment systems. In simple terms, CBDCs will need to be linked to the broader capital markets ecosystem and applications such as securities settlement, funding, and liquidity.

If built with an innovation-first mindset, the future of banking infrastructure should provide full interoperability and convertibility between fiat, CBDCs, and any other type of digital money used in wholesale payments.

The future of CBDCs

To unlock the full potential of CBDCs, a ‘corridor network’ will need to be formed. This involves combining multiple wholesale CDBCs into a single, interoperable network under common governance agreed upon by all central banks involved. The legal framework of this platform would then allow for payment versus payment (PvP) or, where applicable, delivery versus payment settlement.

Practical wholesale CBDCs appear to be on the horizon, either as a supplement to existing financial systems or as part of a transition to a digital, cashless world. Looking ahead, central banks would benefit from collaborating with fintechs that provide innovative cloud native technology to enable seamless wholesale cross-border payments without interfering with the flow of funds. If wholesale CBDCs are to become a reality, fintechs must be prepared to accommodate them.

 

Continue Reading

Magazine

Trending

Business3 days ago

How can businesses boost employee experience for finance professionals?

By Martin Schirmer, President, Enterprise Service Management, IFS Over the course of the last year, The Great Resignation has seriously...

Business4 days ago

CBDCs: the key to transform cross-border payments

Dr. Ruth Wandhöfer, Board Director at RTGS.global   If you work in finance, you’ll have been hearing a lot about...

Business4 days ago

Green growth: The unstoppable rise of climate technology investment

With the investment community focusing more and more on renewable technologies, investor interest is at an all-time high. Ian Thomas,...

Business4 days ago

Bolstering know your customer processes as regulation tightens

Nick Payne, banking services, customer advisory, SAS UK & Ireland, discusses how new technologies allow financial services companies to develop rigorous KYC...

Finance4 days ago

The penny has dropped – the finance sector needs Data Governance-as-a-Service

By Michael Queenan, Co-Founder and CEO at Nephos Technologies   In our data-driven world, the amount of data is growing...

Business4 days ago

Seven tips for financial services brands using mail

By Cameron Russell, Head of Marketing at Marketreach   Customer experience (CX) is a powerful differentiator for modern brands. If...

Top 104 days ago

Turn the data landfill into an insight goldmine

Andrew Watson, CTO, MHR Today, businesses have access to a wealth of data, with vast amounts of information created daily....

Business4 days ago

A Culture of Cyber Security Throughout Financial Services Organisations

Michael Cantor, CIO, Park Place Technologies Financial Services organisations have long been a top target for cyber-attacks given both the...

Business6 days ago

Financial Stability Board Gives Full Support to Wide LEI Use in Global Payments

Clare Rowley, Head of Business Operations at the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation The strongest recommendation yet by the Financial...

Business6 days ago

On-demand pay: why payroll needs a modern approach

Byline:  Paul Bartlett, CEO, CloudPay   While the world of work has evolved drastically over the last decade, payroll has...

Business6 days ago

 ‘What should real estate investors be doing now – has the market hit rock bottom or is now the time to buy?’

Following many years of housing prices soaring and competition steadily increasing, real estate growth has finally started to slow, likely...

Business7 days ago

Expert Guide for Email Marketing to Improving Your Conversion Rates

If you talk about email marketing campaigns, it would seem like an old-fashioned advertising style. But it is still an...

Banking1 week ago

Augmented automated underwriting and the evolution of the life insurance market

By Alby van Wyk, Chief Commercial Officer at Munich Re Automation Solutions   It’s almost inevitable. Spend your working life...

Banking1 week ago

ESG in the finance and banking industry – are you ready?

By Julian Moffett, CTO BFSI, EDB   Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) has soared towards the top of banking, financial...

Top 102 weeks ago

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Investing in Bitcoin

Marcus de Maria, Founder and Chairman of Investment Mastery.   Over recent years, Bitcoin has been steadily growing in popularity...

Business2 weeks ago

Overcoming macroeconomic challenges

By Mike Chambers, formerly CEO of Bacs and a consultant at Access PaySuite.   For businesses offering a subscription-based service, the...

Banking2 weeks ago

How unlocking the potential of tokenised markets can help banks keep pace with the digital economy

Giulia Secco is the Strategic Partnership & Ecosystem Manager at Fnality International.   In the aftermath of the 2008 financial...

Banking2 weeks ago

The role of Artificial intelligence in compliance at banks

Sujata Dasgupta, Global Head – Financial Crime Compliance Advisory, Tata Consultancy Services   There’s not a financial institution across the...

Technology2 weeks ago

Scaling securely in the automation-first era

By Brandon Traffanstedt, Sr. Director, Field Technology Office at CyberArk   Robotic process automation (RPA) has been one of the...

Business2 weeks ago

Putting technology to work on entrepreneur fund-raising

By Simon Glass, CEO, Qodeo   Human relationships are behind the most successful venture capital deals. The chemistry between an...

Trending