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TWO-THIRDS OF UK FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES NOW USE ALTERNATIVE DATA TO IMPROVE DECISION MAKING

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From ‘The Growing Importance of Alternative Data in the Finance Industry’ white paper by Oxylabs

  • 63% are using alternative data sources as a way to improve decision making
  • Over a quarter (26%) note their data needs have increased significantly since 2020
  • Interest in alternative data acquisition has increased almost threefold over the past year, according to Oxylabs
  • Trend in alternative data acquisition reveals a significant increase in post-Covid web scraping
  • Web scraping and financial transactions are the most common sources of alternative data for investors and financial services firms

 

Financial services companies in the UK are increasingly relying on web scraping alternative data sources, with almost two-thirds (63%) using alternative data to improve their decision-making process. This is one of the key findings from the Oxylabs white paper: ‘The Growing Importance of Alternative Data in the Finance Industry’, which reveals a huge rise in web scraping for alternative data over the last twelve months.

252 senior data decision-makers across the UK’s thriving finance sector, including Directors of Engineering, CTOs, VPs of Engineering, Chief Data Officers, Heads of Business Intelligence and Heads of Data & Analytics, were questioned on their current approach to data management. Respondents were selected across a broad spectrum of financial service companies, including retail, commercial and private banks, investment and wealth management firms.

The findings highlight web scraping and financial transactions as the most common sources of alternative data for investors and financial services firms. This consists of ‘non-traditional’ data sources that have not previously been analysed, including app downloads and usage metrics, social media sentiment, website traffic statistics, search and other non-traditional data sources (senior staff hiring’s, corporate flight activity, supply chain).

‘Traditional’ sources such as official public data (57%) and third-party data (44%) are still considered valuable. However, they’ve been superseded by the rapid rise in alternative data.

Julius Černiauskas, Chief Executive Officer at Oxylabs, comments: “The huge increase in online alternative data sources has instigated a sharp spike in demand for web scraping services from financial services firms looking to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. At Oxylabs, we have experienced a threefold surge in inquiries from financial services firms over the last year, so we were keen to learn how exactly these organisations were approaching data gathering and analysis.”

Alternative data can be used to better understand business performance, market trends and future investment opportunities. Financial services firms that can convert alternative real-time data into accurate and actionable insights are three times more likely to report significant improvements in decision-making[1].

Julius continues: “Business leaders in the finance sector are always looking for new ways of making better investment decisions and mitigating risk, so it is easy to see why the global alternative data market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.1% from 2020 to 2027[2].”

“Looking at the research, it is clear that financial services firms are increasingly harnessing alternative data to gain valuable, previously unseen insights into business performance, market trends and future investment opportunities. Those organisations that are data-driven will be able to quickly convert this valuable alternative data into actionable insights so they can make better strategic decisions in an uncertain post-Covid economy,” Julius concludes.

 

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FINTECH COMPANY PAYEN CHOOSES AQILLA FOR ITS LIMITLESS SCALABILITY AND SUPERIOR MULTI-CURRENCY FEATURES

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Payen is a fast-growing FinTech company that provides gateway Payment and FX services to online merchants. Having launched in 2010, the business has grown steadily, winning three UK high-growth awards in 2019 and now has an annual revenue of over £14 million. As a global payments company, Payen deals with huge volumes of complex multi-currency transactions on a daily basis. Their accounting system needs to be able to scale effortlessly to these volumes as well as handle the unique nuances of multi-currency and foreign exchange.

 

Payen’s vision is to provide innovative solutions with a personal touch. As such they’ve continuously improved their 100% proprietary technology to enhance the process at every step in the payment value chain. Most recently, this includes extending their global options for alternative payment methods, as well as offering business bank accounts and forex services. As a cloud-based service, Aqilla effortlessly scales to handle Payen’s growing number of currencies and transactions.

 

Global payment transactions involve numerous touchpoints. As a payment gateway, Payen sits in the middle of this process, but Aqilla has the flexibility to handle this. Payen also offers foreign exchange services, so multi-currency is key to their finance function. Aqilla features simple but sophisticated handling of multi-currency transactions with extensive multi-currency capabilities throughout its ledgers.

 

Hugh Scantlebury, Aqilla’s CEO and Founder, explains further: “Aqilla’s reporting system features an easy to use report editor and query builder that lets you create custom reports that can easily be extended across multiple companies and currencies. Aqilla’s API also allows it to connect to other business apps, which Payen plans to use in the future to consolidate reports for its two UK-based entities.”

 

Payen’s Head of Finance Hannah James endorses Aqilla as an adaptable and easy to use accounting solution to support Payen as it grows: “As a fast-growing business, we need lean processes that can scale. Aqilla has continued to deliver this, even as we’ve added more services, currencies, and transactions. We’ve had no issues with the volume of transactions, and Aqilla’s support team has always been prompt and helpful. On the whole, we don’t notice any problems because Aqilla just works. And we know it has the features and flexibility in place to keep up with our evolving requirements,” she explained.

 

Hannah continues: “Aqilla meets all of our reporting needs. I particularly find the ability to drill into accounting categories very useful, avoiding the need to manipulate data outside of the system, downloading it every time. I can see the detail I need through simple navigation. We hope to continue to build on the reporting capabilities in Aqilla by creating a more automated method of consolidation using Sharperlight, however, we already have a good level of business intelligence and the information is easy to extract.”

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NEW RESEARCH REVEALS KEY ROLE OF KYC COMPLIANCE IN DRIVING CUSTOMER LOYALTY, ADVOCACY AND NEW BUSINESS

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The impact of financial crime for institutions goes beyond crippling fines

 

A piece of original research conducted by RegTech Associates on behalf of PassFort, the SaaS RegTech provider, whose platform automates financial crime and compliance processes, has revealed that customers who reported a better than expected compliance onboarding experience in the last 12 months were much more likely to remain loyal, advocate for their brands and acquire more products than those whose experience was worse than expected. These results underline the importance of delivering outstanding service along the whole customer lifecycle.

The survey was conducted in July and August 2021 and addressed a representative sample of 500 UK financial services consumers who had acquired a new financial product in the past twelve months. Products had been acquired from a mix of high street banks, challenger banks, mobile and digital banks and building societies. Those who had a worse than expected compliance onboarding experience[1] were much more likely than their peers to believe their providers did little to protect them from financial crime[2]. They were also much more likely to underestimate the penalties facing providers, with one-third (32 percent) assuming they would get no more than a “slap on the wrist”[3].

Announced today to coincide with Donald Gillies’, CEO, PassFort, panel discussion at Money 20/20, the research highlights consumer attitudes towards their providers and the outcomes they drive, as well as digging more broadly into their perceptions of risk, their experiences of fraud and views on the current UK debate around digital identity.

Regulatory technology that supports know your customer (KYC) compliance in financial institutions has historically been viewed as a cost burden. However, the findings revealed today clearly show a positive trend for those providers who execute well. The case for business benefit or value-add can clearly be seen in the correlation between consumer attitudes towards positive compliance onboarding experiences and a likelihood to go on to purchase additional products.

 

In fact, as a result of their interactions, those customers who received a better than expected experience of compliance onboarding described themselves as:

  • more likely to recommend their provider (77 percent, which was more than double the rate of 32 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • more likely to buy more products (60 percent, which was almost 3.0x the rate of 21 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • less likely to make a complaint (50 percent, versus only 14 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • less likely to switch providers (49 percent, more than 2.5x the rate of 18 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)

“The complex compliance landscape has been under even more pressure with the impact of the pandemic. There were more than 1,330 pieces of covid related regulation introduced by August 2020 alone. Couple this with the enforced financial pressures on consumers and a global increase in fraud and financial crime and we have to understand that the perceptions and demands of consumers have shifted,” said Dr Christine Bailey, CMO, PassFort. “The compliance onboarding process shouldn’t be seen as a cost burden to financial institutions. Instead, what this research starkly demonstrates is the importance of onboarding at the beginning of the customer lifecycle in terms of how it influences customer loyalty, advocacy and future buying decisions.”

Far from being an unseen element of the customer journey, KYC at onboarding can be a differentiator for financial institutions. As financial crime increasingly dominates our headlines, the public are becoming aware of the value and vulnerability of their digital identity. One of the many legacies of Covid is that consumers are demanding more from the organisations they engage with across the board and trust ranks highly on that list of expectations.

“A stand-out result from the survey is the clear connection between the ability of leaders to exceed the customer’s expectations of what their compliance journey should look like, and the positive outcomes that follow. For example, in 90 percent of cases, customers who received a better than expected compliance journey would describe their provider as “trustworthy”, while 88 percent would say their provider was “efficient”. In contrast, for those whose experiences undershot expectations, the figures drop sharply, to 64 percent and 39 percent respectively,” commented Rob Stubbs, Head of Research at RegTech Associates. “Despite many customers telling us their experience was ‘as expected’ it’s clearly important that providers don’t rest on their laurels.”

“Against this backdrop, firms cannot afford to view satisfactory delivery as being good enough. There is a very real opportunity for engaging valuable revenue streams and enhancing reputation for those who step up,” continued Dr Bailey. “The regulatory landscape is ever changing and incredibly complex, yet we still see an ad hoc approach to regulatory technology across the industry with many firms still relying on heavily manual processes.  In the same way we have seen marketing automation revolutionise the marketing function, it’s time to digitise compliance and streamline the entire customer journey.”

 

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