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Why CFOs should be asking for cloud scalability for the new year

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Jake Madders, co-founder and director of Hyve Managed Hosting 

 

The Christmas period proved to be a busy time for Chief Finance Officers (CFOs), as high volumes of consumers flocked to websites to take advantage of Black Friday deals and do their Christmas shopping.

Unfortunately, busy times like these also means an increase in the threat of cyber attacks, as well as the chance of outages, as traffic overwhelms servers. In this digital age, consumers expect a smooth online experience from any business they intend to spend their cash with, meaning even a minute of downtime can jeopardise revenue..

CFOs must be sure that their IT infrastructure can contend with these busy periods – or else run the risk of an outage during their busiest time.

Why should CFOs care about IT outages?

Every second matters in the fast-paced world of business. Hyve research found that 1/3 of UK consumers would move to a competitors’ website after less than 30 seconds, if their go-to brand suffered an outage. With this in mind, it might be surprising to learn just how often this cost to business is overlooked as well as how impactful the results are. As organisations plan for an influx of customers, if CFOs want this to translate into a boost in revenue, they need to make sure outages are minimised.

Another thing for CFOs to consider is how website outages affect ranking on search engine performance. Websites that suffer from downtime are known to show up lower in search rankings. This means fewer visits and ultimately lost sales to competitor websites, which in turn nullifies the efforts and spend of the marketing team.

As well as losing customers to competitors, outages often feed into a negative brand perception for businesses. 57% of digitally native millennials say that website downtime presents a negative impression of a brand straight away; a sentiment that drops to a third with baby boomers. Evidently, even the shortest of outages can impact a company’s image, despite potential decades of hard work to get on the map and make a name for itself. This is a problem for CFOs, as inevitably a negative brand image will only serve to set back profits.

In fact, according to the Uptime Institute’s 2021 Global Data Center Survey, over 60% of businesses have lost over $100,000 as a result of cloud outages, with 15% of that number claiming to have lost more than $1 million.

Practical steps CFOs can take to prepare for high volumes of traffic

The cloud has been a game changer for businesses, with one of it’s key benefits being scalability on demand. For example, during busy periods, businesses can scale resources up to deal with the peak in demand. Conversely, when things quieten down again, computing resources can be scaled back again. The alternative to scaling resources is to keep a large volume of resources on standby for occasional use during busy periods, which can be incredibly costly for businesses to maintain.. Fundamentally, the cloud enables companies to adopt a more efficient way of using computing resources and, crucially, to save money.

It’s important to remember there are multiple cloud options, some better than others, depending on a company’s individual needs. CFOs planning ahead for a busy holiday season need to liaise with their cloud provider and understand whether their IT infrastructure is up to scratch.

It’s not always possible to predict if and when outages will occur – and the Uptime Institute found that outages are still on the rise with 80% of data centre managers experiencing some kind of outage in the past 3 years. Meanwhile it is reported that companies who repetitively experience outages have 16x higher costs than those who don’t. For this reason, it’s important that CFOs double check that their systems are backed up, so that if an issue does arise, there is the option to failover and the effects of an outage can be mitigated. An effective overall disaster recovery plan will help minimise outages and save crucial seconds, reducing customer churn and poor reputation.

However, IT teams often come under pressure when infrastructure is required to scale rapidly. CFOs might want to think about outsourcing the management of scaling cloud resources, which will help support internal teams during busy periods by freeing them up to ensure all IT infrastructure is running optimally.

In addition, CFOs need to monitor their cloud security. The holiday season presents greater chances for financially motivated fraudsters, and these bad actors know that CFOs are more likely to cave to ransom demands in order to prevent further losses. A common cybercriminal tactic is the use of DDoS attacks, where a site is purposely overwhelmed with traffic in order to take the service down. CFOs therefore need to be equipped with DDoS defence systems, VPNs and SSL certificates and firewalls, and have constant vulnerability monitoring in place so as to stand a chance against such cyber-attacks during the festive shopping season.

Scalability is not just for the new year

So, whether or not you’ve made your new year’s resolutions, it’s never too early to plan in advance and mitigate potential downtime and its impact on a business’ bottom line by ensuring the company has a cloud solution that can scale.

Banking

E-commerce marketplaces have become more than third-party platforms

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By Luke Trayfoot, CRO, MANGOPAY

 

E-commerce marketplaces have become an essential driver of e-commerce growth. As found by Ascential in their annual Future of Marketplaces Report, by 2027, third-party sellers using marketplaces will capture 59% of global e-commerce sales. A trend accelerated by the pandemic. Marketplaces are helping more brands cater to the ever-changing needs of consumers.

As businesses are continually being challenged to provide a seamless shopping experience, marketplaces can support this venture. Without the added costs of warehousing, supply chain and logistics for additional products, marketplaces can help to alleviate some of those pressures, especially as consumer demand grows.

Now, marketplaces need to further evolve their offering through payments infrastructure, whilst remaining compliant with payment regulations.

 

The marketplace offering – lowering barriers to entry

 Beyond access to the best deals, seamless checkout and quick deliveries, marketplaces also exceed consumer expectations for an intuitive one-stop shopping experience. Through marketplaces, retailers can continue to evolve their proposition, collecting data on what their customers want and need and continually refining their offerings at the right time and in the right place (web/app).

Marketplaces can also support businesses entering new markets or competing with bigger players in their respective fields. Entering a marketplace network allows small businesses to quickly gain influence, benefiting from larger audiences and quickly generating high sales volumes.

With multiple sellers, many with an international presence, implementing a sophisticated payments environment is much more complex than building one for an e-commerce website. Trading globally has different rules and regulations to adhere to per country which means payments environments must be multi-layered, accepting various forms of payments, which can be an inhibitor to businesses scaling at pace. Marketplace’s innate customer-centredness must be maintained end to end, including the purchase journey, so a sophisticated environment is essential.

 

Building the right payments environment

 A crucial part of the customer experience, it is important that merchants provide a choice of payment methods at checkout. As payments have evolved, marketplace operators should consider what options they provide to sellers, and subsequently, their end consumers.

The number one expectation is of course payment security, which is a key step in building a long-term relationship based on trust. Increased control points, however, generally means more friction being introduced into the payment process, so this is a balancing act.

As the retail landscape continues to grow, so does competition and as new players enter the market, businesses must find new ways to innovate, and the creation of payment options is one of the most important avenue to do so.

 

Considering regulation at every step

 Increased marketplace activity has led to the introduction of regulation for the platform economy. In the UK, HMRC has implemented changes to VAT reporting requirements for digital marketplaces and their third-party sellers, especially for overseas sales. Across Europe, KYC (Know Your Customers) regulations intended to protect customers from data breaches on a marketplace and identify the persons (legal or natural) with whom the marketplace does business, as part of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing directives, have also been enacted.

As online platforms continue to play an increasingly significant role, the implementation of the Digital Services Act supports creating a safer, online experience for citizens. This regulation enables the expression of ideas, communication, and online shopping by reducing exposure to illegal activities and dangerous goods. Regulation can seem extremely daunting, especially for those looking to enter the market. However, its purpose is to protect both the business and users.

Marketplaces need to work with payment infrastructure specialists that can support providing methods for local users, as well as options that are familiar and trustworthy for a global audience. Additional flexibility also needs to be built in to adapt to different demographics to ensure that a variety of consumers are appropriately catered for. If a brand wants to establish itself in a new market, varied payment methods are not a nice to have, but a must.

Despite the current economic climate, global e-commerce will continue to grow in the years ahead. Those that will be able to stay ahead of the curve will ensure that their customers’ experience is balanced with greater choice and varied payment options, in tandem with regulatory compliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Banking Technologies To Thrive In The Modern World

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By Frank Arellano, Founder and CEO of Revolv3.

 

According to research by Digital Banking Report 2022, 36% of financial institution executives believe that expanding digital products and payment capabilities is the next step in bringing about dynamic industry change in 2023. With connected commerce driving the digital economy and the ever-growing demand for agile, flexible, operating models, banking and financial institutions need to step up their innovation game to stay relevant to the modern customer.

Traditional banking structures and neo banks have much to learn from each other

Traditional banks have assets and resources that most payment innovators do not have, and technological innovations play a critical role in bringing the best of both worlds to merchants and customers. However, traditional banks are losing market share to their neo counterparts due to a lack of well-established digital capabilities to complement the retail side of things. Whereas, neo banks still have room for improvement when it comes to customer support and service- as a portion of the modern-day customer base still expects the kind of services they are used to getting from face-to-face or in-person interactions.

Particularly with digital banking, customers are looking for convenience and flexibility in handling their finances. According to a study by McKinsey, 71% prefer multi-channel interactions and 25% want a fully digitally enabled private banking journey with remote human assistance available when needed. They no longer want to choose between this or that when they can have it all.

What banking technologies are expected to bridge the gap between where institutions currently are and where they aspire to be?

Embedded finance: In a nutshell, embedded finance places a financial product in an otherwise non-financial customer experience, journey or platform, and as a natural extension, offers financial services through a multitude of possibilities like digital wallets, customer loyalty apps, accounting software and shopping-cart platforms. Supersized by the exceptional rise of e-commerce and marketplaces, embedded finance, and specifically embedded payments, is becoming increasingly common for all B2B2C and B2B2B businesses as a core value proposition. It has extensive potential to scale and achieve a sort of invisibility that will enable the integration of frictionless payments into customer journeys.

Today, banks have the opportunity to continue providing customer-centric services that they are uniquely positioned to, but at the same time make the best use of embedded fintech in delivering suites of integrated fintech products and services to match customer requirements as per relevance. As identified by a study from Cornerstone Advisors, embedded fintech opportunities for banks include bill negotiation services, subscription management, data breach and identity protection, wealth transfer management and cryptocurrency investing. This integration of fintech products and services into the financial institutions’ offerings and processes also means new revenue streams for banks as well as keeping up with the competition.

PayTech: With laser focus on enhancing the payments value chain, PayTechs make up 25% of FinTechs and are valued at over USD 2.17tn. Emerging PayTech ecosystems will be fully capable of securely storing, managing and leveraging customer and merchant data generated through transactions. Consider the popularity of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), a credit option increasingly favoured by merchants and customers alike. What BNPL essentially offers banks is an opportunity to delve into an interesting new area to drive lending as well as collaborations with FinTech partners.

It’s also interesting to note that innovations in the payment space makes it easier for exciting yet complex business models to navigate their unique set of challenges. Subscription-based businesses, for instance, rely heavily on the quality of customer experiences that can make or break the relationship. Quality payment solutions play an inevitable role in ensuring that false declines and customer churn stay as low as possible. Technologies such as dynamic routing make this possible by reducing declines, optimising payment approvals and ultimately, achieve higher customer retention.

Open banking: It’s truly revolutionary how open banking is literally opening up a whole new ecosystem of global banking, driven by emerging technologies and the omnipresence of digital experiences. Application Programming Interfaces or APIs enable FinTechs and banks, each with their own set of advantages to come together and leverage each other’s assets to create the best possible outcomes for their customers. The open API market was estimated to be worth $2.48 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.81% to over $14 million by 2030.

By eliminating the need for certain expensive labour and hardware, open APIs will enable pushing out microservices that are capable of reducing integration layers, especially when it comes to introducing or removing products and services with ease. Moreover,  BaaS enables banks to generate more revenue as they allow FinTech to use their payment infrastructure for a fee and at the same time FinTechs benefit from the traditional banking infrastructure to build innovative financial products.

The ongoing transition from traditional to new-age

Banks have historically been risk adverse in their approach and operations, having taken their own time to adopt technological advancements, but are now increasingly catching up with new age banks. Complicated regulatory environments as well as the need to ensure security and reliability have slowed down the process of technology adoption but we’re starting to see promising developments, especially in mobile banking along with an overall infrastructural change from on-site to cloud based technologies.

The growing number of smartphone users is making ‘mobile-first’ strategies an inevitable area of focus for banks. With this, cybersecurity is a major concern for the sector and reinstating this issue is the fact that at least 39% of customers cite fraud and security threats as their top fear and frustration while engaging with online banking products.

Needless to say, not just the future but also the present belongs to those who embrace change and make the best use of opportunities. The more the banks act as controllers of money supply, the more opportunities there are for disrupters to own up spaces they carve out of challenges. Irrespective of being digital natives or legacy banks, those who choose not to move with the change will be the ones who will be left behind.

 

About Frank Arellano

Frank Arellano is the CEO and founder of Revolv3, a fintech SaaS platform based in Laguna Beach, CA. Frustrated by the lack of subscription management payment systems that could minimise false declines and maximise first pass payment approvals, he built his own. Frank started his career with startups. Afterwards he led as an executive at Ingram Micro and Experian for over 20 years. Now, backed by Rosecliff Ventures, he intends to reshape the recurring payment market.

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