Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Another year (nearly) over

It was all change at IBS Journal and IBS Intelligence this year. I joined as Senior Editor in February (having previously been Group Editor of rival banking technology title, FStech). Just in case you missed my debut Editor’s Letter, which can be found in the March issue of IBS Journal, I have almost 20 years of experience in journalism, during which time I have held senior editorial positions at and contributed to a number of business and technology-related publications. At FStech, I covered various financial sector technology topics, and my main areas of expertise include FinTech, core banking systems, Bitcoin and the blockchain, the European, US and Australian retail banking sectors, mobile payments and challenger banks.

As I’m sure you’re aware by now, IBS Intelligence has become a division of Cedar Management Consulting International, a leading global management and technology consulting practice. So, new owners, new Senior Editor, new Senior Reporter (congrats to Alex Hamilton who was recently promoted from the position of Reporter) and also this year IBS Journal underwent a major redesign. Out went the front cover stories, replaced by a more modern take on the magazine’s contents. And in came a number of new sections, with an increased focus on FinTech, including Startup of the Month (which has proved to be particularly popular), The Big Interview, Who’s Been Saying What? and The Month in Numbers. Some of our rivals have ditched their printed editions, but here at IBS Intelligence the magazine continues to be a major part of who we are.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Tesco cyber-attack provides regulatory food for thought

Every little helps when it comes to controlling the financial system, but Giles Kenwright of Delta Capita explains why the Tesco cyber-attack will hopefully trigger banks and regulators to look at the bigger compliance picture 

A cyber-attack that wiped £2.5 million from a major supermarket’s client accounts in just a few hours, should ring alarm bells across the boardrooms of Britain’s biggest banks. While the damage to Tesco’s brand reputation may be substantial, more significant still is that this attack could be a sign of things to come for the wider banking sector.

It is not as if the major players have been burying their heads in the sand. Eight of the largest firms, including JP Morgan, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, teamed up earlier this year to tackle the growing cyberthreat. While still in its infancy, the group is already sharing information with eachother about where future threats could materialise. The trouble is that, at the same time, these conglomerates are entangled in the weeds of other regulatory issues, which is eating into time that could be spent developing a longer-term plan to tackle cybercrime.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Back to the future for IBOR

The complexity of the investment management industry is growing and the data that needs to be analysed is richer than ever before. This is a consequence of the thinning geographical boundaries within portfolios and the search for alpha that drives managers to incorporate different and more esoteric asset classes within a single portfolio.

The impact of this changing environment has been a resurgence in the industry's use of the Investment Book of Record (IBOR), a central and comprehensive source that tells the complete story of a firm's portfolio activity. An IBOR provides a timely view of a firm's exposures, portfolio positions and cash. The fullness and clarity of the picture it paints means that it provides the intelligence and insights on which many portfolio decisions are made.

Monday, 14 November 2016

The new Basel IRRBB: regulatory and internal consequences

Last April, the Basel Committee issued its new standard on the interest rate risk in the banking book presenting a new standardised framework. This new standard is to be implemented by 2018. Here Xavier Dubois, Senior Risk & Finance Specialist for Wolters Kluwer’s Finance, Risk and Reporting business looks at some aspects of the standardised framework, how it could be implemented in Europe and its interest for the bank governing bodies.

In April, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision issued standards for Interest Rate Risk in the Banking Book (IRRBB). The standards revise the Committee's 2004 Principles for the management and supervision of interest rate risk, which set out supervisory expectations for banks' identification, measurement, monitoring and control of IRRBB as well as its supervision.

In a nutshell the new standard realises a significant improvement in the management of interest rate risk in the banking book. Not only does it provide a standardised measurement closer to economic reality, and thus more useful for the bank management, particularly in this time of low interest rates, but it also provides standardisation that increases transparency, not only from banks, but also from supervisors. Banks will have to adopt this new framework and should take this opportunity to move towards a technologically sound and solid risk framework with automation and integration, for supervision and, last but not least, for the governing body.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Why banks need consumers to detect imposters

In the first half of 2016 alone, there were more than one million incidents of financial fraud, an increase of 53 per cent on the same period last year; with identity fraud against individuals costing an estimated five billion pounds last year.

Identity fraud occurs when an imposter pretends to be someone else. To prevent this, banks ask customers for passwords, but judging from the fraud figures, this isn’t working and things are getting worse. The reason is simple: data cannot differentiate. A password provided by the true customer is exactly the same when that same password is provided by an impostor.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Key to the highway: The changing face of high and low touch execution

In the beginning, there was high touch where brokers provided a high-value, solution-based approach to finding the liquidity their buy-side clients were looking for. This worked in an era of high fees and low scrutiny of what end investor trading commissions were actually funding. But as markets electronified, and buy-side operations tooled up, a new paradigm was born, low touch. This reflected the buy-side's growing desire for cheaper execution, especially for trades that weren’t that hard to execute, and it also offered a path that minimised information leakage.

The result? Two routes to market with very different price tags. The problem was that brokers had to duplicate their trading infrastructure despite receiving fewer net commission dollars. This spawned the short-lived concept of mid touch which offered the worst of both worlds: junior sales traders with neither the experience nor the expertise to manage either. And so the industry muddled along ignoring the operational overhead of running two technology stacks.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Lost in translation: Smart contracts for financial services

The concept of smart contracts is simple; clauses and rules are embedded in software which is distributed via networks to provide an interface which formalises a transaction. Bitcoin has a distributed ledger a distributed consensus mechanism, and a distributed set of business rules and conditions. The contract for Bitcoin is relatively simple: ‘are the parties who they purport to be’, ‘do they have permission to buy/sell’ and ‘does the buyer have funds’. This is a straightforward smart contract which is actioned and then fulfilled for every buy or sell on the Bitcoin network.

The idea of a smart contract is very powerful; putting your trust in a set of rules and a shared consensus mechanism rather than any one party seems, on the face of it, an ideal solution. In finance we already trust in rules and triggers such as ‘stop loss orders’ and ‘buy triggers’ for share trading. This kind of trigger is relatively simple but still this transaction has its fair share of intermediaries and parties. For a wealth product, where I may be buying units in a fund which will trigger purchases in multiple markets and assets there are many more intermediaries and contracts. This increasing level of complex relationships and parties means that the contracts and rules must also be more complex and brings me to my concern in developing even medium complexity smart contracts with high levels of automation.

Monday, 17 October 2016

MAS: Bringing compliance closer to the cloud

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has helped dispel some of the uncertainty around outsourcing and cloud-based models in the governance, finance, risk and compliance (GFRC) context, with the inclusion of guidance on cloud computing services in its updated guidelines on managing the risks associated with outsourcing. Here Wouter Delbaere, Asia-Pacific Market Manager, Regulatory Reporting, for Wolters Kluwer’s Finance, Risk & Reporting business, explores this welcome development that should pave the way for greater adoption of these services - and hence a more efficient and cost-effective approach to GFRC - among financial institutions.

Banks in Asia are increasingly aware of the potential of cloud computing to reduce the costs and enhance the flexibility of their information technology infrastructure, and many are turning to cloud solutions in areas such as software development or customer relationship management. However, the security concerns and regulatory restrictions surrounding sensitive customer and financial data make service-based IT approaches to governance, finance, risk and compliance (GFRC) less common.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The future of the banking industry

Every month we see huge developments and changes happening in the banking industry. In September, IBM released research suggesting that 65% of banks have plans to put blockchain projects in production in three years’ time. Meanwhile the CMA recently released findings stating that banks are not working hard enough for their customers, and the BBC claims more than 600 High Street bank branches have closed in the UK in the past year. On top of this, traditional retail banks are facing increasing competition from digital-first challenger banks such as Monzo (formerly Mondo) and Atom.

The changes aren’t just coming from within the industry, but also from a huge shift in customer expectations. 51% of US adults bank online, as do 47% of Europeans, and this number is likely to increase as more Millennials buy in to financial services. This is part of a wider customer attitude that banks should be using the latest popular technology to provide the best service to their customers. However, with new expectations and technologies emerging all the time, how can the banking industry adapt to this digital world?

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Notes from America

UK-based micropayments venture tibit (IBS Journal’s very first Startup of the Month) launched in the US last week at the Online News Association’s Denver event. Carl Beetham, Business Advisor, brings you this post from his travels

I’m the least-travelled of individuals and the daily commute to Peckham still fills me with an equal combination of trepidation and excitement. So you can only wonder at my feelings when faced with the joyous prospect of a business trip to the US – imagine a midget ginga Mickey Rooney-esque individual playing the Eddie Murphy character in Coming to America and you won’t go far wrong.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

imaginBank: Simpler banking for the digital age

"I don’t need an elaborate banking service with branches, passbooks, letters in the post, an annual financial review and a bank manager that knows my name. Interest? I don’t save enough to accrue any, or I put my money somewhere else. All I really want is an account that will accept my deposits, hold my money and release it when I want to make a payment or transfer. I don’t want to wait for transactions to appear on my balance or for transfers to clear. An automatic payment function would be useful, so I can settle my bills easily. But most important of all, I want to do everything, repeat everything, on my phone. Some exclusive offers and deals would be good too. That’s it."

Welcome to the mindset of a growing demographic of today’s banking customers. All are committed device users - not power users or early adopters - just people that manage their lives using phones and tablets. Many are young – Millennials - but not all. Most have modest incomes and are determined to live debt-free and unconstrained by financial commitments.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Apple stays in the payments picture

Apple, good products, horrible company…The EU ruling that Apple must pay over $14 billion in back taxes to Ireland has been hogging the headlines, but the tech giant’s increasingly hostile face off with Australia’s banks is equally as compelling a story. In a nutshell, all of Australia’s big banks (except ANZ which is rolling out Apple Pay) are looking to gain access to the inner workings of the mobile payment platform. If successful, third parties would be able to bypass Apple Pay and create their own apps.

Apple has countered by arguing this would compromise the iPhone’s security, reduce innovation and hamper its entry into the Australian payments market. It told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that “allowing the banks to form a cartel to collectively dictate terms to new business models and services would set a troubling precedent and delay the introduction of new, potentially disruptive technologies”.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Forget FinTechs, here come RegTechs!

You’ve just familiarised yourself with FinTech. Now it’s time to take a look at the innovation that rocked London 2016 FinTech Week: RegTech. The ambition: to manage all regulatory aspects, from the determination of ratios to risk mapping and KYC management.

These new players aim to address the following challenges:

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Embracing RegTech: Asia Pacific adapts to mounting reporting requirements

Just as global regimes such as the Basel III net stable funding ratio (NSFR) and International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 9 are being rolled out, Asia Pacific’s regional regulators are stepping up the pressure on banks by intensifying reporting requirements and moving more aggressively to address governance failures.

Thankfully, at the same time, emerging technologies, such as RegTech, and business models are equipping institutions with the strategies and capabilities needed to address escalating regulatory reporting requirements, which have become a region-wide reality. For example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore is completely overhauling the key financial position report, MAS 610, for the first time in years to glean more data points and details from banks. The changes will impact all supporting forms and require multiple new attributes, calculations and aggregations.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Rebuilding customer relationships

Banks have grown too large and complex and are struggling to deliver added value to final investment relationships in a world of high fees, frequent financial crises, damage of reputation and zero interest rates.

Banking regulation has stepped up the cost of capital. However, market regulation was also strengthened to foster higher customer protection in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and enforce full transparency about costs and risks negotiated with taxable investors. This has been a perfect storm for retail and private banks: compliance costs sky-rocket while FinTech competition erodes their profitability.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Why it’s time to embrace the big opportunity of Open Banking

Earlier this month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the final report on its retail banking market investigation. By requiring banks to implement Open Banking by early 2018, the report claims it is paving the way for a revolution. While debates rage on about the specifics of the report and how far (or not far enough) it goes, it accelerates and supports the UK’s move to a transformed banking landscape based upon a foundation of Open Banking.

Before I go on, let’s be clear – the CMA’s Open Banking programme is not a new concept. It is based on the HM Treasury initiative, powered by the Open Banking Working Group (OBWG), who are determining the open API standards for Open Banking. The timeline has already been set in the Open Banking Standard. Add to this the API mandate of the European Commission’s upcoming revised Payments Services Directive (PSD2), and it’s clear that a tour de force of regulation aimed at bursting open the banking industry is already on its way.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

I’ll have contactless, please, with a side order of cash

"Why I've cut up my contactless bank card...and you should too," says Ross Clark - they are driving up prices and killing off cash. This Daily Mail article has been stirring up a lot of debate here in the UK. I won’t go through its contents in detail (you can find it here). But in a nutshell, Clark was sent a contactless debit card and he immediately cut it up with a pair of scissors because banks and credit card issuers are evil and cash is great.

A tad OTT, yes, and his argument contains numerous holes (without a debit card, how will you withdraw your beloved cash, Ross?) But I agree with him on one crucial point. The man and the woman in the street still like and trust physical money and distrust those who seek to do away with it. It’s unfair to write them off as luddites for this (as often happens within the tech industry).

Monday, 8 August 2016

What can lenders learn from the motor finance sector?

In April, the Bank of England reported that growth in unsecured borrowing, including personal loans, had returned to rates not seen since the financial crisis. With market confidence renewed, lenders are now looking for best practices that can help them make the most of the rising market. Enhancing the customer experience is a good starting point; removing ‘points of friction’ can significantly reduce application drop outs. It’s also something that the motor finance industry is really starting to nail.

Despite economic doubts and stricter compliance requirements, the sector has continued to demonstrate enviable growth. In October 2015, car sales had been rising consecutively for 43 months and, after a brief pause (for new plates to be issued), sales picked up again, and at a faster rate than before. In March 2016, the new car market surged by 5.3%, making it the highest grossing month since 1999. Given that roughly 80% of all new vehicles are bought with finance it’s little wonder that the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) reported an 11% increase in motor finance lending in Q1 2016.

Friday, 29 July 2016

PSR announcement ushers in new era for payments innovation

The Payments Systems Regulator (PSR) has this week announced that the UK payments infrastructure will undergo a reform, in order to increase innovation, competition, and ultimately seek to better serve consumers.

This announcement seeks to break down the current payments status quo which has remained stagnant in this country for too long. The best case scenario is that we now see a flood of innovative competitors coming to the fray, where the needs of consumers, and not the needs of the major payment players, will drive the sector forward.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Optimal cash management: seeing the wider business benefits

When optimising cash management, it’s easy to get caught up in treasury-specific goals and advantages, such as improved visibility, accessibility and control. But revamping the way the company manages its cash has many benefits for C-suite decision-makers and the wider business too.

Today’s international business environment is characterised by uncertainty. Europe’s future is being called into question and market volatility is understandably high. As a result, treasurers, CFOs and CEOs alike are looking for ways to better manage turbulence, complexity, and minimise the impact of ‘unknowns’. Naturally they want greater certainty around corporate and financial strategy, and are seeking improved control of financial risks. Moreover, they want to bolster investor confidence, increase profitability, strengthen the balance sheet and ultimately make the right decisions for the company’s future.

One of the most practical ways that treasury can help deliver on these needs is by optimising the company’s cash management. After all, the benefits of improving visibility, accessibility and control over group-wide cash are by no means limited to the treasury function.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Gotta Catch ‘em All: Pokémon Go and the Banking Industry

If you had told us that you had never heard of Pokémon Go, especially after the month and a half the new application from Nintendo has had, we at IBS Journal wouldn’t believe you. The alternative reality game has had children and adults alike enraptured, following their phones around outside hoping to catch elusive Pokémon at local landmarks.

Explosive would be the right word to describe just how much of a phenomenon Pokémon Go has become overnight. Not only has it been downloaded in record numbers, but it is being used more often per day than the most popular apps of all time. The app almost has as many daily users as Twitter and the search term “Pokémon Go” and its derivatives have overtaken the most entrenched top Google searches, including those for pornography.

Friday, 15 July 2016

In a rising market, are banking outsourcers pulling their weight?

The Quarterly Outsourcing Index recently confirmed that outside the public sector, banks and financial institutions are by far the most prodigious users of business process and technology outsourcing. In the first quarter of 2016, the industry’s contracts totaled a whopping £324 million, up 6% on the same period last year. This comes as no surprise. Despite consumer lending continuing to rise (gross mortgage borrowing, for example, is up 64% year-on-year) many banks remain in jeopardy. In April, two of the High Street’s biggest banks reported that operating losses had more than doubled since the previous year.

Commentators are quick to point the finger at past malpractice. It’s true that some big banks are facing huge FCA-imposed fines and are burdened by high volumes of customer complaints as a result. But lenders are also being impacted by other significant factors. Changes in regulation, for example, the global economic slowdown, Brexit and the Eurozone crisis and increased competition from new players entering the market. Widespread restructuring is commonplace and, in a bid to reduce cost and enable banks to refocus internal resources on generating revenues, many are outsourcing the operational upkeep of non-core operations to third parties.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Iceberg ahead! How to steer clear of blockchain disaster

It’s funny how often even the most well-established organisations can underestimate the impact of potential change. Misjudging the effect of a potentially seismic event can prove problematic at best, and disastrous at worst in any industry. 

And yet, somewhat paradoxically, for such traditionally risk-averse institutions, financial services retailers are finding themselves in exactly this position, when it comes to their approach to what could be the most significant disruptor in financial services history over the next few years - blockchain.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Open letter to SWIFT


As a bank customer, I congratulate you on decades of smooth, high quality service. However, as a global body whose mission is to deliver funds between banks safely, the last few months have been, with respect, challenging.

Recent incidents in Bangladesh and elsewhere have damaged your credentials immensely. Your initial defence, that the breaches were largely the banks’ responsibilities, was quite remarkable. We’ve all thoroughly understood that the strength of the network is no greater than the strength of the weakest link. We just wish you had understood that before the rest of us.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

IFRS 9: The road to intelligent implementation

As the 2018 deadline approaches, the implementation of accounting standard IFRS 9 is revealing itself to be a transformational event instead of just one more item on a crowded to-do list. 

Banks are, accordingly, starting to understand that they will require system architectures and solutions that embody the models they are striving for internally – ones that seamlessly integrate multiple functions, create areas of common ground and feature the efficiency and flexibility to embrace the many changes yet to come. Here Jeroen Van Doorsselaere, vice president, Risk and Finance, at Wolters Kluwer, provides IBS with his thoughts on how to intelligently approach implementation.

Monday, 27 June 2016

UK FinTech: Life after Brexit

Eight weeks ago I wrote Part 1 of this post called #Brexit good for UK #FinTech and got an overwhelming response - mostly abuse! I had to double check my post to make sure I hadn't inadvertently insulted somebody's prophet or, worse, suggested again that Bitcoin is just an over-hyped big waste of electricity! Turns out I simply held a controversial and, what I thought at the time to be, minority view.

Then something interesting happened. In my role I have the privilege of speaking at a lot of FinTech events around the world and for the past few months the conversation tended to turn to #Brexit. Publicly folks were quite vocal about their brexit concerns but privately (for Europeans) they were rather envious of the UK being given the opportunity to decide and mostly saw brexit as an opportunity for the UK if handled correctly.

When I pressed for why they weren't blogging/posting that view it was one of self-censorship. Folks working for big corporates and larger startups were understandably concerned about making public remarks for fear of being quoted and contradicting the (usually Remain) party line of their leaders. Secondly the brexit camp has been consistently badged as a bunch of bigoted loons so they didn't want to be tarred with that brush!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Three decades of automated payments – but what next?

In 1986 Barclaycard was the first payment provider to introduce Process Data Quickly (PDQ) technology, which allowed in-store transactions to be processed faster and more securely than ever before. I joined Barclaycard in 1972 and was working in the Business Research team when we embarked on a huge project to transform how retailers take and consumer make payments.

Before PDQ technology was introduced retailers relied on “zip tap” technology, which involved taking an imprint or carbon copy of a customer’s card to create a voucher, which was sent to the appropriate bank to process. This system was not only admin heavy but also susceptible to human error and with ever increasing volumes desperately in need of modernising.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Taking a holistic approach to anti-money laundering

Despite the raft of regulation and legislation that has hit the financial market post 2007, it is one of the most mature regulations – Anti-Money Laundering (AML) – that is arguably now having the most significant impact on a bank’s global operations. The problem is not simply the sheer scale of the fines now being imposed – although at billions of pounds, the most recent fines have actually driven banks into red. Instead the issue is the shift of regulatory focus: regulators no longer feel the need to prove bad practice; a belief that an organisation’s AML procedures are not adequately robust is now enough to incur a penalty.

This shift in regulatory approach combined with each country having a slightly different take on AML has created a tangible lack of confidence within the majority of global institutions. As a result, growing numbers of banks are actively walking away from what could be good business with potential new customers and other banks simply because of the potential risks identified by auditors. Without better AML procedures entire global expansion strategies are being jeopardised.

Friday, 17 June 2016

How FIs can transform to ride the digitalisation wave

Banks and insurance companies that are able to transform themselves will be well placed to benefit from digitalisation. However, most companies remain unprepared.

According to a 2015 pan-European survey by Arthur D. Little, financial institutions are less adapted to digitalisation than the cross-industry average. Although most companies have undergone considerable investments in order to update their IT capabilities and architecture, other key functional aspects are lagging behind, organisation being one of the most critical ones.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Beware of toxic unicorns

In the spirit of “coopetition,” High Street banks are cozying up to FinTech startups, but the prospect of partnering with a “toxic” one looms large. Rather than try to compete directly with disruptive startups, banks are making decisions whether to partner with, or even buy, these ventures that offer a quick way into true innovation, whether in payments, blockchain or lending.

No one doubts that FinTech, together with blockchain, is one of today’s hottest topics in financial services, with dozens of startups in London alone. Of those to make the FinTech50 list this year, 29 were in London. Most have been around for just two to five years. The lucky ones that reach the magic valuation of $1 billion are known as “unicorns.” Their products range from payments to mortgage lending to bond market social networking, and most have solid backing by venture capital. A staggering $13.8 billion in VC was invested in FinTechs last year, up from $6.7 billion in 2014, according to a report by KPMG and CB Insights.

Monday, 13 June 2016

GFRC: Bringing critical functions together

Post-mortems of the financial crisis concluded that certain practices had infected banks with a near-fatal case of myopia. Each segment, or silo, within an organisation – whether a business or product line, geographic jurisdiction or category of risk – was the master of its own limited domain; no one was clearly and unambiguously responsible for assessing the big picture as far as risk and performance were concerned. A holistic approach to Governance, Finance, Risk and Compliance (GFRC), can help banks looking to combat antiquated organisational structures and technology, adapt to the new regulatory landscape.

Foremost among the responses to the financial crisis was Basel III, the governance guidelines proposed in 2010 by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, revised and expanded since then and in the process of being implemented worldwide. Beyond Basel III, institutions must contend with European Union initiatives, including the latest iteration of the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV); the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), for investment services; the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR), covering derivative instruments, etc. Firms are also implementing principles revised by the International Accounting Standards.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Keeping the customer front of mind

Banks have focused their efforts on trying to create and launch products that will generate revenue for them but have forgotten the essential element to making a product successful; the customer. FIs must invest in innovation, but only if the intended product seeks to serve the customer. 

In keeping the product customer-focused it creates a need amongst customers and ensures that the offering becomes a necessity when they’re conducting everyday transactions. When a bank brings a product to market that actually solves real problems, it will ultimately become a new revenue channel.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Is Google right to single out the payday lending industry with its adword ban?

Google famously included ‘do no evil’ in its original mission statement published in 2004, a bold claim that has caused continuous debate. In 2015, it decided to drop the motto from its code of conduct in favour of ‘do the right thing.’ While this new wording is a little more open to interpretation, it shows that there’s still a place for sound business ethics in the increasingly powerful, more profitable Google.

Recently, Google has turned its attention to payday loan providers, announcing that, from 13 July 2016, there will be a complete ban on all Google ads promoting loans that have to be repaid within 60 days. In the US, the ban extends to loans with an APR of 36% or higher.

Friday, 27 May 2016

BCBS 239 compliance: A catalyst for effective change

It’s the end of May 2016 and as the BCBS 239 deadline is now five months overdue, banks are still asking what approach towards compliance will prove to be the most effective. Some banks have taken a methodical and timely ‘check-the-box’ approach whilst some have viewed the regulation as an opportunity to thoroughly strengthen their underlying governance, architecture and data quality.

To first understand the logic behind both strategies, it’s worth revisiting what the regulation is and how it came to be. Back in January 2013, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision published the BCBS 239 principles for effective risk data aggregation and risk reporting, in response to the lessons learned during the 2007 global financial crisis.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Authentication by ‘selfie’ - will MasterCard bring a smile to the payments world?

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, MasterCard announced the launch of a new authentication solution: payment by ‘selfie’. This follows last summer’s announcement when it stated that it wanted to make passwords and payment codes superfluous.

Cardholders will soon be able to take a selfie at the supermarket cash register instead of entering a password in order to identify themselves as the genuine user. By the middle of 2016, MasterCard’s German customers should be able to prove their identity and authenticate payments in this way. Following this, it is set to be launched in Austria in 2017. Ajay Bhalla, the head of MasterCard's security department is convinced that the "selfie generation" will welcome and use the new feature.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

UK retail banking in need of transformation

After a two-year investigation the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published provisional recommendations to improve retail banking in the UK. It’s a sector that deserves attention but once again a golden opportunity to perform a radical overhaul of the existing market has been shunned in favour of a more modest set of anticipated outcomes. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Rising to the challengers

Challenger banks have been a black cloud looming over the “big four” for the past few years. The traditional High Street banks have been braced for these challengers to shake things up and create an entirely new environment, just as budget airlines did to the aviation industry in the nineties. And with the UK’s FCA keen to see consumers benefit from “effective competition” for regulated financial services, the time seems right.

While those working in the industry are tracking every move of the challengers and what they offer, this awareness has yet to filter down to customers. With the big four still holding over 90% of the UK market, and consumer awareness of challenger brands failing to gain momentum, is the impending shake-up going to happen, and if so, when?

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Reality check: What has brought Android Pay to Europe?

Should cash be abolished? To further fan the flames of the debate, Google has dared to step across the pond and launch Android Pay in the UK – the first European country that the service will be available. 

Eight banks and eleven retail chains are being supported by MasterCard to participate in the launch. It’s a strong line-up but how does Android Pay compare with its competitors Apple Pay and Samsung Pay?

Monday, 16 May 2016

UK Regulator Fosters Innovative Collaboration in Financial Services

Last month and after many weeks of planning, we supported the FCA to deliver a highly collaborative two day hackathon focused on improving access to financial services. 

You can look this up on Twitter using the hashtag #FCAsprint. To our knowledge, this was the first event of its kind by any regulator worldwide and saw big name brands come together with a shared purpose including KPMG, Visa Europe, Funding Circle, Lloyds Banking Group, the Post Office, iProov, HCL Financial Services, Fidor and the Financial Services Consumer Panel.

Monday, 9 May 2016

The Biometric Banking Revolution

You only have to look through the newspapers of late to see that the biometrics revolution is well and truly entering the mainstream. From voice recognition, to fingerprint and retina scanning, many industries are poised to, and in some cases, already benefiting from new authentication technologies. 

No sector is experiencing this new wave of identity-defined authentication quite like the finance and retail banking sectors. High-profile banks and financial organisations such as RBS, Nationwide MasterCard and HSBC have taken significant measures to put their customers’ identity firmly at the centre of new security policies. It’s this approach, matched with the latest in technological innovations, that will and should be implemented across a variety of sectors.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Robo-advisors – as revolutionary as they seem?

The rise of the robo-advisor has been well documented over the past year or so. The FCA recently announced an Advice Unit that helps firms develop robo-advisor models, and RBS has also publicised that they will be sacking hundreds of face-to-face advisors in favour of robots.

Armed by what appears to be a cheaper, more accessible service, the likes of Nutmeg and Wealthfront have not been shy in their promotion of being at the forefront of opening up obtainable investment opportunities to a wider audience.

Friday, 29 April 2016

#Brexit good for UK #FinTech

Behind closed doors in a small office, off an nondescript corridor, in a rather large building on Rue Wiertz in Brussels, Belgium a hushed conversation took place last month. Shortly afterwards a piece of European Parliamentlegislation was quietly shelved. It carried the rather dull title of “Directive 2009/125/EC” and it was one of the most dangerous documents in Europe!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Bank Heists for the Digital Age

As the line between the virtual and real criminal world grows ever murkier, it’s not surprising online bank robbers are using the anonymity afforded by cyberspace to infiltrate the real world and get their hands on physical cash.

At the same time, within the online world, criminals are diversifying, borrowing each other’s methods and innovating on a new level to fulfil their demands.

Friday, 15 April 2016

A Tale of Two Wallets

Wallets, or purses, have been around since bartering was replaced by the exchange of goods for currency of whatever variety. Therefore they were handy means of carrying that currency in case you needed to ‘buy’ something on your travels. 

Centuries, if not millennia, have passed and we are now in the electronic, or digital, age. The wallet and/or purse are still with us albeit with that all important prefix the ‘E.’ 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Pulling for Blockchain

Capital markets firms will stop thinking blockchain is something to be suspicious of and start to realise its enormous possibilities this year. Blockchain will soon evolve into “the” disruptive technology that will totally transform the banking system, eliminating the need for securities depositories and central clearing, and reducing settlements delays.

Goldman Sachs jumped in late in 2015 by making a patent application for a cryptocurrency settlement system, called SETLcoin, which it reckons will offer, “nearly instantaneous execution and settlement” of trades including stocks and bonds. This decentralised, cryptography-based solution cuts out the middle man. It has the potential to redefine transactions and the back office of a multitude of different industries.”

Monday, 11 April 2016

Rationalising Global Connections to Drive Costs Down, Visibility Up

Over the past fifteen years, investment banks have seen a massive expansion in global connectivity, encompassing hundreds of links to exchanges and buy side clients as well as infrastructure to backup sites.

This complex connectivity infrastructure is business critical, delivering reliable resiliency, but is also very expensive, from hardware to leased lines and exchange memberships. There is, without doubt, both significant duplication and under-utilisation of these key resources.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Payments is so hot right now

There was (as is often the case with such industry gatherings) a huge amount of hot air generated at Money 20/20 Europe, which took place in Copenhagen this week. Twitter was awash with people raving about how various new fangled offerings are going to rewrite the payments rulebook. Virtual reality headsets are the next big thing. Biometrics is a must have. Social has changed everything, blockchain technologies rock, etc etc.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Millennials demand digital banking

Millennials hold the key to the future of banking. By 2018, they will have the highest spending power of any generation, and by 2025 three quarters of workers globally will be a millennial. Challenging the status quo, a third of millennials don’t believe they’ll need a bank in the next five years.

Apathy towards traditional banks is born of frustration. For a generation who have embraced the likes of Google, Amazon and Uber, feeling the need to use a physical branch to make financial decisions is unappealing.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Mondo gets the public Beta blues

Who’d be a challenger bank, eh? Getting that cool digital offering to market is a long and winding road with many a treacherous turn as mobile-only newcomer Mondo has been finding out. Earlier this month, it was forced to reboot a crowdfunding initiative after an initial demand for participation overwhelmed Crowdcube’s servers.

And now the startup (tagline: Finally, a bank as smart as your phone) has been experiencing teething problems following the launch of a public Beta, inviting iPhone users across the UK to download its app from the App Store.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Throwing good money after bad

Clearing house Bacs has said that it is working on a number of initiatives to boost the UK’s struggling Current Account Switch Service (CASS), following intervention by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).