A careful curation of must-reads and can’t-misses from the world of fintech.


FinTech:
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SKANDIABANKEN BUYS MAJORITY IN ROBO ADVISER OUTFIT QUANTFOLIO

Skandiabanken wants bots to give its customers fact-based advice. So it bought an AI startup in Bergen.

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SKANDIABANKEN BUYS MAJORITY IN ROBO ADVISER OUTFIT QUANTFOLIO

Mar. 23. 2017, 15:13

Skandiabanken aims to strengthen its private savings division by offering robo-advisory services, simple, and with transparent pricing. On Friday the 17th of March, Skandiabanken entered an agreement to purchase 39,9% of the shares in Quantfolio AS. The investment represents an important step in the bank’s bet on user-friendly digital saving options for the private market.

“We believe the next fintech revolution will take place in the digital savings and asset management market, and we wish to strengthen our position in this market with this move,” said Christoffer Hernæs, Chief Digital Officer of Skandiabanken.

 

THE SOURCES
Yahoo Finance: “Skandiabanken Becomes Largest Shareholder in Quantfolio, and Increases Focus on Private Savings”
FinExtra: “Skandiabanken makes robo-advisory push with stake in Quantfolio”
Dagens Næringsliv (in Norwegian): “Bank Kjøper Robot-Rådgivere”

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Christoffer O. Hernæs
Chief Digital Officer in Skandiabanken
Will Banks Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are?

First, Christoffer O. Hernæs wrote this piece. Then (see news section) he put his bank's money where his mouth is, as Skandiabanken purchased a majority position in an AI company.

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Will Banks Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are?

http://www.thefintechbrief.no/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/hernæs.jpg
Christoffer O. Hernæs
Chief Digital Officer in Skandiabanken
Mar. 23. 2017, 14:47

By now, almost everyone in the banking industry agrees that we are facing a perfect storm of changes that will forever alter the landscape for financial services. However, it still seems like a long way from talking about it to acknowledging the potential threats and challenges. And an even further way towards putting that knowledge into action.

Bank and fintech collaboration is all the hype these days, and everyone celebrates every time incumbents hands out prizes for startups engaging in a corporate accelerator or wins a pitching contest. But banks have a lot more to offer than acting as event organizers for the startup community. Banks have capital, a vast customer base, trusted brands and the know-how of how to build scalable financial business models.

As a result, and we are seeing some pioneers like CommerzVentures (the venture investment arm of Commerzbank) who stated that Banks were too focused on protecting themselves from a repeat of the global financial crisis that they missed many investment opportunities offered by key startups. Goldman Sachs, Citibank and Banco Santander lead the way in terms of investment volumes. BBVA has been on a steady shopping spree for a while by actively both investing and acquiring fintech startups like Simple, Holvi and Atom Bank. Polish bank mBank has set aside 50 MEUR to invest in fintech startups, to both enhance their own mobile offering as well as commercialize the solutions globally in the next phase. These are just some of the examples, and a report by KPMG and CB Insights are pointing out that early stage funding of fintech startups by banks is on the rise, and  corporate venture made up a third of total fintech investments in Q2 2016.

Despite these trends, banks miss out on fintech investment opportunities according to another report by Boston Consulting Group. The vast majority of the funding goes to payments and alteative lending, while areas like capital markets remain to a certain extent untouched by banks. According to BCG, enormous opportunity exists from the collaboration of established capital markets players such as investment banks with young fintech companies, but the potential is far from being realized.

Herein lies one of the key challenges of the innovators dilemma, as incumbents often tend to seek innovation that builds on the edges of existing business, rather than challenging one’s own core business models through new technology. As a result, many banks will be content by running a couple of innovation jams, putting out a #fintech newsletter on the intranet, but deep down hope that in the end everything will go back to normal as soon as the transition to mobile payments is done.

On the other hand, banks that are willing to invest and place some bets on actually challenging the industry will have everything to gain. With that in mind, action speaks louder than words.

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THE HYPE – AND HOPE – OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Everything from our jobs, our wars, our food and beer, to the software we write will be affected by AI. Say the experts. Can we trust them? We collected some nice, non-technical answers.

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THE HYPE – AND HOPE – OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Mar. 22. 2017, 16:18

“With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.” – Elon Musk

We are a long way from creating virtual human beings. Despite what you sometimes read in the media, no technology is perfect, and the most valuable function of A.I. lies in augmenting human intelligence, writes Om Malik of The New Yorker. He thinks humans will continue to train computers to mimic us for a few more decades, “And, in the meantime, we’re going to have to deal with the hyperbole surrounding A.I.”

Sam DeBrule on Machine Learnings won’t let you take the techies’ words for it, and has put together the definitive guide for normal, non-technical people that want to understand what AI is and follow where it’s all heading.

Of course, AI can already do great things for humans. Max Deutch, for instance, trained a deep learning algorithm on the first four Harry Potter books. He then asked it to produce a chapter based on what it learned. Check the sources below to read the chapter.

It doesn’t stop there. For instance, tech companies are deploying artificial intelligence to make us more civil. Can AI save public discourse, or what? asks Colin Horgan in Article Magazine.

One way to tell that AI is in fact working, is that bots talking to each other start bickering because they’re too human, reports Wired.

The payments industry is also poised to take advantage of the new tools. The financial services industry has been using artificial intelligence for decades in trading, and as the technology gets smarter it’s being tested more often with payments as well, reports Payments Source.

 

THE SOURCES

Machine Learnings/Medium: “The Non-Technical Guide To Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence”
The New Yorker: “The Hype – And Hope – Of Artificial Intelligence”
Article Magazine/Medium: “Can AI Save Online Discourse?”
Deep Writing/Medium: “Harry Potter: Written By Artificial Intelligence”.
Wired: “Internet Bots Fight Each Other Because They’re All Too Human”
Payments Source: “How AI is poised to take a bigger role in payments”

 

 

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YOUR FUTURE PASSWORD IS…YOUR ENTIRE BODY

Face-detecting systems in China now authorize payments, provide access to facilities, and track down criminals. Will other countries follow?

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YOUR FUTURE PASSWORD IS…YOUR ENTIRE BODY

Mar. 21. 2017, 10:34

“From voice timbre to body movement patterns to the rhythm of your heartbeat, the human body offers a half-dozen sexier, less hackable ways to key in a passcode.” -Jane Porter (Backchannel)

Computers have become really good at recognizing faces. Snapping selfies to gain access to a sensitive app or issue a payment could seem like a silly stunt, but in fact “signals the beginning of a broader trend in which phones construct detailed biological and behavioral portraits of their users”, Jane Porter writes on Backchennel.

Ever since Jack Mae of AliBaba purchased a vintage stamp by smiling to his phone in 2015, a flurry of consumer-facing alternatives have erupted across the financial sector. In response to hackers, the technology has become even more sophisticated— using iris detection, eye blinking signals, human infrared signals and even heart biorhythms as a unique indicator of a person’s identity.

Face-detecting systems in China now authorize payments, provide access to facilities, and track down criminals. Will other countries follow? asks Will Knight at MIT Technology Review.

The answer is yes, as Bloomberg reports this week that new Galaxy S8 will employ facial-recognition technology for mobile payments within months of release, adding cutting-edge security to help the marquee device stand out from rivals such as Apple’s iPhone.

 

THE SOURCES
Backchannel: “The Surprising Ways Selfies Are Driving Phone Design”
MIT Technology Review: “Paying With Your Face”
Bloomberg: “Samsung’s New S8 To Adopt Facial Recognition For Payments”

 

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AMAZON GO – A RETAILER KILLER?

Amazon’s “Just grab and go” approach to shopping is boggling retailers’ minds. Just how worried should they be?

 

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AMAZON GO – A RETAILER KILLER?

Mar. 20. 2017, 19:41

 “Amazon is testing hypotheses on the most important elements of the shopping experience.” –  Bill Lewis to CIO

To a point, panic is befitting, writes CIO, as Amazon Go represents real disruption and retailers should be terrified of being left behind. Especially if you’re in the high-frequency retailing world of supermarkets and other mass retailing where shoppers often complain about the checkout process.

Others urge us to take a step back as we don’t know if it will work yet, what it will cost, or even if people demand it. While Amazon Go boasts cool technology and quick checkouts, a new survey from Morgan Stanely, reported by Barron’s, indicates that checkout time is not the most important factor for consumers.

Why is the online giant Amazon even getting into brick and mortar stores? Because that’s where 90 percent of retail still happens, that’s why. The latest survey by the International Council of Shopping Centres has also found that consumers of all ages want more in-store technology to make shopping easier. They want to see how furnishings look in their homes and use their smart phone to locate products in-store.

 

THE SOURCES
CIO: “Will Amazon Go Be A Game Changer For Retail?”
Barron’s: “Do People Really Want Amazon’s Latest Innovation?”
Blooploop: “Retailers Using Technology To Enhance The Shopping Experience Will Be The Winners”

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Look What Telenor Can Do With All Your Data

Kenth Engø-Monsen, acting VP at Telenor Researching, explains how the mobile carrier can use all that big data under the hood to track disease, change banking and revolutionize the world.

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Look What Telenor Can Do With All Your Data

Mar. 23. 2017, 14:13
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THE NORDIC REPORT W11

Norway’s biggest bank goes techno, Samsung beats Apple to the Scandinavian payments market, Nordea threatens to ditch Sweden, and more in this week’s Nordic Report.

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THE NORDIC REPORT W11

Mar. 16. 2017, 08:08

Norway’s largest bank DnB says its future is to become a “technology company with a banking licence”. It is rolling out a range of incubation and startup initiatives to accelerate its vision, reports Finextra.

Nordea has announced that consumers in Sweden can now use Samsung Pay, the rival technology to Apple Pay and Android Pay, to make instore payments via their smartphones. Sweden is the first country in the Nordic region to support Samsung Pay, and the third in Europe following Spain and Russia, reports PaymentEye.

Nordea, however, just threatened to leave Sweden if what they call government’s ‘shocking’ banking fee hike goes through. If the Swedish government’s proposal were to become reality, the probability of a move is “highly, highly likely” says Nordea’s CEO Casper von Koskull to Dagens Industri (in Swedish), reported by Business Insider.

FintechFactory, the fintech arm of the Norwegian accelerator program TheFactory, is experiencing an investment boom. Skandiabanken, Bank2, Nordea, Gjensidige, If og Nordea Liv ar among the major financial players involved in the startup round beginning this week, according to Shifter (in Norwegian). In Sweden, Stockholm Fintech Hub, a new coworking space (or “office hotel” as they call it) opened its doors this week, reports Breakit (in Swedish).

Denmark’s cybercrime police unit recently claimed to have successfully prosecuted drug traffickers based on bitcoin transaction information sourced by a specialized software developed by the Danish National Cyber Crime Center. Police chief Kim Aarenstrup was quoted by Berlingske (in Danish) and Pymnts.com as saying, “The potential of this is groundbreaking. The investigation can now proceed from where it used to stop before. We are in dialogue with a number of other nations right now to develop additional methods and teach them how we do it here.”

Nordea Liv has joined forces with Norwegian fintech startup Spiff to launch a mobile app for social saving. Through the app, the pension and insurance arm of financial services group Nordea is introducing a social aspect to saving, reports Computer Weekly.

Sweden is the latest European country making a push to win financial services power after Brexit, having sent a minister to London to woo fintech firms and a major Wall Street bank. City A.M. reports on finance minister Per Bolund’s visit to fintech incubator Level 39 in Canary Wharf last week before hosting a lunch for more than a dozen more startups at the Swedish ambassador’s residence .

 

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CHINA’S BLAZING TRAIL

How advanced technology, backward banks and soaring wealth made China a fintech leader. The Economist and other thought leaders weigh in.

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CHINA’S BLAZING TRAIL

Mar. 15. 2017, 11:49

“How did fintech get so big in China? The short answer is that it was the right thing at the right time in the right place.” -The Economist

China is far and away the biggest market for digital payments, accounting for nearly half of the global total. It is dominant in online lending, and dominates rankings of the world’s most innovative fintech firms.  As the Chinese became first rate clickaholics, their banks remained remarkably unsophisticated. New technology and battalions of hungry companies plugged the holes and gave people ways to invest their wealth. The Economist gives an illuminating look at how China became the dominant fintech player – and the world dominating that lies ahead.

Even as China is on track to beat its 2016 fintech funding record, however, Peter Guy argues in The South China Morning Post that “the day of reckoning is nigh for fintech startups” in China. Few will survive the shakeup, and even fewer will prosper:

“Fintech’s problem is that it’s the most regulated technological area in the history of startups – short of the development of the financial equivalent of the atomic bomb.” 

 

THE SOURCES
The Economist: “In Fintech, China Shows The Way”
Cryptocoins News: “China Set To Exceed Previous Fintech Investment Record”
South China Morning Post: “The Day Of Reckoning Is Nigh For Fintech Startups”

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THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO DIGITAL BANKING PLATFORMS

If you dozed off and missed the digital banking revolution, here is the indispensable guide to choosing a digital banking platform, courtesy of Dataconomy.

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THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO DIGITAL BANKING PLATFORMS

Mar. 14. 2017, 09:04

“Nowadays, implementing digital banking platform is a must, and should be thought of as a continuous evolutionary process, and not as a project with a beginning and an end.”

If you’re a bank and just now getting around picking your digital platforms, you are seriously late. But there are upsides. Late adopters can make use of the early adopters’ mistakes. Dataconomy gives you the most important insights gained by the pioneers: User experience is key. Personal Finance Management must be simple. Bots and data power innovation. And context matters. Ka-ching! You’ve got yourself a digital bank.

Ann please make sure things look smooth, too. Monese is a branchless banking service that has put a lot of effort into rebranding through design. Joe Allison explains the redesign process behind the rebranding of a digital bank at Prototypr (HT Fintech Weekly)

 

THE SOURCES
Dataconomy: “The Defitive Guide To Digital Banking Platforms”
Prototypr: “Rebranding A Digital Bank: The Story Behind Our New Look”

 

 

 

 

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COULD YOUR TOASTER RAT YOU OUT?

The race is on to connect – and pay with – everything from toasters to running shoes to the Internet of Things. But security has been sidelined, write this week’s picks.

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COULD YOUR TOASTER RAT YOU OUT?

Mar. 13. 2017, 11:33

“The enthusiasm to connect everything to the internet shows no sign of letting up”
– The Financial Times.

Everything from running shoes to baby monitors could become a point-of-sale device as 30+ billion connected devices are payment-enabled. IBM and Visa recently launched a new IoT platform that will let developers put mobile payment technology in any connected device.

Kettles that send messages instead of whistling are cool, but possibly unsafe: “Billions of everyday objects lack basic security, offering inroads for cyber criminals”, FT writes.

An upcoming court case could determine the sanctity of what is said between a person and a bot in a home. Silicon Republic reports that the police would like to access what a particular Echo unit – with Amazon’s smart bot Alexa on board – witnessed at the (potential) murder scene of Victor Collins.

Forbes’ Bernard Marr summarizes the potential dangerous IoT side effects:

“In the race to create that next ‘it’ product that no one can live without (smart fry pans anyone?), manufacturers and users are creating dangerous side effects known as botnets.”

 

THE SOURCES
The Financial Times: “The Internet of Things: Home Is Where The Hackers Are”
Popular Science: “Amazon Echo And The Internet Of Things That Spy On You”
Silicon Republic: “IBM and Visa IoT Platform Will Let You Pay For Things With Nearly Any Device”
Forbes: “The Dangerous Side Effects Of The Internet Of Things”

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HOW THEY WILL COVER YOUR BACK

Armed with super big data, insurance companies are upgrading from The Stone Age. With huge consequences for how they cover people.

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HOW THEY WILL COVER YOUR BACK

Mar. 8. 2017, 11:15

“We’re at the beginning of technology being applied to risk management” – Scott Walchec, Trove, to The Financial Times

Insurance companies are pouring billions of dollars into innovation and research. Billions more are invested in insurtech startups. “Change is coming as the industry wakes up to the idea that the cover we might buy 20 years from now will look very different from the cover we need today”, The Financial Times writes in a smart report, prediciting major change to how big data will have us buy insurance.

“Imagine that mobile phone signals or other sensors detect that a person is about to walk down a road where several people have recently fallen on ice, he says. The insurer will react by either sending a message warning the person to walk more carefully or else automatically increase the premium and cover while the policyholder is walking down that road.”

Dan Lawrence at Signority has put together a handy list of elements that the insurance industry should consider before they go all in on digital solutions, including what it means to go paperless and how to make users extatic.

Let’s Talk Payments looks at what bringing insurance up from The Stone Age could actually mean for a billion people market such as India.

 

THE SOURCES
The Financial Times: “Insurance And The Big Data Technology Revolution”
Signority: “Key Questions The Insurance Industry Should Consider Before Going Digital”
Let’s Talk Payments: “Fintechs Next Frontier: Can It Insure A Billion People?”

 

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DROID WARS

Bill Gates wants to tax robots that take human jobs. Larry Summers thinks we should stop picking on robots, already.

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DROID WARS

Mar. 7. 2017, 18:40

“You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed of automation.”

In an interview with Quartz recently, Microsoft founder Bill Gates argued that since robots are taking human jobs, governments should tax companies’ use of them. It would be a way to temporarily slow the spread of automation and to fund other types of employment.

Lawrence Summers, ex-Harvard President and Treasury Secretary, thinks Gates got this one seriously wrong. In a Washington Post op-ed he just cannot see the logic in picking on robots. Singling them out as job destroyers is like blaming new medicines for putting doctors out of work, he argues. Where do you set the line for when a robot takes someone’s job? Summers believes we should subsidize robots instead, as they improve our lives in so many ways. Also, Summers says,

“It is hard to see why shrinking the pie, rather than enlarging it as much as possible and then redistributing, is the right way forward.”

The idea is not totally theoretical, however: EU lawmakers considered a proposal to tax robot owners to pay for training for workers who lose their jobs. In February, that proposal was rejected.

 

THE SOURCES
Quartz: “The Robots That Take Your Job Should Pay Taxes, Says Bill Gates”.
The Washington Post: “Picking On Robots Won’t Deal With Job Destruction”
Reuters: “European Parliament Calls For Robot Law, Rejects Robot Tax”

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HOW BLOCKCHAIN IS CHANGING FINANCE…FOR GOOD

The financial system is antiquated, centralized and exclusionary. Which is why, this week, some great writers have argued that blockchain will save us all.

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HOW BLOCKCHAIN IS CHANGING FINANCE…FOR GOOD

Mar. 6. 2017, 13:28

“Is this the end of banking as we know it? That depends on how incumbents react.”

This week, the frontier of blockchain writing has moved to Harvard Business Review and The New York Times. Alex and Don Tapsco describe a financial system that is antiquated, a “kludge of industrial technologies and paper-based processes dressed up in a digital wrapper”. It’s also too centralized, and denies billions of people access to basic financial tools. Bankers have largely dodged the sort of creative destruction that is critical to economic progress. Happily, blockchain solves this “innovation logjam”. This perfect introduction to what blockchain is set to achieve is stuffed with helpful links.

The New York Times has a terrific piece on how IBM’s blockchain division went from being a tiny, exploratory project to a 650 employee powerhouse trying to position the company at the forefront of the heated competition for practical uses of what many see as the new holy grail of transactions.

Also in HBR, Vinay Gupta aptly explains why blockchain is the same kind of “quiet revolution” to life and business that mobile phones were twenty-five years ago, and smart phones a decade ago. He guides us through the five major innovations of blockchain, from bitcoin and smart contracts, to “proof of stake” and “blockchain scaling”:

“What we can predict is that as blockchain matures and more people catch on to this new mode of collaboration, it will extend into everything from supply chains to provably fair internet dating (eliminating the possibility of fake profiles and other underhanded techniques). And given how far blockchain come in 10 years, perhaps the future could indeed arrive sooner than any of us think.”

 

THE SOURCES
Harvard Business Review: “How Blockchain Is Changing Finance”
The New York Times: “Blockchain: A Better Was To Track Pork Chops, Bonds, Bad Peanut Butter?”
Harvard Business Review:“A Brief Historiy Of Blockchain”

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THE ANT THAT’S COMING FOR THE WORLD

Why be the biggest mobile payments player in China when one can be the biggest on the planet? Ant Financial is coming for all of us.

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THE ANT THAT’S COMING FOR THE WORLD

Mar. 2. 2017, 11:47

Why be the biggest mobile payments player in China when one can be the biggest on the planet? Ant Financial, the Chinese conglomerate formerly known as Alipay, boasts 400 million registered users and process 175 million transactions every day – 60 percent of them on mobile. And Ant is ready for more, reports Pymnts.com.

The timing of Ant’s anticipated IPO is up in the air, but “the efforts Ant has made in the last year to step up the level of its global game are more or less undeniable,” Pymnts reports. 2016 saw partnership agreements with European and North American processors, a memorandum of understanding to offer payments in Australia, and the purchase of U.S.-based EyeVerify, a mobile eye recognition tech firm.

In an interesting Q&A in The Atlantic, the author of ‘Alibaba and The House That Jack Ma Built’, Duncan Clark, lays out the ground for how to understand Alibaba, Ant Financial, and the entire Chinese tech ecosystem: “In recounting the legends of the 21st century’s most impactful businesses we can no longer restrict our casting call to Silicon Valley.  We must now include companies like Hangzhou-based Alibaba, along with its peers known – like Shenzhen-based Tencent, or those now growing fast or yet even to appear in China.”

THE SOURCES
Pymnts.com: “Alipay Takes On The World – At Top Speed”
Wall Street Journal: “5 Things to Know About Ant Financial”
The Atlantic: “How to Understand Alibaba, ‘The House That Jack Ma Built

 

 

 

 

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NOT YOUR GRANDPA’S DATA ANALYSIS

Babak Hodjat believes humans are too emotional for the stock market. So he’s started one of the first hedge funds run completely by artificial intelligence.

 

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NOT YOUR GRANDPA’S DATA ANALYSIS

Mar. 1. 2017, 10:37

Babak Hodjat believes humans are too emotional for the stock market. So he’s started one of the first hedge funds run completely by artificial intelligence, reports Bloomberg. “Humans have bias and sensitivities, conscious and unconscious,” says Hodjat, who is being closely watched by the finance and artificial intelligence communities.

New innovations in data analytics empower financial institutions with “systems that are so smart, they learn on the go, automatically refining their algorithms and improving their results over time” (Financial Brand), says Scott Hackl at EdgeVerve. He makes a compelling argument for why finance should believe in artificial intelligence and invest in the power of advanced data analytics.

According to a recent  report from Efma and Infosys Finacle, financial institutions understand the potential impact and benefits of AI, but that they are still hesitant to act.

 

THE SOURCES
Bloomberg: “Silicon Valley Hedgefund Takes On Wall Street With AI Trader”
The Financial Brand: “Machine Learning, AI And The Future Of Data Analytics In Banking”
Efma: “Innovation In Retail Banking”

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AND SILICON VALLEY KNEELED TO THE BANKS

Have you charged the moats surrounding and protecting the existing financial industry? Bad idea. Fintechs hottest disruptors describe the headaches incurred.

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AND SILICON VALLEY KNEELED TO THE BANKS

Feb. 28. 2017, 17:34

“We realized that if you want millions of users as a bank, it is a very different proposition than building a social media network”. Brett King, founder of Moven, is just one of the many technology entrepreneurs who have run into “the enormous moats that surround and protect the existing financial industry”, reports The New York Times.

There has been no breakout star from the wave of fintech startups that proclaimed they were going to upend the reigning banks. Along the way, many of them have understood the need to work with the banks instead. The Times speak to several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investrors about the mood change.

In addition, the new Trump administration could tip the weights further in favour of encumbents. The plan to dismantle post-crisis regulations is expected to give the big banks freer rein and close the window of opportunity for newcomers.

“If only we had been clever enough to take Donald Trump neither literally nor seriously, we would have known that after vilifying Wall Street throughout his campaign, he would embrace it once he got to the Oval Office.” In “Welcome Back, Wall Street. Now Pay Us Back” (New York Times), William D. Cohan argues that bankers in return for for the death of legislation like Dodd-Frank, should agree to a new compensation system.

 

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5 LESSONS LEARNED FROM MAKING A BANKING CHAT BOT

First, he built and launched a banking chatbot called Teller. Now. Sidharth Garg is back to give us his general takeaways from the process(Venturebeat). For instance, users are curious, but they...

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5 LESSONS LEARNED FROM MAKING A BANKING CHAT BOT

Feb. 27. 2017, 16:20

First, he built and launched a banking chatbot called Teller. Now. Sidharth Garg is back to give us his general takeaways from the process (Venturebeat). For instance, users are curious, but they don’t dear ask questions that aren’t suggested to them, and lose interest pretty fast.

“Financial institutions are bullish on chatbots”, reports Financial Brand,, based on a survey by Personetics which shows that the financial services industry is getting a closer to supporting conversational commerce. The industry is supporting projects that use chatbots to improve the overall customer experience.

“Chatbots are becoming more useful on a daily basis and are able to serve millions of customers 24/7 — a perfect fit for companies that want to deliver instant customer service while cutting costs. Bots can run on popular messaging platforms, with over 33,000 bots running in Facebook Messenger already.”

The Personetics report, “How Chatbots Fit Into Your Omnichannel Strategy,” states that the rise arose from two key trends:

  • App fatigue. A quarter of downloaded apps were abandoned after just one use. Most users only use a few applications – the ones that save time, money and make life easier.
  • Instant messaging apps skyrocketed, with numbers of users and time spent on messaging bloomed.
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WHY PAYMENT COMPANIES ARE FLOCKING TO PAYMENT APPS

Money is social, which is why messaging apps like TransferWise are welcoming financial services onto their platforms, reports Fast Company. “Weve been eyeing the messengers because its such...

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WHY PAYMENT COMPANIES ARE FLOCKING TO PAYMENT APPS

Feb. 24. 2017, 09:00

Money is social, which is why messaging apps like TransferWise are welcoming financial services onto their platforms, reports Fast Company. “We’ve been eyeing the messengers because it’s such a natural place for customers to want to send money,” says Scott Miller at TransferWise.

TransferWise is only the latest to launch integrated services with Messenger, Bloomberg reports: PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and American Express all have payment bots on Facebook Messenger.

The goal for payments services is to become ubiquitous across platforms so users only need one user profile for online transactions. Los Angeles Times has a nice end user-focus article on how Facebook Messenger bots can “help send your money across the world”.

As of Tuesday, users of the social media messaging service will be able to exchange international currencies through a TransferWise bot, expanding the start-up’s aims to make its services available to people, “wherever they are on the internet”. According to Scott Miller, the new service is set to get companies “very excited” (CNBC), particularly those that regularly exchange money internationally.

Other popular messaging apps such as WeChat have also built platforms for payments, and people have the option of using stand-alone payment apps too.

Mexico, along with China, India and the Philippines, is among the top destination countries for global remittances, according to the this report on migration and remittances from the World Bank.

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NO CYBER ATTACKS? TIME TO WORRY BIG TIME

If all is quiet on the cyber front, it just means cyber attackers have become stealthier and more dangerous, reports Penny Crosman at American Banker. A newgeneration of malware – “Fileless” –...

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NO CYBER ATTACKS? TIME TO WORRY BIG TIME

Feb. 22. 2017, 12:00

If all is quiet on the cyber front, it just means cyber attackers have become stealthier and more dangerous, reports Penny Crosman at American Banker. A new generation of malware – “Fileless” – is even sneakier, not only designed to escape detection, but lurking in computer memory where normal security software can’t see it.

The criminals have figured out all the most common controls that are put in, including file-based antimalware and sandboxing and detonation. They work real hard to write malware to defeat that,” says Avivah Litan, Gartner vice president.

“Most cyberattacks on banks start with phishing—convincing-looking emails with malicious attachments. Bank IT departments usually aim to put those attachments in a sandbox, where they can be evaluated in a safe place. The newer, fileless versions are encrypted and have program logic that can detect they’re in a sandbox and, understanding what a sandbox looks for, won’t run. To IT, they look like benign Word attachments or PDF files.

In “The Rise of Fileless Malware: Over 100 Telecoms, Banks and Government Organizations Under Attack”, Ali Raza of HackRead explains how hackers and cyber criminals will “turn tables by infecting their targets with Fileless malware”.

Kaspersky Lab had made this analysis and released this graphic (via American Banker), explaining how Fileless works:

the-rise-of-file-less-attacks-4

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LESSONS FOR FINTECH FROM THE HISTORY OF BANKING

Fintech lenders can learn a lot from the history of banking, writes John Maxfield in this useful look back on history, imploringfintechs to “temper dogma with reality”. And the most important...

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LESSONS FOR FINTECH FROM THE HISTORY OF BANKING

Feb. 21. 2017, 09:13

Fintech lenders can learn a lot from the history of banking, writes John Maxfield in this useful look back on history, imploring fintechs to “temper dogma with reality”. And the most important lesson of all revolves around the frequent need to say “no.”

Maxfield takes us through the history of “this time is different” to what Warren Buffet refers to as the “institutional imperative” – bankers’ insistence on acting as a herd:

“In short, while it’s tempting to dismiss the hundreds of years’ worth of experience reflected in the history of banking as outdated, fintech lenders do so at their peril. This won’t be obvious until the credit cycle takes a turn for the worse, which could be many years from now, but when it happens it’s those companies that embrace the lessons of the past that will not only survive the chaos and disorder, but emerge from it in a stronger competitive position.”

 

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THE WARM NORDIC EMBRACE OF FINTECH

The freshreport “Innovation, Distributed: Mapping the Nordic Fintech Bridge”(Fintech Mundi/DNB) shows fintech catching on fast in the Nordics, with each country developing specialties: Norway...

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THE WARM NORDIC EMBRACE OF FINTECH

Feb. 20. 2017, 09:55

The fresh report “Innovation, Distributed: Mapping the Nordic Fintech Bridge” (Fintech Mundi/DNB) shows fintech catching on fast in the Nordics, with each country developing specialties: Norway in authentication and ID, Sweden in e-payments, Denmark in Blockchain and Finland in e-invoicing. 7 out of 10 respondents believe the Nordics will be the leading fintech hub. Soon.

Some other findings:

74% of Nordic banks intend to collaborate with fintech firms in 2017, up from less than 50% a year ago.

42% of financial institutions surveyed want to expand their existing partnerships with fintech firms in addition to the 74% that want to create new partnerships.

42% of banks surveyed plan to set up fintech incubators, compared to 24% of banks in the rest of Europe

 

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WILL IBM’S WATSON KILL OFF ACCOUNTANTS?

“Hello, maximum refund!” The tax preparation giant H & R Block has enlisted IBM’s super computer Watson at its 10.000US branches(New Atlas). Will it kill of accountants? Probably not, says...

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WILL IBM’S WATSON KILL OFF ACCOUNTANTS?

Feb. 15. 2017, 12:50

“Hello, maximum refund!” The tax preparation giant H & R Block has enlisted IBM’s super computer Watson at its 10.000 US branches (New Atlas). Will it kill of accountants? Probably not, says Gene Marks (Washinton Post): “My clients will always need an accountant around to complain to about their high taxes.”

“This is not a promotion,” said H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb in a taped interview on Fortune: “Watson is not cheap.” He hopes this will be where milennials get their taxes done.

Watson will not replace humans yet. One big benefit to the new tech is that it harnesses Block’s institutional knowledge, reports Fast Company: “This wasn’t like we dumped the tax code, 74,000 pages, on Watson and said, here, learn that,” says Cobb to the publication. On the contrary: Watson started with the same training material a human employee would get—provisions of tax code, different types of tax forms, and articles interpreting the code.

In “Can IBM’s Watson do it all?”, Fast Company reports on how Big Blue’s artificial intelligence division is “a sprawling effort to corner seemingly every market in AI.”

 

 

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MPESA AND WHAT MOBILE MONEY REALLY MEANS

MPESA, the Swahili word for money, is Kenyas mobile money system. It has transformed the ability for people to work, save, and pay for everything. This week’s episode of Breaking Banks telles

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MPESA AND WHAT MOBILE MONEY REALLY MEANS

Feb. 14. 2017, 12:42

MPESA, the Swahili word for money, is Kenya’s mobile money system. It has transformed the ability for people to work, save, and pay for everything. This week’s episode of Breaking Banks telles the story of how MPESA has lifted nearly 200,000 families out of poverty. Read on for more great MPESA stories.

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3 SMART STEPS FINTECHS MUST TAKE TO SURVIVE

A massive disconnect betweenthe finance and tech communities will lead to a great thinning of the fintech herd in the coming years(Forbes). Chris Myers of BodeTree thinks having the right...

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3 SMART STEPS FINTECHS MUST TAKE TO SURVIVE

Feb. 13. 2017, 13:32

A massive disconnect between the finance and tech communities will lead to a great thinning of the fintech herd in the coming years (Forbes). Chris Myers of BodeTree thinks having the right investors, acting conservatively, and respecting the incumbents is necessary to live. But hedge your bets, of course.

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