In the brave new world of banking and financial services, technology has become the key to a locker filled with goodies. As a result, it is not impossible to imagine a future where opening a bank or a financial company is as simple as connecting an appliance. In that world, a robot could guide an investor on the best possible options or you could walk into a bank manned by robot tellers. PWC’s report titled ‘Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond: Embracing disruption‘ envisages a future where the impossible will become reality. While this list may seem a little too futuristic, banks and financial services organizations are already feeling the tremors of new technology waves that are disrupting existing business models to pave the way for faster, smarter, cheaper operations.
Here are a few emerging technology disrupters:
Distributed ledger technology (DLT)
Algorithms are enabling the collaborative creation of digital distribution ledgers that are far smarter than their paper counterparts. Distributed ledgers are asset databases that can be shared across multiple devices, sites, and geographies where participants can own identical copies of the ledger. Used for various purposes, these ledgers are stored in cryptographic forms and accessed with electronic keys and signatures. Participants, based on rule-based permissions, can update these ledgers, whenever required.
Distributed ledgers are beneficial to banks as they can reflect changes on a real-time basis. As they are extremely secure, they prevent unauthorized entries, making corruption virtually impossible. As a technology solution, distributed ledgers reside on top of existing applications. Within the field of distributed ledgers, block chain is one more method of distributed ledgers. However, block chain is restricted to a sequential model while DLs do not necessarily fit into a sequential pattern when distributing ledgers. Distributed ledgers may be a good first step forward with immediate benefits for the banking sector.
Robo-advisor – Fancy though the name sounds, robo-advisors have been around for over a decade. However, it is only in the recent past that this concept has gained popularity. Robo-advisor is an algorigthm-based AI for automated financial advice. This concept has become especially popular for small investors with limited investment options. However, even in cases of larger investments requiring complex decision-making, robo advisors help to automate activities such as tax losses and rebalancing. Robo advisors are useful for single investment goals, and are very good with automated portfolio rebalancing.
As an add-on service, banks can provide value-added services to customers using robo-advisors. Customers can, thus, benefit from customized financial plans and automated investing. One of the key advantages of robo-advisors is the ability to negate human-made calculation mistakes. Uncolored by human emotions, robo-advisors rely purely on algorithms and numbers, reducing chances of errors in investment decisions. In the competitive world of banking, robo-advisors can combine the derive intelligence on existing customers to offer customized investment plans that are beneficial to banks and customers.
e-KYC and identity
Know Your Customer (KYC) is a process adopted by businesses who offer products and services to traders, customers and agents. It is also a process followed by financial services organizations to adhere to regulatory requirements and also to target segment customers. Till recently KYC was a physical activity which required human intervention. While several organizations continue to rely on physical KYC, some forward thinking financial institutions are incorporating eKYC as a procedure for information and verification on customers. By minimizing paperwork and manual labor, eKYC presents a huge opportunity for banks to reduce operational costs without compromising security and information. eKYC reduces paper dependencies thereby helping to avoid identity thefts, and eliminating forgery. Banks can adopt eKYC as it is extremely secure. In the future, eKYC would be the first step forward in a world of secure, paperless transactions.
According to the 2017 True Cost of Fraud Study from LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, financial services companies earning at least half of their revenues through digital channels incur up to $3.04 in costs for every dollar lost to cyber-fraud. However, as per the same survey, banks that adopted a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity experience less than 50 percent of the average losses attributed to lapse in cyber security. To ensure cybersecurity, banks are leaning on digital identity intelligence, advanced behavioral analysis, clear-box machine learning technics and integrated risk based authentication. With over one billion new internet users entering the field on an annual basis, the fear of cyber threats can be extremely overwhelming. However, digital identity-based authentication is helping to control fears while providing a real boost to this industry.
To summarize, technology disruptors are providing opportunities and challenges to the banking sector. While challenges such as data breaches, cyber attacks and compromised data will be a fear factor, banks that want to meet the heightened needs of customers should plunge ahead and adapt digital technologies for competitive success.