Increasing demands on cybersecurity as finance evolves

The rise of Fintech is a challenge for regulators, as outlined by the IMF earlier this year. Yet legislation isn’t the only area which needs to keep pace with the evolution of finance. As digital services and infrastructure expand, cybersecurity has never been more important.

by Simon Eyre, CISO, Drawbridge

Cyberattacks are on the rise – increasing in both frequency and sophistication – and financial players are a prime target. For instance, research from the Anti-Phishing Working Group, shows the financial sector (including banks) was the most frequently victimised by phishing in Q2 2022, accounting for over a quarter of all phishing attacks. A successful attack of any kind can have catastrophic consequences: in February, cryptocurrency platform Wormhole lost $320 million from an attacker exploiting a signature verification vulnerability.

Simon Eyre, CISO, Drawbridge, discusses your cybersecurity needs
Simon Eyre, CISO, Drawbridge

As finance evolves, it’s imperative that institutions of every size are doing all they can to protect themselves from cybercriminals. But what does that look like in practice? Let’s examine some key actions all companies must take.

Strengthening weak links

You may not be looking for weak links in your security infrastructure – but your adversaries definitely are. A single vulnerability is an open door for criminals.

Businesses must continually search for weak links in their cybersecurity armour – such as through vulnerability management and penetration testing – to identify and strengthen these weaknesses before malicious actors do.

This is especially important as working habits also evolve, with remote and hybrid working established as the norm. These offer many benefits but can also greatly increase risk as employees access systems from numerous locations and devices move on and off networks. In fact, Verizon’s Mobile Security Index report found that 79% of mobile security professionals agreed that recent changes to working practices had adversely affected their organisation’s cybersecurity. This isn’t to say that companies should ban remote working but they need to be aware of their heightened risk and be proactive about managing it.

Educating the team

A crucial part of this risk management involves employee education. Many cyberattacks rely on social engineering techniques like typo-squatting (often used in conjunction with targeted phishing attacks) to impersonate trusted parties and fool employees into providing critical access or even direct funds. Therefore, employees at every level need to know the techniques that are being used against them and be trained in the appropriate cybersecurity response.

The way this education is delivered is also important. A one-off PowerPoint presentation won’t cut it – teams need continuous training and engaging exercises, such as attack simulations, tabletop exercises and quizzes, to ensure that crucial information is taken in.

Creating a cast-iron incident response plan

Part of protecting yourself from the damage of a cyberattack is planning what to do in the event of one.

An incident response plan is a critical part of a firm’s cybersecurity infrastructure, structuring the steps to be taken following an incident. Plans should include key contacts and a division of responsibilities, escalation criteria, details of an incident lifecycle, checklists to help in an emergency and guidance on legal and regulatory requirements. Plans can even include template emails to support communications and companies should draw on knowledge from private resources and industry experts, as well as their government’s resources, to help them create a cast-iron plan.

The road ahead for finance and cybersecurity

Over the coming years, the rate of digital change isn’t set to slow. With BigTech’s eyes on banking, traditional banks innovating to keep up with challengers, the rise of ‘superapps’ and cryptocurrency supporting the emerging metaverse – to name just a few – there’s significant change still yet to occur.

The finance sector’s cybersecurity response must also continue to evolve in order to keep up. Part of this will mean relying more heavily on AI, such as in continuously monitoring networks for threats, although this tech will also be leveraged by cybercriminals. Additionally, it will be crucial for the cybersecurity as a whole to close its skills gap: there is currently an estimated global cybersecurity workforce gap of 3.4 million people.

The future is exciting but without the right protections, it can be dangerous too. If firms are to protect their assets and customers, they must build cybersecurity into the heart of their practices. Reaping the rewards of the FinTech boom means keeping firm control of your security risk.


Difference between Low Code & No Code development

low-code application development platform is a visual software development environment that empowers multiple developer personas. It uses visual development tools with drag-and-drop or point-and-click design capabilities, abstracting the code in application design and development, thus providing a simple and intuitive development environment. Low code helps to free up your IT staff to focus on more value-add tasks. It can help enterprises roll out applications with a shorter time to market with high abstraction— Utsav Turray, General Manager – Product Management and Marketing at Newgen Software

What is a low-code platform?

Low code enables enterprises to rapidly develop customized solutions and applications for multiple interfaces like web, mobile, wearable devices, etc., to automate end-to-end customer journeys.

Benefits of low code platform

1. Empower IT, Teams, for Optimum Resource Utilization:

Your IT teams spend long hours maintaining systems with periodic updates, compliance checks, and performance measurements. Low code can help you minimize this burden by automating such recurring tasks, allowing IT experts to focus on other important activities.

Utsav Turray, General Manager - Product Management and Marketing at Newgen Software
Utsav Turray, General Manager – Product Management and Marketing at Newgen Software

2. Fulfill Customer Expectations by Responding Quickly

Today’s tech-savvy customers want you to respond quickly to their needs. With these platforms, you can quickly respond to customers’ needs by developing and deploying applications rapidly. Also, you can deliver a personalized customer experience using customizable applications.

3. Enhance Governance and Reduce Shadow IT

Shadow IT is an area of concern for enterprises as it accrues technical debt and affects its overall risk monitoring. Low code offers a collaborative work environment and reduces dependencies on third-party applications. It helps reduce shadow IT through central governance and visibility.

4. Handle Complex Business Needs with Faster Go-to-market

A low code platform with well-designed functional capabilities like drag-and-drop tools helps developers handle a range of complex business and technological needs. These platforms enable faster development of complex business applications in a short period, fostering quick innovation and rapid go-to-market.

What is no code platform?

No code is a tool for nonprofessional developers. Using a no-code platform, anyone in the organization can build and launch applications without coding languages using a visual “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) interface to build an application and intuitive user interface. A no-code platform often uses drag-and-drop functionality to enable development and make it accessible for organization-wide users. No code platforms are mostly directed to serve the needs of business developers who can develop applications with workflows involving fewer work steps, simpler forms, and basic integrations.

Benefits of no code platform

  • With no code, organizations can work without IT interference.
  • Organizations can make applications in less time and with fewer resources.
  • Compared to conventional coding methods, no-code solutions reduce the development time since developers don’t need to hand-code each line of code.
  • Functionality and design are more easily changeable than hard coding allows. Developers can also integrate any change easily and enhance functionalities in the applications whenever required; this helps businesses provide a better customer experience.
  • No code platforms don’t require similar effort as a conventional coding approach to building applications, thus being cost-effective.

Difference between low code and no code

Working with Newgen, you’ll have access to Newgen’s low-code and no-code intelligent automation capabilities. However, both platforms focus on a visual approach to software development and drag-and-drop interfaces to create applications.

Low code is a Next-gen Rapid Application Development tool for multiple developers, whereas no code is a Self-service application for business users. The primary purpose of low code is the speed of development it offers, whereas, for no code, it’s the ease of use.

If the goal is to develop simple applications that require little to no customization and are based on improving the efficiency of a simple workflow, no code platform should be the ideal choice. An example could be order management, employee onboarding, or scheduling to improve employee efficiency.

Low code, on the other hand, is more suited to enterprise use cases. It is directed towards various personas, including business developers. Low code is more flexible than a no-code platform. An example could be Business Process Automation, Application modernization, Internal applications, and portals. Developers can work with stakeholders in all the stages of the development process, and low code can help them address complex integration scenarios, which gives an organization faster time to market.


Partnerships to tackle the SME funding gap

Collaborative partnerships can remove barriers to SME borrowing, in turn boosting the global economy. In an already challenging market for businesses of all sizes, SMEs are facing the additional strain of being unable to access the working capital they need to manage cashflow, take advantage of growth opportunities or help them get through quiet periods.

by Martin McCann, CEO, Trade Ledger

The good news for SMEs – and the banks wanting to provide them with a better solution – is that the technology to resolve these pain points already exists. Companies like Trade Ledger provide the technology that lenders need in order to offer businesses fast, easy access to working capital – worthy of a digital economy.  A good example of how that is working in reality is our partnership with HSBC.  Working together, we created a digital solution that cuts the approval process for new receivables finance from up to 2 months, down to within 48 hours.

Utilising the interconnected ecosystem

Martin McCann, CEO, Trade Ledger explains how partnerships among banks and FinTechs can help SMEs.
Martin McCann, CEO, Trade Ledger

Even the world’s largest commercial bank cannot do it all in-house, instead seeking agile, enterprise technology partners to fast-track digital transformation strategies and start adding value to customers sooner. We call this collaborative innovation.

Such partnerships are nothing new. Indeed ‘partnership’ seems to be something of a buzzword in the financial services industry today – thanks in part to open banking, but also Covid-19 forcing many to seek alternative solutions quickly in a time of crisis. It is encouraging to see banks, FinTechs and other payment services providers increasingly looking to build partnerships within the financial ecosystem, for the mutual benefit of both organisations as well as their underlying customers. Utilising purpose-built solutions of other providers, financial institutions of all sizes can get new solutions to market more quickly and at lower cost, helping them to remain highly competitive.

Another example of innovative collaboration is the way in which we work with Thought Machine, the cloud-native core banking technology provider. Together, with Trade Ledger’s loan origination and management capabilities, we are able to deliver a fully integrated technology stack for commercial lenders and banks. The API-driven data exchange enables a high level of real-time. Banks can now rapidly configure and launch new digital products such as asset-based-lending, invoice and receivables finance, with ease and control.

SME lending to boost the economy

By leveraging open banking APIs and data modelling to build a real-time view of the customer, banks can get a richness and quality of data that removes traditional blockers to extending credit to the mid-market and SME sectors.

I believe there is also a moral obligation for the industry to provide critical global supply chains with access to liquidity in order to fuel a global economic recovery. SMEs play a vital role in the global economy, so the industry must come together to remove the barriers that hold them back – including the inability to access external capital. Innovation happens where capital flows!


Role of FinTech platforms in the trade finance industry

VP at Triterras
Swati Babel, a cross-border trade finance business specialist, and VP at Triterras

Trade is the engine that powers development and competitiveness in the global economy, thereby encouraging fairness, creativity, and productivity. When trade flows in a rules-based system, jobs, wages, and investment accelerate immensely.

By Swati Babel, a cross-border trade finance business specialist, and VP at Triterras

Trade financing supports trade at every level of the global supply chain. Trade finance makes ensuring that buyers get their products and sellers get their money by supplying liquidity, and cash flows, and reducing risks. Simply expressed, trade finance is necessary for the cross-border movement of products and services.

With the Global Trade Finance Market estimated to reach $85.85 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 7.06%, it becomes an integral part of every country’s economy. The world’s vast domestic market and a large pool of skilled workers make trade finance an attractive destination for foreign investors. However, the complex regulatory environment and lack of access to financing restrict the expansion of business operations across various markets.

However, the emergence of FinTech platforms over the years is paving the way to simplify and seamlessly align the trade finance industry. FinTech platforms are providing much-needed solutions for businesses by offering innovative financing products that are tailored to the needs of enterprises. These platforms are helping businesses to overcome the challenges they face in accessing traditional bank financing, and they are playing a key role in promoting economic growth and development. The platforms provide businesses with the financing they need to grow and expand their operations and also help the businesses manage and improve their financial planning.

The role of FinTech platforms in the trade finance industry is to provide an efficient and cost-effective way for businesses to finance their international trade transactions. The platforms offer several advantages over traditional banking products, including:

  • Access to capital: Fintech platforms provide businesses with access to capital that they may not be able to obtain through traditional banking channels. This can be particularly helpful for small businesses and startups that may not have the collateral or credit history required by banks. Moreover, Fintech platforms provide businesses with enhanced access to funding, which can be used to finance trade transactions. Another key advantage of fintech platforms is their ability to connect borrowers and lenders from around the world, which gives borrowers greater access to capital. In addition, fintech platforms usually have lower transaction costs than traditional banks.
  • Flexibility and Cost Effectiveness: Fintech platforms offer more flexible terms than traditional bank loans, which can be important for businesses that have the irregular cash flow or are expanding into new markets. Fintech platforms offer flexible products and services that can be customized to meet the specific needs of businesses. Fintech platforms offer cost-effective solutions that can help businesses save on costs associated with financing trade transactions. Various fintech platforms have relationships with multiple lenders, which gives them the ability to get customers the best possible terms for loans and can often provide more flexible repayment terms than banks. This means that businesses can choose a repayment schedule that works best for them, instead of being tied into a rigid repayment plan from a bank.
  • Agility and Efficiency: Fintech platforms typically offer a faster and more convenient application process than banks. This can be critical for businesses that need to quickly obtain financing for time-sensitive trade transactions. Fintech platforms for trade financing are a lot faster than going through a bank or other financial institution because the process is often much simpler and there is less paperwork involved. Fintech-led events and activities such as the Singapore Fintech Festival also enable an ecosystem of networking and partnerships. Because of these reasons, banks and financial institutions with sufficient capital often team up and participate with the Fintech platforms for lending/co-lending opportunities. Additionally, they also enable businesses to streamline their trade finance operations and improve overall efficiency. Innovative solutions such as AINOCR or Electronic B/L help in digitizing analog data, such as paper documents, bills, etc. These platforms provide valuable data and analytics to help businesses make informed decisions about their trade finance need and help businesses streamline their operations by automating key processes.
  • Enhanced security: Fintech platforms often utilize cutting-edge security features, such as blockchain technology, which can provide an additional layer of protection for businesses and their customers. Many platforms use such next-gen technologies to protect borrower information and ensure that transactions are processed securely. This can give borrowers peace of mind when taking out a loan or making a payment.

FinTech platforms are playing an increasingly important role in the trade finance industry. By providing a digital infrastructure for the entire supply chain, from producers to retailers, they are making it easier for businesses to connect and trade with each other. This is particularly important in the current climate, where businesses are under pressure to move faster and be more agile. FinTech platforms can help them do this by streamlining processes and reducing costs. While credit assessment and due diligence should be carried out manually to avoid Trade-based Money Laundering, however for everything else, Fintech platforms are changing the landscape of Global Trade Finance.


Why Online Payments Are the Next Big Thing in eCommerce Innovation

Ed whitehead, Manging Director, EMEA for Signifyd
Ed Whitehead, Managing Director, EMEA for Signifyd

Industry players are on a mission to differentiate themselves, while merchants and consumers are demanding innovative ways to pay for what they buy.  A seamless payment experience is becoming more and more important to consumers and therefore merchants as eCommerce continues to be as competitive as ever.

by Ed Whitehead, Managing Director EMEA for Signifyd

Guided by the industry leaders that participated in Signifyd’s FLOW Summit 2022, featuring nearly 300 eCommerce leaders discussing the current state and future vision, we delve into what the innovation in online payments has in store for all industry players.

Industry analysts are seeing the potential of payments for revenue optimisation and seizing on the opportunity. The innovation and excitement of online payments fit just right in the new eCommerce landscape. With customers demanding increased flexibility, user-friendly payment innovation is now an important influencer in eCommerce consumer behaviours.

According to research by S&P Global Market Intelligence, merchants are missing out on $16.3 billion in revenue annually due to false declines and $20.1 billion due to customers’ preferred payment methods not being accepted on retailers’ sites.

Merchants can benefit from a best-in-class fraud solution to help them optimise payments and capitalise on their revenue. The opportunity lies in the middle of the shopping journey. While customer acquisition costs are increasing, fulfillment costs will continue rising, with customers demanding faster and more personalised delivery. The opportunity for value improvement lies in improving user experience while optimising checkout and payments.

Ending the payments’ path to commoditisation

The heart of the shopping journey is essentially the shopping cart. This is a ‘make or break moment for merchants. Whether a customer continues to the final stage of their shopping journey or not will determine the merchant’s revenue.

Samsung Chief Digital Officer Kal Raman and his team adopted a “return on shopping cart” metric. Incorporating big data, it tracks what happens to orders after buyers hit the buy button and place items in carts. It aims to gather insight into how many of them convert, and what happens to those that don’t, and spot opportunities to save those customers for a lifetime.

For a bigger advantage in retaining customers, PSPs need to provide competitive packages of products that offer merchants value extending to their customers.

Nicole Jass, FIS senior vice president of growth solutions product, commented: “The biggest thing in payments is that payments are getting commoditized. The payments piece is like the utility company. We’re the electricity that you just accept comes to your house.”

What FIS, which includes payments provider Worldpay, is doing to break out of the mold is launching its Guaranteed Payments. In partnership with Signifyd which provides a very robust payment fraud solution, Guaranteed Payments will be integrated into the payment stack to provide merchants with higher and guaranteed approvals – a huge challenge and pain point for merchants.

As a first in the industry, this type of innovative collaboration will stop payments from being commoditized. It changes the eCommerce game rules from fighting fraud to approving good orders. That opens doors for customers to try new payment plans without the fear of fraud.

One of FIS’ customers already saw great results from this innovation in online payments. Its approval rate increased by 7%, which turned into $8 million. These are topline results. The hope is that this process will also affect other players, such as issuers, who will authorise more orders when they see they are receiving better quality orders.

With the realisation of how online payments can be optimised, PSPs, merchants, and customers are seizing the opportunity to maximise revenue and provide a seamless customer journey. Online payments are a gold mine for up-levelling the eCommerce game and stepping into the new era of eCommerce innovation.


Why banking CIOs should embrace Open Banking

Martin Gaffney, Vice President EMEA, Yugabyte

The first release of the API specifications for Open Banking was five years ago. At the time, I recall that many people in the banking sector didn’t see much value in it. In fact, many saw it as a potential impediment to their job.

by Martin Gaffney, Vice President EMEA, Yugabyte

Five years on, it is clear that those fears were unfounded. In May 2022 alone, UK businesses and consumers made five million open banking-driven payments. The UK open banking community made a record 1 billion API calls in the same month.

So, Open Banking ended up being a pleasant surprise rather than a restrictive move by the regulators. It opened up opportunities and showed that having to work with APIs is not a constraint but in fact, quite the opposite.

It’s taken the market a while to see that. 20 years ago, every management consultant in the sector was recommending disintermediation—the idea that you needed to own and run your own supply chain to reduce complexity.

That was still the driver when big banks started to go online: they built their own websites, their own banking applications, their own mobile solutions—all with the aim of owning everything from cell phone banking to the back end.

In practice, this actually added complexity. It meant that when a bank decided to write a web page, it had to be set to talk to an application server, which talked to its internal database, which was deployed on its on-prem server farm. It was all the bank’s responsibility, from start to finish. As a result, the organisation may have needed multiple developers with various overlapping skill sets working on this full tech stack.

But now, thanks to Open Banking and APIs, to be a serious player in banking, you must be adept at exposing and consuming APIs. To do this, you need to have the right architectures, skills, and tools in place to support this modern approach to software development.

I’d go so far as to say that we are now entering the era of ‘de-disintermediation’—as what Open Banking really means is that the bank is no longer permitted to lock anybody out, and we all need to work in a different and ‘more open’ way.

Welcome to the new de-disintermediated financial services IT world

Consumers see this on their mobile banking app, which is now full of friendly questions about whether you want to hook in another of your accounts and bring them all together in one place. Personally, I love this: it makes sense to me as a digital citizen, as a capitalist, and as a shopper.

I also like all the new businesses that Open Banking and de-disintermediation have allowed to flourish. Embedded banking is why Klarna can exist, where Buy Now, Pay Later comes in; it’s how many new payment brands work and has contributed to the major upsurge in innovative FinTech companies.

I am also seeing extremely positive moves at the tech and architecture end of the ecosystem. To do Open Banking, you must build your app in a way that allows somebody else to come in at the application server layer. You must also allow that other party’s application server to talk to other application servers, all of which have databases at the back end.

This is where the API has come into its own. IT people in progressive financial services companies welcome the fact that application programming interfaces (a technology in search of a business case for too long) make it so easy for two pieces of software to talk to each other by a contract.

Even better, the contract obliges everyone in the chain to play fair. For example, if I’m building an application that allows someone to access their bank account and returns their statements or their latest transactions, I have to publish what the API call is to get them. You must give me live session credentials, you must give me what I need, and this all happens in one agreed format–(typically) JSON, JavaScript Object Notation.

App modernisation + liberalisation = good times ahead

The reality is that the people who will succeed in an Open Banking/de-disintermediated/API-centric world are the people who build their processes, skill sets, tools, and architectures in a way that embraces this way of working. Delivering on this new approach will unlock business value.

This also means the end of huge monolithic banking applications. Now, developers can break the front off and replace the proprietary apps with APIs. This means you can more effectively outsource the value that your back end supplies, even if that’s still some monolithic mainframe app in your data centre. APIs allow you to expose it to the web and give chosen partners access to it, adding value for you.

This way of working is possibly better known to you as microservices architectures on the Cloud. Two separate tech and business development threads mesh here: one is app modernisation and the other is the general acceptance that microservices architectures are good for exploiting cloud architecture. A drive to allow more competition in the market in the shape of Open Banking has shown the API to be the best way to both comply with the regulations and to embrace that great new architecture.

There is also a database aspect here because as soon as you start the road to de-disintermediation by breaking your big banking systems up, you’re also breaking your data up. You can’t just stick with your tried and true (if rather expensive) monolithic database on the back end. Even if you did, you’d still have the ongoing problem that on-prem monolithic proprietary databases never match well with cloud-based microservices, which aim to bring everything data processing as close to the customer as possible around the world.

Given this, you can’t really have all your data sitting in a great data barn somewhere outside London. You’ll need to move to the modern data layer, an intrinsic part of this microservices architecture.

How about ending the banking IT ‘technical debt’ issue

It’s time, then, to thank the inventors of Open Banking, who weren’t (as feared) awkward people who wanted to stop you from doing stuff. You should see them instead as benefactors who’ve unlocked the door for you as a banking CIO to access a massive amount of innovation and business value in a supply chain you no longer need to 100% own.

If you embrace this, much of your day-to-day work, which is really just technical debt and patching up the work your predecessor did when John Major was PM, can go away. You can rip it up and rewrite it, turn it into an API, and let somebody else put a front end on it.

To me, the benefit of Open Banking is very clear. However, if you don’t see this as an opportunity, and consider it just another IT burden, maybe you need to ask how much of a contribution to the business you’re really making.


Pan-African upgrade for Access Bank’s core systems

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, Access Bank is one of the largest and most recognised financial institutions in Africa with operations across 11 countries. The bank called on the services of trusted Oracle Partner, Finonyx Software Solutions for a major upgrade programme across all its subsidiaries

-Robin Amlôt
-Managing Editor, IBS Intelligence

Ade Bajomo, Executive Director – IT & Operations, Access Bank Plc

The project was an upgrade to the core banking solution to Oracle FLEXCUBE v12.0.2 at Access Bank subsidiaries in 10 countries. The solution had already been deployed at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria. The project covered:

  • Upgrades from legacy versions of FLEXCUBE in 6 countries: DR Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zambia.
  • The merger of newly acquired Cavmont Bank in Zambia which required migration from third party applications and integration with the FLEXCUBE.
  • A further 2 banks required migration from third party applications and integration with the FLEXCUBE – Trasnational Bank in Kenya and Gro Bank in South Africa.
  • Greenfield implementations in Guinea and Cameroon.

Ade Bajomo (AB), Executive Director – IT & Operations at Access Bank, explains the business drivers behind the bank’s decision to initiate the project:

AB: “Access Bank has been on an expansion path over the years and has 10 subsidiaries in 10 African countries and is further expanding.  The backend applications used across the subsidiaries were dissimilar – multiple versions of the software, inadequate production support from OEM for tech stack and core banking platform due to the obsolescence of application version, independent satellite applications, lack of standard modern interfaceability between applications, etc.; these created multiple challenges. Technology obsolescence at certain areas, lack of harmony and group level consolidation, inability to launch new products and bring them to market quickly.”

What was the proposed solution?

AB: “Our management and technology review committee decided on a two-phase technology upgrade. Phase 1 to harmonise the solutions across all the subsidiaries to Oracle Flexcube 12.0.2 which is used at the HQ in Lagos, Nigeria. In Phase 2 all subsidiaries and the HQ would upgrade to the latest version of Oracle FLEXCUBE 14.x. Since Access Bank has been using the FLEXCUBE core banking system and the primary goal of the program was solution harmonization – Oracle FLEXCUBE 12.0.2 was an automatic choice.”

How was Finonyx chosen as the partner?

AB: “Post finalisation of the upgrade programme and project plan, Access wanted to bring on board an implementation partner to deliver the program. Finonyx was one of the vendors that met the rigorous evaluation and due-diligence criteria that were set up. Access Bank has associated with Finonyx in one of our earlier successful projects; the efforts and commitment shown by the team steered our decision in favour of Finonyx.”

N V Subba Reddy, Managing Director & CEO, Finonyx Software Solutions

N V Subba Reddy (NVSR), Managing Director and CEO of Finonyx Software Solutions added: “Finonyx was proud to be associated with Access Bank. In 2019 Access Bank acquired Diamond Bank Limited, Nigeria, Finonyx was the delivery partner for the merger project, and we were able to demonstrate our commitment and quality of delivery. This was a reassurance for the Access Bank management to select Finonyx over competing vendors for this ambitious, multi-country implementation programme.”

What was the implementation process?

NVSR: “The implementation process involved: Product Walkthrough, Product & Interface Harmonisation, Core User Training, Parameterisation, Data migrations, build interfaces between FLEXCUBE and 3rd party systems in each country (regulatory/non-regulatory), SIT, UAT, business simulations and live cutover.

“Given the number of countries and dissimilarity of systems, a stream approach was followed which significantly helped the synergies between the teams at the bank and Finonyx. This also meant that our teams were organised and synchronised for each of these project activities. Our teams could complete a project activity in one country and move on to execute the similar activity at the next country with a precision that simulated an assembly line.

“For instance, the infrastructure team would complete the installation and configuration in Country A, move to Country B and then to C and so on. This was followed by the PWT and training teams, Parameterisation team etc. The same approach was followed across all sites and at 8 countries the applications are live.”

How was the project affected by the pandemic?

NVSR: “We had our share of challenges because of the pandemic. The project was initiated around the first wave of the pandemic due to which we had to take a step back and re-evaluate our plans. The traditional model of onsite implementation was not possible. Over multiple discussion with the team from Access Bank, an offshore delivery model was agreed upon. Effective communication and a robust governance process were formulated and implemented to ensure that the project remained on course to meet the timelines set for country specific go-lives.

“Access bank is on an aggressive technology transformation journey, the first step towards this is the system standardisation across subsidiaries. This required a time-bound project plan and a team that has the solution expertise and regional understanding. We are appreciative of the efforts put forward by the Finonyx Team in ensuring success of this project. Our decision to onboard Finonyx as the strategic partner stands validated.” Ade Bajomo, Executive Director – IT & Operations, Access Bank Plc

“Project participants were affected by Covid-19 infections. However, alternate resource back-up plans were in place to ensure no/minimal disruptions in the execution of programme activities. All challenges, logistical, operational, technical, and managerial, were overcome by the delivery team alongside the creation of an implementation command centre for seamless execution.”

How was the implementation managed by the bank?

AB: “For Access Bank, this is a key programme and a critical element in our technology road map. We had to ensure a conflict free project plan and meet the timelines set towards completion of the project. As a first step – a robust implementation structure and a command centre headed by me as Executive Director was set up in Lagos – the team included the IT, business and operations departments full time at the HQ and the local IT and business teams in the respective countries. The team from Finonyx was aligned to our project team structure. This comprehensive delivery structure involving IT, business and operations teams and a meticulous governance process in the programme plan were instrumental in the overall programme success.

“With this structure in place, the majority of the project was delivered remotely and necessitated only minimal travel for consultants to the local sites. Consultants were required to be onsite only for countries with larger data volumes and the complexity of the sites (interfaces/non-FLEXCUBE legacy application, etc.) around the time of go-lives.

“Currently the solution is live at 8 countries and the final 2 sites are on-course to go-live by end of August and September 2022, respectively.”

What benefits have accrued to the bank because of this implementation?


  • “Standardisation of FLEXCUBE version, business products, third-party interfaces and services across all 10 countries.
  • Introduction of Universal Banking System as against 2 separate applications for retail and corporate businesses.
  • Standardisation of operating procedures across subsidiaries.
  • Launch of new business products / applications to customers of select subsidiaries.
  • Centralised Regional Disaster Recovery Data Centre in Lagos for all countries in addition to in-country primary Disaster Recovery Data Centres.
  • MIS consolidations have become much easier at the group level daily.
  • Significant reduction in the overall programme budget, IT support and management costs
  • Increased synergy between subsidiaries and HQ for new business ideas and post-live issues resolution.”

The new UK immigration landscape: Here is what FinTechs need to think about when recruiting talent

Denise Osterwald, Senior Solicitor, Gherson Solicitors LLP

For a long time recruitment in the FinTech sector was relatively straightforward. Businesses could draw on talent already living and working in the UK, as well as nationals from any of the 27 EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein (the 3 EEA countries) and Switzerland. These potential employees did not require any specific permission to start living and working in the UK – no entry visa or work permit was necessary.

by Denise Osterwald, Senior Solicitor, Gherson Solicitors LLP

This all changed on 1 January 2021, the day the UK’s exit from the EU took effect. In addition, the UK authorities used Brexit as a catalyst to overhaul large parts of the immigration system that had been in place, in one way or another, since 2008. The changes were significant and meant that businesses now had to contend with a much smaller candidate pool as EU, EEA and Swiss nationals no longer had the ability to take up work immediately. At the same time, they had to get to grips with a new immigration system that applied to all candidates who were not British citizens or had already settled in the UK.

FinTech businesses are known to be flexible, nimble and quick to exploit gaps in the market. They are well placed to think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to attracting talent in the new immigration landscape. This can be, for example, by establishing direct relationships with colleges and universities in the UK and overseas, so they can recruit directly from the graduate pool without running the risk of losing talent on the open market. It can also include offering more or new apprenticeships in order to invest in growing talent in-house, for example. Whatever happens, they will need to get used to exploiting new avenues when it comes to finding talent.

FinTech firms also tend to be lean in terms of organisational structure, which has traditionally allowed them to be faster than their more cumbersome long-established counterparts when it comes to recruiting talent. Yet they are now forced to factor significant immigration costs as well as much longer timelines into their talent recruitment processes. They will also now need someone in the business who can administer the additional bureaucracy that comes with the new immigration system. Getting it wrong can have significant repercussions for the business.

UK immigration tends to be more complex and costly than many other jurisdictions. Work visas can cost several thousand pounds, depending on how many people apply (does your preferred candidate have family who will also need to relocate?) and for how long (anything up to five years).

Therefore, offering support to new recruits with this process has become a unique selling point for businesses vying for a comparatively small number of tech talent worldwide. The better the support, from a process as well as a financial perspective, the more likely they are to attract those who have the skills but not necessarily the means or knowledge to obtain UK work visas.

This means, of course, that the business will have to be able to sponsor work visas for their new employees. Some candidates may qualify for personal visas (such as visas based on having a British partner or having British ancestors), but it is likely that the vast majority of recruits will need sponsored work visas.

Most businesses will not have needed to engage with the UK’s points-based immigration system (PBS) before, or obtain a UK sponsor licence from the authorities, because they were able to fill their vacancies with candidates who did not require a visa. As this is no longer the case, it is advisable to obtain this licence as soon as possible so that the business is not caught on the back foot if it finds a person they would like to recruit but who needs a visa.

The process of getting a sponsor licence is not entirely straightforward. It takes time to compile the necessary documents, and then time for the UK authorities (the Home Office) to process the application. Overall, the minimum timeframe is in the region of 10-12 weeks. However, it can be significantly longer if the Home Office decides to visit the business’ premises to understand how they will comply with their sponsor duties were a licence to be granted. The duties are strict and affect the administration of the licence as well as the processes and procedures in place to ensure migrants on visas are monitored whilst employed. Small businesses will need to pay £536 for a licence, and large business £1,476. There is a way to speed up the process for an additional fee of £500, but it is not easy to obtain such a priority processing spot. If successful, the licence could be approved in around 10 working days.

Once the licence has been granted, the business can apply for a work visa. There are a number of different visas available, the most common being the Skilled Worker visa. The advantage of this visa compared to other work permits is that it can be applied for five years and can lead to indefinite leave to remain in the UK at the end of the five years (and then to British citizenship if desired). As already noted, UK visa applications tend to be more expensive than those in other countries, and the costs of a Skilled Worker application can range from £5,500 for a single applicant to around £10,000 for the main applicant, spouse and child. If an immigration adviser is engaged to assist with the sponsor licence and visa applications, their professional fees will need to be added to the above government fees.

What is clear about the new UK immigration landscape is that nearly every business now needs to engage with it and figure out how to make the support they offer to candidates a USP. They should also consider obtaining a sponsor licence because, eventually, they will want to recruit a candidate who will need a work visa. Given the complexity and potential pitfalls of navigating the UK’s immigration system, it is also advisable to think about engaging an immigration services provider who can support the organisation in obtaining and administering the sponsor licence and in guiding the business and its new employees through the visa application process.


How banks can benefit from Conversational AI in practice

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the trend of customers opting to use an app on their smartphone instead of visiting their local branch. British market research institute Juniper Research estimates that in 2026, around 3.6 billion bank customers worldwide will prefer to communicate with their provider digitally, up from 2.4 billion in 2020.

by Dr Jochen Papenbrock, Head of Financial Technology, NVIDIA EMEA

Artificial intelligence (AI) is establishing itself in the financial sector in areas like risk analysis and portfolio management. But customer care can also benefit from AI, or more precisely from Conversational AI, not just the business. The crucial prerequisite is that the appropriate AI solutions are used for each use case.

What is Conversational AI?

Jochen Papenbrock, Head of Financial Technology, NVIDIA EMEA

Conversational AI is the application of Machine Learning (ML) to allow humans to interact naturally with devices, machines, and computers using their own speech. As a person speaks, the device works to understand and find the best answer with its own natural-sounding speech. Conversational AI enables customers to interact with their bank via chatbots, voice assistants and voice input.

It is important that the system can answer questions within 300 milliseconds, as longer intervals are perceived as annoying by humans. But this requirement poses a challenge for Conversational AI applications: speed of answers can come at the expense of accuracy, but slow response times can reduce customer satisfaction. Similar to human-to-human communication, the question-answer process has to be fast, accurate, and contextual.

Other potential hurdles for an AI instance are technical terms, ambiguous questions, and colloquial and everyday language or phrases. To overcome challenges like these, Conversational AI uses complex Natural Language Processing (NLP) models and elaborate training procedures, usually with billions of different parameters. Training the models requires high-performance computers with powerful Graphics Processing Units (GPUs).

One of the challenges of Conversational AI is that banks and financial service providers, especially those that operate globally, need to maintain NLP models for multiple languages.

Currently, NLP models are primarily available in English. Fortunately, models can be translated into other languages with minimal effort, so it is not necessary to develop language-specific models completely from scratch.

More computing power required

Conversational AI application developers in the financial sector face another challenge: NLP models are becoming increasingly complex and the number of data sets used to train them is rising. Soon, NLP models will comprise several trillion parameters. But this complexity comes for good reason.

More training data increases the accuracy and performance of models and applications, and large models can be more easily adapted to different tasks at a lower cost. This means application developers will need GPUs with significantly higher computing power and a larger working memory for training extensive, local language models.

What are the benefits?

While using AI and ML in financial services is ground-breaking, what ultimately matters is the benefits these technologies bring.

An important advantage of Conversational AI is improved customer service through applications such as chatbots and voice assistants. Routine queries such as, “I lost my credit card. How can I have it blocked?” can be answered faster, more efficiently, at any time, and without the involvement of a staff member.

One AI instance can process thousands of queries like the above in parallel and answer them in seconds. Customers could check account balances or transactions, change passwords and PINs, and pay bills quickly and easily.

Conversational AI can also be used on the front lines of defence against fraud attempts by identifying and preventing suspicious account movements or putting a stop to digital identity theft by analyzing the caller’s voice pattern.

AI and advisors hand in hand

A combined approach is also an option, where both the AI system and a bank advisor are involved. For example, a customer who needs a mortgage can use Conversational AI to find out a bank’s offers and then clarify specific details with a loan specialist who has access to all previous communications. Should the customer request offer documents, either the AI system or advisor can provide them via smartphone, notebook, or stationary computer, along with a summary of the consultation.

By implementing AI in this way, banks have the opportunity to address more customers and prospects in a targeted manner with less time expenditure.

AI is a high priority for financial firms

When it comes to leveraging the full potential of AI solutions, European banks are still far behind US banks, according to a study by Bain & Company.

But European banks have plans for the coming years. The State of AI in Financial Services report by NVIDIA shows that banks, fintechs and financial service providers are intensively engaged with AI, especially Conversational AI. According to the study, 28% of companies in the financial sector want to invest in the development and implementation of Conversational AI solutions in 2022 – more than three times as many as in 2021. This puts Conversational AI in second place in the ranking of the most important applications for AI, behind AI-based solutions designed to prevent fraudulent activities.

What’s next?

With Conversational AI, banks and financial service providers can take customer experience to a new level. Especially for those who have grown up with the internet, social media and online, this next generation of customers expects their banks to take the next step and further optimize their service with the help of technologies like AI.


Regulation vs Collaboration: How to encourage innovation in financial services

Hans Tesselaar, Executive Director, BIAN

The financial services industry is facing a time of considerable change. During the pandemic, financial services organisations were forced to become digital entities virtually overnight. The acceleration of initiatives has led to significant questions about how best to encourage innovation within the industry while protecting consumers and promoting financial inclusion.

by Hans Tesselaar, Executive Director at BIAN

Enter the proposed Financial Services and Markets Bill, introduced by the UK government to drive innovation across the financial services industry, focused on supporting consumers through digital change. The bill is to replace existing EU regulations following Brexit, aiming to support the UK government’s vision for an “open, green and technologically advanced sector that is globally competitive”.

While introducing the bill is a significant step forward for bringing financial services front-and-centre in the UK, how does regulation support innovation in practice?

A balancing act

The Financial Services and Markets Bill aims to harness the opportunities of innovative technologies in financial services while bolstering the competitiveness of UK markets and promoting the effective use of capital. Banks need to remember, however, that when looking to adopt new technology and innovate, the needs of all consumers must be considered.

As banks accelerate digital transformation initiatives, consumers who prefer more traditional and manual banking methods, such as banking at branches and cash payments, can easily be forgotten. A recent ruling from the FCA means that banks and building societies need to assess the impact of changes to their services. This comes after the FCA warned that the industry is “not currently doing enough to properly understand the impact of these changes”. The regulator can now issue fines to banks that don’t consider access to cash and branches.

The introduction of new legislation and guidance from the regulator is promising but the industry must strike a balancing act to transform for the future while also ensuring it is catering to all consumers, no matter their preferences.

Risk and reward

There is also a commercial motivation for introducing the Bill. The government wants to make the UK the financial, technological and crypto hub of the world, following in the footsteps of the US and moving away from the EU.

One way it plans to achieve this is to implement the outcomes of the Future Regulatory Framework (FRF) Review created to reflect the UK’s new position outside the EU. The risk is that the UK could isolate itself from its close neighbours. There is a wealth of industry surrounding the UK, and independent regulations could cause leading European Banks to look for business elsewhere due to the proposed red tape, stunting innovation.

On the other hand, countries such as Canada and Australia look to the UK as an example and becoming more connected with them could open new possibilities. Instead of concentrating solely on the UK, the value of the Bill to the industry would increase if the government looked to connect and encourage more business with different markets – and then the UK will start to reap the rewards.

The value of collaboration

As a result of this opportunity, collaboration should be a focus to encourage innovation across the globe. To achieve this, banks need to overcome issues surrounding interoperability and a lack of industry standards. FS organisations must be equipped with the technology that allows them to introduce innovative solutions at speed.

A coreless banking approach, for example, empowers banks to select software vendors needed to obtain the best-of-breed for each application area without worrying about interoperability. Banks will also not be constrained to those service providers who operate within their technical language or messaging model because they will use one standard message model.

This ensures that each solution can seamlessly connect and exchange data, from FinTech’s to traditional banks to technology providers. It also means that organisations can communicate effectively on a global scale, removing barriers to growth and supporting international and national regulations, such as the Financial Services and Markets Bill.

An opportunity for growth

As digital adoption becomes more widespread, having access to the latest technologies that support consumers and banks alike is essential to the future of the industry. A more connected and seamless industry will undoubtedly deliver value, and although regulation is the foundation of the industry, collaboration and a consistent focus on the needs of every customer are the keys to unlocking the future.

Call for support

1800 - 123 456 78

Follow us

44 Shirley Ave. West Chicago, IL 60185, USA

Follow us