Agility, AI & Blockchain in the Financial Industry
Three top tips for businesses to develop a digital strategy
The very first tip that I’d give companies and enterprises is to fully identify who your customer is and to focus on their needs, especially their problems. Next, I’d create some trials to test solutions for the problems. And then, lastly, I’d gather up some evidence to build something that really will impact their business by solving the problems you’ve identified.
Should traditional banks compete or cooperate with FinTech startups?
I think the general term these days is “innovate or die.” A lot of companies that were extremely successful in the past no longer exist today. You look at Blockbuster videos – they were very dominant in their era, but now Netflix has a huge lead in terms of videos, movies, and streaming. To compete, companies need to evolve and change; they need to transform instead of staying still. A lot of the big financial organizations are like elephants. And how do you teach an elephant how to dance? It’s very difficult and requires a new organizational mindset.
Factors hampering innovation and agility
I think one of the biggest insights I’ve noticed in organizations, especially around Asia, is culture. A lot of the companies have been very successful for many years. Therefore, there isn’t really a huge incentive for them to change – they’re complacent, they’re enjoying success. They don’t feel the need. And I think that type of thinking and doing things the old way because it’s worked is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for companies that are looking to innovate to stay ahead of the game.
Disruption with AI
We’re seeing a lot of movement with regards to people or companies that used to be middlemen. We’re seeing that customers want to go direct, they want a much faster experience, they want to do things digitally, and they want to do things wherever they are in the world. So I think that’s a huge disruption. Banks and insurance agencies for example, are definitely industries that are going to be disrupted. To fix that, they need to understand the pain points of their customers. What are their biggest problems? How can they solve them rapidly? So, technologies will have a huge impact going forward. Cloud, DevOps, bandwidth: These are all mediums that are going to help companies stay ahead of the game and innovate.
In terms of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we’ve seen some use cases, especially in the insurance field, of making the onboarding process faster. Instead of having a person, such as an underwriter, determine the applicability or risk profile of a particular customer, machine learning can grab historical data and quickly identify the parameters to automatically assess the person in seconds. Moreover, an AI chatbot can be in service 24/7 for questions and issues. For insurance, the claims process, is made instant in terms of submitting paperwork, details, and getting instant payments. I think that’s the ideal customer situation and experience that I’ve been trying to build.
So, now we’re seeing an acceleration in speed and a whole customer picture. Speed, reducing friction, and just the possibility of being able to do all these types of transactions wherever and whenever. That’s really what people are looking for.
How will robot advisers impact consumers?
Right now one of the biggest things that impact consumer choice is complexity. A robot adviser helps break down the true components that you need to make an investment. What’s going to help you make that informed decision? Robot advisers will really help, especially for millennials who are coming through, who are getting their first job, making their first big financial decisions. I think robot advisers will definitely play a big part in their future.
Vendors are focusing on a single step
The end-to-end process is being broken up by people who can really deliver that step the best. So for investments, transaction management, and customer service, you’re seeing a lot of start-ups and vendors really focusing on that particular step and doing it well.
We’re not going to see a high street bank or single service provider delivering all services – we’ll see packages from different vendors based on the very individual needs of the customer.
The impact of Blockchain
Blockchain is massive. People are calling Blockchain Internet 4.0 and it’s the new paradigm shift. Instead of going through all these middlemen, instead of the possibilities of having records being tampered with, you now have a very secure database of records. And every record and transaction is encrypted. In various scenarios, that information is public so it increases trust and it increases transparency. And with those two, you also increase the speed of transactions.
Based on an interview with Arnold at the 2018 Ultra Broadband Forum.