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Fresh from SWIFT Business Forum Romania 2017

 

 

The 8th edition of SWIFT Business Forum Romania was held by the Romanian Association of Banks on the 8th of November in Bucharest, with the kind support of Allevo.

 

Gathering around 100 representatives from financial institutions, the conference was focused on celebrating 25 years of SWIFT in Romania, along with debating challenges and opportunities for the financial banking industry, compliance issues and the inevitable digital transformation (a round table we were proudly a part of).

 

The opening plenary consisted of a SWIFT 2020 Strategy update, a SWIFT RTP update and what the strategy means for RO banks, as well as a presentation of the Romanian banking system 2020 vision.

 

 

The next topics of discussion were packaged in a 2-hour panel in which:

 

  • Marianna Janssens (SWIFT) presented the Global Payments Innovation (GPI) initiative;
  • Ruxandra Avram (National Bank of Romania) talked about PSD2 reshaping the payments business, as well as information security;
  • Ionel Dumitru (TransFonD) showed the audience how the future of RON payments is “Instant”;
  • Mihaida Meila (Central Depository) presented the securities market developments and announced the 10-year anniversary of her institution;
  • Michael Formann (SWIFT) talked about reinforcing the security of the global banking system – CSP.

 

Panel highlights:

 

The No.1 counterparty for payments with Romania as the sender is none other than the US (over 20% of our international payments).

 

According to Capgemini’s report “The Currency of Trust: Why Banks and Insurers Must Make Consumer Data Safer and More Secure”:

  • Either the information security management or the security policy are inadequate for 50% of banks.
  • 79% of the financial institutions taking part in the survey are not confident about their ability to detect breaches.

 

 

 

 

Gizem Tansu (SWIFT) then held a focus session on financial crime compliance and the KYC Registry, stressing the importance of this secure shared platform for all banks and the fact that the documentation upload to the Registry is completely free.

 

Name Screening Service is another solution proposed by SWIFT, part of its support to the community in fighting financial crime, offering real-time online screening of single names and supporting effective sanctions compliance by enabling customers to efficiently screen single names of their own customers, suppliers and employees against sanctions, PEP and other lists.

 

 

Round table: The digital transformation – between opportunity and regulation

 

Allevo was represented at the round table by Sorina Bera (CEO), who talked about our current and future projects, including FinTP Connect (our PSD2 solution), FinOps Suite (part of the Treasure Open Source Software co-funded from the ERDF through the Competitiveness Operational Programme 2014-2020), as well as our Instant Payments approach.

 

Due to the rapidly-changing landscape of technology and regulatory compliance alike, software solutions providers must be one step ahead of all other players (be they banks, service providers or consultants), since their compliance to new regulations is based upon the formers’ ability to offer compliant solutions.

 

In fact, software solutions providers have to take the first step in terms of analyzing new regulations, in order to anticipate market needs and requirements, and in this endeavor we constantly consult with final beneficiaries, as a team, to come up with the best solution possible, one that really makes a difference.

 

Since we are all on the same side and have a common goal (compliance), team work is essential. Even though the regulator (in our case, the National Bank of Romania) was not part of this round table debate, they are in the same boat with the rest of us, considering that the ultimate goal of all regulations is to benefit the consumer most of all.

 

In terms of innovation, we strongly believe that its key purpose is to keep the customer satisfaction at the highest level possible and we keep that in mind when we develop all our products.

 

 

 

 

In the end, here are a few results of a Roland-Berger pan-EU study, who challenged 5 beliefs on digitalization:

  1. Customers request a digital banking experience – TRUE, and this is valid for all age groups, not only younger generations; it depends mostly on the levels of education and income. What banks can do is define relevant customer groups, compile digital offerings tailored to specific target groups and clearly communicate them.
  2. The higher the number of digital channels, the better – FALSE. The point is to develop end-to-end digital solutions to be able to address customers through the right channel, with a personalized offering.
  3. Online is revolutionizing banking – TRUE, but the possibilities are even greater, by offering additional value.
  4. The branch is dead – FALSE, but it needs to become more innovative! Banks should adapt the branch offering/service model and make it more attractive by adopting the right blend of innovative branch concepts.
  5. Banks are facing a trust issue in the digital world – FALSE. Trust in banks is nothing but an opportunity to offer secure proprietary apps and communicate the distinct value they add to customers’ lives, in order to reinforce mobile banking use.

 

Final thought: PSD2 will further accelerate the digital transformation and 78% banks plan to at least leverage the changes to open to new opportunities, if not even significantly benefit from the development. Moreover, half of these banks are looking to use PSD2 to develop an ecosystem with other partners.

 

We look forward to seeing you at SWIFT Business Forum Romania 2018! Thank you!

 

 

SWIFT African Regional Conference Mauritius

Conferinta 2

It is extremely difficult to focus on FinTech when SWIFT organizes its largest event for the African market in Mauritius. SWIFT chose an amazing venue and attracted around 500 participants from 40 countries.

 

Plaja But it’s only fair to start with the obvious and  state that Mauritius is beautiful and it makes  going to the conference exhibition and sessions a lot less attractive. However, I successfully survived the temptations all  around.


The highlight of the conference was the  Innotribe Startup Challenge. It had a huge  success in its second year focusing on the  African FinTech ecosystem. It attracted about  90 applications, most of the companies coming from South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. It is interesting to see the evolution of problems these companies have been addressing over the last couple of years. Initially, FinTech startups focused a lot on online payments, mobile wallets, financial education and gamification, personal financial management solutions and a couple of other. The main focus of the companies that applied for the 2016 African competition was around areas like payments, new banks, big data, lending, settlement, e-commerce and cross-selling, compliance, messaging.

 

9 great companies pitched on stage for 6 minutes sharp, explaining what they do and the top three won a USD 10,000 USD prize and have been invited to Sibos Geneva to showcase their offering to the 9000+ Sibos audience.

Castigatori

Hello Paisa from South Africa is a low cost international money transfer solution for remittances.

The Sun Exchange from South Africa as well is a peer-to-peer lending platform for investors to fund solar energy projects across the globe.

WeCashUp from Cameroon has created a cross border mobile money platform, enabling users to make secure payments via their mobile phones all across Africa.

The theme of this year’s SWIFT ARC was “Facing Global Challenges” and there was a great focus on compliance, financial inclusion and the role of disruptive new technologies.

 

An interesting figure released at the event is that SWIFT’s messaging traffic grows by 12.5 percent in Africa. Africa remains the fastest growing region for payments traffic, showing good economic growth in the region. Still, to quote Ike Williams from Heritage Bank, there is only so much that banks are currently doing in many countries over the African continent. They usually serve urban areas and stop at these boundaries, not being able to reach rural areas where money is needed. Even MPESA fails to address the problem of cash, which is still king, as people often cash out the money received in their wallets.

 

Bottom line is that countries in Africa are a very interesting playground for both banks and technology providers with a sense of creativity and many surprises are expected to emerge from this restless environment. The Innotribe Startup Challenge is there to look for novel FinTech products and services and select the best to bring them in front of the banking community and make the link between them, to better serve people who benefit of their offerings.

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