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Big Tech Disrupting Banking, Insurance – WEF

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The competitive landscape in banking and insurance is being shaped increasingly by large technology firms supplying critical technology to the sector, opening the door to direct competition at a later stage.

This is according to a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), which found that financial institutions’ drive to become more “experience-driven” is opening the door to potential competition from global technology giants.

According to the report: “Beyond fintech: A pragmatic assessment of disruptive potential in financial services”, the challenge to banks and insurers is down to large technology firms hollowing out the value proposition of these institutions by carrying out more core functions, even as banks and insurers lean more heavily on them to compete.

“The partnership between banks and large tech companies risks not staying a reciprocal one,” says Jesse McWaters, lead author of the study and project lead for disruptive innovation in financial services at WEF.

“Financial institutions increasingly rely on technology firms for their most strategically sensitive capabilities, but can so far only offer their ongoing business in return,” says McWaters.

The report aims to examine the impact of innovation on the financial ecosystem and draws on interviews and workshops with hundreds of financial and technology experts. It highlights cloud computing, customer-facing artificial intelligence and big data customer analytics as three capabilities that are becoming critical to the competitive differentiation of financial institutions.

WEF says all three are domains where technology giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook have far deeper experience than their financial services counterparts and where scale effects will make it difficult for financial institutions to catch up. As a result, many banks and insurers are turning to technology firms to provide these core functions, it adds.

While these partnerships between financial institutions and tech companies can accelerate innovation, the report points out they also pose a risk should large technology players choose to enter financial services in direct competition with retail banks and insurers.

“Tech giants would be able to pick and choose their points of entry into financial services, maximising their strengths like rich datasets and strong brands, while taking advantage of incumbent institutions’ dependence on them,” says McWaters.

As a result, financial institutions will likely need to walk a challenging line between capitalising on the services of large technology players and becoming dependent on them.

“For customers, the entry of large technology firms into financial services could mean entrusting both their financial and non-financial data to the same company. For policy-makers, it would raise serious questions about how best to avoid both anti-competitive behaviour and the inappropriate use of personal data in decision-making,” WEF says.

The findings suggest a move away from a focus on the potential competitive threat of hi-tech financial services start-ups, typically called “fintechs”. Much research, including the WEF’s 2015 report on The future of financial services, suggests niche fintechs could stage a broader disruption of the financial system.

But the new report finds fintech start-ups have fallen short of their ambitions to upend the competitive landscape in finance. Despite deeply influencing the direction of innovation in the industry, many have failed to capture large market share.

“Fintechs have changed the basis of competition in financial services, but not the competitive landscape,” says Rob Galaski, partner and Americas FSI regional leader at Deloitte Canada, and co-author of the report.

“Fintechs now define the tempo and direction of innovation in financial services, but high customer switching costs and the rapid response of incumbents has challenged their ability to scale.”

Robo-advisers, which provide automated investment advice to customers at low fees, provide an instructive example of incumbents responding to fintech. WEF says early innovators like Betterment and Wealthfront have shown significant growth, with assets under management of $6.7 billion and $4.4 billion respectively at the end of 2016. However, they have been dwarfed by incumbents that have created their own robo-advisory offerings, such as the Vanguard Advisor platform, which had $47 billion in assets under management as of the end of 2016.

“The ability to be a fast follower has proven more important than being first for large financial institutions. Agile incumbents have used the fintech ecosystem as a supermarket for capabilities, making the ability to nurture and rapidly form partnerships as a critical ingredient to banks’ competitive success,” Galaski concludes.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world.

So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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E-Financial

Linkifin to provide Supply Chain Financial Solution in West Africa

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Linkifin, a leading financial technology company in Nigeria, announces a new partnership with the South African company Propell.

 

This partnership is part of Linkifin’s International Development plan. Linkifin, based in Lagos Nigeria, provides end to end Supply Chain Finance (SCF) solutions across West Africa.

 

Both companies recently signed an agreement to provide Prime Revenue’s award-winning supply chain finance platform in South Africa..

 

Ms. Omolade Fadase, business development and Ibukun Ekujumi, technical lead both at Linkifin spoke to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek on the challenges in the supply chain ecosystem, stating that one of the biggest headaches in the supply chain link was cash flow challenges and delays in payments due by buyers to suppliers and this is what Linkifin SCF platform is about to change.

 

Obinna Mejeh, head of Business Development, added, “Our platform is basically one for invoice trading, adding flexibility and visibility in a supply chain ,unlike the legacy systems used by banks , discount houses and factoring companies. One of the beautiful things about this platform is that it is a win-win situation for all – buyers, suppliers and funders.

 

Hussaini Yakubu, MD/CEO of Linkifin, further commented, “Nigeria is the second strongest economy in Africa and the largest in West Africa. In order to gear the region towards a robust supply chain finance solution for the future we have to act now. The potential is huge and untapped amongst our target of small and medium sized businesses. We have already met with several major local companies and are going to announce new customers in the coming month”.

 

He ended by expressing his optimism that Linkifin will be able to bridge the gap in the supply chain ecosystem and ended the interview by saying the future for supply chain finance in Nigeria was bright.

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Sage partners ACCA, to assistant accountants develop technology skills

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By peter oluka

Sage (Africa) has entered into partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Nigeria, in a move to add more values to the profession, especially where strategy matters.

The partnership, Director, Partners, Accountants and Alliances, Sage Africa & Middle East, Laurica Kok, said in an interview with our correspondent, is strategic and will help expose Sage’s products to a broader market.

“ACCA is a renowned organisation within our business circle. It is a strategic alliance for us; it is a journey that exposes our products into a broader market which they hold the audience hub. I also see it as a very good fit. Sage is passionate about the accountants. Globally, ACCA holds that connection for us. It is also a partnership that will help drive the message for Sage to be seen as one-stop-shop for accounting solutions; it will impact their profession and businesses.

“Through this partnership we are growing Sage ‘ambassadors’, those who would tell others better about our products in accounting environment”, Kok comments.

According to her, Sage supports business from start-up or entry level to the enterprise level. “Secondly, Business builders are seen across segments; specifically, we can offer accounting, payroll, payment systems as consolidated application. “Thirdly, business model for us is just to serve the customer; empower the community and the environment the customers find themselves in. That is the differentiator for us in the market. We work, in our region, with partners that support that vision.

Relishing the importance of the partnership, Head of ACCA, Nigeria, Mr. Tom Isibor, described it as massive.

“Like I said earlier, five years ago, we started a research which clearly shows what the accounting of the future should be, what competencies, behaviours, skills do you need to have to be able to distinguish ourselves from other profession and make ACCA as a preferred qualification.

“The basic is digitalisation. Sage is global powerhouse in terms of building and delivering accounting software and solutions. We believe they can give us that perfect solution we have been looking; also fill the skills gaps of our members, make them more work ready and more preferred accountants in the market. Thus, it is all about building capabilities, capacity for our members.

“For instance, the Sage University promises to give us access to up our skills. We also look forward to this platform supporting our student-members and others searching for places for industrial (training) attachments.

“The other opportunity which is also very big to me, is giving back the society in terms of what the Sage community believes in; the corporate social responsibility (CSR) is huge. I also see an opportunity that ACCA and Sage can exploit on. In this environment, there is so much to give back to the society. So, we are just at the door-step.

On why ACCA chose to partner with Sage, he said, “If you are choosing a partner, you must have similar DNA. That is the critical element for me and for us in the Nigerian office; to have an organisation that shares our values, professional in its approaches and on ethical grounds. If you look at Sage’s story, it has been around for 36 years. Look at the business turnover, the number of countries they operate and the very customer-centric. They provide solutions that solve critical accounting needs.

How Will the Partnership Impact Entrepreneurs in Nigeria?

Director, Sage Enterprises, West Africa, Mr. Fidelis Isiekwuene, responds “First, technology is shifting; before now, software companies make software available for accountants for use. But, accounts could only implement processes based on the extent provision of the solution. In today’s world, it is a different case. This is customer-focused. Technology companies, on daily basis, are innovating on how to make the works of the accountant easier.

“The present business world tends to query you, ‘what makes you different from others?’ A C-level executive, for instance, who is jumping from one city to the other, trying to make money for the Company, does not have time to sit down and begin to look at the intricacies of the entries; he wants to see everything at a glance.

“He wants to be able to see the business report, no matter where he is. This is where the innovations around SMAC come in- Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. So, he shouldn’t be tied down to a place before he could see the feasibility of the business. He wants to collaborate with the team, on the go. He wants to use ‘Sage Pegg’ as a communication tool, because just like every time you are sending WhatsApp messages, people respond real time. Also, you should be able to talk to your colleagues and get answers real-time”.

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Vodacom Director Urges Accountants to Leverage Sage/ACCA Partnership

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By peter oluka

Mr Oluseyi Olanrewaju, the finance director at Vodacom Business Africa (Nigeria) Limited, has re-emphasised the need for accounting professionals to embrace digital culture.

He made the remark while delivering keynote address at Sage-ACCA Continuing Professional Development (CPA), event held in Lagos Tuesday, which was the launch of partnership between the two entities to provide platform for accountants to embrace digital transformations.

Olanrewaju emphasized that rapid growth and development in information technology has brought about digital revolution in economic, social and cultural fields, and bequeaths today’s accountant with the responsibility to improve on the skills to remain relevant.

With the recognition of the accounting discipline as an information system, he said, the accountants can’t undermine the influence that the changes in processes of carrying out transactions with the usage of IT in business operations.

In a bid to keep up with changing conditions and the enabling inclusion of information era the need to embrace the digital culture in accountancy can’t be overlooked especially in medium to large scale business.

“Technology should not be viewed as a threat rather tools to boost accounting profession. Digitization is the future; as accountants we can’t run from it. Yes, manual processes are ridden with high risks on accounting and costly. Thus, changes is the environment necessitates changes in applicable accounting tools and skills required to carry out accounting roles”, Olanrewaju said.

Determinants of business that qualify as medium to large include: IT staff & skills including several specialists, multiple locations, large capex in relation to other businesses in operation in the same industry and business with main considerations for technology purchases being advanced features and security.

Using the acronym: VUCA- Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous situations, he reminded the participants that, roles of accountants have changed overtime, demanding for real-time ‘results’. “The environment demands you react quickly to ongoing changes that are unpredictable; it requires you to take action. Therefore, there is little you can achieve today in the ‘VUCA’ world without digitization”.

The keynote speaker also applauded Sage X3 offering, such as robust accounting processes; consistency; time saving; delivers visible metrics; helps to improve operational efficiency and assists users to be in line with government regulations and international accounting rules.

Participants at the interactive session with other C-level ACCA members also learnt how Sage X3 offers the bedrock of the adjustments required in today’s accounting field.

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