What Finance Companies are Excelling in AI?

| April 7, 2020

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Many finance companies are getting some massive help from AI handling things like security, loss prevention, and predictive decision making — think underwriting for mortgages or credit decisions. While AI is making the rounds for many companies and organizations, a few are taking that capability to a new level. Let’s take a look at a handful of companies doing amazing things with AI.

Spotlight

Prakala Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd.

Prakala Wealth Management is a very young company founded in 2006. Chokkalingam Palaniappan who is currently a Director in the company and leading its operations has wide experience in the financial markets. Before founding the company, he lived, studied, and worked in USA for the past several years. He finished his MBA in International Management focusing on Finance from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA and Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology (erstwhile REC), Jamshedpur, India.

OTHER ARTICLES

How the Coronavirus Crisis is Impacting Fintech

Article | March 26, 2020

The global coronavirus pandemic has far-reaching implications for every aspect of the economy, and fintech is already feeling some of the consequences of the escalating crisis. From canceled events to shrinking opportunities for fundraising, we’re talking through some of the biggest challenges this crisis will present to the industry. We’re also highlighting the areas of opportunity unique to fintech as the situation continues to evolve.

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How Exchange 4.0 will Digitally Transform Financial Market Infrastructure

Article | March 26, 2020

Powered by Ledgers: Leading Market Experts Predict How Exchange 4.0 will Digitally Transform Financial Market Infrastructure The move to Exchange 4.0 is well underway, with profound implications for financial markets. Forward-thinking firms are already positioning themselves for a DLT-fuelled future. But behind the buzzwords, there are lingering questions. What benefits will digitalisation bring, both to trading venues and the market participants they serve? What are the main obstacles to Exchange 4.0, whether they stem from outdated thinking or misaligned stakeholder incentives? And what sort of step-changes can we expect as digitalisation takes off? In a recent report, Hirander Misra, Chairman and CEO of GMEX Group, and the Realization Group interviewed experts at firms pioneering the new world of crypto asset trading Alokik Advani, Managing Partner, Fidelity International Strategic Ventures Charles Kerrigan, Partner, CMS London Jessica Naga, Director Responsible for Legal and Compliance, SECDEX Anoop Nannra, Global Blockchain Segment Leader, Amazon Web Services Nicholas Philpott, Director, Zodia Duncan Trenholme, Head of Digital Assets, TP ICAP. We summarise the key highlights and perspectives from virtually every stakeholder group involved in the trend towards digitalisation. Introducing Exchange 4.0 Just as the world is experiencing a fourth industrial revolution, sometimes called 4IR, financial exchanges are beginning their own technological revolution. The 4IR concept is the driving force behind the Internet of Things, where AI and web technology combine to create smart products. A similar idea is taking hold in the world of financial market infrastructure enabled exchange trading, as DLT, smart contracts and tokenisation make it possible to facilitate true asset portability while linking far-flung liquidity centers. But there is a great deal of confusion as to how distributed technology will change financial market infrastructure so that it can make the transition, be fit for purpose and what benefits it will bring. There are also significant roadblocks, either in terms of old-fashioned thinking or stakeholders defending their turf. Experts say it is only a matter of time before these obstacles are overcome. The first step, they say, will involve trading venues and participants developing a new mindset, one that embraces open-source practices. As Exchange 4.0 becomes better understood, and as firms move from proof of concept to bottom-line benefits, we can expect a rash of major changes. New trading centers, new products, new ways of doing business and new ways of enabling post trade are all on the way. Creating the network effect A growing number of exchanges and trading firms are embracing distributed ledger technology (DLT) and tokenisation, recognising a surge of interest in crypto asset trading from both retail and institutional investors. But many of the venues are replicating silo-based models and missing out on the most important lessons from the digital revolution. DLT, tokenisation and crypto asset trading offer a chance to create much larger market ecosystems by enabling participants to transact across borders more easily and by facilitating asset portability. Rather than divvying up the pie, it’s all about making the pie much larger. “The key thing about this is asset portability,” says Hirander Misra. “If you look at marketplaces in this space, there are lots of exchanges across the world and there’s tumbleweed growing through most of them. How do you create that network effect? But then also, how do you focus on what you’re really good at?” Misra says the problem starts with exchanges adopting a silo mentality, where they seek to service clients exclusively rather than building a more collaborative model. Trading, clearing and settlement end up being offered in a closed-in environment. “Essentially these exchanges are just pockets of their own liquidity.” But the future could soon look very different. “You’re going to see exchanges, custodians and other services interconnect more seamlessly, with the ability to swap services and assets across jurisdictions and across different types of users to get that network effect. This is a construct that I have labelled Exchange 4.0,” Misra says. What the Experts Expect Provided that network effect can be created, what sort of benefits can firms look forward to? The list is long and varied. Alokik Advani:“You have to try this in pockets of smaller assets, where it can be really efficient – private markets, alternative assets, private equity, venture capital, real estate, private debt. All of these things are obscenely inefficient. They trade like bulletin boards today. If you wanted to bring that to some level of an exchange-like infrastructure with a DLT backing and speed of clearing and settlement, it’s a revolution.” Charles Kerrigan: “You are seeing the move towards digitalisation as a prime example of capitalism forcing change. You are talking about another wave of creative destruction. We have digitalised the front office of financial institutions – what you see as a customer – but the real benefits will come from digitalising the market infrastructure. Crypto shows how this can be done. Payments have learnt from that. Securities issuance is following. We are simply following the logic of the information economy. This is a big one.” Hirander Misra: “With Exchange 4.0, say you’re an existing exchange and you have existing infrastructure. You may want to set up a digital exchange, but you may not want to replicate everything you have. You may not need another matching engine, you may need digital custody or you may need issuance. The thing about Exchange 4.0 is that you can combine the services you have with services others have or augment what you already have. So, you’re not beholden to creating yet another siloed infrastructure.” Jessica Naga: “There is something to be said for the countries that take the jump and do this now fast. They will have first movers’ advantage, if they build the necessary legal framework and infrastructural ecosystem in a sustainable way. The clear advantage of technology and FinTech companies is that their business is cross border and therefore from one centre, they can service the world.” Anoop Nannra: “We look at Exchange 4.0 and the opportunities in terms of creating digital assets on virtually any aspect of our business. I think it’s really exciting, being able to create a futures index based on real-time solar energy production. Right down to the second. You create new patterns and opportunities for liquidity to occur. Capital historically will move to the environments where liquidity is most easily had.” Nicholas Philpott,: “The locations and the cities that succeed in the future may no longer be the same as the ones at present. It’s a much more even competition now. If you can spin up a virtual exchange with none of that physical infrastructure that opens up the possibility of some very interesting developments as far as the new trading centres of the future are concerned. You’re broadening the market across a bigger spectrum of participants. More people can have access.” Duncan Trenholme: “It’s possible that some of the private permissioned blockchains get traction in certain areas and solve certain use cases, but over time we believe the open permission-less blockchains will eat market share. The idea of running your own distributed ledger, in a centralised manner, just misses the point of what this technology can do. It’s repeating the limitations of vertical silo’s all over again. As people do connect, they’ll increasingly experience the benefits of transacting on an open, interoperable, and programmable financial system.” A way forward All of this leaves traditional venues and market participants having to prepare for a wholesale change in the way they operate while still conducting business in the here and now. At the same time, scores of new exchanges have sprouted up with DLT technology and digital assets that can only be traded on one platform. By forging the DLT-based world of the future while still servicing traditional assets in traditional ways, we will see a hybrid model which bridges the gap between digital and traditional financial market infrastructure. This will serve to eradicate the current silos and fragmentation to facilitate better portability of assets by interconnecting the whole capital markets value chain of participants, across international nodes (jurisdictions), to more easily trade, clear and settle.

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How Banks Should Use Buy Now Pay Later To Increase Their Customer Base

Article | March 26, 2020

The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) phenomenon is gaining momentum around the world. BNPL services give consumers who do not have access to credit the ability to purchase goods and services with no deposit and to pay for goods and services over time. However, while banks, consumer credit providers and alternative credit providers will benefit from BNPL services, they also introduce challenges for financial regulators, existing providers in related markets and banks themselves. Banks need to make sure that they are ready for a new type of competition. Larger retail banks seem to have added BNPL business to their portfolio already. Smaller banks will be forced to enter the market, either by acquiring a BNPL provider or rolling up the sleeves internally. In any case, it’s time that banks get rid of their prejudices and get on board with this consumer-friendly innovation that will ultimately benefit them by providing an influx of new customers, at least in the long run. For a complete understanding of buy now pay later, we should first look at the traditional financing models that banks and fintechs use to lend credits. These financing technique is known as point-of-sale or POS. Let’s take a look on POS below. How POS (Point-of-sale) Financing services work: Traditional POS financing is a model that has been around for decades. Most consumers are familiar with its most basic form: pay now, pay later. With POS financing, a customer signs up for credit to buy a product, typically for a portion of its full price. Some POS financing programs require no down payment. Once the customer has made all payments, they become the owner of the goods. POS financing works by financing the full price of the product, not a portion of the price. This means the customer pays the full purchase price of the item, plus interest. While POS financing has been popular for decades, it has faced some challenges. The payment model doesn't cater to customers who can't afford to pay the full purchase price upfront — these shoppers are often low-income or first-time-buyer customers. POS financing also requires shoppers to make large payments right away, which can be difficult for them. “The banking “industry” is changing rapidly – almost on a daily basis. However, those changes are not affecting people as much as we may think, particularly the underserved and unbanked.” -Steven Rosamilia, CEO at IMEX USA How BNPL helps customers: BNPL, or "buy now, pay later," payments enables customers to pay for their purchases over time, interest-free. BNPL payments don't appear on a customer's credit profile, so it doesn't affect their credit score. Here are some of the major points where BNPL helps customers: BNPL payments give customers the ability to buy now and pay later without accruing interest. BNPL payments are typically not fixed and fluctuate based on a customer's ability to pay over time. BNPL payments often appear in the form of layaway, credit extensions or installment loans. BNPL payments may attract customers who want to own products but don't have the money upfront. BNPL payments also work well for customers who want to spread out payments over time. How BNPL is different than other POS lending services: BNPL is an alternative payment technique offered by the payment service provider to businesses. Payment service providers use credit lines provided by banks and credit card companies to offer installment loans to customers. Unlike conventional POS financing, BNPL focuses on consumers' ability to purchase a product rather than their ability to repay their loan. This is achieved by classifying consumers into different groups based on their creditworthiness and offering consumers an installment loan with payment periods that vary based on their creditworthiness. As a result, payment service providers use BNPL as a risk-based financing technique. The payment service provider considers consumers' creditworthiness by classifying them into different consumer groups, such as "prime" consumers, "sub-prime" consumers, and "near-prime" consumers. These consumer groups are similar to credit profiles used by conventional credit card companies. With BNPL, businesses can request a payment profile classification from their business service provider. The payment profile classification determines the installment loan payment schedule that the consumer receives. Businesses can request a payment profile classification from their business service provider. The payment profile classification determines the installment loan payment schedule that the consumer receives. For checking your credit-worthiness before lending you BNPL, service providers may check consumer’s payment history, income, job stability, and other major factors. The financial service provider then use these factors to determine the installment loan payment schedule that the consumer receives. What features BNPL brings to the table for Merchants: Buy Now Pay Later is a new way to process payments. It's for young adults with shaky credit. The option lets merchants accept credit or debit cards but defer the payments. It lets merchants offer customers a low payment schedule, typically 6 to 24 months. But it's different than payment plans. With BNPL, there's no interest, no hidden fees, and no penalties for not paying all at once. BNPL works with all credit cards, not just Visa or MasterCard, and payments are processed securely through Authorized pages. BNPL increases conversion and sales by 20% for merchants while boosting average order value by 60%. For customers, BNPL gives them access to the credit they otherwise wouldn't have. And for merchants, BNPL means more conversions, more sales and more repeat customers. BNPL is offered by a handful of digital storefronts, including Best Buy, Kohl's, and Walmart. But it's a new way of doing business that allows both parties to benefit from the deal (compared to 2.5 percent for a credit card transaction). Why should Financial Institutions accept BNPL: Amazon's Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) program is both a blessing and a curse for retailers — a blessing as it offers them a way to boost sales by attracting shoppers who are price sensitive, and a curse because it threatens to erode bank's main business. Amazon's BNPL program has only been around for two years, but it has already become a crucial part of the site's business model. The program gives people the option to buy products on Amazon with deferred payment terms. Customers purchase the product, but they aren't charged to agree to a 90-day payment plan until later. While that's far less than the average credit card payment period — 25% of Americans carry credit card debt — BNPL has become popular enough with Amazon shoppers that it has shrunk Amazon's average purchase amount by $7.77, according to one report. That's a significant hit. Amazon's BNPL program may be taking Amazon's main business, online sales, down a notch, but the banks that have issued BNPL cards aren't worried. That's because BNPL cards, like credit cards, are financing. And financing today looks different than financing did even five years ago. Many consumers, especially Gen Z, prefer to buy with credit and postpone payments. This shift in consumer preferences has major implications for banks. Banks issued financing to safe, creditworthy customers who wanted to buy now and pay later when credit cards were first introduced. But bank lending practices have changed over the years, and today many consumers use credit cards to finance products they might otherwise buy with cash. How can Banks integrate BNPL in their lending services BNPL is a fast-growing segment of the lending market. In 2015, BNPL made up 15.2% of all consumer credit originations and grew to $12.1 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. BNPL's share grew from 8.4% in 2014 to 14.7% in 2015, according to Experian. A BNPL strategy allows banks to ride the wave of increased consumer debt by managing their balance sheet more aggressively. This helps stabilize revenues and boosts the profitability of loans as banks can charge higher interest rates. While BNPL loans often come with hefty price tags, lenders can minimize their losses by structuring BNPL loans as an asset purchase rather than a loan sale. First, banks have to make sure they can fund the loans, either with their balance sheet or with funding from a non-bank lender. Second, banks have to decide whether the loan will be purchased directly or indirectly. Cross River Bank is currently riding the BNPL trend with this model by providing Affirm with funding capacity. The model is safe as BNPL firms often purchase those loans after origination, but it also caps the potential gains banks can earn as the fee is often a small percentage of the total origination. How can banks initiate marketing their buy now pay later services? First, banks need to be agile and go after merchants that already have relationships with customers. Fintechs, on the other hand, must convince merchants that their service, regardless of its costs, is worth paying. There are obviously some similarities. Both must win over merchants. But they also have different advantages. Fintechs don't have existing relationships or established customer bases, so they must build both from scratch. Fintechs, however, have an advantage over banks in that they have the technology. In addition, fintechs can integrate their solutions into existing e-commerce systems, giving merchants an out-of-the-box, easy-to-deploy solution. This, in turn, makes fintech more attractive to merchants. Fintechs can also target specific markets. For example, some banks sell online merchant accounts, but their service is often limited to larger merchants with more established distribution networks. Fintechs, on the other hand, can target smaller merchants, giving them an approach that's better suited to the needs of smaller businesses. Fintechs can also target specific niches. A fintech that targets small businesses, for example, could focus on those that sell high-priced goods online. Fintechs don't have to build their distribution networks, either. Instead, they can use existing online channels like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. Of course, fintechs can also sell directly to merchants, but this approach requires additional sales and marketing efforts. Fintechs can also build their distribution networks. They can use a direct-to-consumer model, selling directly to their customers. This approach is best suited for fintech that is sells online merchant accounts and works for fintech that targets specific markets. The Takeaway BNPL programs have a critical role in financing trade and industry and financing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). For this reason, BNPL programs should be an integral part of banks’ lending portfolios. Banks should optimize the utilization of BNPL programs. At the same time, the regulatory framework for BNPL programs needs to be revised. The business models of BNPL programs should be standardized and standardized products should be available. At the same time, the regulatory framework for BNPL programs needs to be revised. FAQs What is buy now pay later? Buy now pay later, as the name suggest, is an option Fintechs give you to purchase a product and pay for it after a certain amount of time. It works like a credit card payment, but it doesn’t charge you interest. Does buy now pay later affect credit score? No. Buy now pay later does not affect your credit score as long as you pay your dues timely. It is constructed in a way that you won’t have to worry about your credit score. However, banks may see your credit score before giving you BNPL service. Why was I not eligible for buy now pay later? Financial services or banks check your credit-worthiness before lending you the services of buy now pay later. They may check your payment history, income, job stability, etc. So before applying for BNPL, make sure you have a strong credit-worthiness. What are the alternatives to buy now pay later? You can use your credit card the same way as buy now pay later, but your interest-free days would only last till they bill you. You can also opt for interest free deals on purchases from e-commerce store.

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Fintech Software Development Trends to Expect in 2020

Article | March 26, 2020

There’s no doubt that the Fintech software development industry has attracted a lot of attention from consumers and investors alike. In Finance, Fintech is synonymous with convenience, innovation, and accessibility. With the enormous solutions that Fintech promises to offer, it’s no wonder venture capitalists are willing to put their money in Fintech startups.

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Spotlight

Prakala Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd.

Prakala Wealth Management is a very young company founded in 2006. Chokkalingam Palaniappan who is currently a Director in the company and leading its operations has wide experience in the financial markets. Before founding the company, he lived, studied, and worked in USA for the past several years. He finished his MBA in International Management focusing on Finance from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA and Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology (erstwhile REC), Jamshedpur, India.

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