The Financial Technologist | Appetite for Disruption

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The Financial Technologist

ISSUE 2 .. 2023

Over 30 articles from leadersindustry at the fore of change

Exclusive insights into upcoming marketplace challenges

Your definitive guide to challenging the status quo


And we answer the question: Is FinTech ready for disruption?

Welcome to The Financial Technologist

Toby Babb, CEO, The Harrington Starr Group

The benefit of benefits in FinTech: do you consider your minorities?

Nadia Edwards-Dashti Harrington Starr

Why disruption is important to financial technology: the case for Mortgages as-a-Service

Julian Cork Landbay

The future of leadership: nurturing an appetite for disruption

Jo Bower beckhuson

Disrupting global markets and going for growth

Khalid Talukder DKK Partners

How is technology disrupting private markets?

Georges Archibald Apex Group

Consumer-driven disruption in FinTech

Igor Tomych DashDevs

Looks are everything: how user design is transforming the way we trade

Matt Barrett Adaptive Financial Consulting

Waking the sleeping giant

Dino Dedic Marvelsoft

How embedded finance supports the SME economy

Louis Carbonnier Hokodo

Financial technology marketing trends of 2023

Georgia Richardson Harrington Starr

An opportunity for disruption

Alasdair Haynes Aquis Exchange PLC

Tribe based banking: the future of financial services

Jelle van Schaik Intergiro

Navigating the road to T+1: overcoming bottlenecks for efficient settlement

James Pike Taskize

The power of embedded finance in B2B: Transforming workforce management and boosting business efficiency

Richard Prime Sonovate


Understanding and applying behavioural finance principles for corporate decision making

Krystle McGilvery Mind Over Money

Ditching the resume: an unconventional approach to hiring diverse thinkers and innovators

Shannon McCann and Elizabeth Rucker VizyPay

Making insurance a choice for everyone

Carlo Pozella and Ellie Khan CFC

Why leaders heard and valued.” in FinTech must prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion in their hiring practices

Flavilla Fongang 3 Colours Rule & GTA Black Women in Tech

Levelling the playing field for women in the UK FinTech sector – close, but no cigar…

Zhenya Winter Bottomline & Ambassador for Women of FinTech

The road to true digital transformation in FinTech: Creating seamless experiences and embracing change

Martin Heraghty Paymentology

Will AI disrupt the index industry?

Hamish Seegopau and Brian Zimmer Qontigo

Online marketplace disruption in financial technology

Ninika Nanda Compare the Market

Front office technology — to cloud or not to cloud?

Ian McIntyre Pico

Trading in the cloud – has its time finally come?

Mike Powell Rapid Addition

In emerging markets, the FX landscape is a case study in disruption

Brian Andreyko Edgewater

Making digital asset investment safe –how regulation will disrupt the industry

Katharine Wooller Coincover

Disruption through harmonisation: a new era for sanctions screening

Tom Scampion Global Screening Services

The rise and rise of B2B cross border payments disruptors

Ronnie d’Arienzo Freemarket

The elephant in the server room: unleashing agility when using third party software

Andrea Pirino valantic FSA’s Solutions

Exploring an appetite for disruption

Billie Miric Vertex Inc.

HARRINGTON STARR RESEARCH REPORT: 30% Of people think fintech is dying... Do you?

Contact Harrington Starr

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4 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 23 24 26 28 30 34 36 38 41 Contents The Financial Technologist | Issue 2 | 2023

Welcome to the summer edition of The Financial Technologist

spoke on this subject at the FIX EMEA Trading Conference in the Spring, on a panel moderated by Steve Grob of Vision 57; flanked by Kate Karminson of Ledgeredge, Vuk Magdelinic of Overbond, Paul O’Brien of Glimpse Markets and Alasdair Haynes of Aquis Exchange. It was a conversation I thoroughly enjoyed participating in and made me think of the many conversations I have enjoyed hosting on FinTech Focus TV over recent years.

I am extremely passionate about the innovation, intelligence and entrepreneurship that we are seeing within the financial technology sector. And we wanted to display as much of it as we could in this magazine, ensuring we continue to spread the messages and lessons from some of the foremost thought leaders in the sector.

In the pages that follow, I hope you will gain an insight into the size and scale of opportunity that exists in a market that is ripe for change.

Disruption though….

This is a word I sometimes struggle with. There is a trend for coining the sensationalist headline of disruptive technology. To me (and this is solely my interpretation), it conjures an image of revolution. This is a sector where the “FinTech Revolution” has

been a constant promise since I started working in it over 23 years ago. But I see it more as an evolution: an iterative, constant, immovable force of continuous improvement.

Other sectors have embraced technology and evolved quicker. The pandemic inadvertently fuelled a rate of progress in the adoption of new tech at a speed I am convinced would have been many years slower in an alternative universe. Cloud adoption became the main beneficiary of this.

We sit at the intersection of a generational collision of opportunity. It’s a fantastic chance to create better, faster, and stronger technology solutions that can improve the performance of the sector immeasurably.

Call it disruption, innovation or evolution, what is clear is that technology is moving at an exceptional rate — with AI, Data, Digital Assets, Blockchain, and Cloud at the core of the opportunity. Alongside this is a volatile world, with regulation, cyber security, recession, inflation, war, cost of living and so much more all leading to economies searching for stability, and companies striving for an edge.

Businesses are looking to make it easy for people to use them, reducing friction and enhancing user experience. They are looking to reduce cost (for both themselves and their clients); improve

their own margins against rising cost pressures; differentiate, accelerate and grow against more and more competition; and improve efficiencies whilst increasing effectiveness.

All of this creates an amazing opportunity to do things better, leading to an incredible and (I will use the word again) generational opportunity for truly innovative companies to make a difference. There is a clear appetite for companies to embrace disruption (or at least evolution), and play offence when the markets move backwards. These periods mark a time in which good companies can rapidly become great through innovation; and that makes it an extremely exciting market to be working in.


The financial sector is not great at revolution. Nor should it be.

The Crypto winter, and all the subsequent problems following the FTX spectacle, have evolved from disruption without significant regulation. This has led to the era of convergence of traditional and decentralised finance, creating an exciting future for the sector.

This is aligned to legacy procurement processes that have long strangled new players in the sector, and an investment climate that makes it harder to break through. FinTech founders also pose a bottleneck, often failing to properly plan, sell and grow their businesses, focussing on tech rather than business.

“I am extremely passionate about the innovation, intelligence and entrepreneurship that we are seeing within the financial technology sector. ”

Naturally conservative, the financial services sector stifles innovation through fear in decision making (nobody was fired for hiring IBM etc) and a lack of desire to fail.

Slowly this is changing. Necessity is the mother of innovation.

There is a golden crop of innovative companies who are making it easy for people to buy from them. They are iterating, evolving, questioning and probing, leading to a surge of gains in the sector.

Interoperability fascinates me. Personalisation sits at the core of a new, digitally able financial services sector where everyone has the opportunity to win.

I maintain that digital assets holds a key, democratising place in the future of financial services. Account to Account payments, FX, Fixed Income, Sustainability and ESG are all areas seeing some incredible companies coming through. The financial services market has never been more ready to adopt technology in order to gain a significant trading advantage. They recognise disruption and are investing in companies and sectors. They are still entering the digital assets race. They continue to bring in innovation rather than play against it. We see the revolutionaries continue to get closer to the traditional markets as companies continue to re-position themselves as banks rather

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Innovation in the UK mortgage sector has often centred on product enhancements and user experience. While these aspects are undoubtedly important, it is essential not to overlook the less visible yet significant components of mortgage innovation, such as mortgage sourcing, underwriting,

servicing, and funding models. As financial technologists, it is crucial to understand how disruption in these areas can contribute to the growth and evolution of an industry and create new opportunities for market participants.

The funding landscape in the mortgage market has undergone

significant changes over the years; evolving from the early days of building societies that collected deposits to lend money for home construction to the emergence of securitisation models and, most recently, marketplace funding.

At the forefront of this transformation is the concept of "Mortgages-as-a-Service" (MaaS), an innovative model that works with institutional investors, partnering their capital with FinTech expertise to originate, underwrite, and service mortgages.

operation, hiring personnel, developing or purchasing technology, building a brand, and servicing and managing loans. Buying a mortgage book involves due diligence in respect of origination and performance, with transactions typically being one-off events.

In contrast, the partnership model, exemplified by MaaS, offers a more cost-effective and scalable solution. By adopting this approach, institutions gain beneficial ownership of originated mortgages without the substantial cost of entry or the need to build their own capabilities. This innovative model enables financial institutions to invest in mortgages without the burden of setting up and maintaining their own lending infrastructure.

Financial institutions seeking exposure to the mortgage market have traditionally had three options: compete, buy, or partner. The first two options involve significant investment in terms of time and resources. Competing requires setting up a lending revolutionizing the mortgage funding landscape and benefiting both investors and borrowers.

The MaaS model is particularly disruptive because it empowers institutional investors to determine their preferred risk and return parameters, resulting in direct access to loans tailored to their requirements. The wide pool of investors on the lending platform also benefits borrowers, as it leads to a broader product range and more competitive mortgage products.

The growth of the buy-to-let mortgage market, particularly in the professional segment, presents an attractive investment opportunity for institutional funding partners. This sector has seen a compound annual growth rate of 6% since 2014, with outstanding loans currently at around £300 billion. The professional buy-to-let segment includes borrowers set up as special purpose vehicles, portfolio landlords, or those focusing on houses in multiple occupation (HMO) and multi-unit freehold

blocks (MUFB).

However, building market share and generating volume in this sector demands significant investment. That is where the MaaS model steps in, offering a mutually beneficial solution for partners, borrowers, and FinTech companies by providing a more streamlined and cost-effective approach to mortgage investment. The MaaS model enables institutions to plug into established FinTech companies like Landbay and utilize their technology, recognized brand, and whole-of-market coverage with the major broker networks and clubs, at a fraction of the cost of doing it themselves.

The importance of disruption in financial technology lies in its ability to drive innovation and create new opportunities for market participants. The MaaS model exemplifies this by

As financial technologists, it is crucial to embrace and champion such disruptive approaches to ensure the continued growth and success of the FinTech industry. The adoption of MaaS and other innovative models will not only contribute to the evolution of the mortgage market but also pave the way for further disruption and advancement in the broader financial technology sector.

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“The importance of disruption in financial technology lies in its ability to drive innovation and create new opportunities for market participants.
The MaaS model exemplifies this by revolutionizing the mortgage funding landscape and benefiting both investors and borrowers.”
“Financial institutions seeking exposure to the mortgage market have traditionally had three options: compete, buy, or partner.”
Why disruption is important to financial technology: the case for Mortgagesas-a-Service
Julian Cork COO, Landbay

Your business is enjoying its time in the sun, your products and services are well defined. Operationally, things are streamlined and efficient and your customer data reassures you that client expectations are being met; while stakeholders are happy that sales are consistent and possibly even growing. But as a leader there is something at the back of your mind that troubles you.

Digital evolution is such that disruption can happen at a pace never witnessed before. It’s easy to become blinkered to the impact on your clients’ behaviours and preferences until it’s too late.

Managing the conflict between maintaining business as usual and ensuring your organisation remains relevant requires leadership capable of shaping a culture that fosters innovation and can accommodate transformational change.

Future-fit leaders recognise that disruption is not just a threat but an opportunity for growth.

Leaders must build the right culture that embraces innovation and proactively seeks out new possibilities for operations and products, and how their firm goes to market.

To thrive amidst disruption, leaders need to make changes to their own management styles, to

share the vision and actively engage in implementing the necessary changes to behaviours.

Leaders need to adapt - the mnemonic ADAPT encompasses some of the most important practices future-fit leaders need to adopt in order to navigate the disruptive landscape.

A: Anticipate Disruption

Future-fit leaders have their finger on the pulse of emerging trends and technologies. They proactively scan the business landscape, analyse market dynamics, and anticipate potential disruptors. By staying informed and being open to new

ideas they lead by example and are adept at spearheading an innovative and agile culture. Rather than fear disruption, employees must be encouraged to anticipate it and actively seek it out. By fostering a culture that anticipates disruption as a catalyst for improvement, leaders can inspire their teams to think innovatively and create a competitive advantage for their organisations.

D: Drive Innovation by Inclusion

Future-fit leaders foster a culture of creativity, experimentation and outside- the-box thinking. In an increasingly globalised world, inclusive leadership is imperative for driving innovation and sustainable growth. By creating an inclusive and safe environment, leaders can harness the power of diverse perspectives and experiences. By encouraging experimentation and learning from failures, leaders foster a culture that rewards risk-taking and fuels innovation. This shift

requires leaders to provide psychological safety, promoting an environment where all ideas are welcomed and respected, and team members feel empowered to challenge the status quo.

A: Awareness & Authenticity

In an era of digital transformation, leaders must maintain sight of the human element. Future-fit leaders must develop self-awareness, social awareness and have the courage to be authentic. They need to unlock their emotional intelligence - the ability to understand and manage one's emotions and those of others becomes even more critical in a disruptive era. Leaders who display humility and empathy are more adept at building strong relationships and promoting a positive work culture. Self-aware, authentic leaders are better equipped to navigate complex situations, motivate and inspire their teams, and build resilience. They gain respect and loyalty, whilst employee well-being and productivity soars.

P: Promote a Coaching Culture & Collaboration

Successful organisations embed coaching as a central role in nurturing talent and driving

performance. A coaching culture places people at the heart of leadership, focusing on growth and development. Leaders who embrace coaching as part of their own development are better equipped to coach and mentor their teams, unlocking the full potential of their human resources. Adopting a coaching mindset is key to retention of talent. People are given a sense of ownership and accountability, leading to better engagement, higher performance and increased productivity. But progress is hindered if people work in isolation. Future-fit leaders understand the power of collaboration and foster an environment where teams can work together seamlessly. They break down silos, encourage cross-functional collaboration, and facilitate knowledge sharing. By promoting collaboration, leaders harness the collective intelligence of their teams.

T: Technology enhanced customer experience

Technological advancements are at the heart of disruption. Successful leaders keep ahead of customer desires, needs and pain points, designing products and services that meet changing

demands. Staying focused on customer experience requires commitment to continuous improvement and engaging with customer feedback to deliver superior customer experiences that are increasingly experiential not just transactional relationships.

Future-fit leaders embrace technology and understand its transformative potential in enhancing the customer experience. They stay informed about emerging technologies and how they can be integrated into their business strategies and encourage others to do the same.

I have coached leaders in financial technology and professional service industries who have had the foresight to embrace disruption and adapt their management styles and behaviours to stay relevant and keep ahead of their game. By following ADAPT, leaders can position their organisations for success in the face of disruption. A coaching-mindset and culture of collaboration equips an organisation to nurture an appetite for disruption. Self-aware and emotionally intelligent leaders who embrace these practices not only stay one step ahead but also motivate, inspire and equip their teams to seize the opportunities presented by disruptive forces. The future of leadership lies in those who create a psychologically safe and inclusive environment, who empower their teams to challenge the status quo, adapt with resilience, and cultivate a culture that thrives on disruption.

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“Future-fit leaders foster a culture of creativity, experimentation and outside- the-box thinking. In an increasingly globalised world, inclusive leadership is imperative for driving innovation and sustainable growth.”
The future of leadership: nurturing an appetite for disruption
Jo Bower, Leadership & Executive Coach and Lawyer, Founder, beckhuson

Disrupting global markets and going for growth

Across the globe, businesses are facing increased pressures as they fight against rising energy prices, rampant inflation, as well as disruption and delay in supply chains. Against the backdrop of war in Ukraine, this toxic mix means that many ambitious companies are struggling to drive growth and expand to reach their full potential.

Geopolitical tensions are adding to the mix, leading to shifts in global trade flows and international relations, and while the UK narrowly missed a technical recession, economies worldwide are facing similar battles.

The pressures countries are faced with has led to international friction, however, there is also opportunity amongst the

challenges and the FinTech and payments sector are presented with not only the opportunity, but the challenge, of disrupting global markets, facilitating international trade, and providing a backbone to our economies.

Improving Global Trade

As the financial services industry undergoes substantial digital transformation and digital economies develop worldwide, electronic payments are

becoming increasingly important and the industry’s role in fostering inclusion is now a top priority.

Disruption has inundated the traditional payments sector as FinTech providers have taken advantage of the opportunity to use emerging technologies to revolutionise the industry, focusing on customer centricity and improved efficiencies.

The focus must be on driving

practical solutions for businesses, in particular SMEs. As transactions are held back due to lengthy processes, businesses often take a hit as firms are exposed to sudden shifts in exchange rates making the cost of doing business globally high.

In 2022, government research highlighted that the UK’s exports of goods and services totalled £815 billion, evidencing the importance of strong international relations and the ability to do trade worldwide, boosting business and economic growth.


Not only can recent disruptions within the FinTech industry promote business growth, but it can contribute to the democratisation of people worldwide, creating an ecosystem that is more financially inclusive.

Access to financial services in the UK are a relative norm, however, this is not necessarily the case for those in other corners of the globe. The FinTech industry can improve integration across payments systems, allow for better access to investments, and generally improve individuals access to financial services.

Tools such as big data and artificial intelligence can help firms understand customer needs to deliver customised services, opening increased opportunities for relationship building worldwide.

Utilising Data

Data has become one of the most valuable resources for businesses and the FinTech industry now allows for the improved analysis of data to guide business decision making and provide the best-inclass customer services.

In times of economic uncertainty, data plays a critical role within organisations and businesses should now prioritise the utilisation of it to effectively forward plan and prepare for the future.

Banks have a vast amount of data at their fingertips and for organisations looking to expand into new markets, the increased amount of data means that businesses can improve planning ahead of expansion plans, understanding global trends and potential threats.

Data can be used to identify and

mobilise new revenue streams with the help of FinTech providers, allowing businesses to better prepare themselves for success.

The FinTech industry can help to enable faster payments, improve worldwide opportunities, and strengthen international ties. Emerging technologies and available data must be utilised correctly, allowing FinTech to

disrupt global markets and promote international stability.

Despite a challenging global economic outlook, disruption and uptake of new FinTech services is the route to long term growth and innovation.

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“Banks have a vast amount of data at their fingertips and for organisations looking to expand into new markets, the increased amount of data means that businesses can improve planning ahead of expansion plans, understanding global trends and potential threats.”
“Across the globe, businesses are facing increased pressures as they fight against rising energy prices, rampant inflation, as well as disruption and delay in supply chains.”
KhalidTalukder Co-Founder,DKKPartners

Unfavourable macroeconomic conditions in the first half of 2023 have driven institutional and retail investors alike to reassess their portfolios and rebalance their risk exposure. One asset class that continues to prove popular is private markets. With a broad range of investment strategies available focused on everything from private equity to debt and venture capital, and a track record of outperforming public market benchmarks, private markets continue to attract capital despite macroeconomic uncertainty.

In fact, institutional investors are


now often allocating around a third of their portfolios to private assets, and retail investors are increasingly able to access the private markets through innovative new structures. With these evolving and growing demands, private markets participants are seeking out technologies to help them meet these new expectations.

So how are technological developments enabling the private markets’ further growth and popularity?

Our Private Equity clients are continuing to participate in the growing trend of opening up access to private markets for

retail investors, as they seek new sources of capital. This is a trend that would not be possible without the technologies that facilitate this process of democratisation – which is dependent on transparency and data certainty. Platforms and access products have continued to evolve, leveraging infrastructure including APIs and blockchain technology. We continue to see the market responding with the creation of products that work for retail and platform distribution. This trend in private markets is expected to continue further in 2023, fuelling greater demand for transparency and information from investors.

Tokenisation is improving and increasing distribution across private assets globally – reducing friction in the distribution process for private funds and, in some cases, facilitating more crossborder distribution. This is of particular importance as the rising interest rate environment forces investors to re-evaluate their liquidity positions. There are several different levels of liquidity and current use cases are more internally focused. For example, using tokenisation at the asset level to effectively rebalance diversified open-ended funds’ exposure to illiquid assets, or using it higher up in the structure at the fund level to provide liquidity to a known pool of investors.

In order to deploy capital in a

timely and efficient manner, digitisation and investor onboarding processes underpinned by new technology are essential for private markets investors - especially in the current fast-moving macroeconomic environment where managers need the flexibility to change their positions more quickly. As a result, managers can be more reactive, both to market conditions and in response to implementing legal and regulatory changes. Through blockchain, many of the processes that slow down the transfer process can be frontloaded, resulting in shortened timeframes, cost savings and overall a more streamlined process. We expect this trend to continue to evolve as LPs seek to deliver a more frictionless

experience to their own clients.

Data capture has also become more important than ever, forming the bedrock for meeting stakeholders' ever-present appetite for transparency and information. Traditionally valuing private markets assets has involved very time-consuming process including much time spent around process and data management. With the help of blockchain and artificial intelligence, managers can provide a real-time, fully auditable data trail for permissioned users without the need for asset owners to relinquish control of their own data. Data is also crucial for ensuring investments are compliant with ESG and other regulation, and for giving investors the confidence they

need that their investments are values aligned.

As 2023 progresses, we anticipate that a common language will prevail across stakeholders in the private markets, as products necessarily evolve to better accommodate and meet investor and regulatory body appetite for data.

Taken together, these technological developments have the potential to revolutionise the private markets by bringing a new level of trusted information, price discovery, and transparency. Managers in the private markets are actively seeking out trusted service partners that have the global reach and ability to scale quickly – with systems and data that are transparent and accessible.

So, what next? Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and natural language processes are all exciting developments which have the potential to add significant value in terms of the ability to collect and process big data, as well as to automate workflows and deliver efficiency.

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“Tokenisation is improving and increasing distribution across private assets globally – reducing friction in the distribution process for private funds and, in some cases, facilitating more cross-border distribution.”
is technology disrupting private markets?
Apex Group

Consumerdriven disruption in FinTech

The digital transformation of the financial sector has been a significant driver of consumerdriven disruption. With the advent of smartphones and the internet, consumers now have the world at their fingertips. This access to information and services has changed the way consumers interact with their financial service providers.

In the past, financial transactions were largely conducted in person. Whether it was making a deposit, applying for a loan, or consulting with a financial advisor, these interactions required a physical visit to a bank. However, with the digital transformation of financial services, these interactions can now be conducted digitally.

Consumers can make transactions, apply for loans, and receive financial advice directly from their smartphones. This shift has not only made financial services more convenient but also more accessible. Consumers who were previously unable to access financial services due to geographical or economic barriers now have the opportunity to participate in the financial system.

The Role of Data in Personalisation

The use of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) has profoundly altered the landscape of financial services. These technologies enable FinTech companies to analyse consumer behaviour and preferences in a detailed and sophisticated manner. This

data-driven approach allows service providers to identify patterns, predict outcomes, and ultimately offer tailored financial advice and services.

In the era of traditional financial services, this level of personalisation was almost unimaginable. Services were typically one-size-fits-all, with little scope for individual tailoring. However, the power of data has radically transformed this scenario. FinTech companies can now offer a unique customer experience that caters to the individual needs of each consumer, marking a significant departure from the conventional model.

Harnessing the power of data to create personalised financial solutions is a complex task. It involves the collection of vast amounts of data, securing this data to protect consumer privacy, and then analysing it using advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms. This process allows FinTech companies to gain insights into their consumers' behaviours, needs, and preferences.

Such insights can inform the development of products and services that are not just generic offerings, but solutions carefully tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual. This approach has led to the creation of a diverse range of financial products and services that were previously unthinkable. For instance, personalised investment portfolios, customised loan offers, individualised insurance plans, and bespoke financial advice are now a reality, all thanks to the power of data.

While at DashDevs, we've been

part of this data-driven revolution in financial services. Our commitment to understanding our consumers and creating products that meet their unique needs is at the heart of what we do. However, we also recognise the responsibility that comes with handling consumer data. Ensuring the privacy and security of our consumers' data is a priority for us, and we take stringent measures to uphold these principles.

The impact of a data-driven approach to personalisation is evident in the success of our products. It has not only led to an increase in user base and revenue but also deepened the trust and loyalty of our customers. They know they can rely on us for financial solutions that are uniquely suited to their needs, and this trust is invaluable.

The Disruption of Traditional Business Models

In the context of a digital era, traditional banking methods, which relied heavily on physical branches and standard services, are being upended. With increasing customer expectations for efficient, accessible, personalised, and convenient services, financial institutions find themselves compelled to evolve and innovate. Here's how this evolution can be practically applied and what changes can be made.

■ Own digital services. One strategy is for banks to align their services with the growing consumer demand for online and mobile banking. The caveat, however, is that the development of in-house digital solutions can be intricate and lengthy, not to mention the specialised skills required, which may not be

available within many traditional financial institutions.

■ Side partners. Alternatively, financial institutions can form alliances with FinTech companies. They bring a new outlook, flexibility, and technological expertise to the table, which can amplify the services provided by conventional financial institutions. Such partnerships pave the way for traditional banks to successfully transition to digital operations. They can provide cutting-edge, technology-driven solutions that align with shifting consumer expectations. Plus, these collaborations can instil an innovative culture within traditional banks, inspiring them to break the mould and adopt novel business practices.

DashDevs has had the privilege of teaming up with numerous traditional financial institutions, aiding them through their digital transition. Our strategy involves a deep understanding of the unique challenges and needs of these institutions and crafting solutions accordingly.

While we contribute our techsavviness and innovative approach, we also acknowledge the deep reservoir of knowledge and experience these traditional institutions have. This reciprocal respect and collaboration underpin our partnerships, allowing us to develop solutions that merge the best aspects of both worlds.

For a more in-depth understanding, you can review case studies of our work with different financial institutions, which demonstrate how we have applied our expertise to foster digital transformation.

For example, in our partnership with Project Imagine, we created a Pi-1 white label banking solution and helped to digitise their services, which not only improved customer experience but also streamlined their operations. Similarly, our collaboration with one of our MENA clients resulted in the development of the Tarabut Gateway — an open banking platform that has significantly increased user engagement. These cases further illustrate our practical approach to digital transformation in the financial sector.

Embracing the Future of FinTech

Looking ahead, it's clear that consumer-driven disruption will continue to shape the future of FinTech. As consumer expectations continue to evolve, so will the FinTech industry. We will see the development of new technologies and solutions, the emergence of new business models, and the continued transformation of traditional financial services.

As we embrace this future, it's important to remember that at the heart of this disruption are the consumers. It's their needs and expectations that are driving this change. And as FinTech leaders, it's our responsibility to listen to these consumers, understand their needs, and create solutions that not only meet their expectations but also improve their financial lives.

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User experience design defines our daily lives. Services delivered through intuitive interfaces allow us to summon taxis at a touch of a button, access entire film and music libraries in seconds or order any conceivable product to our doors. Modern convenience has driven expectations that technology should work seamlessly to improve our lives, an expectation that is extending into the workplace. This is particularly true in finance, as years of electronification and the proliferation of data has elevated trading technology to a central pillar of firms’ success. From trading to compliance, risk to portfolio management –technology has become the lifeblood of modern finance. However, with so much complexity and such diverse but interconnected business functions, creating a seamless user experience is a major challenge.

Not just a pretty face

It is common to see disparate legacy systems serving specific purposes, with bolt-ons added over time creating messy tangles of disparate technology. For the user this means navigating a plethora of siloed systems on a daily basis – clicking in and out of windows, opening and closing applications or navigating several

screens at a time. Context switching is notoriously errorprone and a combination of all these factors results in a slow, clunky user experience requiring thought and attention to operate a system at the most basic level – a major problem in volatile, fast-moving markets.

A system and its constituent parts are only as effective as its usability. This means creating interfaces that can be easily used by everyone – from young tech-natives to older generations; from casual investors to professional traders. As designers, we need to understand

the traders who will use the underlying technology and their pressure points and hence create intuitive user interfaces (UI) to consolidate various applications. We equally need to increase trading app interoperability.

Owning technology stacks and designing user experience around specific workflows has become a huge competitive advantage. Everyone is different and systems need to reflect this – for individuals it is a matter of being able to customise technology to suit their way of working. Meanwhile, companies can differentiate how they trade by designing systems to perfectly execute complex trading strategies.

The advent of more sophisticated, widely available AI will increase the focus on user experience further. For traders, it will mean having an augmented, automated intelligence, capable of advising individuals as they execute their day-to-day workflows. Rather than querying AI through a web browser, it should be embedded in all aspects of the user experience - from applications to their integrations.

High profile and sophisticated investment firms are already signalling that this work is underway. Gaining an edge is not about applying a free and universally available technology, it is about how user interfaces can be taken to the next level to

augment how traders navigate markets.

Unshackling systems

Financial firms work most effectively when all areas of a business and desks operate in harmony, using tools to act confidently and instinctively. Design therefore extends beyond the look and feel of a system to reduce friction and create clear paths for users to find and take advantage of layers upon layers of data and functionality.

Design is no longer a ‘nice to have’ to make software easier on the eye – it defines how we interact with markets. Systems therefore need to be built with humans and their diverse needs in mind. The design ethos needs to tap into the native experiences that users have come to expect and allows freedom to switch between mobile and web whenever suits. To achieve this in the complex world of finance, we need to draw inspiration from other industries such as Ecommerce or the Metaverse, to meet expectations of how technology should operate. As smooth user experience becomes normalised, a disregard for design will become a glaring disadvantage.

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“Gaining an edge is not about applying a free and universally available technology, it is about how user interfaces can be taken to the next level to augment how traders navigate markets.”
Looks are ever ything: how user design is transforming the way we trade
Matt Barrett CEO, Adaptive Financial Consulting

Innovation ignited.

Waking the sleeping giant

In the realm of agency trading technology, trading firms have yet to fully tap into their potential for agility in embracing disruptive practices. This is evident in the fact that the majority of trading flow today still relies on legacy boxed-up systems dating back to the late '90s, utilizing the FIX protocol.

The blame for this situation lies with the volatile and risk-prone ecosystem, which has witnessed incidents such as the global financial crisis in 2008, the flash boys phenomenon and the Knight Capital crash. Consequently, the focus over the past decade has been on building risk frameworks, strengthening compliance practices, and shifting the focus of disruption towards regulatory technology (RegTech). Additionally, the cost of compliance and regulatory pressure to adhere to the best execution policies has led to centralisation, effectively monopolising the markets and flows by the bulge brackets. However, being alone at the top fosters comfort is not conducive to disruption.

1000+ 5 150+ 60% 60% Attendees


Regarding human capital, technology disruption necessitates the involvement of technologists. Currently, significant financial decisionmaking roles remain in the hands of experienced bankers with strong finance backgrounds. However, this is inevitably changing as millennials assume these positions, bringing their

technologically oriented expertise to the table. Why? Because technology enables automation, superior performance, and cost reduction.

We find ourselves living in an era where technology-driven disruption has become the norm, and those who fail to adapt are left behind. This creates a domino effect, where technologists become decision-makers who formulate strategies around technology and hire other technologists. Goldman Sachs serves as an excellent example of this transition, with one-third of its workforce currently employed in the IT department. Ultimately, the essence has always been about owning and accessing crucial information, and technology has revolutionised information and data processing.

There are, however, challenges to overcome. The reality is that the hype surrounding IT, fuelled by 0% interest rates, has made it difficult to distinguish genuine actors from those who merely talk the talk. Recent studies indicate that products associated with recognised disruptive terms such as blockchain and AI receive 20% more interest and attention than those that lack such labels. Nevertheless, the market self-corrects, and we are currently experiencing this correction.

Given the craze and the soaring demand for technologists, staying at the forefront of disruption has become exceptionally challenging

Dino Dedic, COO, Marvelsoft

and costly. For instance, building a next generation platform requires substantial investment, particularly within the institutional agency trading client base, where margins are shrinking, and execution consolidation is occurring.

To maintain effectiveness while embracing disruption, FinTech firms must have a keen understanding of the ecosystem's capacity for change. External and internal pressures, including procurement, compliance, regulatory demands, and the global geopolitical landscape, have transformed the ecosystem into a sluggish behemoth. Building a DMA connection alone can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months — and replacing a trading platform can span up to two years, leaving little room for rapid disruption. We don't need a hypersonic ecosystem, as demonstrated by the crypto market's volatile nature. What the ecosystem requires is to create space and enablement for new, resilient players who can help increase its speed.

Patience and a clear trajectory are crucial for success. In our case, this trajectory involves reaching milestones that involve offering automation tools for all repetitive workflows. Additionally, we prioritise delivering services through scalable, Cloud-native infrastructure, moving away from traditional enterprise software and achieving cost-effectiveness in our infrastructure. Lastly, we emphasise platform openness by utilising natively supported APIs that seamlessly communicate with all microservices in our system. This aligns with our primary goal of providing a platform designed for technologists rather than bankers.

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For more information visit 6 - 7 March 2024 | London
Europe’s most senior banking and payments event.
Stages Speakers Financial institutions C-Level, Director, VP, Head of

The importance of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is no secret. With the 400 million SMEs around the world representing around 95% of all business and accounting for up to 70% of worldwide employment, it’s not hard to see why they’re often referred to as the backbone of the economy.

Why then, is it so tough out there for small businesses? It can be difficult to negotiate optimal payment terms with suppliers and secure financial support from incumbent banks. This leads to persistent cash flow issues that eventually result in 20% of SMEs failing within their first year of existence.

In recent years, providers of

embedded financial services have risen to these challenges faced by SMEs in order to help them thrive and grow. Embedded payments, insurance and lending services address the needs and challenges of small businesses by making financial products and solutions easier to use and more accessible than they have been in years gone by.

In this article, I’ll explore how embedded finance supports the SME economy from the perspective of buyers and sellers alike. Let’s dive right in.

Access to Financial Services

Due to their size, limited credit history and lack of collateral, SME buyers often face difficulty in accessing traditional financial services. Embedded finance

How embedded finance supports the SME economy

brings financial services directly to these small businesses, eliminating barriers to entry and providing them with access to working capital, loans, credit facilities and other financial products tailored to their needs. Greater financial inclusion improves liquidity, enables growth and supports day-to-day operations for small businesses.

Reduced Cost of Reaching SME Buyers

When it comes to the SME market, one of the key challenges faced by incumbent financial services providers is that it isn’t cost effective for them to market to SMEs and then underwrite them. In a world enabled by embedded technology, the cost of reaching and distributing financial services to SME business buyers is much lower.

Simplified Payment Processes

Embedded finance simplifies payment processes for SMEs by integrating payment solutions into existing checkouts. This enables sellers to accept various payment methods, automate invoicing, streamline collections and improve cash flow management. By reducing administrative burdens and providing efficient payment solutions, embedded finance supports SMEs in managing their finances more effectively. Meanwhile, buyers benefit from a streamlined purchasing experience and the

option to add financial services at the point of need.

Risk Mitigation

SME buyers often face higher risks and uncertainties than larger businesses, making it challenging for them to obtain credit or manage financial risks. Embedded finance platforms leverage data analytics, machine learning and alternative data sources to more accurately assess the creditworthiness of small business customers and give them access to the credit they deserve. This helps mitigate risks, making it easier for SMEs to access credit, secure financing and meet their financial obligations. For sellers, the ability to offer financial services like trade credit to a wider pool of buyers empowers them to drive higher satisfaction and forge long-lasting customer loyalty.

Financial Management and Insights

Embedded accounting and financial reporting tools provide buyers and sellers with advanced insights. These tools integrate accounting, cash flow management and reporting functionalities, allowing SMEs to monitor their financial health, track expenses, generate financial reports and make data-driven decisions that ultimately help them to survive. Access to real-time financial insights helps SMEs identify

areas for improvement, optimise operations and plan for future growth.

Integration of ValueAdded Services

Embedded finance enables SMEs to access a range of value-added services that enhance their operations. For example, they can integrate payroll management, expense tracking or inventory management services into their existing systems. These services improve efficiency and reduce manual tasks so business owners are free to focus on achieving growth goals.

Innovation and Partnerships

Embedded finance fosters innovation by creating opportunities for SME sellers to collaborate with FinTech companies, banks and other financial institutions. Through partnerships, SMEs can access innovative financial solutions, leverage technology and tap into financial expertise. Ultimately this promotes business growth, facilitates digital transformation and enhances competitiveness.

Market Expansion

Embedded finance enables SMEs to expand their market reach and embrace new opportunities. By integrating payment gateways, financing options or other tools into their online platforms or marketplaces, SMEs can offer a seamless buying experience

to their customers. This helps SMEs enter new markets, whether that’s an untapped online buyer segment or a new geographic region.

Overall, embedded finance supports SMEs by addressing their challenges, providing access to financial services, simplifying payments, mitigating risks, enhancing financial management, fostering innovation and enabling market expansion. It empowers these businesses to overcome financial barriers, thrive in a digital economy and unlock their full potential for growth and success.

The way that small businesses interact and transact with each other is undergoing a massive change due to the opportunities and benefits presented by embedded financial services and solutions. In the coming months and years, embedded lending, insurance and payments will become increasingly prevalent among SMEs, while disruptive FinTech companies develop new and innovative embedded solutions in tax, accounting and other areas. It’s about time that the SMEs holding up our economy get a fair deal when it comes to financial access and ability.

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“When it comes to the SME market, one of the key challenges faced by incumbent financial services providers is that it isn’t cost effective for them to market to SMEs and then underwrite them.”

As the Marketing Project Manager for the Harrington Starr Group, I have seen first-hand the distinct marketplace evolution we are all experiencing. With the rise of FinTech start-ups and the increasing adoption of digital solutions by traditional financial institutions, the competition has never been greater. In such a crowded market, marketing has become a critical factor in the success of any financial technology company.

And it doesn’t come without its challenges. Take the need to balance demand generation with lead generation, for example. While it's important to generate interest and awareness of your

brand, ultimately you need to turn that interest into actionable leads. This requires a range of marketing tactics; from content marketing and Google search optimisation, to targeting pain points and hot topics that resonate with potential customers.

At the Harrington Starr Group, translating interest into actionable leads means building partnerships. We work closely with our Customer Success Team in this regard, innovating alongside them to offer more than any other recruitment company. We’re proud to work with some of the most exciting brands in the marketplace; growing not only their teams, but also their brands and impact.

Financial technology marketing trends of 2023

Innovation has always been key; it will be key during this evolution; and will be key in building our future. This innovation needs to be paired with relevant, engaging and personalised content that speaks to the needs and interests of your target audience. This requires a deep understanding of your customers and their pain points. And it also requires diversification of content. The team and I are acutely aware that whilst we’re addressing a collective issue, not everyone will engage with it in the same way. The key takeaway here: innovation must be inclusive.

Currently, when we think of innovative trends, we all jump to AI. It’s going to be an inevitable part of our future and could prove immensely beneficial to marketing. From predictive analytics to data insights, chatbots and virtual assistants, there is a range of new technologies that will make your brand and content far more accessible. And of course, relevant. You will have the opportunity to engage with your customers in a more meaningful way — don’t waste it!

Of course, we have to acknowledge the anxieties that exist around AI. In a recent poll we put out to our 160,000 LinkedIn followers, 26% were fearful that AI would take their job. Some marketeers were part of this

group. But as many commented, AI can’t create. It can ideate and understand; but it fails to implement, impact and connect the way we can. Don’t dismiss AI or fear it. Work with it throughout your marketing campaigns.

Now onto a personal favourite: event marketing. It’s experiencing a vast resurgence post-pandemic, and everyone is happy to see their return. Virtual events have served us well, but they’re undoubtedly now marred by a great degree of “Webinar Apathy”.

Recently we hosted an event for International Women's Day, and it is a prime example of event marketing success. With over 200 guests from the financial technology sector, the event brought together industry professionals to celebrate and mark the day. The response was outstanding, as the event quickly sold out and attracted delegates from over 150 firms.

To create an engaging and interactive experience, we implemented a unique panel structure that encouraged audience participation and thought-provoking discussions. Rather than a one-hour long session, we had four 15-minute keynote speakers, accounting for the changing nature of engagement. Attention to detail was crucial, as we aimed to make the event memorable and

impactful for attendees. And we didn’t neglect the digital, despite its retreat, the event was recorded and publicised freely to expand its reach.

The success of our event extended beyond the day. Social media engagement soared as attendees and participants shared pictures and videos of themselves, showcasing their support for International Women's Day and championing efforts to address the gender imbalance in technology. We went a “tad” viral.

In recognition of its impact and success, our International Women's Day event has been shortlisted for an esteemed industry award and we have received inquiries from other firms interested in partnering with us to host DEI focused events.

This demonstrates the ripple effect of our event's influence and the value it has generated within the industry. It serves as a testament to the power of event marketing in driving conversations and fostering collaboration around important societal issues.

Marketing plays a pivotal role in our accomplishments. And it's essential that any FinTech aiming to disrupt the space keeps up with the latest marketing trends. I’m proud of what we’ve created and the impact we’ve had so far, the route we are taking and our commitment to inclusion as a team. Whilst success has been impressive, we sit on a well of opportunity and I’m very much excited to see how marketing contributes to our group's success in the future!

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“At the Harrington Starr Group, translating interest into actionable leads means building partnerships. We work closely with our Customer Success Team in this regard, innovating alongside them to offer more than any other recruitment company.”

Disruption was at the heart of Aquis’ foundation in 2012, and to this day remains a part of our DNA.

In a Vodafone shop, purchasing my son’s first phone and surrounded by mobile phones with various bells and whistles from the low starting price of £9.99 per month, I first realised the true disruptive power of a subscription model.

Subscription models change economics, and they change behaviour. At that point in time, the Netflixes and Spotifys had already swung the axe for the legacy industries of video rental and CDs; the reaper was on its way for the industries of automotives, fitness, gaming and more. So why not trading?

The structure of equities trading venues – both stock exchanges and multilateral trading facilities (MTFs) – had remained largely unchanged for a number of decades since the introduction of electronic trading. Incumbents in

the market charged per trade, with pricing based on a percentage of the value of each stock. Margins were high, larger players were dominant, and there was little motivation for change from existing players with vested interests.

There was an opportunity for disruption.

Aquis took this opportunity to develop a subscription model, based on the message traffic companies generate, with various pricing bands to allow additional flexibility.

The first and still the only fee model of its kind in equities trading, the Aquis subscription model helped to grow the market by offering a ‘zero marginal cost’ option for the most frequent users. Additionally, smaller participants were able to benefit from lower fees, instead of needing to qualify for volume discounts, lowering their barrier to entry.

Over the decade since launching Aquis, we have continued to

An opportunity for disruption

innovate and added a suite of products and trading mechanisms to adapt to changing markets and meet client demand. We introduced periodic auctions – Aquis Auction on Demand – and today run Europe’s largest alternative closing auction, our Market at Close.

We also found that disruption is not just applicable to the broader market, but sometimes to our own views as well – despite launching Aquis as a lit-only market at inception, in 2022 we launched our first dark pool – the Aquis Matching Pool, or AMP – allowing members to trade at the midpoint of the Primary Best Bid and Offer. In introducing AMP, we were reacting to two things: member demand, and broader market conditions – in times of turbulence, lit market volumes tend to decrease in favour of the dark. To adapt, we had to reassess our early model and disrupt – ourselves! AMP remains a successful product in the Aquis Markets suite, and we are looking forward to further growth in coming years.

Looking back on a decade of the Aquis MTF, it is clear disruption has created the opportunity for positive change, and I am glad we have embraced it – ten years on, Aquis remains a provider of high liquidity and best execution. But we didn’t stop there.

As I’m sure all readers of The Financial Technologist will know already, it’s hard to create new technology without being disruptive. We built the infrastructure for Aquis Exchange at a fantastic time – right in the midst of a technological revolution. Technology between 2012 and 2022 was developing at a rate exponential to the several

decades preceding.

The technology stack that we built to power the Aquis Exchange was new, and highly performative. Without the heavy tail of decades of data built on legacy systems that others had to deal with, we were using today’s tools to build tomorrow’s markets. As a result, Aquis Exchange was known from early on for one of the lowest latencies in the industry.

In 2015, we created a business division – Aquis Technologies – to ensure we continued to develop and invest in cutting-edge technology. We were a true pioneer in true, fully cloud-based deployments, developing the world’s first cloud-native financial exchange in a proof of concept exercise with the Singapore Stock Exchange and Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2020, and today we operate Aquis Equinox – the world’s first regulated market grade matching engine which operates 24/7/365 with zero downtime, ever.

An appetite for disruption allowed our David to challenge Goliaths. Our tech no longer sits just at the heart of our own exchange, but of many others around the world.

In 2020, we took this disruption to UK primary listings – purchasing a Recognised Investment Exchange (RIE) license and creating the Aquis Stock

Exchange. One of only two licensed primary equities markets in the UK, we had a vision to bring innovation, competition and cutting-edge technology to capital markets.

Capital markets in the UK are in the midst of an existential crisis: large companies are departing for overseas listings at higher ratings; and smaller companies are seeking other measures of funding, due to a perception that the public markets are unwieldy and inaccessible.

It’s time for change. We need a fresh approach, and we need to be bold – unafraid of changing legacy systems and industries.

We have two primary objectives for the Aquis Stock Exchange: to make public markets more accessible and easier to use for more companies, and to make public markets accessible to more investors. We focus our market specifically on growth companies: the small- and medium-sized businesses in desperate need of scale-up capital in order to grow and become tomorrow’s unicorns.

Today, the Aquis Stock Exchange is home to more than 100 growth companies and has helped to raise over £350m. To achieve this, we made regulatory changes to the IPO process: we were the first

to get rid of prospectus rules that were overly restrictive for smaller companies; we were more flexible on the accounting infrastructure required (for example, allowing UK GAAP as well as IFRS); and we had a broader criteria for companies considered suitable to IPO - opening the possibility for small but rapidly growing companies who had a shorter track record or required a smaller free float. We also looked at more appropriate rules for companies once on the market – including a slimmed down version of the costly ‘nominated adviser’ role required on other markets, and the removal of class tests for acquisitions, which makes equity funded acquisitions easier.

Aquis Stock Exchange is today recognised as the public market home of growth companies, and our next step will be bringing our second objective to the fore: making public markets more accessible to investors –ultimately, getting the public back into public markets.

I have a voracious appetite for disruption – and for Aquis, it’s hard to see how we would be where we are today without it. As times change, so must business, industry and capital providers. We are in an era of disruption at a scale not seen since the industrial revolution – if our industry doesn’t embrace the opportunities, we risk being left behind.

I’m looking forward to our next phase of disruption – here at Aquis, we’re just getting started!

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“As I’m sure all readers of The Financial Technologist will know already, it’s hard to create new technology without being disruptive.”

Tribe based banking: the future of financial services

centred around a common cause, and with at least one leader who represents and organises the tribe. Above all, however, is the importance of a shared cause within a tribe. It is this shared cause that leads people to fully invest in a tribe, turning unmotivated followers into true believers.

Thanks to the technological advances of the past few decades, specifically the massive expansion of the internet and the subsequent explosion of social media, tribes have gone global and greatly swelled in number. Communities that were hardly visible before can now make themselves heard and connect from all around the world by utilising modern technology, and can become a tight-knit tribe through the connections they develop.

develop your idea with the tribe already in mind, building a service or product that fulfils observed needs or gaps experienced by a community. Building with an existing group in mind makes it significantly easier to continue targeting this community and create a fully-fledged tribe, not to mention you could be the pioneer in creating a new target audience.

Alternatively, if you have the product and are looking for the tribe fit, you must take the time to get to know your audience. What do they yearn for? Which of their needs aren’t being met? Truly understanding your target group and leading the way for them demonstrates leadership and will encourage them to turn from lost potential followers to loyal supporters of your cause.

Proliferation of ideas

people to listen and organise under your leadership.

Fundamentally, you must tell a story that people will want to listen to, and share it with those who want to hear it. Your product or service at its core represents an idea that needs to spread and persuade others. As the idea spreads, you can create the tribe by bringing together those who have heard the idea, leading them, and helping spread the idea even further.

At that point, marketing needs to function as a platform from which you will argue for your idea, helping to persuade and bring others from the target audience into the fold. The more the idea spreads, the more chances that someone will become part of your tribe.

Among the most significant internet-related changes in the world is that geography is no longer a barrier to tribal growth. More people are using social media now than ever before: a whopping 3.6 billion people, or about one-third of the world population. Research predicts that the number of social media users will reach 4.4 billion in 2025.

Something to keep in mind when trying to build an online tribe is that communication needs to be both vertical and horizontal. Communication cannot simply be vertical, meaning between you (the leader) and individual tribe members – more importantly, it must also be horizontal, between tribe members.

There’s a growing need for banking services that go beyond mere transactions. People want to interact with brands that enhance their lives and make them feel connected — not just push products on them. It may be tempting to try to please all markets and audiences, but attempting to appeal to everyone leads to mediocrity and a lack of intense feeling on the part of consumers towards your idea or brand.

One path towards success is to appeal to humans’ inherent desire to be part of a collective - a part of a tribe. By presenting at the

As mentioned, it takes about 1.000 devotees to form and keep a movement going. But how do you get this amount of people to believe in you and your cause? At the centre of everything is the cause itself - the idea has to be strong and valid enough to get forefront of a movement or a cause, you can form a loyal tribe that will grow and advocate your ideas and products.

In this article, we explore how neobanks can be successful at this time of unprecedented change by focusing on tribes. We will focus on why building a tribe around your passion is more likely to bring you success than trying to appeal across all markets, as most traditional banks are still trying to do.

What is a tribe?

There are three major components to a tribe: they are made up of a group of people,

With leadership and a cause, people will follow

How do the rise in global communities and social mediadriven tribes impact your business? You too can harness the power of these tribes to create a community that will genuinely advocate for you and your ideas, by word of mouth and crucially, on social media. What is needed from your part is a clear understanding of your cause and a willingness to lead.

In 2008, Kevin Kelly predicted that the internet would allow large squads of people to make a living off their creations. Kelly’s essay, 1,000 True Fans, was written as a way to understand how the internet would affect creative people and entrepreneurs.

What is the best way to obtain this number of enthusiasts for your own tribe? If possible, it’s better to

Why everyone can form a tribe

It's never been easier, cheaper, or more effective to connect people than with today’s technology, whether it’s via viral YouTube videos or the most cutting-edge ideas from renowned and inspirational influencers.

As today's technology evolves, you have the opportunity to not only spread your message but also facilitate both vertical and horizontal communication. The amount of websites, blogs, and especially the amount of social media sites, is simply staggering. YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Flickr, Twitter, MySpace, WhatsApp, Reddit, WeChat, Google+ – the possibilities are endless. You are not only able to spread your cause, but also create an environment for your followers to share ideas, communicate with each other and organise events.

How you can engage with tribes

Are you thinking of putting these ideas into practice? If you want to deliver the benefits of tailormade outreach and communitybuilding to your customers, here are some ways and examples of how you can strengthen your brand's connection with niche communities:

“How do the rise in global communities and social mediadriven tribes impact your business?
You too can harness the power of these tribes to create a community that will genuinely advocate for you and your ideas, by word of mouth and crucially, on social media.”
Jelle van Schaik, Head of Marketing, Intergiro

1. Show your commitment to the community

Demonstrating a clear and definitive commitment to the communities you wish to serve and support is a very powerful and persuasive strategy. A business that is committed to its market will find it easier to build trust, relationships, and most importantly, brand loyalty. Without showing your commitment, many people won’t consider your efforts as genuine.

How do you make an impact in your community? A great example is Greenwood, an American neobank that focuses on the African-American and Latino communities. Through their Greenwood Gives Back program, the institution demonstrates their understanding and concern for their focus communities. The initiative includes the following:

■ Providing five meals to a food-insecure family through Goodr for every account opened

■ Donating $10,000 per month to a Black or Latino-owned business

■ Sponsoring the Greenwood Cultural Center - promoting, preserving, and celebrating African American culture and heritage

In the past, people from diverse communities have been uncomfortable with legacy banks because they have not been represented, don't feel empathised with, and aren't open to communication. In this new era, banks need to be more authentic and receptive to communication. People from these communities will soon be looking for a bank that gives them a sense of representation and


2. Interact and have open communication channels

Communication plays a key role in the success of community banking. Take a look at the Instagram feeds of neobanks such as the LGBTQ-focused Daylight; the migrant-oriented Majority; and Nerve, the neobank for musicians. Who do you think they serve? You can instantly observe which community they see. Communities are built on trust. Members of each community sense this, leading to a strong foundation for a lasting customer-brand relationship.

As people face increasingly complex and uncertain times, there is a greater need for clear and effective communication. Explore opportunities to create digital spaces and forums where communities feel safe and heard while interacting with your brand. These spaces should be private, secure, and moderated, as your customers must feel free to share their thoughts.

3. Ensure community presence in marketing and advertising

One of the most overlooked aspects of marketing is ensuring a strong community presence in your advertising. Don’t just do what you think is expected of you. Get to know your target audience and find out how you can best serve them. Get to the heart of the specific demographic you want to serve, and allow them to be part of the brand story you tell. People won’t bank with you unless you show them you care. So, if you want to have a strong foundation with underserved markets, make sure they play a significant role in your communications.

Launch your own tribe-centred

financial services with Intergiro

What if the next generation of digital experience is more than just about financial transactions? Intergiro enables tribes to go beyond transactions and deliver seamless digital experiences. That's why our mission is focused on creating richer financial experiences shaped by tribes people love.

Not only will the combined support for your mission create a better product-market fit, your customers should also benefit from reduced costs given your ability to capture more of their expenditure across a breadth of products/services. Furthermore, you can be confident that your future innovation will have a greater chance of success, given the support from your particular niche tribe who will be willing to invest in your solutions.

If you want to launch your own financial services centred around your tribe, Intergiro is here to help. Our banking as a service solution, Intergiro, allows you to leverage our state-of-the-art banking infrastructure to build financial services rapidly and at a low cost. Our suite of APIs are designed to help modern businesses build, adapt and thrive in the digital age, whether you are embedding financial services into your product, acquiring card transactions online or creating innovative new card programs.

Introducing The Talent Equity List: Promoting Inclusive Hiring Practices

The Talent Equity List was started to make inclusive hiring practices accessible. Too often, exceptional talent is overlooked or missed because they don’t fit into a typical job description or match outdated professional criteria.

That is why we started The Talent Equity List; to change the narrative and make a career in technology and engineering open to all.

By being part of the initiative, employers are exposed to the often overlooked demographics in the financial technology, engineering and sales sectors. You will receive profiles of female and non-binary individuals seeking employment at firms that genuinely promote inclusion.

In providing better visibility of talent, companies can plan their growth and hiring with equity at the forefront. The focus is not only on what a person has done in the past but also on what they want to do next.

That is why role creation is a central part of this initiative. We encourage firms to create roles that are centred around a person’s needs and their desired next steps so individual growth aligns with that of the business. Such role creations lead to better long-term talent outcomes for all.

Fair pay, fair recognition and fair promotion are key factors of this campaign. The Talent Equity List is committed to building networks and helping everyone grow their careers fairly.

32 Ready to #WalkTheTalk? Get in touch. part of the CM MY CY CMY

inston Churchill’s infamous words “now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,” immediately spring to mind when it comes to the May 24 deadline for T+1. The long-awaited confirmed go live date is very much the start of a long operational journey, and market participants need to come to terms with the fact that full compliance by this date is not necessarily going to happen.

This is why, for brokers, custodian banks and asset managers, finding ways to address the following bottlenecks now should, in theory, make the road to T+1 a much smoother one:

WImproving on pre-matching

The process of comparing settlement details to ensure that they meet the terms of the transaction, pre-matching is a key early-stage component of T+1 prep. Changes to trade matching processes, including much tighter deadlines for the receipt of an asset managers trade instructions, not to mention the resolution of pre-trade problems, should be considered now.

Addressing settlement fails post trade matching

If the industry harbours any hope of reducing settlement fails post the matching process, then the brokers, custodian banks and asset managers can’t afford to be disconnected from one another. Much of the real work that needs to be done falls on the sell side, which includes the banks,

Navigating the road to T+1: overcoming bottlenecks for efficient settlement

brokers, and dealers. Although the buy side drives the process by initiating trades and their corresponding instructions, there is often a lack of connectivity between the buy side, sell side and custodians. Bringing counterparties together that are not necessarily in a direct chain of communication is not an easy problem to solve – but it can be done. For example, brokers and asset managers already talk, but then the conversation with one of the most pivotal counterparties in the entire settlement chain, the custodian bank, has been somewhat of an afterthought.

This is largely due to the fact that brokers do not typically use custodians in the US market as they are direct participants of the DTCC. However, the custodian banks are incredibly important from an asset managers perspective. The issue is they do not know who the custodian bank is for every fund that they are trading with, which means they are unable to reach out directly to the custodian bank because they have no contractual relationships with them. Ultimately, this is why there needs to be more seamless real-time dispute/problem resolution occurring between the three counterparties.

As the road to T+1 begins in earnest, failure to address these bottlenecks and obstacles in a coordinated fashion will leave market participants with highly inefficient settlements. These issues must be dealt with before operations staff in the back office even begin thinking about how to communicate effectively with the risk team in the middle office around other T+1 related problems that will emerge between now and May 2024.

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To share your thoughts, get in touch: CM MY CY CMY
CEO of Harrington Starr

The power of embedded finance in B2B: Transforming workforce management and boosting business efficiency

In today's fast-paced business landscape, the integration of financial products into non-financial consumer journeys has become the norm. We've all experienced the seamless convenience of Uber's in-app payments, a prime example of embedded finance in action. However, this potential extends far beyond consumer applications, as an increasing number of use cases in the business-to-business space demonstrate its value. By streamlining the user experience and reducing friction, embedded payments enable businesses to manage their finances more efficiently and receive payments faster.

In fact, McKinsey forecasts that the embedded finance market will experience double-digit growth in the coming years , highlighting its growing importance in the B2B sector. Among the many compelling use cases for embedded finance is its ability to support businesses in addressing the challenges posed by the expanding contingent workforce. As the global contingent labour market is expected to reach a staggering $5.4 trillion in value2 , the need for efficient and reliable

payment solutions becomes increasingly apparent.

A significant number of freelancers – 74% – report being paid late, while 54% say they have not been paid at all on occasion3 Our research at Sonovate reveals that 23% of businesses struggle to manage contingent worker invoices due to the additional administrative burden, and 38% admit that their cash flow is not equipped to handle such payments, which often fall outside of regular payroll cycles. These findings underscore the pressing need for businesses to adopt appropriate infrastructure to support the shift toward a postpandemic work environment.

Sonovate's impressive growth in 2022, with £1.1 billion in invoices funded, indicates that the demand for flexible, techpowered B2B payment solutions is poised to create new revenue streams for FinTechs and drive efficiency for businesses across various sectors. As the contingent workforce continues to grow (with 67% of businesses reporting an increased reliance on such workers), a change in mindset and processes is necessary to manage more frequent and flexible payments effectively. This


1. Embedded finance: Who will lead the next payments revolution? McKinsey, October 2022

2. New global GIG economy revenue estimate at $5.4 Trillion. Staff Industry Analysts October 2022

3. Clients Who Don’t Pay, And How Contractors Can Take Control Of An Unfair Situation. Forbes, April 2023

shift makes it even more critical for businesses to have access to a fluid stream of capital.

FinTech companies, recruitment agencies, and online labour markets can leverage embedded finance to adapt to the evolving work landscape by integrating technologies throughout the entire workforce supply chain – from recruiting and placing employees to processing payments. Embedded finance can become an integral component of a client's technology ecosystem, facilitating seamless financial management across the board.

The advent of open finance and API connectivity enables organisations to access data securely and quickly, empowering them with the tools needed to make informed decisions.

Client onboarding platforms like Sonovate's can incorporate Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) modules, resulting in a smoother customer experience from the outset. Moreover, these platforms can be connected to accountancy software to provide instant funding decisions, immediate allocations, and improved reconciliation and reporting.

While B2B embedded finance offers a multitude of potential applications, its ability to revolutionize workforce management is particularly noteworthy. By ensuring contingent workers are paid on time, extending payment terms for employers, and enabling businesses of all sizes to grow confidently despite cash flow constraints or payroll limitations, embedded finance is poised to transform the B2B landscape and propel businesses into a new era of efficiency and growth.

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Understanding and applying behavioural finance principles for corporate decisionmaking

In today's disruptive world, organisations are increasingly realising the importance of addressing psychological biases and employee financial wellbeing to enhance productivity and decision-making. This article aims to explore how the principles of behavioural finance can be effectively leveraged to drive employee productivity and business performance, and improve financial wellbeing within the corporate environment.

Behavioural finance is an interdisciplinary field that provides valuable insights into human behaviour and decisionmaking biases. Psychological biases such as overconfidence, loss aversion and anchoring can hinder effective corporate decision-making, leading to suboptimal outcomes and negatively impacting business performance.

At Mind Over Money, we provide training and consulting based on insights and research in this field. We find that by understanding and managing these biases, organisations can make more informed decisions and help employees overcome common pitfalls in financial decision-making.

Decision-making frameworks that account for biases and promote rational choices should be embraced in all areas of a business. By recognising and mitigating these biases through debiasing techniques and the use of frameworks, organisations can ensure sound financial decision-making at all levels.

The frameworks take effect by interrupting the automatic

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

thinking processes and providing a structure to follow that instead optimises thought processes and encourages employees to make informed and objective financial decisions. The process of integrating behavioural finance into business includes identifying the root of the friction and using insights and research to locate the best initiatives to overcome these barriers.

Financial Stress, Employee Productivity and Wellbeing Programmes

Financial stress can have a significant impact on employees, leading to decreased focus, increased absenteeism and reduced job satisfaction. According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a quarter of employees in the UK report that money worries have a negative impact on their job performance, and research conducted by PwC found that 53% of UK workers are stressed about their finances. It is clear that there is a negative correlation between financial stress and overall productivity.

By recognising and addressing this issue and using behaviourally led techniques, organisations can create a more supportive and conducive work environment for their employees, ultimately boosting productivity and engagement.

The approach we use at Mind

Over Money to address employee financial stress and enhance overall financial wellbeing is to implement comprehensive financial wellbeing initiatives within the workplace. Financial wellbeing programmes offer numerous benefits, including increased employee engagement, improved job satisfaction, enhanced productivity and other economic rewards

Practical strategies for integrating financial wellbeing

interventions include offering financial education workshops, providing access to financial planning tools and resources, and private coaching. With the development of artificial intelligence, behavioural science and psychological insights, organisations have the

opportunity to develop solutions that promote financial wellbeing and foster a more resilient and productive workforce.

Measuring the Impact

It is important to ensure initiatives introduced into an organisation do what they are intended to do and continue to bring a healthy return on investment. Measuring the impact of financial wellbeing and decision-making initiatives is essential for evaluating their effectiveness and making data-driven improvements going forward. Organisations should establish relevant metrics and evaluation methods to assess the outcomes of their initiatives, such as wellbeing index scores, absentee levels, number of HR enquiries and gross profit. By monitoring and analysing the impact, organisations can identify areas for improvement and make informed adjustments to better support their employees.

Innovation and Disruption with Behavioural Finance

Organisations have a great opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation and disrupt how the world does business. Through the use of behavioural-financeled strategies to address low financial wellbeing and poor decision-making, organisations can drive employee productivity, create a supportive and resilient work environment and boost business performance.

“The process of integrating behavioural finance into business includes identifying the root of the friction and using insights and research to locate the best initiatives to overcome these barriers.”
Krystle McGilvery Founder, Mind Over Money

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Ditching the resume: an unconventional approach to hiring diverse thinkers and innovators

Historically the financial technology industry is not booming with diversity. For the most part, males dominate the workforce whereas women make up less than 30% of it; and even less than that hold senior leadership roles. Beyond gender diversity, ethnicity remains a pain point in the FinTech industry too. A 2021 report by TechNation found that 80% of FinTech employees identify as white, while other races (Asian, African American, other) make up the remaining 20%.

In an effort to disrupt the industry, bring new thoughts into the mix, and create true change, one tactic has proven to be quite effective: getting rid of resumes.

Companies looking for individuals that have experience in the industry, attended the

ideal university, or perfectly fit the bullet points listed on a job application are going to see zero or negative diversity growth. True diversity happens when the comfort zone is eliminated, and new opportunities are created.

By forgoing the resumes, teams can foster creative environments and find workers who have more drive, passion and eagerness to learn than people who have a “been there, done that, but I need the pay check” mentality.

At VizyPay, 95% of our staff comes from outside the FinTech space. By throwing resumes out the window, we’ve been able to bring in different perspectives and grow ourselves beyond the traditional FinTech mould. We uniquely do not have seasoned veterans who want to keep the status quo or continue to do what has been done for the past two decades. Instead, we pull

from each other’s toolboxes to bring fresh ideas and try new things.

Having diversity of thought is an invaluable quality for a FinTech to have. It can be the one thing that sets an organisation apart from the rest and will speak volumes to the inclusive and fluid nature of the desired workforce in 2023.

In addition to ramping up diversity numbers, companies are finding that employees are also looking for employers that prioritise the wellbeing of their staff. Following the Great Resignation after the pandemic, a study found that the number one reason why people left a job was because of toxic workplace culture. To this regard, companies are heavily emphasising workplace culture. They’re introducing new benefits to catch the eye of the new recruits — but building a culture that makes people want to stick around goes beyond a snack cart or a ping pong table. It’s about creating an atmosphere that people feel comfortable in and one that they can see themselves grow in.

Social hours can be a great avenue to allow team members to have casual conversations with directors or leadership members. Where one might feel intimidated to approach a leader during the workday, social hours break down that wall of hierarchy and open a path to genuine relationship building in the workplace.

Hiring without resumes, celebrating everyone’s diversity, and learning from one another is going to pay off in dividends for FinTechs for years to come.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Making insurance a choice for ever yone

In today’s globalised world, the financial sector is being enriched by an influx of diverse talent, having made great strides in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. But DEI isn’t one and done. In insurance in particular, we’re seeing a lot of potential – and positive intent – to improve.

Take today’s demographic of new starters. While many join insurance directly from university, gaining a degree isn’t mandatory. In fact, there are many ways to build a career, from apprenticeships to junior positions. Graduates will forever be a vital part of the industry, but as employers, we must acknowledge that university isn’t for everyone, and that many people never get the opportunity to attend.

At CFC, we’re proud to be a real launchpad for individuals starting their careers - no matter their culture, gender or socioeconomic background - and are also seeing an increase in experienced, diverse talent

joining the business, particularly across support roles where skills are more easily transferred between industry sectors. In this sense, DEI isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s a vital step in widening the industry’s talent pool, attracting people from all areas and building a workforce with real breadth of experience and skill.

Setting recruitment targets is a great way to create this level playing field and encourage talent diversity. Recently, we set the goal of hiring at least 25% of new employees from minority ethnic groups, and in 2023 are on track to exceed this figure. The faster insurance as a whole opens up to new perspectives and ways of doing things, the more it stands to gain as diversity stimulates innovation.

Here, a modern recruitment journey is key. Have you tried posting job advertisements that aim to include, not exclude, by focussing more on general skills and experiences? How about offering brochures to interviewees so they can get a

Carlo Pozella, Learning & Development Manager, and Ellie Khan, Talent Acquisition & Inclusion Specialist, CFC

real sense of what the company is about? Or investing in immersive hiring skills training that goes beyond unconscious bias, to help interviewers operate in a way that’s fair?

As the world changes, our recruitment practices have to keep up. By creating a structured journey, it’s easy to offer consistency and accommodate different needs. An open interview process doesn’t exclude anyone, and simply means the business can hire the best person for the job. At CFC, our partnerships with careers organisations like Bright Network, The Brokerage and the African-Caribbean Insurance Network (ACIN) help extend opportunities to a wider audience – and help us build a diverse workforce that creates real relationships with our 100,000 brokers worldwide.

There’s no quick way to enable equal opportunities for everyone everywhere. It’s a journey that starts with recruitment and goes on to influence how the entire organisation operates. That’s why we created Together at CFC, a colleague-led programme that’s for employees, by employees. Our schedule of events and trainings is key in encouraging company-wide learning, with annual surveys providing useful feedback for us to grow and improve our internal DEI rating.

If DEI ever was a tick-box exercise, today it’s so much more. With the right approach, insurance can pave the way for a host of new talent, and benefit from a vibrant blend of experiences, skillsets and perspectives. What better time to start than now.

Register today! Book your place today to attend these events and learn from industry experts, view the latest solutions on offer, and network with your peers LONDON September 20 Buy AND Build: The Future of Capital Markets Technology Get Involved! Interested in sponsoring our events? Contact or + 44 (0)20 8090 2055 | + 1 646 290 7488 LONDON October 5 NEW YORK November 16 Where Innovation Meets Compliance

In today's rapidly evolving world, leaders in the FinTech industry must recognise the importance of hiring the leaders of tomorrow. By embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their recruitment strategies, they can foster an inclusive workplace and unlock the potential for

transformative change and innovation. In this article, we explain why it's essential for leaders in FinTech to prioritise DEI in their hiring practices to build a better future.

The Power of Diverse Leadership

The leaders of tomorrow in

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

FinTech come from diverse backgrounds, bringing a wealth of experiences and perspectives to the table. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, companies with more diverse workforces are more likely to have higher financial returns. Their diverse insights drive innovation, challenge conventional thinking, and deliver impactful solutions. For example, PayPal, a global FinTech leader, emphasises diverse leadership and has initiatives like the PayPal D\&I Summit and the Women's Initiative Network, which empower employees from various backgrounds to shape the company's future.

Equity as a Catalyst for Change

Equity is a critical principle that goes beyond equal opportunity in FinTech. By hiring leaders of tomorrow who prioritise equity, organisations can create an environment where everyone has fair access to opportunities and resources. According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, increasing diversity in leadership positions can lead to more equitable outcomes for underrepresented groups. Square, a FinTech company, demonstrates its commitment to equity by actively working towards closing the racial wealth gap. Through initiatives like the Entrepreneurship Access

Program, Square supports underrepresented business owners with access to capital, education, and mentorship.

Inclusion as a Driver of Innovation

Inclusion is vital in FinTech, as it enables the full utilisation of diverse talents and perspectives. Leaders of tomorrow in FinTech prioritise inclusion by fostering a culture where every voice is heard and valued. According to a study by Deloitte, inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments. Stripe, a prominent FinTech brand, emphasises inclusion through its employee resource groups, like

Pride@Stripe and Women at Stripe. These groups provide spaces for employees to connect, share experiences, and drive positive change, fostering a more inclusive and innovative environment.

The Impact of Diverse Leadership

Diverse leadership in FinTech is crucial for understanding and serving diverse customer bases. It enables companies to develop products and services that cater to the needs of various communities. For instance, Klarna, a leading FinTech brand, focuses on diverse leadership to create inclusive financial solutions. By prioritising diverse

perspectives, Klarna has been able to develop innovative and customer-centric products that resonate with diverse audiences worldwide.

Leaders in FinTech have a responsibility to hire the leaders of tomorrow, individuals who come from diverse backgrounds and embody the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. By embracing diverse leadership, FinTech companies can drive transformative change, deliver innovative solutions, and better serve their diverse customer bases. We encourage readers to implement DEI initiatives in their own workplaces or to support companies that prioritise diversity and inclusion. Together, we can build a better future for all in the FinTech industry.

In conclusion, leaders in FinTech must prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion in their hiring practices to build a better future. By using statistics and examples, using active language, and a call to action, we hope to inspire readers to take action and make a difference.

“Inclusion is vital in FinTech, as it enables the full utilisation of diverse talents and perspectives. Leaders of tomorrow in FinTech prioritise inclusion by fostering a culture where every voice is heard and valued.”
Why leaders in FinTech must prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion in their hiring practices
Flavilla Fongang Founder, 3 Colours Rule & GTA Black Women in Tech

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

suffering from ‘Sancta simplicitas,’ I can view the stats below with fresh eyes and see I was sadly mistaken. I no longer believe J.M. Keynes’s statement about ‘lies, damn lies, and statistics’ and that you can manipulate stats to fit whatever narrative you crave. The truth is plain to see.

The reality

■ Women hold only 17% of major technology roles – Eurostat

■ 30% of the FinTech workforce is female & only 10% hold senior executive roles – Deloitte

■ 44% of menopausal women in employment say their symptoms have impacted their ability to work. This is despite 80% saying their workplace has no essential support in place for them – no support networks (79%), no absence policies (81%), and no information sharing with staff (79%) - Fawcett Equality Menopause Study May 2022

Zhenya Winter, Head of Marketing – Financial Messaging, Bottomline & Ambassador for Women of FinTech


Having been raised in a robust female-dominated household, I was guilty of believing that the issue of inequality in the workplace was exaggerated. I was under the impression that the working world was based on a meritocracy, and the reason that I did not get the promotions I wanted was that I simply did not deserve it - this is a ‘muchtravelled’ path for women lacking

self-confidence and self-belief. While it is true that I sometimes was not where I needed to be to get the recognition I felt I deserved, the majority of the time, it was that I was pigeonholed as being too ‘aggressive’, confident, or ambitious for leadership roles – traits that were celebrated for my male counterparts.

Now that I am less guilty of

However, probably the most telling stats that truly measure the gap between men and women in FinTech and, more importantly, the difference in career stage within the gender gap, come from the EY & Innovate Finance June 2022 report:

■ 58% of senior men agree that the FinTech industry is diverse, followed by 39% of mid-level and junior men, compared to only 26% of senior women and 12% of mid-level to junior women

■ 70% of senior men believe that FinTech is inclusive, followed by 58% of mid-level to junior men, compared to 35% of senior women and 25% of mid-level to junior women

■ 94% of women feel confident about expressing their views and suggestions at work, but only 80% think their input is acted upon. This compares to a lower 88% percent of men who feel heard, but 94% believe their ideas are implemented.

The path forward Introducing new generations to tech is a crucial play by the UK Government & FinTech industry. “Upskilling and reskilling have become a key part of the UK’s dominance in tech, with 3,000 edtech start-ups having raised a collective £1.7 billion in funding over the past five years. Companies such as Academy, Code First Girls, Immersive Labs, and Multiverse are focused on enabling people of all ages to gain the skills they need to succeed in tech roles, from tech apprenticeships to coding, development, and cyber security.” GOV.UK – Dec 2022

There are other encouraging signs of steps toward inclusion where individual FinTech institutions are setting up in-house HR programmes for the menopause, and we are increasingly seeing new C-level roles created with diversity as their remit. Additionally, there are multiple groups that support women, and am proud to be an ambassador for one of them, Women of FinTech (WoF). All fulfill the role of offering mentoring (you talk), coaching

(you both talk), and advocacy (you are championed by a peer or superior), as well as plenty of networking.

The Women of FinTech community is free to join; we charge our members a £10 one-off-annual fee to attend our various educational events. This £10 then funds STEM projects such as getting women back into work after maternity, support on coding courses for schoolgirls, professional training & work placements for those that are socially disadvantaged and unable to afford university, and sponsorship of events such as Pride. All our activities are aimed at being helpful to our members, from a cheats guide overview to FinTech and key glossary terms for new entrants, to lectures on ‘lessons learned’ on how to accelerate your career for mid-management, to how you deal with issues such as menopause and implementing a policy within your workplace.

The Bottom line DE&I and promoting women in FinTech is an ongoing project. We need more focus on DE&I at key industry events similar to what we were exposed to at Sibos 2022 & Money 2020 Europe, where we saw women demonstrating their expertise during panel sessions and keynotes. We need our colleagues, including those identifying as men, to be team

players and advocates for us when we do well and help push us toward getting the recognition we deserve. We must also prioritise having internal company and community tools in place to ensure everyone feels supported and understood in their workplace. Most importantly, we need to have more confidence in ourselves as women and not be intimidated about striving for what we want – whether that be a promotion, new job title, pay rise, flexible employment package, or support for personal issues.

The UK continues to be the most attractive destination for FinTech in Europe despite recent temporary hiccups. Investments in the sector grew by 9.1 billion in the first half of 2022, including over 1,600 firms (a number that is projected to double by 2030). The FinTech sector contributes an estimated $13.4 billion (£11 billion) and over 76,000 jobs to the UK economy, according to Trade.Gov September 2022. Therefore, we are wellpositioned to be the poster child for positive change in DE&I.

Women are not after special treatment or positive discrimination. We want what I was raised to believe in - a meritocracy where the best can succeed no matter their race, nationality, creed, or gender they identify as. Now is the time for action. What will you do to play your part in ‘real’ change?

“The UK continues to be the most attractive destination for FinTech in Europe despite recent temporary hiccups.”
Levelling the playing field for women in the UK FinTech sector – close, but no cigar…

The FinTech industry is undergoing rapid digital transformation, reshaping the global financial landscape. As part of this change, while some institutions view having a mobile app as the pinnacle of their digital strategy, true digital transformation requires a more comprehensive approach and a shift in mindset.

Digital transformation demands a thorough revaluation of business models, processes, and systems to create a seamless and integrated customer experience. This journey to digital transformation encompasses several core pillars: customer experience, data management in payments, compliance, and company culture.

A New Customer Experience, Impacted by Neobanks

Neobanks have played a huge part in disrupting the FinTech industry as we know it today and are a masterclass in how to adopt customer-centric digital approaches that offer intuitive and user-friendly interfaces that deliver superior experiences. Their impact has been significant worldwide. The global neobanking market, valued at USD 47.39 billion in 2021, is projected to exceed USD 2 trillion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 53.4% from 2022 to 2030.

Neobanks have introduced a new perspective on leveraging data, payments, analytics, and technology to create value and improve services. This has compelled traditional banks to rethink their core processes, including customer service, product development, and risk management, aligning them with

The road to true digital transformation in FinTech: Creating seamless experiences and embracing change

Regional Director Europe, Paymentology

digital advancements to compete effectively.

As exemplified by neobanks, a superior customer experience has become paramount. Last year, a YouGov survey reported 81 per cent of adults say the quality of online experience determines who they bank with. This has become even more crucial since 2020, with twothirds (66 per cent) reporting they have used mobile banking apps more often since the start of the pandemic.

To meet these expectations, more financial institutions need to harness technology to streamline operations and enhance efficiencies. A comprehensive digital transformation should prioritise the development of intuitive, personalised, and frictionless experiences that add value and establish trust with consumers. This requires an approach that values agility, innovation, and customercentricity.

Payment Success and Beyond

At the core of digital transformation and positive customer experiences lies payments, which articulates the user's lifestyle, whether they are consumers or businesses. Surrounding this core system is the front-end payment experience, while on the back end there's data, business intelligence, personalisation, and more.

Succeeding in payments is a significant step towards achieving a great digital end-to-end user journey. People want the ability to use their money when and where they want, pay quickly, and receive payments effortlessly. In fact, digital payments are projected to reach 726 billion transactions by 2023, up from 433 billion in 2015. Improving the payment component will significantly enhance customer satisfaction.

Traditional financial institutions must recognise the interconnection between digital transformation and data management in payments. The digitisation of payment processes generates vast amounts of data that provide valuable insights into customer behaviour, payment trends, fraud patterns, and more. Leveraging this data enables institutions to personalise their services, offer targeted products, and enhance the overall customer experience.

However, the handling of payment data comes with significant responsibilities concerning data privacy and security. Financial institutions must comply with data protection regulations and implement robust security measures to safeguard sensitive financial information.

Ensuring the security and privacy

of customer data is paramount in maintaining customer trust and loyalty, especially considering the rise in cybercrime. A PwC survey found that 85% of consumers refuse to do business with a company if they have concerns about its data practices. Striking a balance between leveraging data for business benefits and maintaining stringent data privacy and security standards is a vital aspect of the digital transformation journey in payments.

The Roles of Compliance and Culture

Compliance is another crucial pillar that must be balanced throughout the digital transformation journey. In 2022, fines for non-compliance with financial services regulations totalled $4.17 billion, a decrease of 22% from 2021. Yet enforcement actions for AML-related compliance breaches soared globally by 52%. As operations become increasingly digitised, it becomes imperative for institutions to stay updated with regulatory changes and ensure their processes remain compliant.

To achieve this, a strategic investment in advanced technologies designed to automate compliance becomes necessary. These technologies can streamline the monitoring of transactions, detect irregularities, and ensure adherence to both local and global regulatory standards.

Alongside compliance, cultivating a digital-friendly culture within the organisation is another crucial pillar of digital transformation. This involves fostering a collective mindset among employees that champions innovation, encourages collaboration, and

promotes continuous learning. An institution that embraces a digital-first culture is better equipped to adapt to the changes brought about by digital transformation.

Building such a culture is neither quick nor easy. It requires institutions to be open to change, willing to experiment with new ideas, and ready to learn from mistakes. Leaders within these organisations must encourage their teams to approach challenges creatively and view failure not as a setback, but as an opportunity for learning and growth. Only by embracing this shift in mindset can institutions fully reap the benefits of digital transformation.

In conclusion, the digital transformation in FinTech presents financial institutions with an opportunity to reevaluate their business models, processes, and systems. By balancing the core pillars of customer experience, data management in payments, compliance, and company culture, financial institutions can create a digital ecosystem that caters to the evolving needs and expectations of their customers.

The road to true digital transformation is not an easy one, but those institutions that are willing to embrace change wholeheartedly will be better positioned to thrive in the rapidly evolving FinTech landscape. Traditional institutions must recognise that superficial adjustments are not enough. As the FinTech industry continues to advance, those who innovate from the inside out, by reshaping their mindset and leveraging technology, will be the ones to flourish.

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Will AI disrupt the index industry?

and is fiercely competitive.

However, no industry is immune to disruption, and winners and losers from both growth and hype in Artificial Intelligence are already emerging. If we take for instance, the STOXX Global Artificial Intelligence index, which measures companies positioned to benefit from a shift to AI, it has gained roughly 50% in 2023 through mid June, led by Nvidia, which is up roughly 200%. In this article, we peek into our crystal balls to see where AI will take the industry.

To assess the disruptive impact of AI, we first need to be specific about what these words mean.

hen thinking about industries that have been hotbeds of innovation over the last couple decades, the index industry is usually not one that comes to mind. Born from a need for publishers to measure the movements of broad markets, few could have predicted that financial indices would go on to underpin one of the biggest disruptions to the money management industry: the shift to passive investing.

WToday, millions of indices exist and cover every conceivable corner of the market – across asset classes, investment approaches and financial exposures. The resulting building blocks, and associated customized solutions, have enabled index users to build more targeted and efficient portfolios.

In a 2022 Opimas report, it was estimated that global spending on indices would reach $6.3 billion, with annual growth at 13%. It is no wonder then, that this is an industry that now employs top quant, data and technology talent

For a start, let’s distinguish AI from AGI – Artificial General Intelligence, i.e. human level reasoning– to remove considerations of extinction level events. Instead, we focus on a definition that the writer Ted Chiang termed ‘applied statistics,’ e.g. the enablement of computers to analyze data, identify patterns, and make decisions or predictions that can improve with usage. We already know of the tremendous progress being made in this field from machine learning to neural networks to natural language processing, evidenced by the many GPT models being released today.

As much as machine learning is a subset of what we consider AI, disruption is also a subset of innovation. Innovation is ultimately a discipline of problem solving, and can happen across a broad spectrum - successful innovation strategies are cognisant of this. While there is no industry-standard classification of this spectrum, one can think of innovation as happening on

a scale between incremental innovation - improvements to products, processes and services - up to disruptive innovation - where a new technology or business model upends an entire industry.

With the terms defined, we can revisit the question: Will AI disrupt the index industry?

Our view is that the proliferation of AI technology – as we defined above - will more likely be a productivity driver than a force for disruption in the index industry. Large index providers have historically enjoyed a wide moat derived from product ecosystems, but competitive forces are being fueled by innovation. We believe AI is a technology that will not threaten those moats by itself, but can lead to advancements up and down the value chain for both more established and newer entrants.

As a few examples, when it comes to who creates strategies – proficiency in programming may

be less of a prerequisite to being an index developer. With regards to what those strategies track –Natural Language Processing + Machine Learning can extract more signals from the plethora of available data, allowing for more specificity in how and when to implement highly targeted exposures. This is a continuation of a trend that has been well underway in the world of Thematic Indices, for example the STOXX Global Metaverse index, which uses patent data as part of the component selection process. When it comes to how customers interact with index data – AI can understand and potentially explain what users care about, to better serve their needs.

Many of these examples are problems being worked on today by index providers, but recent advancements will add fuel to the fires. Naturally, these advancements pose a management problem as well. Like with other industries, how to acquire the requisite talent and computing power, as well as how

to prioritise projects, will be key determinants of a successful strategy. Similarly, ethical usage that avoids spurious results and ensures index strategies remain deterministic (reproducible) will need to be a focus.

There is also Amara’s law – the tendency to overestimate shortterm impact and underestimate long run impact – to contend with. Thankfully, these are not new problems, but with the AI transformation, we may have a few more tools in our arsenal to attack them.

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“As much as machine learning is a subset of what we consider AI, disruption is also a subset of innovation. Innovation is ultimately a discipline of problem solving, and can happen across a broad spectrum - successful innovation strategies are cognisant of this. ”
Hamish Seegopaul, Global Head, Index Product Innovation, and Brian Zimmer, Chief Technology Officer, at Qontigo

Head of Technology Product, Compare the Market

Current market demand, and the impact of Covid, has created numerous interesting insights from the consumer or customer standpoint; leading to a huge disruption in financial services and technology. The online marketplace has been massively disrupted, leading to huge success in financial technology in terms of micro-investing product or services — be it individual or a packaging concept providing an end-to end service to a consumer.

The marketplace is onboarding disruptive innovation because it

relies on technologies such as smartphone apps, big data, Power AI, algorithms, and machine learning. The demanding nature of the market has encouraged many sectors to broaden their reach, allowing consumers to shop from one place, from anywhere and everywhere; allowing them to choose from a wide range of offerings with competitive products/services. This has forced big businesses to move out from the so called ‘outlet concept’, to now trade their product through online marketplaces. The “Retail Apocalypse” has seen around 17,145 or more retail stores and

Online marketplace disruption in financial technology

high street shops in the United Kingdom close throughout 2022. This isn’t all bad. It’s created an abundance of opportunity through online marketplaces, creating enormous avenues of revenue. Marketplaces not only allow businesses to bypass clunky legacy infrastructure but also open up avenues of easy trading, from local to global. And this is only possible through emerging technologies like wearable tech integration; innovative MarTech trends like VR/AR content; big-data platforms through in-depth monitoring and advance analytics; programmatic ads; chatbots; blockchain-based marketing tools; voice technology; mobile-first solutions — this list will undoubtedly grow!

In order to meet the disruptive market demand, most modern marketplaces try to offer a more flexible, versatile and tailored experience; bringing greater value to the payment transaction and capturing commission. Due to the tricky nature of the online payment process (i.e complexity and heavy regulation), the majority of the marketplace is leaning towards the partnership model, to other payment service providers (PSP), in order to save on resources. It’s an effective alternative to building their own payment infrastructure which is expensive and time consuming. Several contemporary PSPs have emerged in the market to fulfil emerging, specific needs of

particular, evolving marketplaces. Since such markets are growing fast, pressured by increasing demand, the PSPs can offer a lot of value by building offerings specifically focused on the target market by supporting their typical transaction flows. The success the latter has means more and more PSPs are coming to market, making it extremely difficult for consumers to choose which one is best for them.

The world’s biggest conventional PSPs like WorldPay, Fiserv, Elavon or Chase Paymentech — which handle annual transaction over $1Trillion each — are still struggling to fulfil the demand of fast-moving marketplaces; mainly

due to the regulatory constraints and inability to meet the speed of change in the marketplace. Which is why customers are approaching other start-up PSPs that can offer more trailered, faster, and nimble solutions like Wepay, Mangopay, Opayo, Gocardless, LemonPay, Stripe Connect, and Bluesnap.

The fast pace of change has led to the emergence of several features across PSPs like Know Your Customer (KYC), Instant onboarding and Self-Serve, delayed pay-out and split pay to multiple parties, escrow (holding customer money and delays pay out), dispute handling, tax reporting, subscription payment, and BNPL solution. Again,

depending on the nature of business and model of your marketplace (B2B or B2C or C2C or B2B2C), there has been various types of software that has emerged which provides marketplaces the tools to build, sustain and expand their businesses (scale up) — locally as well as globally. To sustain traffic and to grow revenue, firms must optimise the value of data, utilise advanced marketing tool offerings like Google Ads and Shopping, Shopify’s shop channel, Amazon Marketplace. They are crucial and define the emerging future.

As per expert market research (EMR), the global FinTech market achieved a value of USD 194.1 billion (approx.) in 2022 and is expected to grow in the forecast period of 2023-2028 at a CAGR of 16.8%, to reach USD 492.81 billion by 2028. It would be interesting and exciting to see how far this financial tech disruption will go and what opportunity this holds for an ever-demanding market.

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“The “Retail Apocalypse” has seen around 17,145 or more retail stores and high street shops in the United Kingdom close throughout 2022. This isn’t all bad. It’s created an abundance of opportunity through online marketplaces, creating enormous avenues of revenue.”

Cloud hosting and services have emerged as the go-to technology choice for companies in the capital markets industry today. It would not be hard to argue that it has been this generation's most significant infrastructure innovation. However, for much of the trading technology landscape, in particular front office systems in ‘traditional’ asset classes, the path to using the cloud remains less clear. For quite some time, given the success of cloud solutions in general, industry experts and thought leaders have, at times, considered it inevitable that the front office ecosystem will end up transitioning into a fully cloud-native environment one day. This is a narrative that has been evolving in recent times.

Several large exchange groups have announced key cloud partnerships and substantial business deals. One key detail lacking from communications around these transactions and in follow-up conversations has been the specifics of how exchanges’ matching engines might migrate out of their current private data centers and into the public cloud. Exchanges have critical and established partnerships with companies supporting their existing facilities and, in many cases, a significant revenue contribution to consider from their colocation environments. This must be a fine line to walk. Certain exchanges already operate in the cloud, with crypto venues being the clear front runner, though there are others, many of which facilitate latency-sensitive trading. There are technology differences to consider, an important one being connectivity and the latency determinism of it, given the nature

Front office technology — to cloud or not to cloud?

of the cloud. A common story told is of trading participants connecting each morning countless times to an exchange, only to keep alive the connection they monitor to be the fastest –quite a different experience.

While cloud innovation has continued, the traditional challenges of the front office private data center ecosystem continue to evolve. 2023 has seen several important changes requiring significant investments from market participants. These include OPRA’s upgrade to 100Gbps, bringing network bandwidth and associated equipment considerations, and the ongoing electronification of fixed-income markets leading to

increasing data, network, and hosting requirements as certain markets like US Treasuries mature, fragment, and grow in volume. Numerous exchange data centers have gone live, notably in Europe, where Euronext’s move to Bergamo is reshaping the liquidity landscape and attracting more markets and participants. Most recently, Warsaw announced a plan to move data center. The ecosystem appears to be alive and well.

Pico has served clients’ hosting, connectivity, data, monitoring and security requirements for many years, including partnering on best-of-breed design and technology solutions for exchanges. Innovation for Pico,

illustrated through organic product development and M&A history, has focused on complementary services in the current front office ecosystem. We continue to expand and evolve the existing and build the new. Some recent examples of innovation in this ‘new’ world of cloud are:

■ Corvil Analytics in the Cloud: Taking the industry-leading, best-in-class tool for monitoring and analytics used in the front office and making that available in cloud-native environments. This brings new visibility to cloudbased systems to mirror that of physical infrastructure. Providing Corvil, both across the cloud and in physical sites, offers the consistency of using the same tools across all environments.

■ Real-time data delivered into Cloud: For many years, banks especially have utilized direct feed tickerplants to connect more than ‘only’ the low-latency

systems, typically to improve application performance and/or move applications away from consuming data from expensive legacy vendors. As an established provider of low-latency tickerplants to many of the industry's largest data consumers, Redline has been working on providing cloud-based applications with data from on-premise tickerplants.

■ Supporting UAT environments: Pico’s own development organisation run the majority of UAT systems in the cloud, and we see clients seeking to do the same. Pico stores its back history of historical data products in the cloud, which helps facilitate many UAT and backtesting requirements.

In our view, the term “hybrid” best describes how the front office ecosystem will evolve over time. As we embrace the ‘new’, innovation continues in the ‘old’ systems, and it is clear that there

is no industry-wide mandate to transition all components of the front office into the cloud. This reality will present different challenges and drive new decisions and considerations for market participants. New connectivity support requirements between environments will be created, the need for consistent tooling, assessment of which systems to migrate and which to keep, enhancing security, appeasing regulators, and understanding commercial implications. Pico helps clients through these migrations in multiple environments and is committed to being a trusted advisor in this evolving landscape.

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“Exchanges have critical and established partnerships with companies supporting their existing facilities and, in many cases, a significant revenue contribution to consider from their colocation environments. This must be a fine line to walk.”

Trading in the cloud – has its time finally come?

Modern capital markets’ structure has been shaped by the adoption of new technologies. Major regulatory shake-ups, such as MiFID and RegNMS, drove huge investments in technology, pushing executions from screens and phones onto electronic trading platforms to take advantage of the fragmenting liquidity landscape. This sparked the rise of algo and HFT trading, which in turn precipitated large-scale investment in high-performance infrastructure.

Post-Credit Crisis regulation impacting proprietary trading momentarily slowed the technology arms race, however, best execution rules have ensured latency remains important. The proliferation of

hedge funds and quant trading boutiques means there is still significant order flow being executed via high-frequency trading strategies.

While this has created opportunities, it has also resulted in increased costs and shrinking margins. Compounded by a highly competitive execution landscape, firms are left fighting for share in over-brokered markets. Scale and innovation are often the only means to differentiate themselves, and the ability to move faster in response to new opportunities has become paramount. Cloud is increasingly seen as a key tool to help achieve this.

To that end, several major exchanges have made substantial moves to embrace cloud over the last few years. In 2019 the CME

Group teamed up with Google to host many of its data services. More recently, the London Stock Exchange has partnered with Microsoft to migrate key functionality to Azure in a deal involving the software giant taking a 4% stake in the exchange group.

While these initiatives are primarily data-focused, there is also momentum in trading services. In 2021, Nasdaq announced a multi-year partnership with AWS to build its next generation of cloud-enabled infrastructure (although this will use the AWS edge computing solution rather than their public cloud offering). Similarly, Deutsche Börse announced plans to accelerate the development of its proposed digital securities platform in Google Cloud.

Capital Markets has been slow to embrace public cloud. Firms have been wary of issues regarding performance, privacy, and security, all of which can dampen cloud’s appeal even before the complexity of migrating legacy applications is considered. However, broad acceptance by other industries is highlighting some compelling benefits, forcing financial institutions to take cloud more seriously. And while the initial focus was data, we are increasingly seeing trading workflow targeted.

But what do firms’ real-world experiences look like? Are they realising the benefits promised by cloud vendors?

It may be difficult for cloud to live up to the hype, and the advantages experienced by trading firms aren’t necessarily those they’d anticipated, but many are seeing genuine benefits:

Agility. Perhaps the key advantage, cloud allows firms to rapidly deploy new lines of business, exploit emerging opportunities, or experiment with new algo models while also retaining the ability to exit.

Elasticity. Removes the need to invest in expensive capacity to mitigate unforeseen volatility and data processing needs.

Spin up/down for testing. Enables rapid response to new trading ideas, opportunities, or customer requests without having to rely on supply chains or convoluted procurement processes.

Catalyst for innovation. Scalability gives organisations room to innovate, unshackled by on-prem infrastructure constraints, ultimately creating a competitive advantage in terms of IP and time to market.

Ease of Big Data integration. Helps unlock the full value of an enterprise’s data. Cloud can host huge datasets, support the computational power needed to process that information, and apply advanced tools to drive workflow automation and extract value.

Infrastructure cost savings. Cloud offers potential savings given its elasticity, while removing the complexity and overhead of managing on-prem environments and benefitting from economies of scale that large cloud providers can achieve.

Despite the benefits, cloud adoption for electronic trading represents multiple challenges. Firms need to be careful if cost is their key driver. High-volume, predictable workloads can work

out more expensive, as experienced by the municipal bond trading operation at a US bank. Leveraging cloud when launching its innovative algo analytics capability, the firm achieved rapid time to market. But, once established, predictable workloads for pricing a million securities daily proved more cost-effective using on-prem infrastructure. Such are the nuances of the applicability of cloud for certain scenarios.

Latency performance and predictability are the most likely deal-breakers when it comes to cloud adoption. A common view is that cloud is not yet capable of supporting the latency-sensitive demands of electronic trading. While it is true that achieving ultra-low, deterministic latency is challenging in the cloud, these concerns are perhaps viewed through the lens of highly liquid markets. Latency is less of an issue depending on the type of asset class and trading model or specific link within the value chain.

Notwithstanding cloud operators’ state-of-the-art stance on data security, concerns remain regarding the deployment of sensitive data into cloud environments. This has led some organisations to designate data as ‘hot’ or ‘cold’, the former retained in-house where security can be controlled by the owner. Financial institutions will have to get comfortable with security and adapt current procedures and policies if they are to fully exploit cloud’s benefits.

Similarly, data concentration increases business vulnerability. The large cloud providers invest heavily in infrastructure and service continuity, but are not

insusceptible to loss of service, as was demonstrated on June 13th this year during a short but wide-reaching AWS outage. EU regulators are trying to address this risk by encouraging the development of multi-cloud services. Interoperability, however, is not straightforward. One exchange we spoke to highlighted their implementation of a hybrid cloud/on-prem business continuity model as a possible way forward.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the initial move to cloud. The complexity of legacy applications and rigid organisation structure can be a major barrier to migration. Along with a lack of requisite skills, the cultural change needed to execute such a transition can be significant. This often leads to a focus on new initiatives as a first step, putting off more complex migrations and operational restructuring until firms have more experience.

Despite these challenges, the inherent benefits of cloud architecture offer significant incentives for firms to move beyond the realm of data and look at opportunities across their trading workflow. When asset class and market structure are also factored into the discussion it suggests that there is plenty of scope to leverage cloud in the trading arena. Increasingly CTOs understand that there is no one-size-fits-all design for infrastructure – their role is to apply the most suitable technologies to address business requirements within budget and regulatory constraints. Cloud is a key part of their toolset in helping organisations move faster in response to changing client and market needs.

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ho disrupts the disruptors? In emerging and frontier markets, local banks are answering that question with modern technology and unique paths to liquidity.

The global foreign exchange (FX) landscape is a perfect example. In recent years, large financial institutions have entered emerging markets for the first time by trading local currencies and establishing their presence in the local markets to better serve their global clients. With powerful technology and deep pockets, these firms have wrested significant market share from both the local banks as well as the smaller, more regionally focused banks that have historically dominated their currencies.

How? It boils down to a lack of modernisation. In most emerging markets, FX trading is defined by outmoded processes, from manual price discovery to voice trading. The global insurgents have robust electronic capabilities in these areas and more –particularly in the equities market, but increasingly in FX as well. The combination of their technology, headcount and reach means they can fill more trades and serve more clients with a wider array of execution solutions – all while maintaining more bandwidth to innovate.

WThis dynamic has caused significant disruption in emerging markets – but the incumbents aren’t going down without a fight. Instead, they’re fighting back with disruptive technology of their own. The result: local banks aren’t just surviving the influx of global competition, but thriving.

It starts with the right strategy. For many banks, outsourcing their FX trading technology represents the best path to modernisation – their internal development teams simply aren’t big enough to move at the speed required. But to outsource successfully, the

platform must be flexible enough for these firms to make this technology truly their own, with custom-built liquidity pools, a wide range of maker and taker capabilities, configurable visualisation tools and choice of anonymous or disclosed matching. It must offer integration with any backend system that may play into the workflow, including the complex homegrown systems that are prevalent in emerging markets. Finally, the traders, who may not be used to working with cuttingedge technology, must have access to training and IT support as they ramp up.

Once the local banks have determined that they can retain this special sauce, they need the tools to make the most of it and to scale, with the goal of replacing their manual, voice-based workflows with consistent pricing, reliable fill ratios and extremely fast and secure trade execution.

Core requirements include high-performance rate engines and smart order routers to fuel price discovery and algorithmic trading, as well as low-latency network and execution algorithms and efficient post-trade processing. All of these must be augmented to fit local requirements and workflows. At Edgewater, we work with emerging markets banks every day to implement these foundational elements, helping them achieve faster, better results for clients.

That efficiency can go a long way toward helping these banks win back their local market share –but the counter-disruption doesn’t stop there. By working with the right partners, with the right connections and worldwide recognition, these firms can source order flow and resting interest globally, whether in their home currencies or G5 pairs. With support for all regions, trade sizes, time zones and execution methods, they become more competitive across the board. It’s a natural next step once the necessary technological foundation is in place.

Once this playing field is leveled, the business results come naturally. All else being equal, local banks will always have a natural advantage over global players. The local market wants to transact through the entities that have built their identities on being established players in their home market. The global market wants to trade with banks that actually control, warehouse and specialize in their own home currency. The right technology makes these approaches viable. In this way, the emerging markets banks are turning the disruption equation on its head. Instead of losing local

market share at home, they are winning global market share from global competitors. This has created a virtuous cycle of innovation that has benefited FX markets on the largest scale. The first movers in each emerging market obviously stand to gain tremendous benefits for themselves, but they are also applying significant pressure on their local competitors, driving modernization for all. That means FX markets today are more transparent and more efficient than ever before, with smoother information flow and a better foundation for new ideas and innovative strategies.

All of this has a powerful impact. These capabilities have the potential to create significant workflow benefits for an increasing number of trading functions (including in other asset classes, like fixed income), as well as an increasing number of frontier markets and overlooked regions. Thanks to the cloud, modern networking capabilities and other advancements, markets that were once too small to warrant a local presence from global players and technology providers are now attractive targets. This has the effect of bringing the entire world closer together, helping emerging markets to emerge

faster and global markets to become more efficient.

There’s one final aspect of this story that often gets lost in the context of business priorities and competitive pressures: pride. Local banks feel strongly about protecting their longstanding status as market leaders and being their clients’ first call for any need in the markets – as they should. Technology is helping them reclaim and maintain this position, yielding not just business growth, but also a greater sense of excitement, engagement and focus among employees. These benefits extend across the entire locale. When local banks are able to credibly make the claim that their firm and their country is a hub of global activity, everyone is more likely to buy in.

This disruption hasn’t come without a few business casualties, but ultimately, the local banks that have adapted and embraced modern technology are ushering in a better, more global FX ecosystem. That means easier market experiences for all and clearer paths to helping clients meet their financial goals – and that’s something everyone can get behind.

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“This disruption hasn’t come without a few business casualties, but ultimately, the local banks that have adapted and embraced modern technology are ushering in a better, more global FX ecosystem.”
In emerging markets, the FX landscape is a case study in disruption
Brian Andreyko Chief Product Officer, Edgewater

Making digital asset investment safe –how regulation will disrupt the industr y

In 2009, Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency, was born out of frustration following the financial crises that dominated the early days of the new millennium. Trust in the banking system was at an all-time low, and to combat this, an electronic cash system was created, eliminating the need for middlemen. Instead, it relied on immutable, encrypted peer-topeer transactions that didn’t involve bank or government governance or control, providing an alternative to fiat currency.

Over the next few years, the number of cryptocurrencies grew and, with them, the digital assets

market. Today there are an estimated 9,000 coins in circulation, and the global market cap (current total value) stands at $1.17 trillion. As a comparison, the global market cap for silver is currently around $1.3 trillion.

As the crypto market grew, so did its reputation as a safe haven for criminals. The system’s intentional anonymity and lack of centralised control attracted money laundering and other illicit activity. Cybercriminals sought to steal crypto from exchanges and wallet providers, leaving investors with empty pockets. The crypto industry provides none of the safeguards available to those who

invest in traditional finance, such as deposit insurance which protects consumers’ money should a bank fail.

A series of high-profile hacks and business failures eroded confidence in the crypto industry and attracted the attention of regulators around the globe. Those involved in crypto security have long considered the introduction of regulation to be a positive disrupter that will encourage mass crypto adoption, allowing the industry to mature and achieve its full potential.

Increased trust and confidence

Providing clear rules and

guidelines for businesses to follow, especially around protecting investors’ funds, makes investment a more attractive proposition.

Traditional finance organisations will be more inclined to diversify into digital assets if they feel it is properly governed.

In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has started to make inroads into regulating parts of the digital asset industry. While some of its actions were seen as controversial, they have gone some way towards clarifying the regulatory landscape, especially their decision to classify Bitcoin and Ethereum as commodities, which has legitimised them in the eyes of investors.

Risk reduction

A framework that requires organisations to put the safety of investor funds at the forefront of their strategy, implement security measures and provide compensation should customers suffer a loss will mitigate risk and provide a safer place for both consumers and businesses to operate.

In the EU, the first piece of legislation to bring uniform rules for crypto has been passed.

Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) Regulation will provide protection for investors, reduce the risk of lost funds, and ensure financial stability. The rules will also provide clarity for crypto service providers, making it easier for them to comply with regulations.

Mass adoption

Crypto is no passing fad. While some people mistrust digital assets thanks to sensationalised news stories of hacks and theft (in 2022, illicit activity was less than 0.24% of all crypto transfers) and don’t understand the mechanics behind them, the adoption rate has increased year on year since 2008. With the global ownership rate sitting at around 4.2%, regulation can play a substantial part in helping to increase mass adoption. A secure environment for businesses and consumers will improve confidence and trust in the sector, encouraging the acceptance of crypto as a legitimate investment and payment option.

The Japanese regulator, the Financial Services Agency, has established a registration system for crypto exchanges. The result? Increased transparency in the market as investors find it easier to identify and invest with reputable crypto service providers. Japan now has one of

the highest rates of ownership in the world.

Don’t put a round peg into a square hole

More and more crypto service providers are coming out in support of regulation.

However, they are united in the opinion that those implementing it must consider the nuances of crypto rather than trying to fit it into current frameworks that are not fit for purpose. For example, traditional financial regulations regulate activity in a particular jurisdiction. Crypto is borderless; transactions can be made anywhere across the globe. This makes it challenging for regulators to enforce and track regulations.

The legal status of crypto is yet to be determined and remains unclear in many countries, leading to confusion about what regulatory bracket they fall under, for example, commodities or securities. Many are of the opinion that crypto should have its own category and be regulated differently from traditional financial offerings.

Cryptocurrency was itself a disrupter in the world of finance, and, ironically, traditional finance control mechanisms are now disrupting the digital asset ecosystem. Arguments about whether regulation will stifle innovation or protect the integrity of the crypto market will continue for the foreseeable; what is clear, however, is that a middle ground must be found quickly for the sector to flourish and prosper.

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“Crypto is borderless; transactions can be made anywhere across the globe. This makes it challenging for regulators to enforce and track regulations.”

Does slow and steady win the race?

The financial services industry has been slow to adopt new technologies, largely because it relies on legacy infrastructure which thwarts innovation.

Over the past ten years, most businesses and governments have partially migrated to the cloud, whereas banks have taken a more cautious approach. Faced with potential fines by regulators, and systemic challenges, it makes sense for banks to treat technology hesitantly and cautiously, given the potential risks involved.

Banking CEOs affirm that their companies have a slower uptake when embracing innovation: in 2020, 81% were “concerned about the speed of technological

change”[1]. This affects all aspects of banking, and it is especially noticeable when it comes to cross-border payments, where multiple complex systems need to line up for payments to |be processed efficiently.

According to the Bank of England’s guidelines, “in some instances, a cross-border payment can take several days and cost up to ten times more than a domestic payment.”

Disruption through harmonisation: a new era for sanctions screening

Moving the finish line

But the financial industry is also ambitious. Banks are constantly searching for ways to optimise their services and processes, despite the complicated maze of national, regional, and international regulations they must navigate. Worldwide financial authorities and industry bodies know that systems need to evolve, and they are pushing for a better-connected, safer, and integrated market.

There’s also a growing expectation for instant international payments from consumers. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has set targets to improve the cross-border payments process by 2027, making it faster, cheaper, more accessible, and more transparent.

The goal is to modernise a cross-border payment system still weighed down by controls over currency and regulatory compliance, a fragmented market infrastructure, and the individual systems of all banks and intermediaries involved.

One of the most significant barriers to instant cross-border payments is the requirement to check payers and payees against multiple sanctions lists. Every bank in the payment chain, including various intermediaries involved, is mandated to carry out sanctions compliance checks

before any money can be transferred cross-border.

The need for controls like these is evident. However, the current model could be more efficient, as each bank uses different standards and technologies for matching names and details. This can result in numerous false positives and create friction for businesses and consumers.

With so many actors involved and no unified systems, how will the industry achieve the goal set by the FSB?

Disruption through harmonisation

Financial institutions compete on many fronts, but compliance within financial crime and sanctions regulations is not a race where they’re set against each other. Banks are responsible for making their screening processes more efficient and effective, so they don’t delay payments for consumers and businesses.

Individual banks can’t improve the global payments system alone. A genuinely disruptive solution that has the power to innovate the sector at an international level can only come from a new

approach: a cooperative one.

When financial institutions choose a unified, harmonised strategy, they can work together towards the same goal. This creates a beneficial network effect, where the rising tide of better standards and suitable solutions will lift all boats in the global financial system. Ultimately, consumers and businesses worldwide will feel the time and cost benefits.

This was the vision of GSS’ founders, a group of experienced financial services practioners who believe in the power of positive change. They would lead financial institutions through the cooperative path, helping them to clarify their shared expectations, align their processes, and agree on harmonised higher standards.

On the foundations of this unified approach, GSS would develop technologically innovative solutions to remove friction from the global payments system.

Creating common standards

Many financial institutions have the same pain points regarding sanctions screening, which is how GSS enabled over 25 banks to

work together to agree on common standards for sanctions screening, the GSS Standards.

GSS’ direct experience facilitating a partnership between financial institutions on something as specific and complicated as sanctions screening shows how important it is for the right people from competing organisations to come together.

Convincing banks to work together was only the first step. Gaining their trust was imperative, and this was achieved thanks to our team’s collective experience, well-developed networks, and knowledge of the sector.

GSS wasn’t the first organisation to try this approach – but it’s the first company that succeeded in drafting new industry standards for sanctions screening.

After two years of work, with the sanctions screening standards agreed upon by banks and reinforced by positive guidance from global financial regulators, GSS is ready to launch with its first clients later this year.

We’re guiding them towards the finish line – a more efficient and frictionless sanctions screening process delivered via state-ofthe-art technology on our cloud-based GSS Platform.

We plan to show all financial institutions who believe in harmonisation that smart collaboration is the key to completing the race. When harmonisation works, it has the power to disrupt the status quo.

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“Financial institutions compete on many fronts, but compliance within financial crime and sanctions regulations is not a race where they’re set against each other.”
Tom Scampion Co-Founder and CEO, Global Screening Services

The rise and rise of B2B cross border payments disruptors

In recent years, the global payments landscape has evolved tremendously, with the most recent changes driven by the advent of B2C ‘disruptors’ in e-commerce and e-payments, from Amazon and Google, to PayPal and WorldPay.

While it is hard today to imagine how any of us managed without online shopping channels and associated instant payments, even across borders (for example, when making purchases in China or the US), the traditional B2B payments segment has still to navigate myriad of regulatory and compliance challenges - and processing inefficiencies – that are a source of continuing frustration for many corporates and small businesses with international payments needs.

Of course, this situation is changing, particularly as a result

of the growing contribution and influence of FinTech ‘disruptors’ in what was hitherto a bankexclusive ‘closed shop’. In the past few decades, FinTechs have built a solid presence and reputation within financial markets generally and the banking industry specifically.

As their profile and influence has grown, and their role has shifted from ‘third party service providers’ augmenting banks’ product and service offerings to financial markets participants in their own right, FinTechs are increasingly acknowledged by regulators and other industry ‘overseers’ as legitimate financial service providers, rather than actors on the fringe of the industry.

Trying to take the challenge of cross-border payments and transform it into a wholly new system overnight is unrealistic.

Luckily, the rise of FinTechs and the introduction of regulatory changes focused more on interoperability present a promising future that can greatly benefit SMEs.

In our recently published (June 2023) eBook, Simplifying the Complexity of Cross-Border Payments for SMEs, we observe that there are many reasons why the B2B commercial payments experience should seem so out of sync with that experienced by retail consumers. It is also the case that the B2B customer experience can vary enormously depending on the nature, size and risk profile of the ‘corporate’ entity.

A key area where non-bank Payment Service Providers (PSPs) have sought to differentiate themselves from the traditional, bank-led, cross border payments

segment is by targeting and supporting customer segments typically underserved by bank providers - namely SMEs and other businesses considered too high risk and too ‘needy’ compared to bigger (and ‘safer’) business entities.

In 2022, it is estimated that UK-based SMEs accounted for more than 99% of the business population, which, according to the Department of Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy makes them a huge source of revenue and employment. (These statistics apply globally – around 90+% of the global economy is SME-generated). It is, however, a truth universally acknowledged that SMEs continue to be underserved by traditional correspondent bank networks, because they are simply too small to want (or need) the full suite of international banking services e.g. treasury, liquidity, lending, FX, asset management etc., but instead seek more agile and flexible, ‘as a service’ payments and cash management partnerships. Consequently, they very often find that they do not meet many banks’ account profitability models, or are expected to pay a premium for the privilege of being ‘taken on’.

Supporting expansion strategies of underserved SMEs

Despite apparent resistance among traditional financial institutions to supporting them, SMEs are invaluable to economic growth, both domestically and in terms of their cross-border expansion ambitions and endeavours. SMEs' abilities to expand into new markets is crucial to boosting revenues and to leveraging new business

opportunities that contribute to (and support) domestic and regional economies. Yet even as SMEs are looking to expand into new markets, global economic headwinds, regional geopolitical events, domestic inflation-busting and recession-mitigating measures – alongside the perpetual challenge (nightmare?) of thwarting money laundering and wide scale payments frauds - are driving down traditional banks’ risk appetites even further.

This reluctance among traditional banks to partner with SMEs leaves many businesses at a loss when it comes to meeting their growing cross border payments needs; they can find that they simply don’t have (and can’t afford) the banking relationships necessary to access a global ‘correspondent banking’ network effectively and efficiently, nor the inhouse technical resources and nous to build such a network themselves using one, or a combination of, today’s open banking apps.

B2B banking decisions are also impacted inherently by a shift in consumer preference from big

global banks to digital-first providers. While they may not have sufficient internal resources or knowhow to build their own international payments solution, what many of these businesses –and particularly those in the gaming, gambling, crypto and other digital-first business segments - do have is a workforce and customer base that is increasingly au fait with easy and instant access to instant international payments infrastructures.

It has to be recognised that the people making major financial decisions at SMEs and other corporations will increasingly reflect ‘next generation’ Millennials and GenZ-ers that have grown up in the ‘digital age’ and with an innate understanding of technology as the ultimate ‘enabler’.

As Jamie Broadbent of RBS observed at FinTech Connect 2022 “The reality is that this next wave of consumers, the youth of today, have no relationship with those banking brands, but they’re super familiar with the digital-first players, the digital platforms like

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“While it is hard today to imagine how any of us managed without online shopping channels and associated instant payments, even across borders, the traditional B2B payments segment has still to navigate myriad of regulatory and compliance challenges”
Ronnie d’Arienzo Chief Commercial Officer, Freemarket

NYC 2023 AI in finance summit

April saw the Harrington Starr team head to RE•WORK’s AI in Finance Summit in New York. You’re never far from a conversation about AI — and the finance community should be embracing this topic. The AI in Finance Summit did ju that, providing us with a fanta ic opportunity to explore the interse and evolving merge.

Conversations covered Deep Learning, ML Models, Chatbots, and ethics. Speakers brought us their unique take on this new era of finance, presenting their arguments on why we should all be prioritising AI. All were unanimous in their belief that we should be adopting AI — but intere ing di arities lay in how. With anxieties arising throughout the workforce that AI could be taking jobs, implementation is a sensitive topic.

We should not dismiss worries in favour of business benefits (which are plentiful!), but, as we were reminded across both days of RE•WORK’s AI in Finance Summit, e ablish a new equilibrium. No one has a certain future mapped out; and there is definitely no guidebook. But there’s a well of opportunity. As Diana Meditz highlighted on day one, the winners in this new era of finance are those that seize it.

Thank you to the entire team at RE•WORK for ho ing us. We were delighted we could support this event as Media Partners — and are already excited for next year’s event!


[Amazon, Meta, and Google]. And the reality is that if we’re going to keep that next generation of consumers, then we’ve got to make clear the value that we bring. We’ve got to meet them in the channels where they already are and speak to them in the trusted voices that they recognise.”

As part of this paradigm shift, the whole concept of having to set up formal business bank accounts to make international payments has also been turned on its head by today’s FinTech disruptors. Traditionally, any SME considering operating across borders would be required (at a minimum) to have an official bank account with an established bank, and quite likely additional accounts with other ‘correspondent’ (international) banks.

Today, FinTechs offer SMEs the ability to set up multi-currency payment accounts, regardless of whether or not they have a formal business banking account or access to traditional banking services. Instead, and through a single connection, FinTechs like Freemarket connect SMEs to established global banking

networks – both traditional financial institutions (FIs) and more modern non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) – for fast, assured cross border payments, with integrated and innovative anti-fraud and risk management solutions.

FinTech disruptors reshaping the cross-border payments ecosystem

The rise and rise of FinTech PSPs, and digital payment solutions, are reshaping cross-border payments and importantly, driving change in the wider and deeper global banking model.

This change to the banking landscape could not come at a better time, given recent bank collapses and dramas like Credit Suisse, Silicon Valley, Silvergate and Signature Banks — that have rocked B2C and B2B customers’ confidence in banking providers to the core. As a result of this diminished trust, FinTech providers can not only step into the role of technology experts but can also help to rebuild the broken dynamic between SMEs and banks, engendering greater payments service diversification and overall stability.

With so many factors impacting the international payments landscape, SMEs will choose providers that go above and beyond one-size-fits-all payment strategies, instead taking a more nuanced approach that assesses the specific needs of the SME and can map it to the regions into which it wishes to expand.

As Freemarket’s Chief Banking and Product Officer, Mike Whitehead, pointed out in a recent C-suite FinTech Connect podcast: “To be able to satisfy today’s customer demand, you need to be quick to market and you need to be able to flex to customer requirements. While this can be challenging with legacy technology platforms, it lends itself to FinTech disruptors that are by definition better able to adapt and respond to changing payments trends.

At the same time, and in the spirit of collaboration (not competition), FinTechs continue to develop and nurture relationships with traditional banks, banking networks and payments rails, because they understand absolutely that flexibility and interoperability are the most important elements of an effective and efficient global payments infrastructure and a more resilient global economy.”

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“The rise and rise of FinTech PSPs, and digital payment solutions, are reshaping cross-border payments and importantly, driving change in the wider and deeper global banking model.”

In the dynamic world of electronic trading, where market conditions can shift in an instant, financial firms are constantly striving for agility in their product development processes. This becomes even more crucial when these firms rely on software developed by third-party vendors, with challenges and opportunities to achieve optimal agility coming from the choice of a vendor’s technology and engagement models.

The Essence of Agility

Agile – in all its variants, from Scrum, to Kanban to hybrid implementations – is at its core a risk management practice: when the outcome of a project with multiple actors is not known beforehand, an organisational engine is created to maximize alignment among multiple actors involved in a project, front-load key decisions, and facilitate course correction based on insights gained from iterative cycles.

Agile methodologies can be used to incrementally design the product – the how - that solves a known problem – the what -, in a way discovering along the way the path to the project’s north star. They also enable experimentation, leveraging initial outcomes to make informed decisions regarding further investments.

Adopting them has value, and complexity, that change depending on the number and types of actors involved.

The challenge of agility in large ecosystems

The adoption of agile practices in the context of financial firms employing third-party solutions

The elephant in the server room: unleashing agility when using thirdparty software

introduces complexities that vary based on the number and types of actors involved. In Capital Markets, a common scenario arises when a firm utilises a vendor's multi-component setup as part of a long-term contract.

Like other software characteristics such as performance, resource usage,

and robustness, agility can, in principle, be measured. Answering the question, "Is it agile?" relies on the firm's assessment of facts and figures provided by the vendor.

This assessment is crucial since the agility of the vendor directly impacts the firm's ability to anticipate or react quickly to

ever-shifting market conditions— an elephant in the office that cannot be ignored.

Measuring Agility and Responding to External Events

Ultimately, a firm evaluates the quality of non-functional aspects of a software product by comparing some metrics with what is considered optimal, or good enough, for their workflows. Agility is key to respond to unexpected events, typically external: a regulatory change, a new promising business, a new technology potentially disruptive.

This means that it’s assessed based on the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to risk and opportunities.

Assessing agility should extend beyond the software development process alone. The clock starts ticking when a risk or opportunity presents itself, and an agile process encompasses everything from recognizing the need to finding a solution. Engaging with the vendor, scoping the project, receiving a commercial proposal, conducting analysis,

implementation, user acceptance testing (UAT), and rollout are all part of the agile journey.

While numerous factors contribute to agility, two key elements determine how a vendor contributes to overall agility: their technology and development methodologies, and the engagement model established with them.

Leveraging Low-Code Development and Engaging with Vendors

Recent technological advancements, such as low-code development platforms, have emerged as valuable tools in facilitating agile projects. These platforms enable rapid prototyping and incremental solution building, empowering development teams to respond swiftly to changing requirements. In cases where legacy solutions or vendor relationships hinder critical initiatives, low-code platforms offer the possibility of augmenting existing systems with new functionality, effectively relocating the elephant from the office to the server room and

creating space for innovative solutions.

Unlike traditional no/low code platforms that are suited for generic use cases, Velox is an example of toolkit the applies proprietary low-code techniques to cover the most Capital Markets use-cases. It is designed to easily build applications that capitalise on a clean data model, therefore enabling a firm’s development teams to move the elephant to the server room.

The same technology can be used by a vendor tasked with the full implementation in an engagement model where a firm’s needs are assessed with a joint design process. This collaborative approach enriches project analysis with working prototypes, ensuring that the proposed solution meets the firm's actual requirements. The agreed-upon prototype then seamlessly transitions into the implementation phase, eliminating any disconnect between analysis and development.

With this approach, firms delegate the shepherding of the elephant to the server room, which can be in the cloud, maintained and evolved by the vendor.

Tackling Bigger Challenges

Throughout its existence, agility has proven instrumental in adapting strategies and execution to evolving market conditions. Today, there are even more ways to overcome larger challenges and banish the elephants from your office for good.

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“These platforms enable rapid prototyping and incremental solution building, empowering development teams to respond swiftly to changing requirements.”
Andrea Pirino, Head of valantic FSA’s Solutions

Exploring an appetite for disruption

hile the debate on whether or not we’re entering a recession might still be intense, the fact is economic growth is slowing and interest rates are rising. These conditions create a challenging operating environment for businesses and can significantly impact their growth prospects. The ‘emerging’ market of embedded finance presents an attractive opportunity for additional revenue streams. Payments opened this market, but there is much more to discover.

Embedded finance might not be the right solution for every company. However, it has proven to be incredibly well suited for platforms. In the recent years, many ecommerce providers have started embedding payment solutions into their offering. At the same time, emerging and

Westablished payment service providers have expanded their offering to include value-added services. In many cases, those embedded services are ultimately enabled and supported by established businesses with extensive subject matter expertise.

Embedded finance also adds value for the customer.

Businesses are increasingly relying on their platforms and payment service providers to remove challenges associated with operating and scaling businesses globally. They are looking for a fully integrated set of services that enables quick market access and allows focus on the core activities.

One of those services is indirect tax compliance. The shift from traditional to online commerce introduced serious challenges to governments that typically rely on indirect taxes to fund a significant

part of their budget. It became increasingly difficult to ensure tax compliance, particularly on remote sellers operating across state or country borders. Governments have responded with new regulations to address these challenges. However, these laws have imposed a considerable burden on businesses and marketplaces, primarily through increased costs and reduced opportunities for market expansion. This presents an opportunity for ‘embedded tax’ solutions.

At each ecommerce checkout transaction, consumers and businesses converge to facilitate a sale. At this point, all relevant merchant, product, and customer information is available to accurately calculate the required tax amount. Embedding existing tax solutions at this point would be the first step and a common path to introducing new solutions to the market - making existing processes more efficient by integrating different offerings to amplify the joint value proposition. However, this would only provide a partial solution, as many challenges with tax compliance would remain unresolved. For a comprehensive solution, payment service providers and tax software companies would need to fully integrate. By bringing together payment capabilities and the technology and experience with managing the intricacies of tax compliance, they can collect tax at the point of sale and shift the indirect tax liability from merchants to experienced service providers.

The regulatory framework is in place, the technology is available; the only question is: Who will be the first to disrupt the entire industry?


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Dramatic question, we know. But valid?

Let's evaluate.

The Pandemic saw us all embrace the digital out of sheer necessity. We couldn’t just pop to a bank or an ATM; or head to the shops on a whim and pay for goods in-person. FinTech was the solution; filling very evident gaps and making our lives easier when turbulence was the norm.

Q1 2021 saw the birth of 31 FinTech Unicorns; $3.8 billion worth of funding into banking-focused FinTechs; and global FinTech funding hit $28.3 billion.¹ It was an impressive year that saw unparalleled innovation; and embedded a keen awareness that FinTech holds the ability to catalyse change on an international scale.

But, fast-forward to 2023 and we see a rather different landscape. The first quarter of 2023 saw only 1 FinTech Unicorn come to fruition (this is the lowest number since 2016). Banking-focused FinTech funding fell by 64% QoQ to hit a low of $0.5 billion. And global FinTech funding dropped to $15 billion at the same time.²

It’s a bleak picture. And when these statistics are considered in isolation, we’re prompted to prepare for the inevitable funeral of FinTech.

Dramatic statement — we know. But is it accurate?

We’d argue that it’s not.

We recently polled over 1300 technologists and over 70% confidently believe that FinTech is thriving.³ Many respondents stated that FinTech is only at the beginning of its growth; we are yet to see the full breadth of the marketplace’s potential.

The drop in numbers between Q1 2021 and the same period in 2023 can be explained. As

mentioned, the Pandemic necessitated incomparable innovation. New FinTech’s had to be created to accommodate a new working environment; to tackle unique consumer demands; and to future-proof the industry. Hence, a surge in investment. Post-pandemic, funding normalised to reflect a return to a relatively more standard equilibrium.The drop in funding isn’t suggestive of a decreased appetite for FinTech but instead a return to a less panic-driven relationship between FinTech, investors, the industry and the end-users. It's actually immensely exciting to consider FinTech’s potential in the upcoming years. FinTech has innovated to a point where it can pivot effectively and play a significant role in tackling global financial challenges in the aftermath of COVID-19. Across the globe, 1.7 billion people currently have no access to a bank account; with an additional 2.8 billion adults remaining underbanked. But anecdotal evidence strongly suggests FinTech is playing a significant role in bridging the gap between these demographics and access to vital funds.⁴ FinTech’s are expanding financial inclusion; a move that is associated with catalysing higher GDP growth.

Looking at financial services as a whole, it stands as one of the “most profitable segments of the global economy, representing $12.5 trillion in annual revenue pools and creating an estimated $2.3 trillion in annual net profits or additional value — based on one of the highest average profit margins across all industries of 18%.” FinTech currently only holds 2% of this market revenue share; but the global race to become the most prosperous FinTech hub will undoubtedly allow this percentage to increase exponentially.⁵

The Asia-Pacific FinTech market is set to become the world’s largest by 2030, with a compound


[1] The State of Fintech in 5 charts: Funding rebounds due to Stripe, while deals continue to fall in Q1'23, CBC Insights Research Report, April 2023 - Here

annual growth rate of 27%. Asia-Pacific will outpace North America, but this region’s development will remain significant. The US houses one of the most mature financial ecosystems but remains underdeveloped in open banking and there are clear issues around customer experience.⁶ Such cumbersome problems will undoubtedly inspire innovation in the coming years.

And we can view current employment trends as a further indicator of an exciting future. If we were to class FinTech as a city, it would be the third biggest employer in financial services (300,000 people), sitting behind only London (400,000) and New York (450,000). And this number is set to increase. The CFTE Fintech Job Report predicts there to be 80,000-100,000 job vacancies in FinTech this year — and here at Harrington Starr, we're very much inclined to agree with them.⁶ The Harrington Starr team are exposed to this increasing demand on a day-to-day basis. Despite threats of a recession, firms are still active in onboarding exceptional talent to remain competitive and keep their growth on an upwards trajectory.

Opportunity is bubbling right before us. It’s there to be seized.

Don’t be discouraged by the drop in FinTech funding or the lack of Unicorns. But don’t view this thinning landscape as the norm or the limit. We don’t think it would be dramatic of us to say that, as we enter this industry take-off phase, it feels like we’re about to witness the FinTech Gold Rush. We need to think global, think strategically, and push geographical, social and economic boundaries.

The time to mourn FinTech isn’t now. We’re on the verge of something great.

[2] The State of Fintech in 5 charts, CBC Insights Research Report

[3] Are FinTech's Dying?, Harrington Starr LinkedIn Poll, June 2023 - Here

[4] The Promise of Fintech: Financial Inclusion in the Post COVID-19 Era, Ratna Sahay, Ulric Eriksson von. Allmen, Amina Lahrèche-Révil, Purva Khera, Sumiko Ogawa, Majid Bazarbash, Kim Beaton, Monetary and Capital Markets Department

(issuing body), International Monetary Fund (publisher), July 2020 - Here

[5] Global Fintech 2023: Reimagining the Future of Finance, Deepak Goyal, Rishi Varma, Francisco Rada, Aparna Pande,

Juan Jauregui, Patrick Corelli, Saurabh Tripathi, Yann Sénant, Stefan Dab, Yashraj Erande, Jungkiu Choi, Jan Koserski, Joe Carrubba, Nigel Morris, Frank Rotman, Matt Risley, Sahej Suri, Boston Consulting Group and QED Investors

Research Report, May 2023 - Here

[6] The Fintech Job Report: Technology is Eating Finance, Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepren-eurship, November 2021Here

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Toby Babb

Nadia Edwards-Dashti

Alexandra White

Laura Weeks

The team at Harrington Starr WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO

The Financial Technologist, powered by Harrington Starr, is the industryleading magazine, offering exclusive thought leadership pieces to the breadth of the financial technology marketplace. With three editions per year, each magazine is an expertly curated collection of insights into the latest industry developments– and a celebration of excellence.

We are always keen to hear from and feature the most innovative minds in the space.

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