Summary of FinTalks: after hours — Data – driving your business or driving you crazy?

date: 15 April 2021
reading time: 7 min

Ever since data has become as available to track as it is today, multiple companies have adopted data-driven strategies to maximise their efforts in terms of besting the competitors. Managing such huge amounts of information is a challenge in and of itself, not to mention making appropriate use of it.

On the 18th of March, 2021, FinTalks: after hours took the community on a deep dive into the most meaningful topics blending finance and technology. An inspiring mix of world-class speakers and experts representing leading organisations, unconventional formula, relaxed atmosphere, offbeat humour and strict ‘no blah blah’ policy accompanied us throughout the whole event.

This time, our guests sat down to talk about data in FinTech. They went through the most common data mistakes businesses make, how Spendesk tackles the ever-changing market requirements, and the data-fuelled payment revolution.

The event was loaded with invaluable information and actionable insights, with the discussions lasting 68 minutes and 30 seconds altogether.

The discussions were preceded and followed by two networking sessions in the form of Chatroulette.


Discussion Panel 1 — Most common data mistakes

First off, Discussion Panel 1 comprised of Olivia Minnock from Fintech Alliance as the moderator, as well as Enzo Casasola, Head of RegTech and Suade Labs, Julien Cousineau, CTO & Founder of Flinks, and Philip Dutton, Co-CEO & Co-Founder of Solidatus as the experts talked about the most common data mistakes.


Data challenges

To begin the discussion, Philip Dutton touched upon the essential subject of the obstacles you need to overcome when working with data.

Instead of treating the entire architecture as a singular entity, Dutton mentioned its characteristics as an ecosystem and the fact that it’s incredibly complex.

If we look at the way data and technology have evolved over the last two years, we’ve had an enormous proliferation of data, and that’s based on a huge volume of new systems, it is an ecosystem, and all of the parts need to interconnect to create something very, very powerful. And so, this complexity of increased data and increased systems is being exacerbated by increased regulation.
Philip Dutton

Making the elements work together efficiently and compliant with regulations is the key to creating a well-oiled machine.

To follow up that statement, he brought up another issue — the ever-increasing pace of development.

I think one of the other things which was not often brought up is that we’re trying to do things much faster than we used to. You know, we used to be all kind of waterfall, and we were focused on change every six months, and we had long change cycles. Now we’re doing releases daily, weekly. And so, when you mix those three kind of complexities together you get a real challenge around understanding the data that you’re trying to interact with.
Philip Dutton

Adding on to that, Enzo Casasola mentioned the issue with financial regulators who want real-time data. Julien Cousineau also described the challenge of accessing vast amounts of data by new and existing financial organisations. He said that, due to some regulations, “organisations need to be aggregating data for a long time in order to predict valuable information and they’re experiencing problems accessing the data.”

Moving on, the experts began talking about the most common data mistakes. They have mentioned the fear of embracing new technology, reliance on manual processes such as spreadsheets, a “good enough” approach, and the fact that AI requires a lot of feasibility analytics.

Instead of innovation, institutions decide to go with the already-established, though sometimes outdated strategies. Philip Dutton stated that, “Organisations are thinking in a siloed mentality – ‘this fits into my solution for now’, rather than ‘how does this affect everyone around me and how is it going to affect us in the future.’”

Regulations were mentioned again by Julien Cousineau, he pointed out that there is a risk of errors and non-useable apps when the voice of regulators is louder than those of people dealing with use cases. In the last part, experts have brought up the topic of the things they wish institutions understood about data.

Data transformation for regulatory reasons also has tremendous value for other organisational purposes.
Enzo Casasola

By tapping into data transformation, companies can automate countless processes and then send them in a clean, digestible form to the regulators, reducing the time and effort.

According to Philip Dutton, the understanding of data is a persisting problem as well, “As many as 91% of data leaders have a low level of trust — understanding the connections and relationships in the environment is the key to gaining true value.” This stems from, as argued by Dutton, data leaders misinterpreting the data sets they’re dealing with.

To reinforce Dutton’s statement, Julien Cousineau talked about specific use cases.

Banks need a better understanding of use cases to explore the opportunities brought by financial apps that tap into very specific user needs.
Julien Cousineau

The recording of panel 1 can be found here.


Fireside Chat with Spendesk

March 18th’s Fireside Chat, consisting of Simon Kubicki, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Spendesk and his host Michał Grela of Future Processing, have briefly talked about the challenges of the rapidly evolving market.

Apart from touching upon the subjects of great work experience, digitalised hiring process, data understanding, automatisation, and learning & development, Simon Kubicki mentioned what he thinks is the most considerable challenge:

The biggest challenge here is to offer remote jobs and take steps to adapt your organisation to remote working – organisationally, from payroll, tax and regulatory perspective. (…) It’s about the governments right now and what they are going to do. (…) The governments need to align on the regulation that will allow way smoother remote working across countries. This will be one of the biggest changes caused by the pandemic, but remote working is here to stay.
Simon Kubicki

Today’s talent pool, with remote work so common, has increased exponentially compared to the last decade. Kubicki explains the importance of hiring the best of the best, “Make sure you are hiring top talent, as top talent will make your business go to the next level.”

The recording of Fireside Chat can be found here.


Discussion Panel 2 — Data Science fuelling the payments revolution

Panel 2, consisting of Jonathan Hughes, Co-Founder of Pollinate and CEO of Pollinate Horizons, Peter Theunis, Senior Vice President, Managing Director at BPC, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Radar Payments by BPC, and Olivia Minnock as host, has talked about the data science-fuelled revolution regarding payment systems.

To start off, Peter Theunis described where data sits within his business,

Data for us is very important because we are getting into a world where knowledge and the value provided by data becomes very expensive. In this way, if you know the pattern from your consumers, then you know how to serve them better and to lead them to improved products; so from that perspective, data, even about payments, is very important.
Peter Theunis

Still, relying on data to such a large degree does not come without challenges. Jonathan Hughes talked about providing worthwhile data to customers: “A huge challenge is giving people data insights that are really interesting and valuable to them.”

To illustrate that, Hughes followed up with an example of a shop owner who noted a 20% decrease in sales on a rainy Saturday. He didn’t need data to determine that rain affects sales. If he were to analyse it deeply and consider long-term effects, matches on a nearby field, and the weather correlation, the entire process would grow in complexity. In essence, this results in the analysis being not worth the effort.

Further elaborating on the subject, he described banks as having just the same issue as regular companies.

Banks are having precisely the same problems with data as everyone else. There is still a massive gap between what I think is a data insight, or, more often, what an algorithm thinks is a data insight, and what’s interesting to me – either as a consumer or as a merchant.
Jonathan Hughes

These obstacles are tough to overcome for most FinTech businesses. Peter Theunis illustrated the main problems: “If you talk about data and data intelligence, you need two things – you need technology, and you need the data itself. Today most of the FinTechs are lacking the big data environment to make very careful and detailed decisions.”

Reducing the gap between insight and customer experience has become one of the top-priority tasks for FinTech companies. Hughes talked about a possible solution: “It is about really rich deep data, the right technology, but it’s also about having the ability to build the relationships around that. If you’re a big bank with a network of people – using them in the ‘tech and touch’

“The most important thing today,” Theunis added, “is to get your customers’ loyalty and keep them with you because the competition is only one website away.”

Tailoring your business with your customer in mind is essential since your clients are your bread and butter. This is vital to getting ahead of your competitors. One of the ways of cutting through the noise, Hughes said, is to “find out what your customer is really interested in.”

To add on to that, he said, “The idea of adaptive dashboards that know where you click, ‘understand’ what you look at, where you deep dive and, as they understand what you as a consumer or you as a merchant are interested in, they evolve to present different data or data in a different way. That idea of taking signals from someone and tailoring them to what the users are interested in is really exciting.”

Nobody can make it alone, without any support. Hughes touched upon the importance of partnerships.

Partnerships are fundamental, but I like to use the word ‘empathy’ more and more because when you really understand what your partner is wrestling with, it makes you a better partner. Within a bank, their regulatory cycles, their sign-offs, the things that they need to do to get everything through their policy, are much more than what we as a nimble fintech would want. So, we have to be empathetic with our banks, our partners, friends and colleagues within each bank.
Jonathan Hughes

Still, this has to work both ways to maximise the effectiveness of the partnership: “Equally, we are trying to work with multiple banks all at the same time, building and designing a commonwealth system” and as Jonathan pointed out, sometimes there are different approaches or needs in developing new products or features and it requires empathy to accommodate them all.

The recording of panel 2 can be found here.


Wrap-up

In short, that was the most recent episode of FinTalks: after hours. If you’re keen on gathering such high-quality insights from world-renowned experts, stay tuned for future episodes!

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