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Fintech speeding up change

Customers seeing benefits of ‘robo’ services

Davide Ingoglia of Objectway demonstrates new technology (photo by Terry Murden)

Consumers are learning to love robots and companies will be forced to adopt new technologies to meet their demands, delegates to a fintech conference were told.

Artificial intelligence is now being used in the delivery of a wide range of products from movies to travel, and the financial services industry will be transformed by it.

Fintech developments, together with regulatory changes and new developments such as open banking are “empowering” the customer.

More than 200 delegates from the UK and rest of Europe gathered in Rome for the Objectway International Customer Conference where a line-up of speakers outlined the changes that will affect providers of services and those who consume them.

Thomas Zink, a technology adviser to international clients, said banks, investment managers and others handling client money had to be “a step ahead” to manage the progress of digital developments.

“Decision makers will have to understand how digital technologies will transform the industry,” he said.

“Customers are opening up to the idea of interacting with machines,” he said, commenting on the role of the robo-adviser and how it will support, rather than replace human interaction.

Even so, business leaders were seeing AI no longer as simply augmenting what they do, but as a “game changer”. The key for many firms was to understand how these technologies will add value to the customer experience.

“The story of the last few years was “the fintechs were here to eat our lunch, but banks in particular are becoming more willing to work with them.”

Companies can now see how they can use technologies to cut waiting times, eliminate paper waste, and improve just in time processes, delegates heard.

Luigi Marciano, founder and CEO of Objectway, which provides process solutions to financial services companies across Europe, said these firms were facing a “digital renaissance”.

In some cases, though, firms are being slow to adapt their business models and the wealth management sector was facing some big challenges.

Delegates heard how companies were beginning to realise that these changes were no longer something for the future, but were happening now and that they were changing the shape of industries.

Banks and asset managers would become utilities, providing back office support to tech giants such as Amazon, said Spiros Margaris, a Switzerland-based thought leader in the fintech sector who is considered one of the top three influencers on the subject.

“It is good to be scared because if you are not scared you not are going to be prepared,” he said.

The changes will manifest in various ways as consumers adopt new developments such as augmented reality and cryptocurrencies, he said.

Speakers agreed that industries were currently operating hybrid systems, or a mix of AI and human endeavour, but technology would prove more reliable and accurate, even if it destroyed jobs in the process.

A key measure for companies was to become more “customer centric”, Mr Zink said: “Digital customers are five to 10 times happier and engaged than clients of traditional wealth managers.”

See also:

Interview: Spiros Margaris, fintech influencer

Interview: Stephen Ingledew, FinTech Scotland

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