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 In virtually every industry, companies are beginning to recognize the value of building their mobile apps. More than a standard mobile-friendly website, a mobile app allows you to engage and delight countless consumers around the globe. 

Studies show that consumers today spend around 4.2 hours a day using mobile applications, but they only spend a fraction of their time visiting websites on mobile browsers. 

Learning how to make a website into a mobile app, or to create an app from scratch, can seem like an expensive endeavour, even with easy-to-use platforms. While there are initial costs to consider for development, offering a mobile app can help you save – and even make – money in the long term. 

 Turning your website into a mobile app is quite an affordable way to unlock significant opportunities for growth, a common practice many of today’s businesses turn to to increase customer engagement and loyalty. Here are the key financial benefits of building a mobile app. 

#1 - Save Money on Marketing and Branding

First, a mobile app helps to boost brand visibility and recognition. It places your brand experience in a new environment (on the Google or Apple app stores), and gives you a way to showcase your logo to your customers on a daily basis. As soon as your customer downloads your app, they’ll have a constant reminder of your brand on their phone.

This can reduce the amount of money you need to spend on brand awareness and retention marketing campaigns, by ensuring your company is instantly visible to mobile users. 

If you create an excellent user experience, you can also turn your customers into advocates, who will recommend your app to users, increasing download rates, and referrals. You can even integrate your app with social media platforms, allowing users to share their experiences via their profiles, for a powerful network effect. 

#2 - Increase Customer Engagement

Research shows that customer engagement is directly tied to revenue growth. Bain & Company has found that engaged customers spend up to 40% more than their peers. While you can drive engagement to your mobile website using marketing campaigns, mobile apps are often more effective at preserving high levels of engagement. 

Studies show users spend up to seven times more time in mobile apps than they do on mobile browsers. Plus, mobile apps give you opportunities to keep pulling customers back into the app experience. Push notifications can automatically inform your customers about the latest deals, experiences, or features your app has to offer. 

This means even if they forget about you and your business temporarily, you can remind them to keep visiting your app without relying on them finding your social posts, or reading your emails. 

#3 - Reduce Purchasing Objections

The evolution of mobile apps has led to new and exciting features in these tools that can significantly improve your conversion rates and revenue. For instance, augmented reality, a feature common in many mobile app experiences today, can allow consumers to “try on a product” or see what it looks like in their homes without actually visiting a store. Studies show that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after they’ve experienced it with augmented reality. 

Mobile apps can also reduce your risk of purchasing objections and hurdles in other ways. For instance, they can include access to a chatbot that can instantly answer any customer questions before they make a purchase. 

You could also create mobile app experiences that simplify the purchasing process for your consumers. For example, you might allow customers to set up recurring subscription plans or payments they can control through their mobile app. This means they can essentially “set and forget” their purchasing habits. 

#4 - Higher Conversions with Personalization

Effective personalization leads to a 10 to 15% lift in revenue for most companies. While there are many ways to personalize an experience for a customer, mobile apps can make the process a lot simpler. For instance, you can use location-based targeting and beacons to send messages and push notifications to your customers, wherever they are.

This means retail stores can share specific offers with customers when they’re close to a store. Additionally, since mobile apps allow you to gather information about your customers, with access to their profiles, you can use AI to deliver more personalized product recommendations. 

You could offer customers distinct deals and discounts based on their most-purchased products, or their loyalty to your brand. You could even use personalized strategies to sell partnership services. For instance, a free budgeting app could recommend specific paid bank accounts and credit cards based on a customer’s identified goals. 

#5 - Boost Customer Retention and Lifetime Value

Customer retention is the key to financial success, particularly in today’s economic environment. It’s easier to convert a loyal customer than a new prospect. Plus, loyal customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend an average of 31% more per purchase than new customers. 

Developing a mobile app is an excellent way to increase customer loyalty and retention rates. First, consider the fact that 85% of customers prefer to shop in an app instead of a browser. This means e-commerce and retail companies can adhere to their customers’ specific preferences, improving the experience they have with the brand. 

Mobile apps also give you a range of ways to enhance loyalty. For instance, you can create a “loyalty program” within your app, where customers can earn tangible rewards every time they interact with you. You could even offer rewards for actions like inviting other users to download the app. 

#6 - Generate Profits Through Insights

Finally, a mobile app offers businesses an exceptional way to increase profits and even reduce costs with access to valuable market insights. A mobile app can provide you with a huge amount of data about your audience’s preferences, how they interact with your brand, and even which products they purchase and when. This can help you to craft more effective product offerings and marketing campaigns.

For instance, if you learn that your customers are most likely to use your app at a certain time each day, you can tailor your push notifications to arrive just at the right moment. You can even use your mobile app data to find out more about customer service needs, so you can schedule employees according to the right strategy, and reduce your labor costs. 

Mobile apps can give you a wealth of information you can use to strengthen the customer experience and enhance your sales strategy. 

The Financial Impact of a Mobile App

Investing in a mobile app isn’t just a good way to keep up with the latest trends in today’s digital world. Increasingly, mobile apps are emerging as a valuable tool for companies looking to reduce operational costs, increase profits, and unlock new opportunities. 

If you’re wondering whether a mobile app is worthwhile for your business, the evidence above shows that it definitely can be. 

They are a valuable tool that can help you manage your finances, understand your spending habits, and make informed financial decisions.

This article will explore eight effective ways to get the most out of your monthly bank statements and the data they provide to become a better money manager.

Convert Bank Statements to CSV for Advanced Analysis

For a deeper analysis of your finances, convert bank statements into CSV format. Many banking platforms offer the option of downloading monthly bank statements in CSV.

If yours does, consider doing so because CSV provides a versatile data format compatible with spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. By making this simple switch, you open up opportunities for more in-depth analysis.

CSV files allow you to customize and categorize transactions according to your preferences, offering a more granular view of your spending patterns. The CSV approach is advantageous, especially for individuals who prefer detailed insights and wish to create personalized financial charts and graphs. 

Additionally, the CSV format seamlessly integrates with various financial tools to give you a more holistic approach to managing your money.

Check your bank’s online portal for instructions on downloading statements in CSV, but if your bank does not have that option, use tools like DocuClipper to convert PDF bank statements into CSV to unlock a new level of precision and control in your financial analysis.

Understand Transaction Categories

Understanding transaction categories on your bank statements is a pivotal aspect of gaining comprehensive insights into your financial habits. These statements systematically categorize transactions into distinct groups that delineate expenditures like groceries, entertainment, utilities, and more.

By scrutinizing the distribution of expenses across these categories, you can pinpoint areas where you might be exceeding your budget or identify sectors where you can exercise prudent cutbacks.

Ultimately, meticulously analyzing transaction categories empowers you to make informed decisions and foster financial discipline and strategic planning that could significantly help you achieve long-term financial goals.

Track Changes in Your Balances Over Time

Monitoring the evolution of your account balances over time, as documented in your bank statements, offers a valuable lens into your financial history. Tracking these changes lets you discern patterns and trends in your financial behaviour and provides a comprehensive overview of your monetary habits.

This practice becomes especially advantageous when detecting irregularities or unexpected fluctuations in your balances. Understanding the reasons behind these variations gives you the power to make informed financial management decisions.

Moreover, this historical perspective enhances your financial literacy and equips you to be proactive and deliberate about planning for future expenses or savings goals.

Use Budgeting Tools and Apps

Using the native budgeting tools and apps available from most banking institutions can significantly enhance your financial management. These digital aids seamlessly complement your monthly statements by providing intuitive features and visual representations of your spending.

The graphical interface employed by most of these apps and tools makes it effortless to understand your financial situation from just a glance; they also offer a holistic view of your expenditures. By embracing these technologies, you can set precise financial goals, monitor your progress, and receive tailored insights from your spending patterns.

Some advanced apps even incorporate predictive analytics, enabling you to anticipate future expenses. This foresight empowers you to make proactive financial planning that lets you stay one step ahead and make informed decisions that promote your financial well-being.

Use Your Statement to Automate Savings and Bill Payments

Transforming your bank statements into a strategic resource can help you leverage them to automate savings and bill payments for seamless financial management.

Use the details in your statements to establish automatic savings account transfers immediately after each payday to create a hands-free approach to building a financial cushion.

Simultaneously, capitalize on online bill payment services to automate regular payments for essential expenses like rent, utilities, and subscriptions. Automating such payments guarantees that you never miss a payment, drastically reduces the risk of incurring late fees, and fosters financial discipline.

By incorporating these automated processes into your financial routine, you can turn your bank statements into a catalyst for a consistent savings habit and a stress-free approach to meeting your financial obligations and goals.

Monitor Interest and Fees

Banks often impose various charges, including maintenance fees or overdraft charges, while also providing interest on certain accounts. Regularly reviewing your bank statements lets you stay informed about these fees and interest payments and creates transparency in your financial transactions.

After noticing unexpected charges, promptly contact your bank for clarification. Taking such a proactive approach helps you understand the financial landscape and empowers you to make informed decisions that minimize fees and optimize interest earnings over time.

By keenly monitoring these aspects during regular bank statement reviews, you can ensure a financially astute and cost-effective approach to managing your accounts.

Compare Statements to Your Budget

Your bank statements are a real-time reflection of your spending habits, and by periodically comparing these actual expenditures to your budgeted amounts, you gain invaluable insights. This dynamic practice enables you to identify deviations when they happen, which allows you to make informed adjustments to your future spending.

Comparing your bank statements to your budget plan transforms budgeting from a static plan to a fluid and responsive process that allows you to fine-tune your budget based on real-world financial behaviour. The synergy between your budget and bank statements ensures that your financial goals remain realistic, achievable, and adaptable to the ever-changing dynamics of your economic life.

Explore Additional Services and Rewards

Take the time to explore these opportunities and maximize the benefits your bank has to offer. Your statements may provide insights into cashback rewards, exclusive discounts on specific purchases, or special promotions for account holders.

Staying vigilant of these perks ensures you fully capitalize on your banking relationship and the overall value derived from your financial institution.

Whether it is uncovering hidden discounts or seizing exclusive offers, being aware of these supplementary services embedded in your statements empowers you to make the most informed decisions and extract optimal value from your banking experience.

Conclusion

By consistently reviewing and leveraging the information in your monthly bank statements, you can gain valuable insights into your spending habits, identify concern areas, and make informed decisions that align with your financial goals. 

Introduction

It’s no secret that businesses in all industries are increasingly becoming competitive. They need to manage their time better to remain competitive in their respective industries. A business can only increase its profits faster if employees do their daily tasks within the shortest amount of time.

That is why business owners are increasingly investing in employee time tracking tools and services. In this detailed article, you’ll find the top three benefits of employee time tracking. Let’s find out more.

Ensures Accountability

With a top-rated time tracking system in your workplace, project managers can quickly and straightforwardly monitor:

Workers can also easily access the time tracked. This enables them to complete their tasks with enhanced efficiency, hold themselves accountable, and avoid procrastination.

Most time-tracking solutions allow managers to access their workers’ timesheets. This encourages workers to take responsibility for completing required tasks and meet deadlines.

Boosts Productivity

Another major benefit of employee time tracking is that it enables your staff to work more productively. Managers need to assign specific jobs and timeframes to every worker. As a result, they’ll have a clear and focused workflow that’ll keep them on track and motivated. Also, time tracking enables individuals to optimize their time spent working.

By breaking projects down into manageable tasks and measuring the time required to execute each one of them, workers can discover when they’re more productive. Worker time tracking is primarily a way of holding up a mirror to how your employees work.

It allows business owners and managers to gain insights, which help them to make data-driven, positive changes to their workflows. Schedules are the key to a productive staff, and worker time tracking provides you with the data and techniques to achieve that.

Improves Employee Well-Being

Regarding remote and hybrid working, most individuals fall under the umbrella of overworking. With no in-person contact and physical office, it can be challenging to identify workers overexerting themselves.

Overworking, in most cases, is closely associated with high levels of stress and burnout, so identifying this early enough is incredibly beneficial for your team’s well-being. Tracking how long every worker spends working daily can help quickly highlight anyone who's putting in more time than is recommended.

And what is more? Time tracking allows flexible and remote workers to communicate when they aren’t working and establish clear boundaries. This helps them effectively work around each other.

Tracking individual time off can also encourage workers to take enough time away to de-stress. Doing so benefits the well-being of your staff and boosts the productivity levels.

Employee time tracking is a vital tool for companies of all sizes, especially those that hire contractors and remote/flexible workers. Partner with the right employee time-tracking service provider to boost your workers' productivity, increase profits, and expand your business.

Gone are the days when you needed to be tech-savvy to use these devices. Now, anyone can use gadgets without being a tech expert. You simply need to grasp the basics, and the more you use the gadgets, the more you become familiar with them.

This post will explore the importance of learning more about the ever-changing digital landscape. We’ll also discuss some of the must-have gadgets and note some tips for enjoying these advancements.

Why You Should Master Modern Technology

Our world is constantly evolving, and being part of it is crucial for personal or business development. Technology has made our basic home life more comfortable. Artificial devices are now carrying out several tasks that we would have had to do ourselves. When you know your way around these appliances and devices, your quality of life improves significantly.
In the business sphere, technology has ensured more productivity. For instance, the internet has birthed virtual companies like online casinos, where players can enjoy their favourite slots and table games. You can check the best Australian online casino for real money on the OCA site.

These online establishments have eliminated the need to be physically present in brick-and-mortar locations to play. Education, healthcare, and finance are other sectors that have benefited from technology.

Top Must-Have Gadgets to Begin Mastering Modern Technology

The list of gadgets you should try out is practically endless, but here are five options you can begin with:

 

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

These little convenient devices are lifesavers to many who work all around the clock and have less time for chores. Thanks to its intelligent time-scheduling feature, you can preset the device to do the cleaning while you’re away. It also has different modes for all types of floors for your convenience.

Wireless Speakers

If you’re a lover of music, then this will automatically change your listening experience. This device is already common in many homes worldwide. Some come with a smartphone app to control your music and sound production.

Smartwatches

Another new invention that every person shouldn’t miss is a smartwatch. These are devices that operate just like phones. You can make calls, text, read messages, and even email from these devices.

Air Purifier

These play a big role in maintaining your health in your homes, offices, and personal spaces. Just as their name implies, they purify your home's air and regulate the humidity. They come with USB cables and are very portable, so they don’t occupy too much space.

Motion Sensor Powerstrip

This gadget detects movement in a particular area and conserves energy from it, speaking of brilliant inventions. It can power off automatically when no movement is detected over some time. The powerstrip can also remain on, powering devices like networking equipment or gaming consoles.

Tips for a Smoother Digital Experience

Here are some tips to help you achieve a smoother digital experience:

• Practice organisation
• Learn to automate repetitive activities
• Use task management tools
• Use AI Tools

Practice Organisation

Always ensure everything is in order as you want it. Keep your digital files and documents organised, arranging them in easily remembered formats. Ensure gadgets have a storage room or a set location where you keep them when not in use.
If you are into gaming and gambling, some platforms have everything you need to know in order and prepared for smooth usage. Find all the details here.

Learn to Automate Repetitive Activities

If there's a function that helps you automate activities that you perform repeatedly, use it. For example, if you send an email every morning for some reason, get something to do the job. There are numerous digital apps ready to help out. Likewise, use the preset option on your vacuum cleaner to allow it to perform daily without manually instructing it each time.

Use Task Management Tools

As underrated as these tools are, they are almost compulsory for anyone with a hectic schedule. You should have apps that organise your online workspace and free up your thinking instead. They would also do an excellent job of giving reminders so you don’t forget an important appointment.

Use AI Tools

Our world today has artificial intelligence making the biggest changes. Get AI to do certain jobs like writing emails, giving ideas, etc. They can also help you complete assignments and broaden your knowledge in any area of life.

Get Your Technology Life Up and Going

You don’t have to buy everything at once. Start from little, getting the most important ones to improve your quality of life. Depending on your priorities, this could be a smartwatch or a vacuum cleaner. Keep in mind that these devices come in different brands and prices. So you can easily find an affordable option.

Inside High-Tech Asset Tracing Investigations with I-On Asia

Finance Monthly recently spoke with Oliver Laurence, Managing Partner - EMEA and Australia at I-OnAsia, whose rich background in police work and government investigations offers a unique perspective to explore this field. His diverse experiences spanning fraud, money laundering, international love scams, and various financial crimes have culminated in a comprehensive understanding of illicit asset movements. As we navigate the complexities of modern financial transactions, technological evolution, and the use of tangible assets for hiding wealth, Mr. Laurence sheds light on the strategies and principles employed to unearth concealed assets and the challenges posed by the ever-evolving landscape of asset tracing.

Mr Laurence, given your tenure with the Police and your involvement in government investigations, how have these experiences influenced your asset tracing techniques? Would you say that this distinctive background provides you with a competitive advantage at I-OnAsia?

My government investigations work often spanned a wide range of criminal activities, including fraud, money laundering, international love scams, and other financial crimes. This diversity of exposure allowed for a comprehensive understanding of the myriad of ways individuals and entities try to hide or move assets illicitly.

My career in law enforcement and governmental investigations provided me with advanced training and access to cutting-edge technology and tools not available to the public. This included specialised software, databases, and forensic techniques designed specifically for tracking assets and uncovering illicit financial activities. This has been a huge help moving into the private sector with I-OnAsia working all over the globe.

Considering the reputation of I-OnAsia as a Chambers & Partners ranked leading investigations and intelligence firm operating now for more than 20 years, my background in police and government investigations has undoubtedly been seen as a competitive advantage to our clients, supporting our global team out of Hong Kong and New York.

Is there such a thing as a typical asset tracing investigation? Do you employ a broad set of principles in each case? If so, what are they, and how did they come about?

While every asset tracing investigation is unique, given the varying nature of cases we undertake at I-OnAsia, underlying assets, jurisdictions involved, and the methods used by entities to hide or move assets, there are some typical approaches and broad principles that can be applied.

For me, it’s about starting with a thorough understanding of the client's objectives and a review of all available information. This stage helps to determine the potential scale of the investigation and the assets in question. Gathering all relevant documents, which might include bank statements, property records, corporate records, contracts, and more. Analysing these can provide leads on the movement and location of assets or, of course, allow our team to start the investigation strongly with a good understanding of the subject and what we may or may not be looking for.

Our heat seeker capability introduced a few years ago into our firm has allowed us to build a rapid global footprint of our targets both commercially and privately. No longer do we just look for bricks and mortar. Asset tracing has developed into so much more. Lifestyle patterns and access to liquidity are all huge clues and indicators as to one's wealth and provide litigators and insolvency practitioners with a good idea of the subject person.

How have the intricacies of modern financial transactions and instruments, such as cryptocurrencies, made asset tracing more challenging?

The evolution of modern financial transactions and the introduction of new financial instruments, especially cryptocurrencies, have certainly added layers of complexity to the asset tracing process.

Cryptocurrencies operate on decentralised platforms, making them inherently resistant to control or regulation by central entities or governments. This decentralisation can make it difficult for investigators to retrieve pertinent data or enforce traditional methods of asset recovery.

Some cryptocurrencies, especially privacy coins like Monero or ZCash, prioritise user privacy, making transactions largely anonymous. While Bitcoin and many others operate on a pseudonymous basis (where users are identified by public keys rather than personal information), linking these public keys to real-world identities can be challenging. These are services that mix potentially identifiable or 'tainted' cryptocurrency funds with others, making the tracing of transactions far more complicated.

While these complexities present challenges, they also offer opportunities. The immutable nature of blockchain, which underpins most cryptocurrencies, means that all transactions are recorded permanently. If investigators can decipher the information or link pseudonymous data to real-world identities, they can uncover detailed transaction histories.

How has the evolution of technology, both as a tool for hiding and tracing assets, changed the landscape of asset tracing?

The evolution of technology has significantly impacted the landscape of asset tracing, presenting both challenges and opportunities for investigators. Technology has been a double-edged sword, serving as a tool for obfuscating assets and, conversely, a means to unearth hidden assets with unprecedented efficacy.

Advanced forensic tools can recover deleted data from devices, analyse digital trails, or even trace the origins of transactions on certain blockchain networks. The power of big data analytics, combined with artificial intelligence, allows investigators to sift through vast amounts of data quickly, spot patterns, and identify suspicious transactions.

In essence, while technology has introduced new avenues for hiding assets, it has also empowered investigators with tools that, when used adeptly, can unravel even the most sophisticated concealment techniques. The landscape of asset tracing has, as a result, transformed into a high-tech game of cat and mouse, with both sides continuously evolving their strategies.

How do individuals use real estate, art, or other tangible assets to hide their wealth? Are there particular "red flags" that suggest such methods?

Individuals seeking to hide or launder money often turn to tangible assets like real estate, art, and luxury goods because they can be easier to cloud and offer value storage in something relatively stable. Here's how these assets are commonly used:

Individuals may purchase properties through shell companies, trusts, or other legal entities that mask the true owner's identity. Purchasing real estate in foreign countries, especially those with strong property rights but weak anti-money laundering controls, can help hide assets.

The art market often allows buyers and sellers to remain anonymous, especially at auctions. The value of art can be very subjective, allowing for over- or under-valuation, which can be a means to transfer or hide large sums of money.

While the use of tangible assets for hiding wealth can be subtle, there are certain "red flags" or indicators that can suggest such methods, If properties or art pieces are frequently bought and sold, especially in a short timeframe, it might indicate an attempt to confuse the paper trail. Purchases that seem disproportionate to an individual's known source of income or wealth can be suspicious.

The use of multiple layers of corporations, trusts, or other entities, especially if they're based in multiple jurisdictions, can be a sign of an attempt to hide the true ownership or origin of funds.

Detecting and proving the illicit concealment of wealth requires a multifaceted approach, combining the scrutiny of financial transactions with a deep understanding of the behaviors and patterns associated with money laundering and asset hiding.

How do you prioritise your tracing efforts when time is of the essence, such as impending bankruptcy or potential asset transfers? What immediate steps can be taken to prevent impending asset transfers?

Identifying which assets are most vulnerable to being moved, hidden, or liquidated is always a priority for our global team, if you know they exist of course. If you don’t the search starts from the ground up.

While real estate and tangible assets can be of high value, they usually take time to sell. Bank accounts, stock portfolios, and other liquid assets can be transferred quickly and if we know about them, they become our primary focus.

Oliver Laurence JP Qual
Managing Partner – EMEA & Australia, I-OnAsia

 

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, CFOs play a vital role in driving profitability and ensuring long-term success. With the advancement of digital technology, CFOs have the opportunity to leverage innovative tools and strategies to optimize financial operations and enhance profitability. This article explores the various aspects of incorporating digital technology in finance and provides insights into how CFOs can harness its potential to drive profitability.

Understanding the Role of a CFO in the Digital Age

The role of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has greatly evolved in the digital age. Traditionally focused on financial planning, reporting, and risk management, CFOs now play a strategic role in leveraging digital technology to drive growth and profitability.

In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, businesses are increasingly relying on digital tools and platforms to streamline operations, gain insights, and stay competitive. As a result, CFOs have become key players in navigating the complex landscape of digital finance.

One of the primary responsibilities of CFOs in the digital age is to understand and anticipate digital disruptions in the finance landscape. By staying up-to-date with emerging technologies and market trends, CFOs can proactively identify opportunities to optimize financial operations and enhance profitability.

With the advent of digital technology, CFOs have access to vast amounts of data that can be used to drive informed decision-making. By harnessing the power of data analytics, CFOs can gain valuable insights into customer behaviour, market trends, and financial performance. This data-driven approach enables CFOs to make strategic financial decisions that align with the organization's goals.

The Evolving Responsibilities of CFOs

As digital technology continues to transform the finance function, CFOs are faced with new responsibilities and challenges. In addition to their traditional roles, CFOs are now expected to drive digital transformation and innovation within their organizations.

CFOs are increasingly responsible for evaluating and implementing digital tools and systems that can optimize financial operations, such as cloud-based accounting software, robotic process automation, and data analytics platforms. These technologies streamline financial processes, improve accuracy, and provide real-time insights for better decision-making.

Furthermore, CFOs are now playing a critical role in cybersecurity and data privacy. With the increasing risk of cyber threats and data breaches, CFOs must ensure that their organization's financial systems and data are secure and compliant with regulatory requirements.

To meet these evolving responsibilities, CFOs need to develop digital literacy and stay abreast of the latest technological advancements in finance. Embracing digital technology is crucial for CFOs to drive profitability and maintain a competitive edge in today's digital age.

The Importance of Digital Literacy for CFOs

Digital literacy is essential for CFOs to effectively incorporate digital technology in finance and drive profitability. It involves understanding how digital tools and platforms can enhance financial operations, make data-driven decisions, and identify growth opportunities.

Developing digital literacy requires continuous learning and staying ahead of emerging technologies. CFOs should actively seek opportunities to gain knowledge and experience in digital finance, such as attending seminars, webinars, and industry conferences.

In addition to technical knowledge, CFOs also need to develop soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and adaptability. These skills are vital for effectively leading digital transformation initiatives and driving cross-functional collaboration within the organization.

As the digital age continues to reshape the business landscape, CFOs must embrace the opportunities and challenges that come with it. By embracing digital technology, developing digital literacy, and staying ahead of emerging trends, CFOs can play a pivotal role in driving growth, profitability, and success in the digital age.

The Intersection of Finance and Digital Technology

The intersection of finance and digital technology presents numerous opportunities for CFOs to improve profitability and drive growth. In today's fast-paced and interconnected world, the finance landscape is undergoing a digital revolution that is reshaping the way financial transactions are conducted and managed. This shift towards digital finance has not only resulted in increased efficiency and reduced costs but has also brought about significant improvements in customer experience.

One of the key ways digital technology is changing the finance landscape is through the rise of online banking, mobile payments, and digital currencies. These innovations have made financial transactions more accessible and convenient, allowing individuals and businesses to manage their finances anytime, anywhere. With just a few taps on a smartphone, people can transfer funds, pay bills, and even make purchases, revolutionizing the way we interact with money.

But the impact of digital technology on finance goes beyond just convenience. It has also enabled the automation of routine financial processes, such as invoice processing and financial reporting. By leveraging technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), CFOs can streamline these tasks, reducing the risk of errors and freeing up valuable time for strategic initiatives and value-added activities.

Furthermore, digital technology has facilitated the integration of financial data from multiple sources. In the past, CFOs had to rely on fragmented and siloed data, making it difficult to get a comprehensive and accurate view of the organization's financial health and performance. However, with the advent of advanced data integration tools and cloud-based platforms, CFOs can now have a holistic view of their financial data, enabling more accurate forecasting, better risk management, and proactive decision-making.

Key Digital Technologies Impacting the Finance Sector

Several key digital technologies are transforming the finance sector and have the potential to significantly improve profitability:

 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning:

 These technologies enable CFOs to automate data analysis, identify patterns, and make accurate predictions for better financial planning and risk management. With AI-powered algorithms (ChatGPT), CFOs can analyse vast amounts of financial data in real-time, uncovering valuable insights and trends that can drive strategic decision-making.

 

Data analytics:

Advanced data analytics tools allow CFOs to extract valuable insights from financial data, enabling them to identify cost-saving opportunities, optimize pricing strategies, and improve profitability. By leveraging data visualization techniques and predictive analytics, CFOs can gain a deeper understanding of their business performance and make data-driven decisions.

 

Blockchain:

The use of blockchain technology in finance ensures transparent and secure financial transactions, reduces fraud risk, and streamlines processes such as supply chain financing and cross-border payments. By leveraging blockchain's decentralized and immutable nature, CFOs can enhance the security and efficiency of financial transactions, eliminating the need for intermediaries and reducing costs.

 

Risk management systems:

Digital risk management platforms enable CFOs to analyse and mitigate financial risks in real-time, enhancing the organization's ability to respond to potential threats. By leveraging advanced analytics and real-time monitoring, CFOs can identify emerging risks, assess their potential impact, and take proactive measures to mitigate them, safeguarding the organization's financial stability.

 

These digital technologies are not only changing the way finance operates but also presenting CFOs with new opportunities to drive growth and profitability. By embracing digital transformation and leveraging these technologies effectively, CFOs can position themselves as strategic partners within their organizations, driving innovation, and shaping the future of finance.

Strategies for Incorporating Digital Technology in Finance

Successfully incorporating digital technology in finance requires strategic planning and careful implementation. The following sections discuss strategies for identifying the right digital tools for your organization and steps to implementing digital technology in finance operations.

Identifying the Right Digital Tools for Your Organization

Before implementing digital technology in finance, CFOs need to evaluate their organization's specific needs, challenges, and goals. This involves conducting a thorough assessment of existing financial processes, systems, and data requirements.

CFOs should collaborate with finance and IT teams to identify digital tools and platforms that align with the organization's objectives and budgetary constraints. It is crucial to select technology solutions that are scalable, flexible, and provide a seamless integration with existing systems.

Furthermore, CFOs should consider the long-term impact of the selected digital tools on profitability and return on investment. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis and seeking input from key stakeholders can help in making informed decisions.

Steps to Implementing Digital Technology in Finance Operations

Once the appropriate digital tools have been identified, CFOs need to develop a comprehensive implementation plan. The following steps can guide CFOs in successfully integrating digital technology in finance operations:

 

Define objectives and scope:

Clearly define the objectives and scope of the digital transformation initiative, keeping in mind the organization's overall strategy and financial goals.

 

Engage stakeholders:

Involve key stakeholders, including finance, IT, and other relevant departments, in the planning and implementation process to ensure buy-in and collaboration.

 

Allocate resources:

Allocate the necessary resources, such as budget, personnel, and infrastructure, to support the implementation and ensure smooth adoption of digital technology.

 

Train and upskill:

Provide training and upskilling opportunities for finance and IT teams to effectively use the digital tools and maximize their potential.

 

Monitor and evaluate:

Continuously monitor and evaluate the performance of the digital technology, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments to ensure its effectiveness in driving profitability.

Measuring the Impact of Digital Technology on Profitability

To evaluate the effectiveness of digital technology in driving profitability, CFOs need to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure the return on investment (ROI) of digital initiatives. The following sections discuss the key KPIs and the evaluation of ROI:

Key Performance Indicators for Digital Technology in Finance

The selection of appropriate KPIs depends on the specific objectives and scope of the digital initiatives. Some common KPIs for measuring the impact of digital technology on profitability include:

 

Cost reduction: Measure the percentage reduction in finance-related costs, such as processing costs, error correction costs, and labor costs.

 

Efficiency improvement: Measure the time savings and cycle time reduction achieved through digital tools and automation.

 

Forecast accuracy: Measure the improvement in forecast accuracy and the ability to proactively identify risks and opportunities.

 

Revenue growth: Measure the impact of digital initiatives on revenue growth, including increased sales, improved pricing strategies, and enhanced customer retention.

 

Evaluating the Return on Investment of Digital Technology

To evaluate the ROI of digital technology in finance, CFOs need to compare the costs incurred against the financial benefits achieved. This involves tracking the direct cost savings, revenue growth, and intangible benefits such as improved decision-making and enhanced stakeholder satisfaction.

ROI can be calculated by dividing the net financial benefits by the total cost of the digital initiative and expressed as a percentage. Regular evaluations should be conducted to ensure ongoing alignment with the organization's profitability goals and to identify areas for further improvement.

In conclusion, incorporating digital technology in finance is essential for CFOs to improve profitability and drive long-term success. By understanding their evolving responsibilities, developing digital literacy, and leveraging key digital technologies, CFOs can optimize financial operations, make informed decisions, and identify growth opportunities. By implementing digital tools strategically and measuring their impact, CFOs can ensure that their organizations stay competitive in the digital age.

By Alexandra Mousavizadeh, CEO and co-founder of Evident

 

The rush to deploy Generative AI tools like ChatGPT has created a backlash and led to calls for a pause on deployment while we work out how to regulate these powerful systems. The challenge is one of imagination - what should the regulation look like and how should it be enforced? If they have the will to lead, the banks might hold the key to a workable solution...

 

The basis for The Future of Life Institute’s call to pause experimentation with large artificial intelligence (AI) systems was to buy some time. Time to do what, exactly?

 

OpenAI’s CEO and founder, Sam Altman, has argued that a vital ingredient for a positive AI future is an effective global regulatory framework. Yet no one can agree what this might look like. The 18,980 signatories to the open letter, (some of whom have since backed out or claimed to have been misrepresented) have not put forward a plan.

 

The current regulatory landscape for AI is a messy patchwork of national- and industry-level initiatives. These range from FTC and FDA efforts to address specific, yet limited industry use cases, to the EU’s AI Act and the US’s Algorithmic Accountability Act - both admirable in their intent to create a more universal framework, but flawed in their appraisal of risk.

 

Crucially, there has been no consensus reached amongst technologists, executives or regulators regarding what it’s like to be an end-user of AI-based products, and hence, what sort of regulatory framework is appropriate to pursue.

 

Like opening a bank account

For many people, AI and its potential harms remain theoretical or fantastical - conjuring up images of Terminator and Skynet rather than practical concerns. And yet, seen within an industry-specific setting such as financial services, it’s easier to understand the AI risks that are already emerging. For example, being defrauded of your life's savings, unfairly denied insurance for medical care, or extorted over loan repayments.

 

I’d argue that being an end user of an AI system is certainly comparable to a customer opening a new bank account, stepping onto a plane or taking a prescription pill - all industries that require strict external oversight due to the acknowledged risks involved.

 

When we open a bank account, we do so with the knowledge that we are protected by a rigorous, dutiful and democratically constructed set of regulation-enforced and accredited safety standards which are subject to external oversight. The regulator sets the standards for the industry, and while it won’t fully prevent bank runs, ID fraud or other depositor woes, it protects the vast majority of customers most of the time - to the benefit of the industry, and society at large.

 

It follows that we ought to create similar standards for any providers seeking to offer AI-based products within these industries and ensure clear oversight to prevent any breaches - intentional or otherwise - from occurring. We should even consider setting the bar higher when it comes to AI standards, due to the potential speed, scale and scope of deployment that ChatGPT has shown to be possible for these systems.

 

Banks can set the agenda

The idea of a global regulatory framework for AI is bandied about much more often than it is scrutinised. And yet, one key lesson from the financial sector is that overlapping national regulatory bodies, with a remit based in law and the powers to investigate and punish organisations that transgress, is the closest humanity has ever come to controlling systems which, like AI, are both powerful and profitable.

 

Look no further than the cryptocurrency sector as it is dragged kicking and screaming into the regulatory capture of traditional banking, shedding the worst of its fraud, misdemeanour and exploitation of users as it goes.

 

Similarly, by approaching AI through the prism of the strict regulatory regime that they’ve been working in for years, the banking industry has already taken significant pre-emptive steps to prevent potential harms from occurring.

 

The world’s leading banks have already developed best practices that are well-suited to an AI-led future. Kitemarked security (to stop users from seeing one another’s data, as was the case with ChatGPT); a mixture of auditing and industrial safety standards; accreditation for practitioners (where now most AI developers have no training at all in ethical application; transparency and accountable coding); interdepartmental oversight so leaders get early warning when something is going wrong. And of course, there’s intense scrutiny by regulators and regular submissions of financial and other performance data.

 

All of these tools will be extended to AI deployment in banking use cases. The challenge - and opportunity - for banks is to embrace this publicly. Banks have no greater asset than trust. Getting ahead of this topic will enable them to build public confidence in their approach and set an example across the wider economy - potentially encouraging some of their corporate and SMB clients to embrace a similar mindset.

 

Seizing the initiative

Time is running out for industry leaders, policymakers and regulators to fill the governance vacuum and ensure that the pursuit of powerful AI proceeds with greater caution and consideration.

 

Getting artificial intelligence regulation right is a matter of imagination, resources and speed. The imaginative step from current banking best practice to include AI is a feasible one. Banks do not lack in resources. It’s time for banking leaders to seize the initiative, reaffirm their own commitments to (and internal standards) around responsible AI self-governance, and drive the public discourse around workable, industry-specific AI regulation.

Securing the Financial Future

Insights from IBM on Battling Cyber Threats in an Evolving Landscape

 

Corey Hamilton

Global Financial Services Leader & Partner, IBM Security Services

 

As the Global Financial Services Leader at IBM Security Services, could you share your insights on cybersecurity in the financial industry?

The financial services sector is undergoing a period of prolonged and far-reaching change – a digital transformation that has been in progress for some time but which was accelerated by the pandemic. The wide-spread adoption of hybrid working, often supported by the implementation of cloud-based systems, reduced or constricted budgets, daunting technical debt are just some of the more obvious developments; adaptations that are uncovering new vulnerabilities and opening up new routes of attack for cybercriminals and hostile states.

 

In recent years, we have seen increased cyber threats targeting the financial sector, including state-sponsored  threats. What are some emerging trends or techniques that cybercriminals employ, and how can financial institutions stay ahead of these threats?

 

One of the most worrying trends is the rise of increasingly sophisticated ransomware attacks. The days of simply locking someone’s data and then demanding a payment in return for the encryption key are long gone. Attackers have largely replaced that model with a more damaging two-step approach that simultaneously paralyses a target’s system while surreptitiously extracting its data.

 

Cybercriminals are always looking for the next development. As a result, things are about to get even more complicated: triple extortion has arrived. This takes the two-step approach and adds in ransom demands directed at a victim’s supply chain, a common source of vulnerability as the security maturity of each part of a supplier network won’t necessarily be the same.

 

How does IBM Security Services help financial organisations develop robust cybersecurity strategies? Are there any specific frameworks or methodologies that you follow?

 

The financial services sector needs to take a ‘zero trust’ approach to security – a methodology that abandons the idea that you can trust anyone as far as security is concerned. Everyone needs to be re-evaluated and re-authenticated and then given the lowest set of system privileges required for them to operate.

 

This approach also assumes the worst – that a breach is happening – it’s about spotting it rather than thinking, ‘I can’t see an attack, I’m therefore okay’. Zero trust argues that every organisation is under attack – it’s just a matter of how bad it might be.

 

Data breaches and data privacy are major concerns for financial institutions. What steps should organisations take to ensure the security of customer data and comply with regulatory requirements and avoid being hacked in the first place?

 

The burgeoning digitisation of the financial services industry, including the widespread adoption of hybrid cloud, has rightly attracted the attention of regulators and policy makers. As a result, financial institutions need to balance innovation with increasingly stringent compliance and security requirements. For example, the Bank of England is looking at ways to facilitate greater resilience and the adoption of cloud-based services and other new technologies – an approach that combines support for innovation with regulatory oversight.

 

 

With the rise of cloud computing and remote work, how can financial institutions effectively manage cybersecurity risks in these environments? What are some best practices for securing cloud-based systems and remote access?

 

Financial institutions are among the top targets for cybercriminals because of the wealth of valuable data they hold, which make them a very attractive to cybercriminals. This hasn’t gone unnoticed – businesses are waking up to the notion that standard security measures are not enough in the cloud. To keep customers and proprietary data secure and private, enterprise-grade security innovations, such as confidential computing, are essential.

 

Of course, security in the digital domain isn’t new; protecting internet communication with HTTPS is well established, as is the use of SSL, which was initially applied to credit card transactions but has since become ubiquitous. Confidential computing has the potential to become equally as pervasive due, in part, to the widespread adoption of cloud technology.

 

By ensuring that data is processed in a shielded environment confidential computing makes it possible to securely collaborate with partners without divulging proprietary information. It makes it possible for different organisations to amalgamate data sets for analysis – such as fraud detection – without getting to see each other’s information.

 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are being increasingly used in cybersecurity. How is IBM incorporating these technologies into its security solutions, and what benefits do they offer regarding threat detection and prevention?

 

IBM Cloud for Financial Services is designed to help clients mitigate risk and accelerate cloud adoption for even their most sensitive workloads. Security controls are built into the IBM Cloud to enable financial institutions to automate their security and compliance behaviours and make it easier for clients to simplify their risk management and demonstrate regulatory observance.

 

The IBM X-Force Protection Platform augments our cyber security experts with AI and automation at global scale, resulting in more effective, efficient and resilient security operations. We have successfully helped clients proactively identify, protect, detect, respond and recover faster from attacks due to the unique capabilities of the platform. Our platform’s AI is used on top of what vendors provide within their off-the-shelf tools. The platform learns and incorporates the intelligence from 100s of analysts across thousands of our clients. It provides guidance on policy recommendations and reduces the noise, so critical items can be addressed immediately.

 

The services platform promotes effective, efficient, and resilient security operations, at global scale, connecting workflows across our different services. It provides a method for integrating all of an organization’s security technologies cohesively within our open ecosystem. What this means is that the services platform is IBM’s end-to-end integrated approach to Security Services. This includes a combination of software, services and methodologies which are integrated in a centralized platform providing the clients with a unified experience. IBM’s services platform integrates across people, processes and tools using open standards and best practices.

 

Looking ahead, what do you see as the future of cybersecurity in the financial industry? Are there any emerging technologies or trends that will significantly impact how financial institutions approach cybersecurity?

 

Highly regulated industries are feeling pressure to transform with an ever-increasing rate and pace. However, they must not lose focus on security, resiliency and compliance on their mission to modernise. This is especially important for financial services where regulations are rapidly changing and exposure to cyber threats has escalated to unprecedented levels. And it’s about to get even more complex.

 

Financial institutions need AI tools that are accurate, scalable and adaptable can keep up with the evolving threat landscape. IBM has been a leader in the work of foundation models – and watsonx is part of IBM’s push to put state-of-the-art foundation models in the hands of businesses. Furthermore, IBM is thinking bigger – building and applying foundation models for entirely unexplored business domains such as geospatial intelligence, code and IT operations.

 

Financial institutions also need to be crypto-agile in order to protect themselves from attack by quantum computers. Quantum and crypto agility can help financial institutions to improve their cybersecurity posture. The aim is to combine the performance of current processes that use classical and AI solutions in fraud management, risk management and customer experience, with that of the latest quantum technology, with the goal of achieving a quantum advantage.

 

This is where AI comes in. It can help cybersecurity teams by automating protection, prevention, detection and response processes. Paired with human intelligence, financial services companies can extend their visibility across a rapidly expanding digital landscape of applications and endpoints.

 

 

With digitalisation rapidly progressing and affecting every aspect of our lives – from the way we play to the way we pay – eCash levels the playing field for cash payers.

Much of society is becoming increasingly cashless, with the volume of cashless payments globally expected to rise by 80% between now and 2025. But it’s vital to remember that underbanked and unbanked communities don’t have the luxury of bidding farewell to physical currency. Many people around the world simply don’t have access to a bank account or a debit or credit card.

By digitalising cash, we can offer marginalised, cash-reliant communities access to online payments and enable them to participate in the world of eCommerce and digital financial transactions. It also allows security seekers to pay in cash and avoid having to provide personal financial data online.

In fact, according to our latest Lost in Transaction research study, which examines changing payment habits and preferences, 52% of consumers globally reported that they don’t feel comfortable sharing their financial details online. And 68% said they prefer using payment methods that don’t require them to share their financial details when paying.

 

Digitalising cash for online transactions

 

eCash, which enables cash to be used for online transactions, provides access to the digital world to cash payers and security seekers. Popular examples include the prepaid solution paysafecard as well as the post-paid barcode solution Paysafecash.

 

Paysafecard comes as a voucher with a 16-digit code that can be purchased in various denominations at petrol stations, supermarkets and convenience stores. The balance can then be redeemed by entering the code at the online checkout. This solution is particularly popular in the world of online entertainment and includes a spending control aspect that appeals to consumers as they can only spend the amount they have previously purchased with cash.

Paysafecash payments are made by generating a barcode during the online checkout, which can then be scanned and paid for in person at a nearby payment point. This solution has become increasingly popular for online transactions such as rent and bill payments, loan repayments, cash deposits into wallet-based financial services as well as a cash-in/cash-out solution for banking.

 

Paying for essential services in cash

 

When it comes to rent, utilities, loans and countless other essential services, cash is still the most available and most immediate payment method for unbanked and underbanked communities.

 

While many are revelling in how online payment platforms have simplified the process, this same proposition presents a huge hurdle for typically low-income groups who must find a way to pay for these services using cash funds without the luxury of a simple bank transfer or credit card.

 

eCash can facilitate this process, boosting financial inclusion and reducing missed payments. It allows cash-reliant communities to enjoy all the benefits of paying for services online without having to become banked. They can simply select “cash” as a payment option on the checkout page, generate a barcode and settle the amount in cash at a nearby payment point.

 

Bridging the gap between cash and banking

 

There are a number or reasons why people remain unbanked or underbanked and the high cost of traditional banking has certainly played a major role. While digital banks pose an attractive solution in terms of being less cost-intensive, they are still out of reach for anyone who relies heavily on cash.

 

Implementing eCash helps bridge that gap. It makes digital banking more accessible for cash-reliant consumers, providing them with an easy solution to cash-fund their accounts. Similar to choosing cash as a payment method during checkout, in this case, a barcode for a cash deposit can be generated in the digital bank’s mobile app. The barcode is then scanned at a payment point, the consumer pays the balance in cash and the amount gets credited to their digital bank account.

 

This also works for other financial service providers that utilise eCash for cash-funding their accounts, providing users access to any number of app-based budgeting and money management tools, setting up savings pots, or transferring money easily to friends right from their phone.

 

Beyond digital banking, eCash can also enable greater access to cash services in partnership with traditional banks. With bank branches closing and the availability of cashpoints decreasing, eCash payment points at participating retail locations can also be used to withdraw money. To do so, users would follow the steps above, generating a barcode in the banking app for the desired amount.

 

Paying with cash online

 

Taking it a step further, eCash doesn’t need to be limited to merchants and service providers who have integrated it as a payment solution. In combination with digital wallets like Skrill and NETELLER, eCash can open the door to online shopping in general.

 

Users can simply choose paysafecard or Paysafecash to deposit money into either of these digital wallets. This, in turn, allows consumers to use their cash funds with merchants that have integrated Skrill or NETELLER. They can also use prepaid credit cards available through these digital wallets to make payments literally anywhere.

 

Making progress inclusive

 

While there is no stopping digitalisation, it doesn’t have to go hand in hand with financial exclusion or remove cash from the payment mix. eCash is a powerful tool to mitigate the challenges of an increasingly cashless world, providing those who continue to rely on cash the ability to pay online for anything from online shopping to essential services.

 

The wearable technology market is rapidly expanding - when walking down the street; it feels like everyone has a smart watch or ring tracking their health, sleep, exercise, and even “energy levels.” But one specific type of wearable is gaining traction: payments. Payment-enabled wristbands, rings, and watches are seeing growing popularity as convenient alternatives to traditional payment methods. However, the technology available for wearables today requires each manufacturer to integrate directly with each and every bank/issuer in the market. Sometimes we’re talking about 1000’s of banks in each market. That creates an impossible mission for innovative wearables manufacturers to offer a credible ‘pay’ capability. At Curve, we recognized the potential of these passive wearables and saw an opportunity to leverage our wallet functionality to revolutionise the payment experience and help manufacturers get to 100% bank coverage. Curve’s wallet functionality also allows customers to attach multiple existing credit and debit cards to the Curve app, and charge those cards through the single Curve card. This “multiple cards in one” functionality makes Curve uniquely positioned to take on the passive wearables market – whereas previously, people could only connect one single card to their smart ring or watch, now they can connect all their cards.

It could have been a risky move, entering an entirely new market – wearables – when we were previously so focused on our original project. Expanding our horizons and jumping headfirst into a new opportunity it’s paid off tremendously. Over the last two years, Curve has focused on forging strong partnerships with leading wearable companies, including Swatch, Garmin, Samsung, Wearonize, Fidesmo, Tappy, Xiaomi, and Digiseq. These collaborations have allowed us to seamlessly integrate our game-changing technology that enables multiple cards to be connected to a single wearable device, a feat that was previously impossible with passive wearables. By doing so, we’re creating a unified payment experience that supports a wide range of payment wristbands, rings, and watches.

Our strategic partnerships have significantly expanded the wearable payments ecosystem. These collaborations have enabled partners to offer an array of customizable wearable options, catering to a diverse range of preferences and styles. While smart devices are bound by the need for software, charging, and screens for interaction, passive wearables can take on almost any form. This flexibility allows manufacturers to really let their creativity flow. Innovators in the space have pushed creative boundaries to enable everything from shirts to jewellery to accept payments. The success of these partnerships is evident in the numbers - wearable customers who attach Curve are more engaged and exhibit higher retention.

 

Curve is actively exploring ways to support our passive wearable partners in targeting large, traditional fashion brands. Many fashion brands have signature aesthetics that customers use to identify a brand. Through Curve’s successful partnership with Swatch, we’ve proven demand for payments-enabled traditional watches. By combining our payment technology with the design expertise of fashion brands, we aim to create a new breed of fashionable and functional wearables. This strategy will not only broaden the appeal of wearable payment devices but also help our partners tap into new market segments.

 

In addition to our efforts in the passive wearables space, Curve is exploring opportunities with a number of smartwatch brands. By collaborating with these companies, we can bring the benefits of Curve’s wallet functionality to a wider range of devices, enhancing the payment experience for smartwatch users as well, without much investment required from the smartwatch brand.

 

Breaking into the passive wearable industry was a marked departure from our traditional channels and serves as a prime example of how it’s worth taking a chance to explore non-traditional customers. As we continue to push the boundaries of innovation, our vision for the future of payments extends beyond just wearables. We no doubt will enter new, currently unconsidered categories. We are committed to raising the bar of customer experience while guiding customers on their journey to financial freedom. Forging strong partnerships with leading wearable companies is a significant contributor to making this vision a reality. By exploring different market segments, embracing new form factors, and targeting untapped opportunities, Curve can confidently shape the future of finance for the better and serve as a model for others to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blockchain technology is being incorporated nearly everywhere. Hospitals are using it to secure and share patient files. Accountants and banks are investing in the blockchain as a means of increasing the speed and security of financial transactions. Even in the real estate markets, the blockchain is transforming the way things are done. 

Real estate may not seem like the obvious industry to capitalise on blockchain technology. However, experts believe it can help make a positive difference in the efficiency and security of real estate transactions. Rather than working in person, the blockchain may enable more online transactions to realistically take place. 

Taking Real Estate Online

In the modern world of smartphones, the internet, and apps that all work together to put the world at your fingertips, customers have come to expect a certain ease-of-use. This sentiment carries from easy online shopping to scheduling appointments online to buying a house. The rules for customer courtesy are changing and the real estate market is using the blockchain to meet the demand. 

One of the primary ways the real estate market has changed is by taking listings online where customers can browse homes and find an agent with an easy click of a button. However, the blockchain stands to create an even larger online opportunity for real estate. With the blockchain behind them, many agents believe they could complete the entire process — outside of physically visiting the home — online. 

Some platforms are coming online that do just that. In order to use the blockchain, real estate companies “tokenise” their assets, so the property can be traded on an exchange similar to that of the stock market. The tokens can easily be traded or exchanged for money — i.e. purchasing a home. Doing this could cut out a lot of the middlemen in the home buying process and create a more straightforward and transparent opportunity for consumers.  

Increasing Speed And Reducing Fraud

Incorporating blockchain technology into the real estate market can also be a huge boon to consumers in other ways. Because all transactions are verified on a network of computers, transactions can be completed in minutes or even seconds. Rather than relying on people to review transactions and operate within normal business hours, these transactions can happen anywhere at any time. This speeds up the process substantially. 

Because all blockchain transactions are completed on a public ledger, all parties can see the transaction at all times. Traditional methods are prone to fraud and human errors, but this increases transparency profoundly and helps reduce the likelihood of fraud taking place. Furthermore, the blockchain is an incredibly tamper-proof means of storing information, which makes it one of the most secure means of doing business. 

Part of the reason the blockchain is so secure is that the information is decentralised. It would be incredibly difficult for a fraudster to change a blockchain transaction that is stored on hundreds of different computers across the country without someone noticing. Ultimately, this increases trust in the real estate market system, which doesn’t have too far back in history to look for proof of the dangers of a lack of transparency. The 2008 housing crisis is a prime example of what can happen.   

New Opportunities

Real estate companies are interacting with more data than ever before. Some of this data is internal, relating to sales figures and revenue, while some of it is external such as data collected by government or social media entities. All of this adds up to provide real estate agents with a broader picture of the markets they are working in and offers the ability to create innovative opportunities. 

For instance, once properties have been “tokenised” it is easy to divide them up in meaningful ways. Fractional ownership becomes a much more straightforward and realistic option. This could be a scenario where investors are given the equivalent number of tokens to represent the per cent of the investment they’ve made. Ultimately, it could lower investment costs and barriers to entry into investment markets. 

Conclusion

Blockchain technology is truly transforming the real estate industry. The technology stands to speed up transactions and reduce the number of middlemen involved, all while bolstering security. Additionally, the technology can open up a number of new opportunities such as fractional ownership for investors that could generate a lot more wealth among certain sectors of the population. It could be a win-win advancement.

In the past decade or so, high-resolution satellite data has been made readily available for commercial and private use. Using this data, experts can monitor changes in our environment, infrastructure, and ecosystems which gives profound insights into the economic and demographic state of the planet. Affordable advanced tools have made it easy to use predictive analysis together with machine learning and AI to leverage data for better business decisions. It helps farmers interpret satellite images of their fields in record time and implement the necessary processes to achieve good crop yields.

This data from satellites is not only helpful to farmers. Financial institutions can also use this data to access the performance of crops and assess the value of fields remotely. It would help them assess risks to be able to give loans to small farmers.

Assessing risks accurately is one of the biggest challenges banks face when loaning to smallholding farmers. They need to know if the agribusiness or small farm owner will be able to repay the loan. So, the banks need to review all the necessary documents and understand the farmland’s yielding ability.

To verify and check information on documents provided by farmers, banks need to send field agents physically to the farms. This process can be resource-intensive in terms of time and labour. However, with satellite images and other remote sensing technologies, this task can be done remotely. Using crop monitoring platforms, financial institutions have easy access to historical farm data, vegetation indices, farm productivity, etc. It will give them the confidence to work with the farmers. It is a win-win situation, reducing costs at both ends.

What issues do banks face in working with data?

Some of the main challenges that banks have to go through can be broken down into:

Alternative credit scoring - people with low income living in rural areas typically do not have good credit, making it difficult for banks to assess their worth and provide them with loans. However, that problem can be fixed simply with satellite images. They provide banks with historical data on farmlands, which can be used by banks to assess the worth of the farmer.

Lack of transparency - some clients are capable of providing fake or false documents of their profit and yields just to get loans from banks.

Not enough data to make a proper assessment - Banks can’t only review documents to assess the worth of small farm owners. They need to send scouts to check out the farms, which can be time-consuming, costly, and labour-intensive.

Need for modern technologies for risk analysis - conventional means of risk assessment need to be replaced with digital ways to keep up with constant changes in the financial industry.

Revenue forecasting - Food insecurity is common in lots of developing countries that are largely dependent on rainfall farming for food. Climate change has put them more at risk with the constant threat of droughts and floods, which often lead to decreased crop yields. However, using remote sensing, experts can get accurate estimates of crop yields, which will buy governments time to react and address food shortages. These estimates can also be used by banks to know if farms will be yielding enough to pay back loans.

As banks continue to integrate satellite and remote sensing technologies into their workflow, owners of small farming businesses will have the possibility to get financial aid. It will give banks the confidence to work with this demographic.

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