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Disruption and the hi-tech revolution, motivators for change

There continues to be a great deal of talk about “disruption” and the speed at which the hi-tech revolution is impacting the financial services industry.

Financial services players underpin the world of commerce and touch every business and consumer around the world in one way or another, the idea of “disruption” can be quite alarming.

However, given time to reflect, perhaps it is better to think about the term “disruptive” as it applies to technology in the financial services sector, as a motivation for us to embrace change at a faster pace than we ever have before.  There really seem to be only two choices: resist or move forward with optimism.

Resistance is not really an option; change is inevitable.  We must look to embrace disruption and the speed at which change is being thrust upon us and find a way to harness it to our advantage. As new technologies impose new ideas onto old business models, managing change, and increasingly rapid change, is becoming the new norm.

According to a recent blog by Deloitte in which they cited their recent research, “artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain technology, collaborative ecosystems, cryptocurrencies, demographics, and customer experience are coming together to influence the industry’s future.”   All of these trends impact our industry in a big way.

We have no alternative but to recognise this combination of new technologies and the changes they impose on the way we do business today and to prepare our organisations for the future.  An obvious way to help us lay the foundations for improved workflows, is to ensure that we remove as many of the unnecessary and costly activities from our business processes as possible and open up to the benefits that automation offers. Reducing manual processing delivers efficiencies and the cost of doing business can be significantly reduced as a consequence. 

As an integral part of the financial supply chain, SWIFT has for many years helped banks and corporates to build more efficient and agile payment infrastructures, with technological innovation. By removing the risk inherent in manual tasks and freeing up resources to focus on value-added tasks, the ability to deliver improved services to end customers is paying dividends in terms of customer retention and winning new business.

Technological disruption is a great motivator for change, forcing us to reconsider our existing internal processes and procedures.  We have to take a quantum leap forward in improving efficiency, reducing risk and providing a better service for our customers and our suppliers, in order to survive and grow.

By removing as much manual effort and the operational risk it poses in payment processing, our corporate customers have found that implementing automation wherever possible has driven down costs and delivered efficiencies. An important enabler for this change has been the once “disruptive” innovation of cloud technology which is now mainstream and allows new, low cost, cloud-based solutions to be readily available for corporates of all sizes.

In fact, in 2015 65% of SWIFT’s new corporate members opted for Alliance Lite2, the cloud-based solution for connectivity. 25% of this new business came via SWIFT partners, demonstrating the value of cloud technology partners, for example BELLIN and AccessPay.  These cloud based solutions have opened up many more possibilities for all corporates to improve the automation of payments processing due to lower cost of ownership, reliability of the technology and proven security controls.

Three of the key benefits our customers tell us cloud based solutions offer, are that they

  • remove costly up-front capital investments in infrastructure
  • improve time-to-market, products and services can be created or online in minutes
  • improve automation that helps drive process efficiencies

The cloud has now become the true enabler for business improvement and helped to open up new markets for those who had previously found technology one of the barriers of entry into the global marketplace.

If Deloitte’s blog post is correct, then corporate payments are another likely candidate for effective use of blockchain technology as well as for even greater automation.

The challenge for our industry is to ensure that we benefit from these “disruptive” innovations and make them work for us.  After all, the next one is just around the corner!



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