"Less Cash, Identity, Risk, Transition, Coexistence, and Channeling": Experts' Insight

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In a panel discussion at the
Finance Magnates London Summit 2023, industry titans convened to dissect the
evolving contours of finance under the theme “Banking Reimagined:
Disrupting the Future.” Moderated by David Gyori, CEO at Banking Reports,
the discourse delved into innovative strategies poised to shape the future of
banking and payments.

The discussion unfolded with
insights from luminaries representing diverse sectors of the finance realm.
Michael Nelhams, Senior Director Open Banking and Payments at EPAM,
Alex Phillips, Senior Vice President at Marsh, Andrea
Bacioccola, General Manager at Igea Digital Bank,
Russell Sopp, Business Development Director at Solaris SE,
and Deepak Raj Colluru, Director
of Product Management at GoCardless, offered perspectives that
illuminated the intricate tapestry of the financial landscape.

The Road to Cash Lessness: Realities and Challenges

At the forefront of the dialogue
was the future trajectory of banking, with contrasting viewpoints steering the
discourse. Colluru advocated for a swift transition towards a cashless society,
citing technological advancements and evolving consumer behaviors.

“Nowadays, hardly anyone
still relies on cash stashed under the mattress, primarily due to the evolution
of value transfer
methods. Consider how value is moved from one individual to another, from a
person to a business, or between businesses. When viewed from this angle, it
becomes evident that we’re addressing a problem. In the past, cash was likely
the sole solution available with the technologies at
hand. However, the landscape is shifting,” commented Colluru.

However, Nelhams cautioned
against a hasty shift, citing inclusivity concerns and regulatory frameworks
that could prolong the UK‘s
journey towards cash lessness. The debate underscored the multifaceted
considerations surrounding the feasibility and timeline of achieving a cashless
future.

“I just don’t see us getting rid
of cash in the UK for 30, 40, or even 50 years. It’s just not feasible given
the current environment of inclusivity. Look at checks; we’ve been trying to
phase those out for decades with little success. The European
Central Bank
is also committed to providing cash across Europe and ensuring
merchants accept it. So, while other countries might adopt cashless systems
sooner, I can’t see it happening here in the UK any time soon, despite the
available technologies. As technologists, we may be early adopters, but
realistically, it’s not happening in the UK,” said Nelhams.

Digital identity emerged as a
pivotal theme, with discussions revolving around Central Bank
digital currencies and associated risks for banks. Nelhams underscored the
challenges of implementing a digital ID regime in the UK amidst political
resistance, advocating instead for a composite ID approach drawn from
successful models in Estonia
and Ukraine.

Managing Insurance and Environmental Risks in Digital Banking

The discourse also delved into
insurance risks, with Phillips highlighting the complexities confronting both
traditional and digital banks. Phillips emphasized the vulnerabilities of
digital banks to fraud, social engineering, and regulatory hurdles, underscoring
the imperative of robust risk management
frameworks to safeguard against potential liabilities.

Phillips commented: “The primary
challenge for traditional banks transitioning to digital is their lack of
preparedness. Startup digital banks hold a much stronger position due to better
governance, including tech-savvy board members from the outset. Fraud poses a
significant concern, particularly with digital banks’ emphasis on speed in payments and account
setups. Issues like deep fakes, AI manipulation, and social engineering are
more prevalent in digital
banks
than in traditional ones”

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities
within digital ecosystems took center stage, with emphasis placed on the
necessity for proactive measures against cyber threats. The involvement of
White Hats underscored the critical role of expert intervention in mitigating
cyber risks.

Environmental risks and the
feasibility of green initiatives in a digitally driven context were
scrutinized, with Bacioccola offering insights from an Italian bank
perspective. Despite digital advancements, Bacioccola emphasized the enduring
importance of direct customer relationships and risk management in facilitating
renewable
energy
projects.

“I agree that things will
change. We will probably have programmable money, digital euros, and things
like that. But some part of cash will stay simply because it’s part of our
culture. It will take time to evolve. This thing of taking time to evolve is
also what we see on other aspects,” said Bacioccola.

Navigating the Convergence of Traditional and Digital Banking

The panel discussion also shed
light on the evolving dynamics of the banking landscape, with Sopp of Solaris
SE highlighting the emergence of non-regulated organizations seeking
partnerships with licensed banks. Sopp observed a shift towards tailored financial solutions
across various sectors, underlining the coexistence of traditional banks and
new entrants in the financial ecosystem.

Sopp said: “We’re seeing a
lot more non-regulated organizations coming to us now, looking to offer
financial solutions to their customers. I think this is where the market’s
going. 10 to 15 years ago, everyone from football clubs to
airlines to hotel chains to almost a corner shop wanted to put out a co-branded
credit card. You know, that disappeared with interchange rates changing, but
we’re starting to see it again. It goes across all sectors.”

The convergence of traditional
and digital banking was a recurring theme, with panelists acknowledging the
need for adaptation and innovation to remain competitive in an ever-evolving
landscape. The dialogue underscored the imperative for banks to embrace digital
transformation, manage emerging risks, promote sustainability, and adapt to
evolving consumer preferences to thrive in the future banking landscape.

Cracking the Code ‘LONDON’:
Exploring the Future of Banking

The discussion among the
panelists revolved around the evolving landscape of banking, particularly in
light of new digital players entering the market. While traditional banks face
challenges in adapting to digital trends, they also recognize the need for
innovation to remain competitive. Here’s a summary of their key points:

Less cash or maybe cashless: The
transition towards digital payments and reduced cash usage is highlighted. This
reflects the changing preferences of consumers and the increasing prevalence of
digital transactions.

Onboarding using a strong
composite digital identity: Emphasis is placed on the importance of robust
digital identity systems for customer onboarding and security purposes. This
underscores the significance of digital infrastructure in modern banking
practices.

New risks, new Risk Management
Solutions: With the advent of digital banking and financial technologies, new
risks emerge that require innovative risk management solutions. This indicates
the necessity for banks to continually evolve their risk management frameworks
to address emerging threats.

Driving green transition from a
banking point of view: The role of banks in promoting sustainability and
driving the transition towards green initiatives is highlighted. This reflects
the growing awareness of environmental concerns within the banking sector and
the need for responsible financial practices.

Old and new players coexisting:
Traditional and digital banks are expected to coexist, with both offering
unique value propositions to consumers. This acknowledges the diversity within
the banking industry and the need for adaptation among established players.

New primary banking channel: The
discussion concluded with a recognition of the smartphone as the current
primary banking channel, with potential future shifts towards augmented reality
and virtual reality. This highlights the ongoing technological advancements
shaping the future of banking.

Additionally, the moderator
introduced a puzzle where the initial letters of each bullet point spell out
“LONDON,” suggesting a potential theme or location relevant to the
discussion. This hints at the importance of the London financial hub in
driving innovations and discussions within the banking industry.

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This article was written by Tareq Sikder at www.financemagnates.com.

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