Author: Dr Gavin Scruby
The first generally useful application of Open Banking is here in the UK. While it will be some time yet before it gets much use, new organisations soon will be able to initiate payments between bank accounts on a consumer’s behalf. This creates a new layer between consumers and banks, hopefully spawning novel ideas and services. Moving the centre of payments away from banks though causes significant shifts in the market, and could well affect the dynamic around banks’ payment card cash cow.
Any authorised organisation can now make payments; it doesn’t need to be a bank. That’s already the case with cards you might think. But cards are expensive for a company to process. Alternative systems such as Direct Debit (account to account transactions) are often much cheaper, especially when a payment is recurring, but for non-recurring payments Direct Debit is not ideal. What is a payment card fundamentally though? It’s just a token that along with a PIN or signature, identifies a payer and payment source. With Open Banking, that token is your bank details, nothing physical needed, along with the authentication mechanism (likely to be through a phone) chosen by the account-owning bank.
If a company uses Open Banking APIs to process payments instead of cards, it could save a lot of money, both because there is no physical token needed, and because there will be a lot more competition; the barrier to entry is lower by design.
Big online retail organisations will be doing this already. They process a huge number of card payments. If they could bypass both the cost (from the card processors) and effort (following up expired cards, fraudulent cards etc.) by processing account-to-account, they would do it. It would be so much easier to store bank account records than credit cards from a compliance perspective too (though I think that will change). Of course we’ve made an assumption here: Open Banking transactions will have a similar saving on credit cards that Direct Debit does. There’s nothing to suggest that this will not be the case so far, but banks will not want to lose these margins and will be looking very creatively at ways to keep them.
This leads us to the sensationalist title of this article. We will soon have a payment mechanism that needs no physical token or infrastructure (using an authenticator that most people carry with them), is cheaper through greater competition and uses the bank account itself directly as the payment source. It will take quite some time to change, but what is the point of payment cards then? Outside of niche use cases such as going on holiday to other countries, pre-paid loaded cards or situations where you need a physical token, cards seem like a payment hack that have had their time.
Chip and pin became mandatory in the UK twelve years ago. There are adults now who have never seen a credit card pushed through the carbon roller mechanism that existed before chip and pin. Changes of convenience become normalised very quickly. We may soon see a time where physical payment cards are looked at in the same way we look at audio cassettes today. I for one miss cassettes; who will say the same for payment cards?
Author: Dr Gavin Scruby
Within the next year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will force UK banks to open up their transaction interfaces so that third parties can make payments on behalf of customers. The aim of this change is to remove the stranglehold held by ‘traditional’ banks on financial transactions, to force innovation and drive common standards that organisations can use to create new and transformational services.
The CMA’s stated goal with the Open Banking initiative is to make traditional institutions compete harder for customers and reduce the barrier to entry for new players. But what does this mean for customers? What advantages will normal banking users get out of such a substantial change to banking responsibilities? To work out what’s likely to happen, we can look at similar developments in other technology areas and predict the evolution Open Banking will go through, and how this will impact our lives.
Exploring open interfaces
The basis of all Open Banking is open transaction interfaces (APIs) provided by the banks to other companies in order to carry out basic retail banking activities; i.e. creating payments and reading transactions. There are many more interfaces around loans and interest rates, data on banking product services for comparison sites for example, but to achieve many new services we don’t need to look beyond making and viewing payments. This alone is transformational. These transaction interfaces will be made available to any reputable and authorised third party organisation, who will use them to build services that work on behalf of banking customers.
The first thing new third party systems will do is become a central, better-designed proxy for a bank’s services. They will become aggregators for all accounts across different banks and will allow customers to set up payments from any account, all in one place, with one well-designed portal. Aggregation services like this exist now, but they only read transactions. To create payments in the current system, users must log in to the individual bank’s interface. In the near future, customers will have full control of all finances from one place. This is a powerful first step in providing a complete view of our finances.
The power of contingent payment events
Once users have full, direct control, third party aggregators will then start to further improve the services they provide. With just basic read and create for transactions, they can start to build more complex rules. There will be options such as ‘only pay the mortgage after the monthly salary comes in’; i.e. if this happens (salary in), do something contingent (mortgage out). This can be a powerful tool for the automation budgeting and will ensure individual accounts never get overdrawn. Behind the scenes, these rules will be implemented using a scripting language and algebra created by the aggregator. Often this will never be exposed in all its complexity to the end user, but it’s important for the next innovation stage.
Once they see the possibilities, customers will continually demand more flexibility and power in how they define contingent events within their finances. This will force providers to gradually expose more of their scripting systems so that customers, and then other third parties, can create complex financial applications layered on top of basic transaction and aggregation logic. The most successful of these will be the ones who provide a simple interface with maximum flexibility. Users will start to think of novel new uses, tying their transactions into other aspects of their lives.
Think of the contingent payment event discussed above; with a rules algebra, users can define their own extensions, such as ‘move 10% of everything left to a savings account after the salary has come in and after the mortgage has been paid’. This will still live in the realm of early adopters, but the pace of innovation will drive more rules development and it will soon seep into the mainstream. People will also share useful rules with others to shortcut the process, much like the popular web mashup service ‘If This Then That’ has done for cloud services.
Rise of the machines
Once complex third party scripting and rules engines exist and are available through their own web interfaces, artificial intelligence (AI) systems can use them to provide natural language interfaces with their own interpretive power on top. With systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, users can build on the basic payment transaction interfaces, with rules on top. This will bring rules-based payment processing to those who have no interest in the arcana of scripts and programming.
Even rules have rules
While the way finances are managed is broadening, financial rules logic will continue to advance. The next step is to create metadata on the top of basic rules. For example, systems can define things like an agreement to pay someone in the future, where that agreement can be transferred to another person (effectively an IOU). These are metarules (rules about rules), analogous to metadata (data about data): the rule is ‘pay someone at this time’; the metarule is ‘verify and sign this rule, then allow it to be transferred or proven to someone else’.
Services will extend in various directions to support the idea of making rules about rules. The first examples will be completely standard and understood applications such as IOUs between friends, but much like the word ‘meta’ itself, options are only limited by the flexibility of the metarule-set and the imagination of the user.
Into the metaverse: the options are endless
Once metarules are available, new and creative application cottage industries can emerge. IOUs between individuals can be extended to friends, making microcredit brokerage groups without any further financial institution involvement.
The ability to define rules of rules on transactions allows value to be transferred in and out of the system. People can create rules that define exchange rates and mechanisms of a commodity anchored to real currencies, events or places; making possible specific time-based or exchange-based local currencies. Here, ‘local’ doesn’t even mean local geographically – it could just mean local within the group’s membership criteria. Once this happens, the very idea of financial institutions becomes blurred: we all become banks, and the legal and regulatory implications of this could be frightening.
The developments coming to open payments only describe innovations we have seen many times before, even in some limited cases within finance itself. The difference with open banking is that there is a huge legacy to overcome, both institutional inertia and the difficulty in changing something that permeates every aspect of our lives. At the same time, once an idea takes hold, it can make a whole new paradigm seemingly overnight. This is where most of the large Silicon Valley successes have come from. The progress we can make on a system that is still based in some form on passing pieces of paper around is hugely exciting and liberating, and could revolutionise the whole finance industry.
Author: Paul Arnold
Do you know your future customers? Probably not, reading the future is not in many people's skill sets. However, with some research and educated guesses, you can build a picture of future clients.
This process is called developing buyer personas. Buyer personas are composite pictures of your typical customers. There are a quite a few benefits to creating buyer personas, but the biggest ones are:
If you are considering beginning a sales and marketing campaign for your cloud SaaS business, you must create buyer personas. They are the heart of sales and marketing.
However, even if a plan isn't in the works, any business can benefit from in-depth knowledge about their customers.
How To Create A Buyer Persona
Creating buyer personas requires a lot of research and conducting deep customer insights. The more you do, and the broader you get, the better understanding you will have of prospective clients. You can begin with a survey of your current customers.
The survey should cover everything from basic demographics of buyers and companies, to asking about their current problems or strengths as they relate to your product.
What you are trying to find out is who and why a company would buy your service, the size of the business, their budgets, markets, and other information that helps you understand the ‘pains’ the company is experiencing.
But, the most significant question you will want to ask is, why do they take some actions and not others? Why would they use your service? Why would they consider working with your company?
But don't just research your current customers, you will also want to get out and talk to prospective customers, current employees, and communicate with other stakeholders in your industry and beyond.
The best employees to speak with about your prospective clients is your sales staff. They are the ones out on the front lines of marketing. They are on the streets and in the meetings learning about emerging needs of businesses. Speak with them and get a first-hand account of what they experience.
The next thing you want to do is compile all the data into one document. Then comes the next step, finding the trends.
Trend and Habits
After the data is compiled, start looking for patterns. What kinds of actions do your customers repeat? Are there trends that are specific to one group and not to another? Look for trends within industries, regions, size of budgets, etc. Look for patterns that explain behaviours or decisions within a company.
As you discover and list the trends, your buyer personas are going to emerge.
Create a buyer persona with a name and a representative photo and assign those habits and trends to the persona. Make up a name for the persona, because this will help during marketing meetings and keep things organised. This will give you a broad picture of who is buying your products, and who is most likely to buy your products.
How Many Personas Do You Need?
You need to create as many as you need to represent your customer segments. If you do business with a variety of industries, you may want to create a persona for each one. Or, if you do a lot of business with one company or government agency, you might want to create buyer personas for each of their departments.
There might also be a lot of differences between the people in your customer segments. These differences can range from education to cultures to geography. If necessary, you may want to create a persona based on one those demographics.
After all, a prospective client with a University degree in one area may have much different buying habits than a client with a University degree in another region.
Don't worry about having too many or too few personas. The idea is to understand the people most likely to benefit from your product. And, ultimately, direct your marketing towards them.
There are a lot of buyer persona resources available on the internet such as the HubSpot Tool - https://www.hubspot.com/make-my-persona
Buyer personas are a powerful tool for companies. If your company is considering a change to their sales and marketing campaign or want a better understanding of your market before going to market and raising investment, consider doing research and creating some buyer personas or, reach out to the Vivolution team who will be glad to answer any questions you may have. Contact us at email@example.com
Author: Kevin Lonergan
Cyber-attacks are on the rise, as more companies undergo digital transformation and customers demand easier and more convenient access to information and services.
That means the risks and the stakes for companies responsible for data security are also on the rise, and focusing exclusively on preventing breaches is no longer enough.
Detecting active compromises inside IT environments as part of an incident detection and response (IDR) program is critical for effective cybersecurity. Here are our tips for defending against a cyber attack, and a list of ways that IBM Channel Partners could potentially help:
Cyber atatcks defense starts here, with a comprehensive view of both internal and external network activity and workloads. After all, it’s impossible to secure data if you don’t know where it is and what it is.
Visibility starts with the full knowledge of all the systems and data used by your organisation. A common challenge is monitoring actions taken off the corporate network, such as through cloud services or travelling/remote workers. If your business is using cloud services and cognitive technologies, then you’ll want to use a safe and secure network and infratrcture, like the IBM Channel Partner Cloud, to act as the foundation of your corporate structure.
This intelligence is the foundation on which the rest of your IDR plan should rest.
2 DATA COLLECTION
Centralised logging and endpoint monitoring are key components of a successful plan.
Collecting and analysing logs as well as installing endpoint monitoring solutions may require a significant initial investment. However, just as with gaining visibility into your systems and the data on them, data collection is essential for knowing what’s going on in your systems, both historically and in real time. This makes deep analysis of threats and proactive hunting, as well as coordinated responses by your organisation, possible. Intelligent enterprise solutions start with an awareness of the technology you are using – with IBM, you have acccess to the most mature and secure network possible, without compromising useability or functionality.
3 MONITORING THE ENTIRE ATTACK SURFACE
Cloud-based tools from IBM Channel Partners have made today’s workforce more productive than ever before. Employees can now work wherever and whenever they choose, benefiting professionals and enterprises alike.
But this added convenience comes with a price: greater exposure to cybersecurity risk. The solution is not to stop using these important tools or to prevent employees from using outside networks—without them, you cannot remain competitive—but to properly monitor and manage their use. In addition to properly securing endpoints and access to outside networks, applying advanced analytics to your data allows you to detect stealthy behaviour and prioritize where to hunt.
4 WORKING WITH YOUR PEOPLE
Security tools, no matter how good, can only be as effective as the people and strategy behind them.
That’s why a healthy Identification Defense Response plan also calls for tight coordination between IT and security teams, as well as key stakeholders across the company. IT teams must be incentivised to give security the same importance as optimising the systems under
their care. This vital “people” element is every bit as important as any other part of a well-developed IDR program.
5 RECOGNITION OF THE ATTACK CHAIN
Attackers typically work through five steps on their way to hacking the systems and data that they have placed in their crosshairs.
1. Infiltration and persistence
3. Lateral movement
4. Mission target
5. Maintaining presence
Most organisations have solid detection around Mission Target, unauthorised access to critical assets. However, many struggle to detect lateral movement and network reconnaissance. Map your detection program to the attack chain—where are
your gaps today?
6 UNDERSTANDING LIKELY THREATS
An understanding of the specific kinds of threats that your organisation will most likely encounter given its line of business—whether it’s a hack on customer data or on trade secrets—is one of the most important parts of an effective IDR program.
This allows you to focus your resources and planning where they will do the most good, for example securing the specific systems holding the most sensitive information.
A cyber-attack threatens not just the IT organisation; it can impact every area of your enterprise. Understanding the depth of the problem helps to invest in preventative measures that can help combat threats. IBM Channel Partners use a dynamic approach when it comes to security – monitoring threats in a way that allows you to prevent breaches before they happen. Don’t be reactive, think proactive.
7 AN ORGANISATION-WIDE WORKFLOW
A cyber-attack threatens not just the IT organisation; it can impact every area of your enterprise.
It’s vital to build an incident response plan, review it, and put it to the test. This includes when to loop in external parties and expectations around responding to incidents. Planning and testing your workflows will give your team the muscle memory to take swift action and lead with confidence. IBM has one of the most responsive cyber security systems in place, with a tried-and-tested method that will ensure that you stablise a security a breach as soon as possible.
IBM is an innovative market leader when it comes to facing cybersecurity threats, which means you can rest assured that your data, customers, privacy, and business are all safe from threats. By confronting the cybersecurity threats head on, IBM guarantee that your business is in safe hands.
To register your interest and to learn more about the IBM Channel Partner solutions then, reach out to Vivolution who will be delighted to make the connections – Find out more; get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Justin Birley
Artificial Intelligence, and the technology that accompanies it, has always had to endure the somewhat problematic issue of ethics. While it often increases the efficiency with which simple and not so simple tasks can he completed, it has proven difficult to set up checks and balances, ensure privacy regulations are being met, and that automation processes don’t go haywire. In this blog we’ll explore how the healthcare industry is particularly affected by the ethical implications of AI and seek to conclude whether there is scope for the widescale implementation of these technologies in the near future. We’ll also discuss IBM Channel Partners innovative role in providing secure systems and innovative platforms for developing ethical AI that look set to change the nature of this debate forever.
AI in Healthcare
Many of these questions have been at the core at the core of the recent healthcare debates. Hospitals are often understaffed, leading to issues with the quality of care, and most departments are often stretched to their limit or worse, significantly beyond that limit. Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that archaic technology and inefficient systems and processes are still rife within the healthcare sector. Nowhere is this more evident than in the NHS, with reports emerging that over 900 deaths a year can be attributed to poor NHS technology and systems. The report came after several warnings that the NHS was not meeting basic requirements for Cyber Security and that it was prone to extortion and malicious malware. This raises serious concerns over the viability of current technology and has led many to assert that AI and new technology, when implemented safely, can provide some much-needed respite.
But how do we use AI properly? How do we stop it from exacerbating the issues already present within so many systems? And, most importantly, how do we use it ethically?
The big issue is deciding whether AI will be assisting people or providing the decisions altogether. For example, who decides the underlying values and principles that govern the algorithms of the technology? Various cultural and scientific opinions can create perfectly ‘ethical’ systems that simply adhere to a different definition of ethics, creating a semblance of morality that is still fundamentally at odds with other definitions (read algorithms) of ethics.
Introducing AI into healthcare won’t get rid of uncertainty and disagreement over which action to take; if anything, it will promulgate these differences on a wider scale. The question is how do we manage these ethical questions and what frameworks must be set up to ensure that the underlying moral criteria is being met? For example, for consumer goods, what is the weight of profits versus customer satisfaction and safety and who is responsible for that balance? Is it the consumer, the manufacturer, or an external regulatory body?
More than anything, these are questions we ourselves must learn to answer before we can rely on AI to implement these opinions. AI won’t remove the debate; we’ll still need to decide for ourselves what we, as a society, think is ethical and how AI can implement that fairly. As a result, more needs to be done to ensure that infrastructures are in place to provide the supporting network that AI needs to function ethically.
IBM and the future of AI
AI will continue to push innovation and development, allowing comprehensive systems to emerge, almost organically, from the big data that feeds our technology. For many developers and thinkers alike, IBM Channel Partners have become a crucial driver in the development and research into AI, which is underpinned by the increasing number of mobile Apps that make use of their wide range of API’s.
Not only does IBM provide a level of cyber security that is both unprecedented and reliable, but the infrastructure that governs the IBM Channel Partner platforms and systems provides a new level of data security and privacy that is particularly relevant for health techs and other sectors concerned with ethics. IBM’s major goal has been, and will continue to be, moving to a human-level of intelligence, which is where we’ll start to really see the widescale adoption of AI technologies in a variety of different sectors. As AI becomes more comprehensive and pervasive, we must ensure that systems are in place that build user trust and motivate innovation.
Vivolution is a big believer in that process. As a result, we’ve helped countless businesses and IBM Channel Partners connect in ways that push the possibilities of technology, cognitive decision making and AI closer together with healthtech scale-ups delivering innovative solutions. Contact us today for more information about the work we do and how IBM Channel Partners can help drive your AI and technological growth forward, in a collaborative and innovative approach.
Author: Andrew McGee
Before any disruptor can cause a shift in the market – a ripple, if you will – they need the right systems and processes to do so. Often this means investing in the right partnerships and relationships that can aid them in making that transition from a big idea into a big game changer.
For IBM Channel Partners the challenge is, and always has been, to catch these start-ups and disruptors before they start to make that ripple, one that will eventually turn into a wave. It is at this point that start-ups need the right resources to help them avoid common growing pains. But, without the right acquisition strategy, it becomes increasingly difficult for IBM Channel Partners to find and qualify the right start-ups and disruptors. Plus, how do you recognise a disruptor before they’ve had an impact?
It raises a tricky question of how, but also when, to engage with disruptors and scale-ups, and at what stage. Vivolution has several years of experience facilitating the relationship between channel partners and scale-ups, and in this blog, we outline some of the most important points when it comes to engaging start-ups and ensuring that you have a sales-funnel full of qualified leads with a high probability of growing.
Understand the Process
Understanding the challenges and needs of start-ups will help you identify what stage they are at and whether they have the potential to grow out of these challenges and emerge as a real disruptor. Finding out what systems they depend on currently can help you to propose changes. A quick glance over their website should reveal plenty of clues, but if you don’t take the time to analyse these findings, you’ll just end up cold-calling. It’s when you take the time to understand their infrastructure and propose certain cognitive technology or API’s that really work for them that they’ll begin to see the value of your input.
This will also help you discover who their ideal buyer persona is – as a result, you’ll be able to find out much more about what’s important to the longevity of their business. After all, each and every business starts by understanding their client base. Even if your product is as good as you say it is.
Research and statistics only get you so far. After that point, you need the human element to provide a competitive advantage over other innovation labs and competitors. Attending events, engaging in meaningful conversations, and understanding the needs of their business is crucial in understanding them as a potential client and moving them from a start-up to your start-up. Asking them directly what their pains are and addressing these with specific solutions helps show them that there are measurable ways to add value to any given business without taking unnecessary risks. Nothing is more important to a start-up if they are going to trust you with their future growth.
It’s not a sales pitch, it’s a conversation
Too often Channel Partners insist on using technical lingo and letting sales pitches dominate the conversation. Focus on them. It’s not about your knowledge or your products; it’s about how you can nurture them into your process: the IBM way of doing things. To truly engage them, you need to be as innovative as the products you offer, by providing personal examples that relate to their sector, their business, and their situation.
This conversation starts by writing blogs, designing social posts, and coming up with helpful infographics and videos to illustrate the process, not just sell it. Features and products are all important, but the applications and relevancy of these to unique scaling models is of more interest to these young, often erratic, businesses.
Vivolution is the bridge between Channel Partners and Start-ups
Vivolution facilitates the engagement between the scale-up business and IBM Channel Partners; tapping into technical expertise, and systems whilst shaping the routes-to-market strategy via the international channel partners and their clients.
This creates the opportunity for the Channel Partners and IBM to demonstrate their ability to introduce innovative emerging technology scale ups to their global clients whilst growing the usage of the IBM Power Cloud and creating a funnel of next generation enterprise clients who have the hunger to grow.
At Vivolution we help IBM Channel Partners to find and nurture the most qualified start-ups and growth drivers in a proven approach. Contact us today to uncover the innovative healthtech and fintech solutions which Scotland is renowned for; developed by industry entrepreneurs, clinicians and academics.
Author: Mark Roger
Starting a tech business is one thing. Acknowledging when and how you should grow is a completely different matter. It’s key to utilise the right growth drivers and apply the right commercial strategies to nurture your start-up and scale.
Most businesses find that coming up with an innovative business, portal, or app is the easy part. After all, it’s what you do after the inception of your idea that will determine whether you achieve the long-term success your business needs to create a lasting impact. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the best ways to scale your start-up properly, and what tools and resources you can use along the way.
Start small, think BIG
Even small companies who have yet to reach their full potential need to be able to think big. Or at least bigger. You can be a small four-man team of app developers working in a crowded coworking space and still have big ambitions. In fact, we recommend that you do, as that will ensure that you think about how you can scale your business and what you need to achieve to get there.
Think about some of the greatest contemporary tech influencers. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Ellison all shared a vehement passion and hunger to achieve the things they now have. Not because they were deluded or got lucky, but because they knew how they wanted to scale and grow.
If you’re a start-up and you’re unable, or more importantly, unwilling to think about the big picture and the future of your business, then you may not have the ambition to really drive major growth. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing – but for those really looking to make an impact and scale their business, planning is essential.
Be aware of what tools, resources, and infrastructure you need to take your business to the top. What’s the end goal? What are your biggest challenges? Competitors? Most importantly – how can you have the biggest impact, and what would that entail for your end users?
Don’t get caught daydreaming about success when you haven’t achieved it yet. It’s important to focus on the ‘here and the now,’ but it’s also vital to be aware of where that is taking you. Make sure to set achievable targets along the way that fit the scaling model of your choice. Remember that scaling too quickly or too slowly can have disastrous consequences on the longevity of your business. Finding that perfect balance is often the hard part, but once you’re there, you’ll realise you can apply that knowledge and experience to other areas of your business. As a result, you’ll find that some areas, products, or services will scale faster than others. Just remember to keep the growth in line with the rest of your business; you don’t want an unbalanced or unsustainable business.
Invest into the things that matter
When it comes to systems and processes, make sure you invest in the right things at the right time. If this means investing in expensive technology or software, then make sure to weigh the pros and cons of such a purchase early on. Crucially, don’t be the victim of your own growth. It’s better to grow into a system or infrastructure that initially feels too big, than to outgrow your business model when you experience a growth boost. Future proofing your business is something you’ll never regret, especially when you apply a good commercial strategy at the same time.
Seek out sustainable partnerships that work for your business
Most business will find that they require several key partnerships if they are going to realise their ambitions. This means you’ll need to identify and partner up with the right organisations and influencers in order to scale.
Take, for example, the IBM Channel Partners. They can help you apply the right commercial strategy, but more importantly, they can guide you through crucial decisions, helping your business come to a clear consensus about what’s important and what isn’t. Applying the right commercialisation strategy and identifying the right potential market isn’t something you’ll be able to do by yourself. And it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It requires years of experience and extensive market knowledge and branding, which is challenging for several scale-ups.
If you are a novice when it comes to best routes-to-market to pursue, then make sure to seek the advice and guidance of a trusted expert. When it comes to scaling and growth, Vivolution are those experts and we can facilitate the relationships with the IBM Channel Partners. We’ve helped countless healthtech, fintech companies identify the right international steps to take, allowing them to grow at the right rate and to deliver the most optimum results. Contact us for more information or with any questions that you might have.
Author: Dr Gavin Scruby
Open Banking is now here in the UK, although not yet completely supported by all high-street banks.
As new companies and services are created, we will soon be able to do ever more with our bank details, from account aggregation apps to creating new kinds of payment rules. Not only does this mean a change in what can be done directly from our bank accounts, it means our bank account details themselves are now the source data we use to make payments. This is important, because it changes the power dynamic for criminals when choosing what to target.
Electronic payments and Direct Debit
In the past, only a customer’s bank could make a payment from an account. Then, we had Direct Debit, which allowed companies to take money from customers’ accounts on a regular basis. This mechanism, while powerful, has strong controls on how and when payments are made; it is never ad hoc or without notice, and can be refunded in every case under the Direct Debit Guarantee.
Enter cards and PCI DSS
The only way ad hoc payments could be initiated by non-banks was through credit cards. This made credit card data valuable, and so it naturally became a target for criminals. 2017 has seen over £1 billion stolen from bank accounts through credit and debit card fraud according to recent research.
To combat fraudulent behaviour, the industry got together to create the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which aimed to ensure that organisations processing and storing credit card details were vetted, or at least worked to specific data and information security standards. The card brands (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB) first created their own standards with a similar aim of achieving a minimum level of security. The Payment Card Industry Security Council (PCI SSC) was then formed in 2006 to align the brands’ policies, which led to the creation of the PCI DSS.
Open Banking – a new target for criminals?
With the rise in Open Banking, we spin this around again. Bank account data could well become the most convenient source mechanism for transactions and payments. No matter the security we put in place, bank account data may become as attractive to criminals of the future as credit card data was in the past.
My question to the industry is: do we need a PCI equivalent standard for bank account data?
The UK Financial Conduct Authority has been increasing its accreditation requirements for providers, but I’m not sure this is sufficient. Right now, bank account data can be treated and processed with no more ceremony than any other personal data. Is this good enough given how much more useful such data may become? Responsible processors such as SmartDebit have always treated bank account data with the same care as credit card data, but that isn’t the case universally and there are no industry standards in place to ensure bank data is stored securely.
My prediction is that this lack of security regulation on bank account data will survive a couple of high-profile breaches before the industry and regulators take action. If they don’t, nascent confidence in Open Banking as a framework could start to collapse. I just hope it’s not my bank details caught up in the news that eventually highlights the way.
Author: Mark Roger
How cognitive technology gives your business the edge
Cognitive technology is one of the most widely used tech phrases of the last few years. Often, businesses and market-leaders find themselves turning to cognitive technology for the answer to complex problems. This has led to the widespread integration of comprehensive software solutions with established business networks. As a result, it has become clear that those unwilling to evolve face the very real risk of lagging behind.
But what does the cognitive phenomena really mean for ordinary businesses? And how does it help you take the right business decisions? While it may seem like an arbitrary and, above all else, abstract concept, cognitive technology really can help your business solve real life challenges. The only challenge, however, is to find the right technology for the right problem. But before you can do that, you must understand the full scope, magnitude, and potential of these cognitive technologies. This understanding will help your business identify the right cognitive strategies for your situation and will help you to measure their impact on your growth.
The power of data
Data is just data. At the end of the day, it’s all just a bunch of numbers. It doesn’t mean anything until you transform it from an endless stream of figures into useful and relevant information. Oftentimes, it is this transition that businesses struggle with. Cognitive technology helps mould the raw potential of your data into measurable outcomes and configurable business decisions. Crucially, these decisions can withstand the volatility and unpredictability of the market, due to their strong cognitive and data-based foundation. Without cognitive technology, your data is static, and it is only these solutions that allow you to unlock the true potential (and power) of your data. Lastly, it allows you to take that vital step from analysing behaviour to predicting behaviour. After all, your data should work for you, not against you.
Putting the customer first
Not only will this allow you to make decisions that will enhance your customer experience, but it will allow you to put the quality of your product or service at the very core of your business. The data and information that you collect will inform you about potential improvements to your product and will allow you to anticipate customer needs before they develop. As a result, your product, data, and customer knowledge become intricately integrated within your workflow, allowing you to seamlessly develop your business based on trends, not just hunches.
Furthermore, IBM reports that deeper engagement is one of the primary advantages of moving towards a cognitive business. In-depth analytics and deep customer insights are just a few of the ways that a cognitive system, like IBM Watson, can allow you to discover who your clients really are.
Scale the right way
The impact that cognitive technologies can have on your workflow are limitless. They will transform the way you do business with clients and customers but will also revolutionise the way you deal with business decisions internally. This will allow you to streamline operational inefficiencies, giving you the opportunity to devote time and resources into research and development work. In turn, these long-term strategies will garner sustained and incremental business growth.
Your business future
Investing in your cognitive journey is an investment into the longevity of your business. For every second that you delay, there are other competitors making the jump. If you need advice on cognitive solutions or need help commercialising, growing, and developing your business, then please get in touch with Vivolution today.
Author: Dr Gavin Scruby
So you’ve got a great idea for an app. Everyone will want to use it and you’ll take over the world. Well, you’ve got the same idea as the other 20,000 people publishing new apps to the App Store every month. That’s great, but unless you’re really careful, all that effort could be for nothing – think how many new apps you actually use consistently each month. We can’t promise that these tips will make your app a success but you need to have considered all of these points before you even start looking at building something.
Okay, so you have an app idea and you think it’s a good one. There are many things that will affect how well it does, and most of them depend on the execution, design, responsiveness, or even whether it just happens to catch the Zeitgeist or media imagination (think Flappy Bird). There are some more fundamental questions that you need to answer before anything is built though, and this will decide whether it’s even worth taking the idea to business case. Let’s have a look at them.
Why would a user download your app?
This will not be as obvious to a potential user as it is to you. If you can’t get the essential idea over to someone in about 20 words, it’s too convoluted. Additionally, a slightly prettier news reader might be just the new sensation you’re looking for, but is that also the case for everyone else? Think of things like:
Once a user opens your app, how long does your user stay in it? One of the key value indicators for advertisers/acquirers/investors is how long average sessions are. Ask yourself:
Why would a user re-open the app once they’ve closed it?
This is something that’s often neglected. There are many apps that are opened once and then just clutter the phone’s home screen, never to be used again. The number of return sessions is another key metric for investors. You have to have a strategy for getting the user back in to the app after the first use. If new content appears and the user isn’t told, what is there to nudge re-engagement? Consider things such as:
What drives user growth?
This is related to the question “Why would a user download your app?” but here we mean how do users introduce new users?
How does the app make money?
This is more complicated than saying 59p/download and assuming development costs and profit will be covered. Many people will not want to pay for something before seeing some value. Some users will just hate adverts – it depends on the type of app and how adverts are integrated. You need some back of the envelope calculations to be certain the numbers stack up, at least roughly. Make sure you think about:
Even if you have good answers to all of these questions, that doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. So much depends on the execution and luck, but having these answers in place will at least give you the start of a business plan or make it obvious that your great idea is not great enough… yet. Good luck!
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