Fintech, Finance, Technology, Banking Highlights – 23 February 2018

Biometric authentication startup SmilePass opens for business

SmilePass, one of the leaders in a new category of ‘biometrics authentication as a service’ for insurers and financial services providers. Its game-changing technology helps build trusted communities, by protecting financial institutions and their customers from fraud, social engineering and theft.

Fraud and social engineering affects businesses and consumers every day, spanning a range of industries – none more significantly than financial services. Data from Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention agency, revealed that insurance identity fraud had soared 10,000% between mid-2016 and mid-2017. UK insurers alone invest over £200m a year to combat fraud, with Cifas describing the problem as having reached ‘epidemic levels’.

The problem is costly for consumers, too: as premiums rise due to fraud, consumers pay extra on their annual insurance bills. With consumers increasingly embracing forms of biometric authentication, insurers and banks will look to these technologies as a key weapon in the battle against cyber fraud. But, as biometrics are still in their nascence, their use among insurers and banks remains undeveloped and vulnerable to fraud.

Thailand’s Kasikornbank selects Avaloq to support private banking business

KASIKORNBANK, one of the largest commercial banks in Thailand, has chosen the Avaloq Banking Suite to support the growth of its private banking and wealth management business. KBank Private Banking, the leading provider of banking and wealth services to High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) in Thailand with a market share of around 40%, has selected Avaloq to upgrade its customer service infrastructure and to improve internal processes. The project will be Avaloq’s first in Thailand, strengthening its position in the APAC region.

Established in 1945 and formerly known as Thai Farmers Bank, KBank had total assets of Bt2,863 billion (USD85.8 billion) as at the end of September 20171. KBank Private Banking has around USD20 billion in assets under management and a market-leading position in Thailand, with strong aspirations to grow further by capitalising on the significant increase in HNWIs in the country.

KBank has selected Avaloq to increase and improve operational outcomes across a number of key areas including customer service, client relationship management and risk management.

In December 2017, Avaloq strengthened its presence in the region with the appointment of Chris Beukers, who has joined the Group Executive Board as the head of Asia Pacific. Under his leadership, Avaloq intends to substantially grow its presence in the APAC market.

NZ regulator opens up to robo-advisors

The FMA is now open for applications from providers seeking to offer personalised financial advice to consumers through digital tools and platforms (so-called robo-advice). Digital advice is automated financial advice generated by computer program using algorithms which is usually delivered through a website or a software application.

Personalised financial advice uses information about a client’s particular financial situation or goals to make recommendations that meet a client’s needs.

Providers will operate under an exemption from the current Financial Advisers Act (2008). This law requires personalised financial advice to a retail client to be given by a human being. Reforms to this law are currently expected to come into force in 2019 and will permit digital advice. When these reforms are introduced, this exemption will be revoked.

Liam Mason, FMA Director of Regulation said, “The decision to allow providers to offer personalised digital advice gained wide support from the market during consultations last year, including from both small start-ups and large financial institutions.