Irish regulatory technology is in demand across Asia Pacific, where demand for compliance and risk solutions has never been greater

Irish regtech providers are experiencing unprecedented growth across APAC.

“Covid has been an accelerant,” explains Scott Patterson, Enterprise Ireland’s Senior Market Advisor Fintech Australia & New Zealand, based in Melbourne.

The pandemic has forced many financial services organisations in the region to increase investment in digitisation, both to facilitate customer onboarding and to satisfy growing regulatory pressure for robust compliance and risk controls.

The combination of escalating cybersecurity costs, decreasing revenues and increased regulatory pressures has resulted in a “paradigm shift”, says Patterson.

It started in Australia in 2019, with the launch of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services industry.

The following year Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority (HKMA) declared its intention for Hong Kong to operate as a centre for regtech excellence. In April of this year the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced its new regtech grant scheme to promote the adoption of technology for risk management and compliance in financial institutions.

“Covid-19 has created a burning platform for digital transformation across the industry,” explains Patterson.

“It was a catalyst for organisations to fast-track the transition from legacy risk processes and systems to Cloud based regtech platforms flexible enough to meet the expectations of local regulatory frameworks, while also future-proofing against the ever-evolving regulatory landscape.”

Irish ingredients for regtech innovation

That so many of these organisations turned to Ireland’s regtech solutions providers is no surprise. “Irish regtechs have proven experience of resolving the kind of risk and compliance issues that are only now being faced by companies across APAC,” he explains.

Enterprise Ireland is the world’s most active seed investor in technology companies and has a portfolio of more than 40 client companies in the regtech space.

Its strength in the field is the result of a number of factors, including the fact that Ireland is both a major international financial services sector and the global technology hub of choice for the strategic business activities of some of the world’s top ICT companies.

It is also the Data Capital of Europe, with leading data-rich companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Airbnb all servicing Europe from Ireland.

Given Europe’s position as the global leader in regulatory and compliance standards, from open banking to data protection, allied to Enterprise Ireland’s active investment in innovative technology-driven start-ups, it has all provided fertile conditions for Ireland to develop its world class regtech cluster.

World class

Many of these companies are now powering across APAC. Fenergo, an Irish regtech ‘unicorn’ and the industry No.1 provider of CLM software solutions for financial institutions, has supported each of Australia’s leading banks with regulatory onboarding issues.

Vizor Software, a global leader in supervisory technology, provides industry-wide reporting support, partnering with the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA).

Daon is a world-leading mobile authentication and biometrics company working with leading financial digital banks such as TONIK in the Philippines and Mox in Hong Kong. Its biometrics and identity assurance software has been deployed by Australia Post.

MCO (MyComplianceOffice) works with financial firms across APAC as they navigate increased regulatory pressures, growing level of enforcement actions and rising compliance costs, helping them to automate conduct-risk management for more effective compliance and greater efficiencies.

Know Your Customer, with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, has quickly established a reputation for excellence for solutions which strengthen KYC and KYB compliance while providing exceptional client onboarding.

Not alone are Irish Regtech’s such as Corlytics, Circit, Cerebreon, Sedicii and DX Compliance who are all quickly gaining international traction. Today more than 20 Irish Regtech’s appear in the Deloitte RegTech Universe 2021.

They have won some of the most prestigious global awards too, including the Regtech Insight Awards 2020, in which MCO won Best Vendor Solution for Managing Conduct Risk and Fenergo won Best KYC Software for Client On-Boarding.

At the Central Banking Global Regtech Awards 2020, Vizor won Global Technology Partner, following on from its success as winner of the Global Regtech Provider award the previous year.

Adding value

“But it’s not just about service provision or functionality,” points out Scott Patterson. “Some of these companies have gone on to become industry influencers.”

Fenergo has, for example, created an active APAC community of leading Australian Financial Service organisations. What it refers to as “compliance by design” is a powerful collaborative initiative that mutualises the effort and cost of compliance for all involved.

“This allows tiers two and three financial institutions surety that their approach to AML/KYC, combating financial crime, and counter terrorist financing, is the same as that of tier-one institutions,” he explains.

“It’s a perfect example of the way in which Irish regtechs are not just providing effective solutions but helping to set the standard around the regulatory environment in APAC.”

Irish innovation is thriving, particularly across sectors that are thinking and acting digital-first. With Ireland acting as a hotbed for travel technology companies and Enterprise Ireland providing them with a collaborative ecosystem, more and more exciting and innovative start-ups are finding their place in international markets, especially within the MENA region with Dubai as the hub for inter-continental travel.

Led by the goal to establish the Middle East as the global marketplace for the future of travel, annual trade conference Arabian Travel Market was held in Dubai last week, connecting products and tourism operators with buyers and travel trade visitors from around the world.

Speaking at the event’s opening address, Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said: “Since the beginning, Dubai has shown remarkable resilience in dealing with the pandemic. Taking decisive action at the right time, using all the data available to us as a smart city to make decisions, and opening the economy sector by sector, with the right precautions being taken at each stage, has enabled the gradual recovery of the travel and tourism industry and allowed the city to open its borders to both domestic and international travel.”

While the pandemic stopped the travel market in its tracks in early 2020, the sector is starting to see true recovery, and huge part of this progress was a worldwide acceptance of needing to live through the ‘new normal’. This perspective has given rise to companies, whether they are start-ups or global giants, to adapt through product diversification as well as develop and implement innovative tech solutions, in turn driving tourism recovery.

“It was great to attend Arabian Travel Market this week in Dubai. Many stakeholders, partners, visitors from government bodies, hotels and destination management companies were warmly welcomed within a safe physical setting to share their insights on the travel sector. The key industry event set the standard for organising large-scale events in the post-pandemic era. Interesting to see the Saudi Tourism stand that presented a truly immersive experience for visitors showcasing the upcoming giga projects that are central to the Kingdom’s Vision2030 agenda,” said Stephen Twomey, Senior Market Advisor at Enterprise Ireland.

Personalisation: the catalyst for tourism recovery

In the past few years, Irish tech companies have played a central role in providing world-class companies with tech solutions that cover reservations, payments and customer-focused ICT needs. This accelerated significantly in the early months of 2020, preparing the travel sector to recover more rapidly, and simultaneously revolutionising the market to develop a consumer-first approach.

Aviation and hospitality service businesses around the world are increasingly looking to Irish travel tech companies, using their expertise in artificial intelligence to reform existing product strategies. One such firm that shifted the dial in the travel industry is Arvoia, which enabled market leaders to gain deep direct customer understanding, through a raft of prediction and personalisation products. Boxever follows the same train of thought by helping businesses embed data-driven decisioning, experimentation and personalised experiences into their ecosystem.

With ‘contactless’ being the keyword of the pandemic era, innovators like Daon were able to deploy biometric authentication and identity assurance solutions worldwide. Their platform helped ease authentication process for airlines and other travel agencies by providing the highest level of security with inherent multi-factor authentication to deliver an improved customer experience. TripAdmit provided tour and activity providers with the tools to manage every aspect of their online sales and distribution in one place through its flexible booking software.

With such innovative solutions developed out of Ireland, it is no surprise that Irish innovation has built a reputation as the leader in world travel technology. To connect with market leaders and their advanced technologies that are driving profitability across the travel industry, please visit https://bit.ly/2SchPk1

A new survey of EU Member states has found that Ireland has the highest share of enterprises in Europe using artificial intelligence.

The report, which was published by Eurostat in April 2021, is just the latest indicator of the strength of Ireland’s thriving deep-tech sector, of which artificial intelligence is just one strand.

A number of elements are driving this success.

“We have a number of the world’s largest technology companies here, many of which have been progressing machine learning and artificial intelligence through their R&D activities. These have built up a lot of expertise in these areas, both bringing experts in from abroad and upskilling people in Ireland,” explains John Durcan, senior technologist at Enterprise Ireland.

“Very often people gain a significant amount of deep-tech experience working within the MNC sector before leaving to go out on their own to develop very specific niches arising from that.”

A strong focus on deep-tech at third and fourth level supports them, including universities and institutes of technology plus government backed research centres. These include Neuroscience Ireland and CeADAR, Ireland’s one stop shop for innovation and applied R&D in AI, machine learning and data analytics. Research centres such as CeADAR (founded 2012) are set up when an emerging technology looks like it will impact industry.

“All of these centres are very proactive in encouraging businesses to engage with machine learning and AI,” he says.

It was exactly this deep-tech focus that helped Ireland develop its world class fintech sector, he points out.

“In a way it started in Ireland with fintech. Deep-tech fits very well into fintech, and fintech as a sector is one which is very good at adapting innovative technologies quickly. Now we are also seeing deep-tech extending rapidly into other areas such as healthcare and life sciences, agriculture and manufacturing,” says Durcan.

Deep-tech education

New initiatives are driving Ireland’s deep-tech agenda forward. Trinity College Dublin has launched Alsessor, an artificial intelligence accelerator programme to support starts-ups in the growth and commercialisation of businesses in areas such as digital health, fintech, insuretech and regtech, as well as retail.

Radical new undergraduate and masters programmes are also emerging.

The University of Limerick is pioneering a new kind of computer science education with the launch of its integrated undergraduate and master’s degree, in partnership with more than a dozen technology companies including Stripe, Zalando, Soapbox Labs and Fenergo.

The Immersive Software Engineering programme has five paid residencies built in, each between three and six months long, giving students multiple opportunities to work with real-world tech teams.

All this activity is adding to Enterprise Ireland’s strong pipeline of High Potential Start Ups in the deep-tech space.

“We are seeing a good number come through with strong artificial intelligence capabilities. Whereas three years ago AI was being pitched very broadly, we are now seeing companies emerge with AI for very specific business niches, and that’s good because that’s where we get the real value out of it,” he says.

Deep-tech success

Irish company Shopbox.ai uses AI to convert ‘anonymous’ traffic into committed customers.

“It’s a really clever solution that gives clothing retailers the kind of recommendation features that we see in Amazon or Netflix,” he explains.

It’s also part of a trend emerging whereby niche AI solutions are offered as service. “It’s almost plug and play now, giving you the benefits of the deep-tech without having to hire data scientists and software developers yourself.”

Irish company Altada focuses on ethical AI, ensuring accountability and transparency of AI decision making.

Accountable AI is an area of growing concern in the EU and one which, like GDPR, is likely to see regulation rolled out worldwide. It’s also an area Ireland is building up significant expertise in, says Durcan.

Funding for the future

Enterprise Ireland is funding deep-tech, both through its deep-tech Competitive Start Fund and its Euro 500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.

“The DTIF in particular has a really big focus on next level, future R&D,” says Durcan.

“It encourages companies to go beyond their normal service, looking three or four years ahead, to encourage companies to work together in a collaborative way with MNCs, third level, and other SMEs.”

It is that cross-sharing of knowledge that is really driving the adoption of AI in Ireland, he says.

“We are increasingly seeing not just a cross sector of companies involved in DTIF projects, but a cross sector of sectors, such as satellite data technology companies working with agriculture companies, so that solutions devised for space could be used to help with weed control,” he explains.

DTIF helped fund the new Quantum Computing in Ireland (QCoIr) initiative which has catapulted Ireland into the European forefront of quantum computing research.

Meanwhile a growing number of Irish companies are successfully commercialising deep-tech innovation in all sorts of ways.

VRAI for example provides virtual reality simulation training, using data insights to deliver not just authentic, immersive experiences but ones which are personalised to the participant, doing away with traditional one size fits all training.

With so much going on, at so many levels, it’s no surprise that Ireland has topped the Eurostat poll. As Durcan puts it, “We have a nice deep-tech eco-system here.”

 

Ireland is set to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, thanks to the development of pioneering technologies supported by its Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF).

This major €500 million Government-backed funding initiative, which is run by Enterprise Ireland, is designed to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry.

It enables enterprises to compete directly for large scale funding, worth millions of Euros, to support the development and adoption of the ground-breaking technologies of the future.

The purpose of DTIF is to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry, facilitating enterprises to compete directly for funding in support of the development and deployment of disruptive and innovative technologies on a commercial basis.

Because the funding is matched by the private sector, the DTIF both provides – and unlocks – large scale, multi-million Euro investments in the development and deployment of commercially viable disruptive technologies. It does this year after year.

Annual call for creative disruption

DTIF funding calls are made annually. This year, in April, the Irish government announced the latest tranche of ground-breaking projects to be supported by the DTIF, spanning areas such life sciences, medical devices, ICT, artificial intelligence, manufacturing and environmental sustainability.

In all, 29 major new projects secured funding worth €95 million. These include new technologies for sub-sea robotic drilling, for smart factory safety and radically more energy efficient industrial heating and cooling systems.

It’s a broad-church funding approach that spans everything from a new platform to improve productivity on construction sites, to new monitoring tools to improve outcomes for new-born babies.

This year’s round of investment brings the total Government funding awarded under three DTIF calls to date to €235m, across 72 projects and 270 project partners.

Post pandemic resilience

The high level of DTIF funding demonstrates the Irish Government’s commitment to investing in a stronger and more resilient post-pandemic economy.

All DTIF-funded projects involve collaborations of between three and eight partners including SMEs, multinational corporations and research organisations. Of 111 collaboration partners involved in the current call, 62 are SMEs. In 22 cases SMEs are project leads.

Funding successes to date include an adhesive to help knit broken bones together following fracture; the use of artificially intelligent drones to detect drug smuggling; and the development of a robotic drilling system suitable for offshore wind plant construction.

All projects selected for DTIF funding have game-changing potential, whether they use nanotechnology to reduce carbon emissions by 40% in industrial heating or AI to help identify early-stage cancer patients.

They also fall under the Irish government’s research priorities. These include robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, health and wellbeing, as well as smart and sustainable food production and processing, and smart manufacturing.

Priorities also include innovations which help decarbonise the energy system and promote sustainable living.

Rigorous independent evaluation

Securing DTIF funding is a competitive process. Applications go through an intensive evaluation process involving remote screening and interviews by panels of international experts.

These are charged with seeking out only those projects with a strong enterprise agenda that can demonstrate commercial impacts within three to seven years of project completion, and which are seeking minimum DTIF-matched funding of €1.5 million.

“This is large scale funding for the kind of ground-breaking technologies that will enable us to come out of the pandemic stronger than before,” says Imelda Lambkin, manager Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund at Enterprise Ireland.

The DTIF opened in 2018 and is due to run for 10 years as part of Ireland’s National Development Plan.  Because the initiative is 50% co-funded by the project partners, it leverages substantial private sector investment.

Among the largest awards to date is €7m to a consortium including Relevium Medical, HiTech Health and the National University of Ireland Galway for a regenerative treatment for knee osteoarthritis using a hydrogen based therapeutic.

“We fund collaborative research which includes SMEs working with other SMEs, or with multinational companies, as well as academic researchers, all coming together to develop disruptive technologies,” she explains.

“These are technologies we define as having the potential to either alter the market or the way we live. By coming together like this they can create something bigger and better.”

A seal of approval

The competitive DTIF process forces applicants to make their case not just for the work they are doing, but demonstrate “why they are doing it, why this team, and why now?” says Lambkin.

“They must also demonstrate the strength of the disruptive technology; the excellence of their approach; the potential for market impact; the quality of the collaboration and the impact of the project on sustainability too.”

Each year’s applications are whittled down to only the most disruptive, with the most potential and the greatest prospects for commercial success.

The whole competitive process helps to foster innovation and collaboration across Ireland’s research landscape, from small innovative start ups to large multinationals and academic researchers, deepening the links connecting Ireland’s innovation eco-system.

Successful project teams often go on to success at European level. “Securing DTIF funding is like a seal of approval,” explains Lambkin.

Asia Pacific drives growth for many Irish businesses and is home to some of the world’s most digitally connected population. In the Southeast Asia region alone, there is a population of over 330 million connected individuals with the region’s digital economy having been projected to hit US$300 billion by 2025.

When quarantines and stay-home orders became the reality for many people at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the adoption of digital services rose like never before, particularly in Southeast Asia. According to a joint report by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain & Company, as many as 40 million people across the region — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand — came online for the first time in 2020.

Now with nearly 70% of the region’s population online, the digital sphere is a necessity for both consumers and businesses. Cyber threats are equally becoming responsive to an increasingly vibrant digital environment as threats become more pervasive and complex.

Irish innovators are coming to the forefront to lend their expertise in this dynamic and challenging environment. During Enterprise Ireland’s Asia Pacific Cybersecurity Innovation Showcase, we heard from six Irish companies on their contributions towards a safe cyber environment as well as their latest solutions that address emerging cybersecurity challenges today.

Creating a safe and seamless digital experience for businesses and consumers

With so many new online users in the region, cybersecurity threats are becoming two-fold. First, there is a need to ensure a safe and secure online experience for users through good cyber hygiene habits. And second, there is a need to facilitate an education around cyber-attacks and protection for new users who may be more vulnerable to these threats.

Cyber criminals are moving from targeting systems and processes to targeting users, creating a gap in a company’s security protection. Cyber Risk Aware, a human cyber risk management and behaviour change platform, was set up to protect people, institutions and cities through education and cyber awareness that effects positive change in online behaviour. Cyber Risk Aware primarily helps companies from becoming victims of cybercrime by raising staff awareness and creating a network of human sensors in real-time.

“Today’s highly sophisticated cyber criminals are gaining access to vital company data through complex scams like phishing, smishing, malware or ransomware that target people instead of systems. Traditional tick-the-box, annual or even monthly training is no longer effective against these criminals and leaves staff defenseless against an attack. A shift towards helping create positive behaviour change in staff by implementing context-based, real-time intervention training in their exact moment of need is essential to mitigate impending risks. Organisations who have committed to changing the risky behaviours of their staff are seeing up to 800% ROI against a single security breach,” says Stephen Burke, CEO & Founder of Cyber Risk Aware.

Highlighting that traditional staff training is inadequate to change risky staff behaviour that typically compromises a company’s network defense, Cyber Risk Aware advocates companies to set up contextual training and an awareness content library that will shore up staff behaviour as defense to a cyber-attack. The ground-up approach should leverage a company’s cyber defenses, in tandem with human cyber-risk assessments that evaluates a user’s cyber awareness and knowledge through regular email and SMS phishing tests as well as data analytics stemming from behaviour database that tracks human cyber risk scoring and behaviour change.

Email remains to be a cornerstone of consumers’ digital identity. And TitanHQ, one of the leading providers of email protection, DNS filtering and email archiving solutions for over 20 years, is a frontrunner in safeguarding consumers from cyber-attacks on this front. Through its comprehensive suite of solutions that include WebTitan, SpamTitan and ArcTitan, TitanHQ’s has been identifying and blocking malware and ransomware attacks before they infiltrate organisations’ network. The movement to work from home and an increase in remote workforces have increased the risk vector and placed a further onus on a layered security approach.

On the financial services front, Daon, a global leader in digital onboarding and biometric authentication technology, is no stranger to Asian shores. Trust is a key priority to Daon’s innovations in this region. Trilochan Sehgal, Regional Vice-President of Southeast Asia, highlighted the digital identity problem, where there is a critical need to solve the issue of trust across multiple online channels.

Introducing IdentityX – the world’s first cross-channel multi-factor biometric authentication and onboarding platform, consumers can now use the same identity credential to authenticate quickly and easily, at any time and through any channel. Not only does the platform help create a seamless digital experience across multiple channels, it guarantees consumers’ digital identity based on secure biometric credentials, enabled by face recognition technology. This can be made even more secure through other biometric authentication processes that may include voice and finger authentication.

Despite a challenging 2020, the company made strides in the region with an impressive portfolio of clients including Japan’s SMFG/SMBC, Standard Chartered Bank and a host of Hong Kong based banks. The company’s presence in Asia also expanded with a new Singapore office as well as significant new partnerships including a contract to deliver digital onboarding and mobile biometric authentication with Singapore-based TONIK, which provides the first digital-only bank in the Philippines.

Commenting on this, Trilochan Sehgal, Vice-President of Daon Southeast Asia said, “Daon is in a unique position where we solve challenges across the full customer identity lifecycle from onboarding, authentication and account recovery. Our customers appreciate this holistic approach and we are seeing a big surge in our technology adoption specially among customers in payments verification, digital banking, insurance, and telcos in the region.”

Securing data and networks against cyber threats

The data landscape is changing dramatically. And it is important to understand the shifts in this landscape to better develop solutions that can bolster cyber defense for any company, institution or country against new threats that can emerge from this landscape.

Mark Brosnan, Co-Founder & Managing Director of GetVisibility, shared how major shifts in the data landscape are primarily influenced by five key factors: i) regulation, ii) explosion in data, iii) cloud adoption, iv) an increase in cyber-attacks and v) ineffective data loss prevention programmes. Not only do data governance need to keep up with these shifts, but these systems also need to account for the end-user as well as anticipate potential new threats too.

Data governance is therefore a responsibility that spans across end-users and multiple organizational processes. As a software solution that discovers, categorizes and classifies unstructured data across an organization, GetVisibility undertakes this responsibility by harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide risk and compliance assessments in the data governance process as well as to enforce protection of sensitive data. This is increasingly pertinent at a time where remote work is becoming the norm during the pandemic as companies seek to secure their data against cyber breaches or leaks.

With data governance being a huge undertaking that involves various organizational processes, efficiency will be key for organisations. Security Automation Orchestration and Response platform provider, Tines, allows security teams to automate any workflow regardless of complexity without relying on pre-built integrations.

Having observed that an excess of IT and security operations work is manual, repetitive and prone to error, Tines have designed a software that allows security operations teams to automate their manual workloads without requiring scripting or software development knowledge. This frees up security operations teams to refocus on more impactful risk-reduction strategies specific to an organisation. Upon notification of a potential threat, security operations teams can also conduct deeper incident investigations and responses and enlist an analyst as soon as any real threat has been identified.

But what if the worst happens – what should companies do when there has been a breach?

It is all in the response, and how quick it is matters. GuardYoo, a specialist in remote compromised assessment or a technical audit of a network, treats cyber incidents as physical crime sites that can be investigated. GuardYoo departs from the traditional thinking of cybersecurity as a model that protects networks from breaches. Instead, the company brazenly believes that this brand of cybersecurity is impossible as cyber threats are inevitable, and that breaches can even occur without the awareness of most organisations.

Darren Sexton, Chief Executive Officer of GuardYoo shared, “The way hackers penetrate a network is always changing and this is a perpetual game of hide and seek. But what does not change is that hackers need to do something once they get into a system. That is where GuardYoo steps in. To use a Covid-19 analogy, traditional cybersecurity companies will check if you are wearing a mask and that the mask is covering the right areas but GuardYoo will check if the virus has gotten through the mask and will identify what parts of the body it is attacking.”

As such, GuardYoo recommends its automated ‘Digital Forensics Investigation’ model to conduct regular compromise assessments that identifies how a network lapsed in its defenses, how these vulnerabilities were exploited and who was responsible behind the attack. The company also has an active threat research lab that is constantly developing threat models. This contributes to the swift one week turn-around time for GuardYoo’s compromise assessment, including a forensic analysis, as opposed to the typical 10 to 12-weeks timeline across the industry.

The highly respected financial regulator of the city-state Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has last December awarded four digital banking licenses. These licenses will allow entities including non-bank entities to provide banking services including deposit taking and lending in Singapore. As a regional fintech powerhouse, the liberalisation of its banking industry has been hotly anticipated by big players in the world of finance and technology.

Two of the licenses are categorized as “full”, in that they allow consumer banking. One has gone to a partnership of local ride-hailing super-app Grab and telco conglomerate SingTel, where both companies have large customer bases and regional activities across Southeast Asia.

The other has gone to Nasdaq-listed internet powerhouse Sea group, which has had a blockbuster year of growth from its e-commerce platform Shopee (well able to hold its own against Amazon and Alibaba), it’s gaming division Garena and existing fintech division SeaMoney.

The remaining two are “wholesale”, or business banking licenses, awarded to Ant Financial (the fintech affiliate company of Alibaba Group, best known for their Alipay app) and another to a consortium of Greenland Financial, Linklogis & Beijing Co-Op Equity Investment.

Singapore follows a wider regional pattern, two years after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority who released eight digital banking licenses. Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission also released three and Malaysia is expected to issue up to five sometime later this year. The Philippines has also indicated it will accept applications for online only banks. The authorities in Indonesia however, seeking to encourage consolidation of a fragmented banking sector, is not expected to issue any further licenses. However numerous small or struggling local lenders have been acquisition targets for ambitious Fintechs, while larger banks are experimenting with digital-only propositions.

However, they face a challenging marketplace in Singapore, where incumbents are deemed to be very digitally capable. Covid-19 forced them to bolster their digital proposition, and at the retail level almost all transactions, including account openings, can be performed online. DBS, the market leader, has won various accolades as the World’s Best Digital Bank, boasts over 7,500 engineers, with the CEO Piyush Gupta evangelizing the bank as a tech company in financial services.

The experience in Hong Kong and Australia seems to point that new entrants cannot only rely on a slicker app experience and marginally better deposit rates. They will need to tie in truly innovative products, services and integrations that are useful and targeted specifically at under-served sectors of the market.

In order to achieve this, new digital banks will have to have a robust, agile and secure technology stack incorporating the best technology partners in the game – and this is where the Irish Advantage is. Irish companies are already supporting many of the world’s most innovative digital banks and look poised to power the current wave of upstarts in Asia.

The Irish Capability

Daon is a world-leading mobile authentication and biometrics company. Established 20 years ago to serve the government sector and now a leader in financial services, they are one of the only FIDO certified biometrics companies, whose services are critical to the security of any digital banking offering. Daon are already working with some of the leading financial digital banks in the region – TONIK (the Philippines) and Mox (Hong Kong).

A comprehensive compliance offering, and seamless onboarding process, is central to offering customers an exceptional  and secure account opening experience. KnowYourCustomer’s KYC, KYB and onboarding platform is currently used by digital bank Neat in Hong Kong.  Know Your Customer notably won “Best Solution – Customer Onboarding” in the 2020 edition of the Regulation Asia Awards of Excellence.

Also in the onboarding space is Fenergo, the industry No.1 provider of Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) software solutions for financial institutions spanning capital markets and investment banking, commercial, business and retail banking, private banking and wealth management, and asset management. Fenergo CLM is an end-to-end platform that transforms how sell-side banks and buy-side firms manage clients – from initial onboarding to KYC/AML compliance, to client data management and ongoing lifecycle KYC reviews and refreshes.

With the uptake of digital banking solutions expected to experience exponential growth, Leveris’ cloud-native and real-time core banking system offers a 100% turnkey digital bank solution. A modular platform designed with scalability and reliability at its heart, Leveris helps fulfil ultra-rapid total deployment for innovative technology-driven banking solutions, digital at heart.

CR2 solutions provide innovative omnichannel banking software to banks across the world. CR2 makes self-servicing banking better through supplying ATM’s to mobile and from POS to the Internet. CR2 offer digital channels that provide personalised services built upon an integrated self-service digital banking platform known as ‘BankWorld’.

With compliance core to the reassurance needed to drive adoption of digital banking, Solgari’s omni-channel cloud communications platform provides communications and functionality through Microsoft Dynamics 365 within the CRM interface.

As Singapore embarks on its journey into digital banking, there is much to be learned and gained from the experience of companies who have helped other organizations venture into this space. A global technology hotspot, eight of the top 10 global software companies have their European headquarters in Ireland, making this a hotbed of innovation; innovation that empowers and enables.

To find out more about the #IrishAdvantage in Fintech, please reach out to talk.

Authors

Tiarnan McCaughan – Senior Market Advisor Fintech & Financial Services, Southeast Asia

tiarnan.mccaughan@enterprise-ireland.com

Grace Odlum – Market Executive, Southeast Asia

grace.odlum@enterprise-ireland.com

Showcase Ireland, the country’s premier expo for the craft and design sector, is rocking a whole new look this year. Covid-19 travel restrictions mean Showcase, which is held annually in Dublin’s RDS exhibition halls, is being hosted entirely online instead.

Showcase Ireland 2021, which takes place from 25th to 29th January, has been transformed into a full-service online trade fair, complete with B2B ecommerce-enabled virtual showrooms and meeting spaces.
Because success never goes out of style, it will continue to bring international buyers together with the cream of new and emerging Irish brands, just as it has always done.

“Showcase is now in its 45th year, which is some record of its success,” says Eddie Shanahan, Chair of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers, board member of Design & Crafts Council Ireland and Chair of Showcase Ireland.

The iconic event is supported by the Design Council of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, as well as Ireland’s Local Enterprise Offices, Ireland’s micro-enterprise support agency, which uses it to showcase some of the country’s newest and most innovative emerging talent.

Another major part of the event’s appeal is the Design Ireland portfolio, a curated collection representing the cream of Irish craft and design.

Last year’s event delivered €26 million in sales across sectors such as home and gifts, fashion, jewellery and the new and fast-growing wellness niche.

“Buyers come to Showcase Ireland because they know they will find creativity and innovation”, says Shanahan, who points out that the luxury goods sector worldwide is predicted to bounce back sharply post Covid-19. “The DNA of luxury is good design, quality and craftsmanship, and sustainability. Those are the trademarks of Irish companies at Showcase,” says Shanahan.

Irish designers and makers are well positioned to meet changing consumer views about luxury too.

“Attitudes have changed. Luxury now is about supporting small artisans and crafts people as much as it is about supporting big flagship brands,” says Shanahan.

Buyers from around the world have signed up to participate in the online event, in which they can browse virtual shop windows and conduct online buying meetings.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. “International buyers come to Ireland for a point of difference, for innovation, craftsmanship, and the sustainable stories we have to tell about things like small production runs, lack of waste, and respect for the environment – all the qualities and requirements international buyers want”, accordingly to Shanahan.

Developing the platform has been challenging due to its international nature. “Scheduling meetings is a complicated process because as buyers in Japan are going to bed buyers in the US are getting up,” he explains.

As part of its digital transformation, the Showcase Ireland website has been repositioned as a B2B source facility, a valuable year-round resource.

While very many participants look forward to a return to the RDS next year, Showcase Ireland will continue to develop its online presence in a way that mirrors the changes taking place in retail, he points out.

“It’s not a question of bricks or clicks anymore, it’s both, plus a whole range of other digital tools,” says Shanahan.

Migrating the event online extends its reach, points out Sean Davis, Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Director – North America, who is based in New York.

Some aspects of the show are however impossible to replicate online, he admits.

“Showcase Ireland has always been about delivering real value to buyers, and part of that has always been our Irish hospitality,” says Davis.

In the absence of Ireland’s famous hundred, thousand welcomes, organisers this year have decided to add value by commissioning an in-depth report from international research organisation Frost & Sullivan, entitled “Generating Global Growth Through Ecommerce”.

It will be launched at the show with live online analysis from the report’s authors, with copies distributed exclusively to participants.

Irish craft and design travels well. According to Davis, brands such giftware maker Connemara Marble, boot and shoemaker Dubarry, fashion label Carraig Donn and jewellery maker Solvar are much sought after.

Showcase Ireland 2021 provides a wider audience than ever with an opportunity to see why Ireland’s craft and design is so highly prized internationally.

For the organiser it has of course been a case of ‘cutting their cloth according to their measure’- the digital redesign only took place because of the pandemic. Like all good design innovation however, it has resulted in improvement.

Says Davis: “The steps we are taking in 2021 will help Showcase Ireland to grow and flourish for years to come.”

Visit Showcase Ireland 

Covid-19 hit the travel sector like a severe bout of turbulence on an otherwise smooth flight. The industry has been severely damaged but innovation, leadership and technology – especially Irish technology – will accelerate a global recovery in 2021. Here are six key trends to watch out for.

You will need another passport

Airlines, hotels and tour operators were forced to play the waiting game throughout 2020, but the introduction of testing and immunity ‘passports’ could be the jump-starter that travel needs.

Irish firm LetsGetChecked has been the pioneer in this space, partnering with American Airlines to trial end-to-end testing that has been extended to multiple destinations to reopen travel. With a vaccine on the way, we also know that many countries and airlines will insist on proof of vaccination to travel, probably sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Daon has already teamed up with American Airlines and Denver International Airport to deploy VeriFLY, an app that provides real-time digital credentials to allow users seamless, touch-free transactions; in essence, an immunity passport so people can travel.

 

Hygiene will be make-or-break

From now on, anyone getting on a plane or checking into a hotel is going to insist on the highest possible standards when it comes to hygiene. Accordingly, travel operators will have to be seen to be doing everything possible to protect their customers.

EI client CW Applied Technology provides hospital grade sterilization for hotels through UV light technology, while others like P3 Hotels and Avvio allow for seamless self check-in and check-out. Again, the focus is on building confidence and reassurance among potentially gun-shy travellers.

Altada uses the power of AI and machine learning with canines to track people with Covid, including early detection and people that are asymptomatic in locations with large numbers of people such as airports. These abilities will help drive safety, reassurance, and trust and will be key until everyone is vaccinated.

 

Business trips will have to wait

It’s going to take time for corporate life to return to normal, and even longer for corporate travel to follow suit. There are big questions about duty of care and companies will have to think carefully before allowing employees to travel.

In tandem with that, people have taken to remote working and virtual meetings like ducks to water. Some work trips and events are now simply unnecessary while others will become hybrid affairs, mixing virtual with in-person attendance.

Where flexibility is required, the likes of MeetingsBooker provides automated bookings to help corporate clients source local workspaces for teams that are working from home but who need to meet, either regularly or occasionally. This is in addition to their existing very robust solution for booking events and stays at hotels all while providing automation for hotels and office buildings who provide the supply.

Cogs and Marvel an award winning live and digital brand experience agency work with leading companies on events and more importantly the experience people have before, during, and after these events. Now very much core to their offering is heavily curated virtual events.

 

Local will lead the way

We saw a surge in staycationing last year, and the focus will remain on domestic leisure travel while corporate and international wait for the dust to settle. Looking at the data, it’s clear that people are opting for much closer destinations (within a 2-3 hour drive), where home rental providers like Airbnb can give people more control of their environment.

Wherever you are travelling, you are going to see an abundance of care and caution at every turn, with innovation providing that all-important reassurance factor.

 

Booking will be better

There will be huge innovation behind the scenes as well. For example, travel sellers will continue to enhance their systems and be more competitive in the race for direct bookings.

Irish firm Arvoia does this brilliantly, using an independent AI cloud with over 2.3 billion data points and trillions of behavioural insights (travel, hospitality, mobility) to deliver the most sophisticated prediction and personalization products to drive sales and delight customers.

Airlines will also look to make up a revenue shortfall from food and baggage through additional ancillary offerings in the booking experience. A great example here is Sim Local, which helps travellers switch SIM to avoid excessive phone charges, or Coras which provides tickets to major events across the globe. The ability to drive new revenues while offering more choice at the right time in the right place will ensure the industry offers a complete retail experience.

 

Irish solutions for a changing world

Around the world, Ireland is synonymous with travel. Our people and technology have played a significant part in building the industry, and now they have focused even more on product and are offering solutions to rebuild and restore confidence.

We are also seeing Irish companies pivot to focus on solutions to accelerate the travel industry recovery. Daon, LetsGetChecked, Altada had no track record in travel but have stepped up to really help the industry in a meaningful way.

 

We will get there

If 2020 was travel’s annus horribilis, the good news is that green shoots are emerging fast. People want to travel, and Irish innovation will help them do that. Here’s to safe and happy travels in 2021.

Máire P. Walsh is SVP Digital Technologies with Enterprise Ireland

Award-winning Irish nano-technology company Kastus is to partner with global technology giant Lenovo in a move that looks set to transform the hygiene and safety standards of commercial touchscreen usage.

Kastus is a developer of revolutionary, light-powered, ‘always on’ antiviral and antimicrobial surface coatings which have been independently proven to be effective against human Coronavirus and up to 99.99% of surface bacteria.

Lenovo, which has a major OEM solutions business, is one of the top three manufacturers of IT products in the world.

Already the world’s leading PC company, Lenovo is also a leader in smartphones, tablets, industry solutions and data centre infrastructure.

The new partnership will see Lenovo offer a bespoke range of commercial antiviral and antimicrobial screen protectors for existing machines, using Kastus’ patented protective coating technology.

It will also see Lenovo develop a new line of products which will have Kastus’ technology built-into screens as standard.

The move represents a major step forward for public health. Studies have shown that coronavirus can survive on a smooth surface – such as mobile phone glass or a touchscreen ticket terminal at an airport – for up to 28 days.

By partnering with Kastus, Lenovo’s OEM customers will have access to a proven solution to help protect end-users of essential touchscreen appliances – from ATM machines to cinema ticket terminals to handheld inventory management devices in factories – against harmful bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus.

Lenovo sees the light

Kastus’s pioneering protective coating technology is light-activated, so its power source never depletes. That enables it to provide continuous protection for shared surface users in an environmentally friendly way and one to which bacteria and viruses cannot build resistance.

Kastus’s patented coating uses ambient moisture and light as a fuel source to generate oxygen radicals, a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen, which attaches to bacteria and viruses and works to kill them.

Its coatings have been proven effective in blocking up to 99.99 per cent of surface bacteria and fungi including antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as MRSA and E. coli.

Kastus’s light-activated – or photocatalytic – technology, is supported by 44 global patents and has been at the forefront of antiviral and antimicrobial surface protection since 2014, offering the ultimate ‘always-on’ protection for touchscreen devices.

 

Kastus’s factory-applied coating technology is sprayed on and sintered on to a product during the manufacturing process, forming an extremely durable immobilised thin coating.

As the Lenovo partnership shows, it offers solutions for both new screen devices and tempered glass screen protectors which can easily be applied to retrofit and protect existing commercial screens already in use.

Lenovo will provide Kastus’s screens and screen protectors for both its own devices and those of its industry partners, presenting a significant addressable market.

After all, any screen can be protected, from laptops to self-service restaurant kiosks to medical devices, ensuring the safety of both a businesses’ consumers and its colleagues.

Antimicrobial coatings are a critical tool in the current environment to help give consumers enhanced levels of protection when using shared touch screens.

The Lenovo partnership comes at a time when concern about exposure to surface bacteria and viruses, as a result of interactions on shared touch surfaces, is at an all-time high.

Kastus has you covered.

As Lenovo builds its OEM business, it looks for key partnerships that complement its own technology and adds significant value for its customers as they build their solutions, explains Craig Arold, COO Lenovo OEM.

“Kastus technology is a great example of first-in-class innovation that meets a critical need in the market. By providing antiviral and antimicrobial capability, our partnership with Kastus will set the pace in helping make touch-screen solutions safer in the market,” explains Arold.

The team at Kastus is thrilled to be partnering with Lenovo too, as “one of the most significant and innovative providers of IT equipment on the planet,” according to John Browne, CEO of Kastus.

“By using Kastus screens Lenovo customers will add their devices to the millions already protected by Kastus, allowing consumers, colleagues and families to confidently interact with the touchscreens that have become so integral to work and leisure,” says Browne.

“With consumer awareness and demands around enhanced touchscreen protection growing, we look forward to working with the Lenovo team to bring the always-on benefits of the Kastus protective technology to a wider global audience.”

Coating the world

Founded in 2014, Kastus’s globally patented range of ‘always on’ antiviral and antimicrobial surface coatings are designed to protect both glass and ceramic surfaces.

They are proven to global ISO and ASTM lab test standards to protect coated surfaces against harmful bacteria, everyday tough viruses such as Influenza A & Hep A and, more recently, human coronavirus.

In June 2020 Kastus was awarded a significant European Commission grant to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic and support recovery in Europe.  Today it is partnering with a host of global brands, including Lenovo, enabling them to add enhanced protection to their commercial and personal use touchscreen portfolio.

The applications are enormous – literally

Kastus’ coatings include solutions for both finished products – such as screen protectors for existing screens – as well as coatings for use in the manufacturing processes of all types of new products. They are effective not just on glass but ceramics too.

Their efficacy had already resulted in partnerships prior to that with Lenovo, such as with Zagg, a leading US producer of screen protectors for tablets and smartphones, as well as Omani-based tile company Al Maha Ceramics, which has reach in markets across Asia and Africa.

Kastus is working with floor tile makers for tiles designed for use in residential, commercial, and healthcare settings and,  John Browne predicts, Kastus’s coating technology will, in time, most likely become mandated as a standard finish under national building regulations.

Given the lessons learned during the current pandemic about human health and the need to manage shared surfaces of all kinds, very many manufacturers are likely to follow Lenovo’s lead.

To find out how Kastus can add value to your products visit www.kastus.com

Irish companies are carving out a reputation for technical excellence and the development of innovative solutions in the rapidly growing $300 billion global space technology market. At present, more than 70 of these companies are engaged in projects with the European Space Agency (ESA) on a diverse range of areas including structures, materials, microelectronics, photonics, telecommunications, radio systems, and life sciences.

ESA is the primary gateway to this exacting but highly lucrative market for Irish firms, according to Enterprise Ireland Programme Manager Tony McDonald. “ESA is the only agency we have access to in Ireland that can qualify products for use in space,” he points out. “You can go anywhere with that verification. It’s a very specific quality mark that gives a product credibility. It is recognised by NASA for its technology readiness level scale, so it allows Irish companies to sell their products there as well.”

Ireland is a member of ESA, with the government here contributing €20 million to the agency each year. “The 22 member states contribute €6 billion to the ESA budget each year and it uses that to place contracts with industry to develop technologies for the space programme,” says McDonald.

But the prize on offer to Irish companies goes far beyond those contracts. “If you can develop something that works in space, it means it is very good and extremely reliable,” McDonald explains.

“It helps position the company in other markets which demand high levels of performance and reliability. When it comes to reliability, the product has to be zero failure. That makes it very expensive to develop and it may be too expensive for other market verticals. But the automotive sector is now looking for the same reliability. The guidance systems for autonomous vehicles have to be zero failure. A key part of the strategy for Irish companies succeeding in space is to have transferability to other markets.”

Ubotica is one of those Irish companies which is blazing a trail in the space market. The firm is bringing artificial intelligence to satellites to make them far more efficient in how they process images and send them back to Earth.

The company has combined AI and edge computing capabilities to the Myriad 2 vision processing chip designed by Irish company Movidius. In short, this allows the chip to interpret images in space and decide which ones are worth sending back to Earth.

The current application, which is running on the recently launched PhiSat Earth observation satellite, is for cloud detection. “It detects when there is cloud in an image,” says Aubrey Dunne, Ubotica co-founder and Vice President Engineering. “At present, Earth observation satellites gather data and then downlink it to the ground station when they are overhead. About 66pc of the world is covered in cloud at any one time. This means the majority of the images downlinked will have to be thrown away and downlink time is very expensive. By detecting the clouds before the downlink, the time can be optimised, with only usable data sent.”

Connections between the thousands of satellites being put into low Earth orbit by internet and cloud technology companies like SpaceX, Amazon and Viasat is the business of Galway-based mBryonics. The company has pioneered the development photonic integrated circuits (PICs) which use light to transmit data wirelessly and at the ultra-high speeds required by these new networks.

“We have to deliver terabit capacity at very low power and the cost has to come down by an order of magnitude as well,” says mBryonics CEO John Mackey.

“Data has to be routed from satellite to satellite in the network and between the ground stations. The switching speed has to be incredibly fast. If you are connecting from Ireland to the US through the network in most efficient way, the connection has to be made within one trillionth of a second, with the system deciding on how to do that autonomously. With our PICs we can put all the systems required to do that onto a chip no bigger than a fingernail. They have many advantages for space, including low weight and low power consumption and they offer viable pathways to producing high volumes at low cost.”

Another innovative Irish company making inroads in space is Lios, formerly known as Restored Hearing, which is using its revolutionary SoundBounce acoustic material to protect the interiors of launch vehicles from the extreme noise and vibrations encountered on the journey into orbit.

“The most exciting part of that is the nose cone,” says Lios CEO Rhona Togher. “We help the contents of the vehicle get into space safely unharmed by the rough journey.”

The SoundBounce material is up to three times thinner and 1,000 times more effective than traditional solutions. “It is a lot lighter and smaller than the one currently being used,” she adds. “That will enable the mass of the vehicle to be reduced and allow the companies to put a lot more stuff up there. Success in the space sector will open up opportunities for us in other industry sectors like the automotive and aerospace sectors. We can now say our product is qualified to a much higher level than they normally look for. That will break down a lot of barriers to entry to those markets.”

The number of new Irish companies engaging with ESA developing technologies for the space market has doubled over the past year.

According to McDonald, “We have seen a flowering of companies in the area. There are a few factors at play. The market is changing and becoming more commercial and we are seeing the concept of new space. The market is moving away from a top-down structure led by states and state-run bodies to a bottom-up one led by commercial organisations. It’s really exciting to see the number of start-ups in Ireland engaging with space. They are springing up with new technologies which are being adopted pretty quickly. The capability of Irish companies in this market is really something to see.”

Founded in 2011, Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions (GDG) is a civil engineering consultancy with specialist geotechnical skills. GDG provides innovative solutions to clients around the world, principally in the offshore wind sector. The firm’s geotechnical engineers provide a range of services to both the domestic and international markets in areas spanning concept design, detailed design, in-situ monitoring and general geotechnical advice…

GDG is currently working on offshore wind projects in Ireland, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines and is targeting the US for further growth. The company is ideally positioned to take advantage of the rapid growth in the Irish offshore wind sector which is anticipated in the coming decade as a result of regulatory changes and the implementation of the National Climate Action Plan.

GDG began life in industry-funded research into the technical problems faced by offshore wind projects being carried out in University College Dublin (UCD). This grew into a consultancy business for the lead researchers and eventually to the establishment of GDG.

In 2012 GDG decided to expand its business internationally; this led to the firm winning contracts in countries as diverse as Canada, Myanmar, Tunisia, Germany, and Belgium.

The net result was a portfolio of very high-quality reference projects which provided the base on which to expand the engineering team to enable the company to take on more work. By 2014, the Irish economy was in full recovery and GDG began to win contracts in its home market as well. Today, GDG has 90 staff, with plans to increase that to 100 in the near future. The company’s office network has grown to span Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Edinburgh, London and Bath, with plans in place to expand into Japan, South Korea and the East Coast of the US once Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

The company’s work profile has changed over the years. “We do a lot of work in the heavy engineering and onshore renewables sectors, but 65% of our work is offshore wind,” says Doherty. “We are now working on projects in Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan and we are looking at opportunities in other markets like the US.”

The services provided are very high-end technical solutions, including geotechnical data interpretation, site identification, site assessment, site investigations, cable route design, seabed stability assessments, and anchor design for tethered structures. The aim is to stay with projects from design through to construction and commissioning.

As the Irish offshore wind market is gaining momentum, GDG is keen to assist in the selection of the most suitable sites for development as well as the engineering of those sites in the most efficient and innovative manner.

A key driver behind that momentum is the Marine Planning and Development Management (MPDM) Bill. The previous maritime consent regime was complex and unwieldy and held back offshore wind development in Ireland. The MPDM seeks to establish in law a new regime for the maritime area which will replace existing state development consent regime. It is intended to streamline procedure on the basis of a single consent principle.

It is believed that the MPDM will greatly improve conditions for offshore wind development. A number of projects are in the process of transitioning from the old Foreshore Act to the new regime. They will get special treatment, and be able to move ahead quite quickly, and there will be a steady stream of projects for the next 25 years.

As the only indigenous Irish consultancy with a decade of experience on offshore wind projects worldwide, GDG is well placed to prosper in that market. The company also has extensive experience of dealing with various Irish stakeholders such as the ports, coastal communities, the fishing community and statutory bodies.

The company’s largest markets will remain overseas. “For the next decade, our biggest markets will probably still be in Asia in countries like South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines. The US will also be a major market for us,” says Doherty.

GDG has benefited from Enterprise Ireland support over the years. “That has been very helpful in allowing us to remain at the cutting edge of what we do. We have received a lot of support from the Agile Innovation Fund for our ongoing research and development work,” he concludes.

If you’d like to connect with innovative Irish companies, click here.

The traditional model of financial services is being overhauled, and foreign exchange is no exception. Between new regulations, digitalization and the rise of FinTech companies challenging banks, the banking market is almost unrecognizable from twenty or thirty years ago. This year we can expect to see a new range of changes & challenges as banks have only a few months left to adapt to the new Cross-Border Payments Regulation.

Since its inception, the European Union’s policy has been to minimise the borders between countries and ultimately create a true single market. The recently updated EU Cross-Border Payments regulation will mark another step in improving consumer access and understanding to cross-border payments. This regulation means that traditional banks are facing a significant change as to how they communicate with cardholders regarding foreign exchange. These changes bring significant challenges in their implementation.

Adapting to the new era in pricing transparency

The EU Cross-Border Payments Regulation will create a common approach for card issuers and acquirers to communicate the price of cross-border (FX) transactions to consumers. This will herald the introduction of a new era in pricing transparency on cross-border activity. Setting up systems to compare the bank’s own charges to the daily ECB reference rate will greatly increase consumer awareness of differing pricing points and the value available from different payments providers. However, at a time where new competitors, such as Revolut are increasing their presence and leading the way on foreign-exchange based innovation, banks need to respond to the competition that arises with this newfound transparency, while also ensuring compliance and managing legacy infrastructure.

As banks must now face both the introduction of these regulatory requirements and the impact these have on the consumer’s experience, several factors must be taken into consideration.

 

Consolidating methods of cross-border pricing strategies

A bank may have as many as eight cross-border payment pricing strategies across multiple lines of business, all of which need to be benchmarked to the latest ECB reference rate. requirements.

Complications from multiple back-office systems

Bank card products typically utilise a range of back-end systems (in-house, outsourced, debit, credit, etc.) and multiple card schemes (e.g. Visa, MasterCard, UnionPay International, Diners Club etc.). This variability complicates the ability to both provide a consistent experience to the cardholder and deliver comprehensive reporting to establish ongoing compliance with the requirements to regulators across all of their products.

Delivering a consistent customer experience is seen as the major challenge for the 2021 deadline

The increased visibility brought to customers by this regulation will likely create queries and confusion where pricing varies by product, by currency & by day and will give cardholders pricing information that is directly comparable to competitor propositions. This will result in consumers changing behaviour by taking more active decisions around how to spend in a different currency.

Each consideration above represents a challenge for banks, card issuers and acquirers to address in a relatively limited timeframe. Cambrist’s product is designed to support all phases of the EU cross-border payment regulation as defined by both the 2020 and 2021 mandates, to make the implementation as effective & efficient as possible.

In Sweden, Cambrist’s products have ensured that Länsförsäkringar Bank AB has already complied with EU Cross-Border Payments Regulation requirements. Now, Cambrist’s aspiration is to support more Nordic issuers in becoming leaders the new era of pricing transparency.

Looking for help in meeting EC 924/2009 requirements – contact Ross Leonard from Cambrist.

For information on other suppliers active in the Nordic region please reach out to the Enterprise Ireland Nordics team