3 Incredible Ways Fintech Startups Can Maintain Cyber Security

computer-securityThe following article is a continuation of “3 Ways Fintech Startups Can Maintain Cyber Security” Please look to that article for additional pertinent information. 

Cyber attacks are so common in this day and age that preventing them is a key part of being a Fintech professional. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to make sure your company’s data is as secure as possible.

1) Encrypt your data

There’s no way of knowing for sure that your product is secure. That’s why it’s important to encrypt your data. While many say that encryption will make your app slower, but there are ways to get around it. Just look at some of the giants in the tech industry. Facebook runs encryption on separate services so as not to compare the speed and the ease-of-access. It is not enough to have an SSL or a HTTPS.

2) Know which bugs to look out for

Even when you use the best code review tools, you are not guaranteed to find all of the bugs in your code. One way to make things easier is to identify which bugs could cause the most damage. While you should definitely invest in code review, it also helps to identify and address the particular bugs that could be harmful to your company.

3) Run a penetration test after each major change

One of the most important safety assurance activities is penetration testing, a process that is unfortunately often misused. It should not be a replacement for any of the other steps. A “clean” penetration test report doesn’t necessarily indicate that your system or application is perfectly secure, but it does help you check that your code will not fall apart if it is subject to attack.

 

3 Ways Fintech Startups Can Maintain Cyber Security

cyber-1654709_1920Fintech companies have been warned for a while now about cyber attacks. In 2016, it’s not a matter of “if” a Fintech company will be hacked, but “when.” Within this year alone, more than 3 million credit card records have been made public.

Supposedly impenetrable shields that are used around online banking systems are currently being questioned by experts and critics. If you’re building a Fintech product, keeping it secure may be more difficult than expected. Here are a few tips to prevent cyber attacks:

1)Have a Chief for Information Security

Creating a culture of security within your company requires a leader. Get a Chief for Information Security who has a clear vision and is able to tackle the job. This person will need to bring up the topic of security in meetings, and must also be okay interacting with hackers.

2)Use architecture and code review

The first step to securing an application is an architecture review. Make sure you define your security requirement along with the product features before you begin writing lines of code. Right after every code release, review your code security loopholes. Make sure the members of your team understand their bad practices and mistakes. While reviewing every line of code is tedious, it is also the best way to find security loopholes.

3) Provide role-specific security training

If you want to ensure security, you must give your staff more than the typical generic security awareness courses. You need to provide the knowledge and skillsets required for their specific roles. Security can not be taught through a one-size-fits-all approach.

For more information on fintech startups and maintaining cyber security, please read the follow up piece to this article, “3 Additional Ways Fintech Startups Can Maintain Cyber Security.”

 

What’s Next for the Fintech Sector in 2017?

David E. MickeyFinancial technology has historically moved slowly, but a number of new trends are breathing life into what many view as an uninteresting segment of the tech sector. Here are a few exciting fintech developments to watch out for in 2017.

A Credit Card for the 21st Century

Many data breaches have highlighted the fragility of our credit card system. While the slow expansion of chip-and-pin readers address some of its issues, there are many areas in which fintech can change the face of credit card transactions and processing.

One example of such innovation is Final, a credit card built for the 21st century. Final cards support creation of one-time or limited-use numbers, limits on charges, and other features that minimize the frustrations caused by data breaches or nefarious merchants. As credit cards become easier to obtain and use, financial technology must address the risks posed by a single set of credentials that give merchants access to a consumer’s finances. We are sure to see more companies like Final attempt to address this pain in 2017 and beyond.

Faster Processes

While technological innovation advances at an ever-increasing pace, much of fintech thrives on standards not updated in decades. This is understandable from the perspective of regulation and bureaucracy, but the sluggishness of financial processing propagates across many layers of business, causing delays that become increasingly difficult to justify.

Thankfully, large financial institutions are beginning to develop interfaces and services that speed up common interactions. American Express recently opened up some aspects of its platform to developers While these changes may seem small when taken individually, they will ultimately pave the way for a more open and programmatic way to move money between individuals and businesses.

Blockchains in the Back Office

Pioneered by the popular Bitcoin digital currency, blockchains are methods by which groups of users who do not trust each other can agree on an outcome. Blockchains can clear transactions, track ownership of assets, and record agreements in a way that does not depend on a single entity or server.

Though Bitcoin itself has many challenges that make adoption risky, the underlying blockchain technology has broader uses. Microsoft laid the foundations for its adoption with Blockchain as a Service, a platform that simplifies experimenting with and deploying blockchains for custom purposes. Instead of driving entire currencies, we’re beginning to see blockchain technology used to move and quantify assets between small groups of financial institutions. The full usefulness of blockchains has yet to be explored, but they are likely to play a crucial and growing role in the future of finance on both large and small scales.

Conclusion

The future of financial technology is defined by openness, speed, and greater consumer protection. As innovation becomes easier, we are likely to see more interest and excitement in an area of business that has to date been dull, uninteresting, and slow to evolve.

The Global Economy Is Suffering: Is The U.S. Responding Wisely?

The Global Economy is Suffering by David E. MickeyAfter Brexit, the already weak global growth is likely to be eroded even further. The world has a wage-depressing surplus of labor and excess capacity. Oil prices will likely plunge even lower than their already low prices. Corporate profits are unstable and deflation is posing an issue for central banks. Given these conditions, it would be logical to expect financial markets to have increased demand for safe-haven U.S. Treasuries. You’d probably also expect to see falling commodity prices, a soaring dollar, emerging market debt, and increasing aversion to junk bonds on the part of investors. This, however, is not the case.

This year, commodity prices such as oil have risen. For months, the 10-year Treasury yield has been flat. Emerging market bonds and junk bonds are attracting increasing amounts of money. It is likely that these conditions may lead to major market correction so that prices will be in line with economic fundamentals once again. When we look at the slow economic growth and negative interest rates that occur in countries with super-aggressive monetary policies, we see that perhaps things are out of alignment and the resolution will be a shocking process for many market participants.

The valuations may not be justified, but there are a few possible explanations for current market conditions that could also serve to lessen the blow of an abrupt reversal. Despite historically high price-to-earning ratios, U.S. stocks still may be cheap. Equities continue to be attractive when the dividend yield on the S&P 500 index is compared to those available on 10-year government debt. When we make this comparison, it seems stocks may be undervalued by more than 60 percent.

There is also a possibility that a fiscal stimulus program will emerge in order to revive growth. Even central bankers are admitting that meaningful economic growth has not been generated by monetary policy, and politicians will be increasingly pressured to their part in both the U.S. and in the euro zone.

Once we have a new U.S. president, both political parties may be able to reach a middle ground through infrastructure spending. The U.S.’s infrastructure certainly needs an upgrade, from the bridges and roads to the public transportation. According the the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Competitiveness Ranking, the U.S. is third overall in competitiveness, but it ranks 13th for infrastructure quality as a whole. It is estimated that each driver is paying an extra $377 annually due to aging roads and bridges.

The National Association of Manufacturers believes that for the next three years, $100 billion should be spent on major infrastructure each year. The association also points out that between 1956 and 2003, outlays grew 2.2 percent, but from 2003 to 2012, it fell 1.2 percent annually, for a total of drop of 19 percent in the 2003 to 2012 time period.

If the post-election climate brings a better political climate and a decrease in the amount of spending, investors may still be too calm about the outlook. The S&P index is up about 6.2 this year, and the VIX index, a measure of expected volatility for the future stock market, is staying at historically low levels.

If things reverse, the U.S. might follow in Europe’s footsteps. The European region has erased almost all of 2015’s gains with a benchmark Stoxx 600 index that is down more than 5 percent. For investors in this economic climate, it is best to hold universally large cash positions until the future is a bit more clear.

The world is in a time of economic turmoil. The U.S. may not be spending in the best way possible given the conditions, but there is a lot that is unknown in the financial and political landscape of the U.S. Only time will tell where our country’s economy is headed.

 

5 Ways Banks Can Use FinTech to Build Trust, Support Customers

online-banking-advantagesBanks can use fintech to build trust, believe it not. When catering to a consumer base that expects nothing less than instant gratification, fintech companies, and partnerships can offer traditional banks tools that guarantee convenience and seamless customer service.

Wasteful and cumbersome, physical pieces of paper aren’t convenient and can challenge customer service for many in the banking institution. For that reason alone, many people refrain from using banks, expecting that it’ll be time-consuming –that’s on top of a preexisting distrust of the traditional banking system. However, banks are demonstrated that they’re interested in address distrust and negativity. They’re willing to take on public perception by using digital tools to move products that are customer-centric. They’re interested in doing a number of things in order to better satisfy the communities they service, and among those things are the following:

  1. Demonstrate that they’re customer-center: Since the birth of the banking industry, the focus has been on the products, but technology has offered an opportunity to focus on customers first and foremost. Through engagement via social media and other platforms, banks can inquire about customers’ specific needs, their desires, and concerns about wealth management. In order to do this, banks must be able to focus on internal data analytics, which fintech can assist with. Fintech has made data more comprehensive and palatable. It also eases customization, automation, and tailored bank offerings.
  2. Develop seamless banking systems: Among the numerous things fintech companies are able to do, they’re great at helping banks to implement solutions, which makes it easier for customers to access necessary services and they help with customer interaction with banks at every level. Ultimately this leads to greater satisfaction.
  3. Offer targeted service offerings: Data analytics are another specialty offered by fintech companies. They’re able to provide targeted insight, incentives, and opportunities to clients. Based on needs or desires of certain clients, companies can accurately suggest services or products after gauging after gauging requests made by clients in similar situations.
  4. Correct and address any concerns faced by the underbanked and unbanked: Fintech can be used to serve an important, overlooked segment: the underbanked and unbanked. Financial technology can equip banks with easy and inexpensive mechanisms to educate and equip customers, facilitating access to convenient options that make digital payment, mobile payment, and online banking possible for those in the U.S. and abroad.
  5. Broaden a prospective client base: Those banks with enough foresight to employ the expertise of fintech companies, they’ve gained access to a wider variety of customers. Fintech companies can provide low-cost insights on upscale and as well as those with lower net worth. Data analytics and robo-advisory advancements are making wealth management attainable. Incorporating fintech innovations into organizations will help banks to reach a greater collection of customers.

Fintech is easily improving the relationship between customers and banking institutions. Connectivity, convenience, and customer-specific interactions have emboldened the banking population.

Federal Regulators Rein in Unregulated FinTech Sector

fintechFinTech has proven to be a disruptive and effective tool within the financial sector. For that reason, federal financial regulators have been introduced policies in order to handle the unregulated subsector, in the name of customer protection.

The new technologies’ interaction with the financial service industry has improved consumer and operational engagement capabilities by leveraging digital functions, analytics, and data management. FinTech has made it easier to create opportunities that allow for industries to address issues  with poverty, financial inclusion and access to capital, and it’s doing so at an accelerated speed.

Startups that center around FinTech provide alternative lending solutions and mobile payments. This has upset the status quo, regarding traditional financial firms because patrons are granted access to financial alternatives, and cheaper and more accessible venues to make payments and obtain capital. The public no longer has to be tied to banks and other regulated financial institutions. For a long time, FinTech operated alongside the traditional financial sector but was some divergence. The unregulated subsector has introduced benefits and harm to the marketplace, which is why the government developed federal financial regulations and policies to address issues within the unregulated Fintech sector.

For some time, there has been a push from financial regulators to develop policies that help to foster financial innovation while providing protections for consumers. Earlier this month, the Treasury Department published its  white paper on online marketplace lending industry, which promises to establish robust borrower protections, effective oversight, support for the expansion of safe and affordable credit, and the promotion of a transparent marketplace.

The innovation within the financial sector could act as a double-edged sword within the financial sector, due to the possibility of abusive practices. Recently developed regulation should help to foster productive balance, consumer protection, and innovation.

Altfi is a FinTech segment, offering finance portals for equity and debt, which helps businesses access capital from private equity groups, venture capitalist, bypassing banks, and individual investors. This financial market was opened up because capital raising was reading change following the collapse of U.S. and worldwide markets.

RegTech is crucial for Fintech B2B and has changed the way accounts are opened with ID verification. The traditional pillars rely on regulatory bodies to protect them, which is an issue will each segment in FinTech. The evolution of RegTech makes it easier for companies to reach their goals.

Each segment of FinTech is changing, which has helped to gather each aspect on one platform, aligning itself with the needs of businesses, which has allowed Fintech growth. There are individuals staffed in the FinTech industry, whose entire job is committed to due diligence, the prevention of fraud, and building credibility for the investor base. Investors from the investor and private equity sectors rely on measures being met before they commit to any deals.
The portals are changing the way that businesses access capital. However, portals are facing on-boarding and post-transaction compliance that’s related to business. The Fintech sector norms will soon grow antiquated in the face of rapid industry evolution. There’s a great deal of work to do, and leaders in this sector, such as Microsoft, Alibaba, and Alphabet are making being more pronounced, and many others step onto the scene.

So, how does one influence FinTech buyers?

fintechConsumer behavior has tooled and enabled the FinTech market, and vice versa. Because of this, the market has changed to become far more competitive, challenging nontraditional and traditional entrants. Investment in technology by financial institutions has led to reduced costs, enhanced security, the introduction of new products, improved customer services, and compliance with new and complex regulations. Globally, bank spending on information technology is expected to hit $150 billion in 2018, rising approximately 19.9 percent.

This fast-paced growth has led to numerous challenges for FinTech vendors, including enrollment in an oversaturated market, a lengthier and more complex sales process, and failure to gain marketing support. Also, for those wishing to interact with financial institutions and vendors during the sales process, it may be difficult to know what influences FinTech buyers.

So, how does one influence FinTech buyers?

Well, the easiest way to learn how to influence FinTech buyers is to understand who they are and how they function. Fifty-two percent of information technology decisions involved ten or more individuals, with the average being 36 people. Approximately 15 percent of decisions made involved 50 or more people. To get on a buyer’s radar, being able to provide trusted advice is critical, which is normally made possible through communication with industry consultants, peer relations, industry analysts, and internal business analyst. Also, content and SEO ranking has been identified for “long list influencers,” who look to vendor webinars, trade shows, vendor led events, direct marketing, trade media, business media, and web searches for valuable insight. They’re least likely to deem advertising or national media as credible sources as a key influence.

Also, those interested in FinTech buyers should have an understanding of how to meet buyer needs, which can be met through thought leadership, delivering unique insights, building credibility through third parties, delivering cutting edge technology and identifying why a particular vendor is different than any other. It’s not at all surprising that value because a significant fact for buyers, who prefer hard numbers and deliverable, and require evidence that vendor can do what they advertise they can do.

There is information not being made available to FinTech buyers, such as prominently being evidence-based data. Buyers want evidence that vendors have experience delivering deliverables and hard numbers to similar companies. They also would like access to industry feedback, customer references and case studies, and demonstrable track records. Ultimately, they want guarantees in regards to visibility, differentiation, and evidence –which can be provided via a number of channels and approaches, whether through analysts, trade media, or influencers. Internal business analysts, reputation, unique insight, credibility, and hard evidence are more important than social media, national media, and advertising.

Fintech Startups Aren’t Going Anywhere & They’re Changing the Way We Do Business

23273130005_f8c800bcfe_oThe sizzling hot buzzword, fintech, an amalgamation of finance and technology, has appeared within the pages of countless publications. This term packs power because of  its disruptive abilities. In fact, Netflix, Apple, and Facebook are prime examples of companies that have disrupted industries and sparked new initiatives and startups. Fintech is impacting every modern industry.

Apple and the other companies understand that fintech plays an active role within their industry, altering the way money is invested and managed. Also, it alters the way people get loans and do financial research. For this reason, fintech will only get bigger. Last year, global investment into fintech companies reached nearly $20 billion, with most of that backing coming from venture capitalists. Within just two years, the number of venture capitalists acting as investors increased by 106 percent in 2014.

OurCrowd is a company that allows the public to invest alongside angel investors and venture capitalists, with funds directed toward pre-vetted startups. Platforms, such as Slingshot Insight, is revolutionary. It brings crowdfunding to research, enabling the public to pool money in order to access analysis and interviews from industry experts. This can be helpful for those who seek advice from doctors about digital medicine and biotech stock. The platform TipRanks is now a go-to source for those researching analyst ratings. This particular platform makes it easier to select the right select the correct stock while the application Quantcha makes it easier to search through trade options.

When it comes to finding information about an active return on an investment or the performance of an investment against a market index, Prattle, Running Alpha, Metricle, and HedgeSPA are valuable companies, offering investors unique data points for investors. Also, for those interested in ways to organize and analyze new data, companies like uxMarketFlow, Ormsby Street,  and Alpha Hat are incomparable resources. SeedFeed is valuable for those interested in a comprehensive platform that has aggregated crowdfunded real estate investments.

All of this is to say that fintech is more than investing, it’s responsible for alternatives in lending and financing. Credibly and similar companies are responsible for helping to rescue smaller businesses, and Financial lends a hand by helping businesses connect with the best possible lenders to provide owners with personal loans. Once a business owner has secured a loan and found that they’re struggling with repayment, they can turn to CommonBond, which helps them to refinance.

While fintech is about far more than investing, it has made investing easier for those without the time or energy to do their own research, or they require recommendations or direct stock picks. Tradespoon, Trade Ideas, Stockal, and Vetr are some of the companies responsible for educating men and women about investing and trading.

While fintech is relatively new, it’s already changing. Traditional institutions are bending to adapt to new competition, proving to be better for investors. The fintech realm will only expand. The aforementioned companies are just a small chunk of the industry, and what’s happened barely hints at what’s to come. Traditional brokerages and banks will introduce their own fintech product, which will be better for investors looking to keep their funds attached to brick and mortar institutions.

 


David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.com; http://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.

Green Finance Becoming a Reality

Palm with a plant growng from pile of coins

The European economy is recovering – albeit slowly – and sustainable finance may just be a major component of growth. The urgent need that exists to invest capital into sustainable infrastructure and technology may contribute to driving job growth in European nations. Individual investors, as well as national institutions, are prioritizing the need to invest in sustainability. The new movement is sure to become a contributing factor in Europe’s overall economic growth.

Individuals, companies, and central banks are supporting the transition to a greener economy. Surprisingly, Europeans are putting more of their savings in assets supportive of sustainability, while European financial institutions recognize the importance of sustainability in their business models. According to Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, the transition has been underway for sometime but has quickened since Europe’s major climate agreement. This and other international agreements have signaled to global markets the importance of sustainability and environmental concerns on future global developments.

Some major European institutions are already attempting to influence financial policymakers. The Bank of England has delivered an assessment of what climate change can mean for the insurance sector. France has introduced new labels to help consumers choose financial products that are sustainable, or at least, sustainability-oriented. Other countries like Spain, Germany, and Portugal have undertaken similar policies. Sweden, on the other hand, has enacted policy to link the financial world with sustainable development.

According to Steiner’s article, the European Fund for Strategic Investment approved 42 new projects, of which more than half of those are sustainability-related. Climate action, resource efficiency, and sustainable development are some of the included components. The Capital Markets Union even provides easier access to sustainable finance through financial instruments like green bonds, which facilitate financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Major European companies like Allianz, and Amundi are committing themselves to these greener initiatives by aligning their portfolios with carbon-reducing assets.

Key elements of these efforts include an array of other financial strategies. These include: “reallocating capital, assessing risk, clarifying responsibility, and improving reporting. ” The movement is becoming global as well. China is hoping to raise 400 billion in green investments every year for five years, mainly from financial and capital markets.

Green finance is becoming a reality, and as global concerns of climate change continue to rise, so will the need for financing in sustainable projects. If you liked this post and would like to read more about global finance, check out my twitter @DavidEMickey for more.


David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.comhttp://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.

IHS and Markit Set to Merge

Ecrivains_consult_-_Texte_4_mains

In late March, global data giants Markit and IHS released that they will become a single entity. As a result of the merger, the newly formed company will be worth around $13 billion. Shareholders from IHS will maintain 57% of the company while Markit will hold the rest at 43%. The new company’s name is set to be called IHS Markit – to ensure both companies are being fully recognized by the merger.

The world headquarters for the new company will be based in London. There are several reason the capital of England was picked, but the main one seems to be for tax purposes. England will only charge the company 20% in corporate tax as opposed to the 35% that the United States would. It doesn’t mean a US office would not be present, though. Several key operations would still be based out of Englewood, Colorado, where IHA is currently headquartered.

IHS, a US-based company, was first found in 1959 by Richard O’Brien. Focusing on providing their clients with accurate analytics and information, they strove to be the best in that key industry. With a rich and detailed background, IHS continued to grow over the years as they went on an acquisition spree over the past several years. By executing a growth strategy, the company bought out rival businesses that focused on analytics and data providers. In 2015 alone, they bought out four different companies.

Markit is a UK marketing data company that was founded in 2003. In 13 years, the company has 13 different offices around the world that employed over 4,200 people. Besides the substantial growth, Markit went public in 2014. The company’s IPO raised around $1.3 billion on NASDAQ when it went live. It was soon after that IHS approached the marketing firm with talks of a merger.

IHS CEO Jerre Stead released a statement about the merger: “This transformational merger brings together two information-rich companies to create a powerful provider of unique business intelligence, data, and analytics to a broad and complementary customer base. IHS Markit and its shareholders will benefit from enhanced product innovation to deliver strong returns across economic cycles.”

Mr.Stead will act as CEO and Chairman of IHS Markit until 2017 when he is set to retire. The current CEO and Chairman of Markit, Lance Uggla, will act as the President until Mr.Stead retires where he is set to take over the head position. News of the merger was met with positivity as the deal is set to be finalized in the later half of 2016.


David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.comhttp://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.