There are plenty of defining years in the history books, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost certain that the global pandemic will ensure that this year is featured prominently. With events cancelled, launches delayed, and country-wide lockdowns, the way we work has changed forever. Still, for financial technology and surrounding industries, this was also a year of challenge and opportunity.
This December, The Fintech Times is asking industry leaders for their ‘View from the Top’ to gain an insight into the decisions behind the last 12-months. Today, we’re looking at the issue of Artificial Intelligence, hearing from Martin Markiewicz, Asheesh Chanda and Moeen Khan on their 2020 thoughts, plus a look ahead to 2021. Will there be a Happy New Year? Read on…
Artificial Intelligence is a fintech vertical that has seen huge headway with commercial integration this year as companies struggle to continue without the physical presence of their staff. In eCommerce, AI chatbots have become invaluable, while in banking and insurtech, AI continues to help the back office move faster. In this View from the Top, companies Silent Eight, Kristal.ai and First Solution Management Services outline their own 2020 experience.
Martin Markiewicz, is CEO and Founder of Silent Eight, a company that uses AI to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. In his view, 2020 has been a chaotic year, but one that has seen increasing innovation and an uptake of AI.
“When I reflect on this year there are many words that could be used to describe it. For me, the word that I feel most when I look back is “turbulent.” And I believe that as a collective we have seen a trend, globally, of what seems to be ever-increasing turbulence. I feel this way when I consider economic, social, geopolitical and domestic politics. Change and disruption seem to be accelerating and both seem to be here to stay.
“Unlike previous eras, like the dot-com boost/bust or the 2008 recession, it no longer feels like there will be peaks and valleys. Rather, it seems the new norm is for the ups and downs to occur more quickly, more regularly, and potentially more violently. We seem to compress months worth of change into a single Tuesday. I believe the future is still as exciting and promising as it has always been for the innovators and forward-thinkers, however, it just seems to be taking a more difficult journey to get there.
“From a technology perspective, AI is entering the mainstream across almost every industry and with this prevalence, there seems to be a chipping away at the traditional resistance that most new technology faces. For instance, it’s now widely accepted that there are many areas where AI is enhancing the lives of people in our society rather than the age-old fear of replacing them or operating on its own without oversight.
“As for 2021, we already know several areas of key disruption, like Brexit, US Presidential Transition and Covid. What we aren’t yet sure of, though, is the scale. Could next year be a return to calmer politics, calmer minds, and better health? We can hope. I fear the faultiness in our societies runs a little deeper currently than can be fixed in a single year but, given the speed in which we are all currently operating, I am hopeful that 2021 will be a year for both innovation and calmer heads to prevail and co-exist.”
For Asheesh Chanda, CEO of Kristal.ai ( a global, digital-first private wealth platform providing wealth management solutions to investors), he agrees that this year has seen a great change in people’s lives, accelerating the adoption of AI with it.
“2020 has been the year that changed and impacted all our lives, one way or the other. It has transformed entire industries and the way we work and socialise. The future has started, and the AI boom has accelerated greatly with it. The pandemic has increased consumer acceptance in the fintech industry. Inflows into AI reliant products and services and algorithm-driven portfolio recommendations have increased dramatically in 2020. Through the volatile period at the beginning of the pandemic in February/March, advisory algorithms have kept their cool, while panic swept through the markets. This has given many of our clients an increased sense of confidence in AI-driven investments.
“Looking towards 2021, the way we invest will continue to change. The incorporation of machine learning helps the decision-making process with unbiased input. A broader roll-out of 5G and decentralised data storage will open the next frontier towards access to huge amounts of data at greater speeds, that may flow into the analysis of markets and products.
AI will continue to reduce operating costs, and consequently, reduce management fees. Through automating customer support, fraud prevention and predictive analytics, fintech companies can expect to do more, do it better and at a lower cost. The power of algorithms has proven to be unparalleled, with the capability that algorithms bring, to crunch data and automation at speeds beyond human capability. Kristal.AI integrates these aspects into its processes, enabling wide-eyed investors from all over the world to try their hand at investing.”
Moeen Khan is the founder and CEO of First Solution Management Services, a debt management company. In his opinion, AI has “given the financial industry a way to meet business demands”
“People and businesses need more than ever a trusted partner to ensure economic stability and to deal with the current adverse social consequences. Certainly, overdue payments are a sensitive issue, which needs to be handled with firm professionalism and social responsibility.
“First Solution has been one of the first UAE companies to implement AI in all of our products and services. We are particular about improving cash flow with increased efficiency when it comes to relationship management working with financial institutions.
“Our artificial intelligence model has the capacity to help us make smarter choices on when to contact customers and how based on their behaviours. The algorithm is designed with predictive models using the information attained through data and machine learning as well as with the help of speech analytic tools. As a result basing the findings on demographic, social and economic data, we set up the debt collections strategies to prioritised and applied built on the data associated with each debt.
“For example, Artificial intelligence allows collecting large amounts of data from different sources and analysing them automatically. Through machine learning and algorithms that recognise patterns of behaviour and statistics and cross-referencing them with information from our Debt Collection CRM in order to predict future events based on them.
“In this way, we personalised debt recovery strategies that were established for each debtor, studying their profile, ability to pay, amount of debt and the best time of day to try an effective contact. Besides as consumer preferences shift more towards digital channels, machine learning tools help us to optimise Omnichannel communications, as emails, texts, and voice calls, those are being used to extend and optimise the outreach of the collections process.