The Fintech Transformation is Determined by Enthusiasts

There are around 4,000 registered fintech-related companies globally and their number keeps growing.

The fintech transformation stimulates the appearance of new payment providers, peer-to-peer lenders, innovative crowdfunding and trading platforms. According to Fortune magazine, $19 billion were invested into finance startups in 2015, which is a significant increase from $2 billion in 2010. These companies are changing the future of finance.

Fintech vs. Traditional Banking

Banks did not face any competition for centuries, which removed their stimulus to innovate and be transparent. Traditional banks have usually out-of-date, yet well-established IT infrastructures. This is an additional deterrent for incumbents to implementing new technologies, adapting to new customer demands and providing clients with the apps they expect to have.

Banks do not change quickly. Their established reputations force them to consider and reconsider lots of issues before moving one inch forward. If clients’ funds, or worse, their personal data (!) gets lost due to a new system, serious consequences will follow.

Even though the fintech transformation is happening quickly, banks are trying to adjust as well. Some of them are running accelerators such as the Barclays TechStars, others are opening separate divisions, for example Citigroup established its own Fintech unit. Thanks to this department that is focused on rapid prototyping, Citi plans to release a mobile-banking app with a cool facial recognition feature by the fourth quarter of 2016.

Fintechs are making it really easy and cheap to:

1. Transfer money;
2. Keep one informed about all account updates across devices;
3. Make better financial decisions through analytics, accounting, budgeting, prediction, and decision-making software.

Forbes gathered a list of the most successful fintech startups of 2015. It contains companies that deal with trading and investing, lending, payments, personal finance, currency exchange, you name it! They all stand out thanks to their brand new idea or approach that brings value to their clients. Here are some of the fintech areas in which you can open a startup:

1. B2B payments;
2. Mobile apps development for the unbanked and underbanked population;
3. Creation of social media platforms with integrated financial options;
4. Sales platforms for fintech products, etc.

It is today’s digital customers and their high expectations who push the fintech transformation on, while the trends toward the Internet of Things and Augmented Reality will only spur innovation in finance. One must only identify the areas which have been neglected and find a niche where more value can be brought. Can you think of some other areas which you feel could use a healthy dose of disruption?

You Need to Know about These Innovative Telecom Solutions

Telecom network operators have always relied on technology but have often taken a conservative approach, valuing stability from established systems above improvements through innovation. Faced with a rising tide of user expectations from the flood of OTT services, MNOs have now shifted their priority to streamlining their operations, improving the customer experience with real-time, agile telecom solutions.

To stay competitive, network owners and not only, will look beyond their traditional technology suppliers and seek out innovation.

Here are some innovative telecom solutions and technologies you need to be aware of:

SDN Solutions

SDN (software-defined networking) is a new architecture for data networks in which the emphasis is shifted from hardware to software. Being able to control networks through software allows for the streamlining of many IT tasks. Speed and automation are thus relevant for the development of IoT and cloud networks.

According to CM Research, SDN technology is disruptive, because the network can be controlled by more players than ever before.

A closer look at SDN solutions reveals that there are open source as well as commercial solutions available on the market. NOX, POX, OpenDaylight are free, while Big Data Fabric, Virtual Application Network, and Contrail can be purchased.

5G networks

The emergence of 5G (fifth generation mobile networks) is around the corner. 5G will provide faster speeds, greater coverage, as well as less latency in comparison with 4G networks. This is essential for the connected things of the future, such as VR, holograms, driverless cars, or drones.

Even though the industry consensus holds that 5G technologies will become publicly available by 2020, companies such as Verizon and Ericsson have announced that field trials will be run in 2016.

SK Telecom (the first to roll out 4G) has completed a successful 5G system field test this April. Park Jin-hyo, who is the senior vice president and head of SK Telecom’s network tech, said that the company plans to lead the development of 5G technologies and services and be the first one to commercialize it.

Huawei is not far behind. This May they have completed the first phase of key 5G technology tests as a part of field trials.

Solutions for smart cities

New opportunities for growth can be found in the development of solutions for smart cities. There is a municipal demand to operate cities more effectively by implementing platforms that allow to manage and monitor city lighting or video surveillance systems.

Citizens wish to have technologies that make their lives easier at their fingertips. As consumers, they inspire companies to create innovative telecom solutions that, for example, allow payment for parking or public transportation using one’s smartphone.

A UK based company offers an app that lets its users pay for the parking and it also allows to extend the parking duration remotely.

An innovative telecom solution allows commuters in Singapore to pay for the bus and train tickets with their phone. The technology enables data transmission between a mobile device and a contactless card reader.

To enjoy the service, customers have to purchase NFC (Near Field Communication) SIM cards and turn on their devices’ NFC function to make payments or top-ups.

This telecom solution allows to get rid of both cash and travel cards when paying for the transportation.

Mobile Money telecom solutions

GMCS (Global Mobile Consumer Survey) has demonstrated that from 2014 to 2015 mPayment (mobile payment) technology has increased in 4 times. eMarketer estimated that the total value of mobile payment transactions will grow 210% in the US in 2016. This happens thanks to the support from customers, governments and central banks.

Mobile money telecom solutions can be used by operators for a range of mobile money services, such as money transfers, international remittances and mobile payments.  Business of all types, from coffee shops to digital stores are implementing point-of-sale systems that allow customers to pay using mobile devices, therefore it is anticipated that the mPayment method will soon be adopted by many users around the world.

Innovative telecom solutions are going to predetermine the direction of the development of the entire industry. Companies that invest in the capabilities, technologies and relationships to foster changes now, will have an advantage for many years to come.

How to Use Mobile Banking Apps Securely?

While the amount of people who are using secure mobile banking apps increases every year, customers of online banking set themselves up for security threats, frauds, and other forms of cybercrime when using their smartphone.
According to a 2014 Deloitte report cited by Tripwire, 61% of people who do not use mobile banking apps said that security is their primary concern. So how big are the chances that someone can break into your bank account really?

In 2014 a malware called Svpeng has been detected in the U.S., the U.K, Switzerland, Germany, Russia and India. In the States the malware blocked the user’s phone and asked for $200 to unlock the smartphone. Once Svpeng got into the phone it began to look for applications from a range of financial institutions. The Trojan did not steal money or credentials, but rather it looked as if it was gathering statistics on mobile banking apps usage.

In Australia and New Zealand, a malware called Android/Spy.Agent.SI has been detected on Android devices this year. This time, the malicious software was able to steal a person’s bank details and even knew how to bypass 2-step authentication procedures. With all information in hand, fraudsters could easily transfer funds to a different account. Most importantly, the malware had not come from Google Play. The user would have had to deliberately install the application from other sources online, which means that security options had been changed by the phone owner so that applications from unknown sources could be installed. The takeaway: Don’t root your device and then install banking apps on it!

It is useful to know that iOS or Android smartphones don’t allow users to make admin-level modifications natively. Additionally, a verified market is available for downloading applications such as the App Store or Google Play. Mobile banking apps should also be secured by SSL security technology . Many large companies put their applications through source code obfuscation. This means that it will be more difficult for an intruder to figure out the source code.

Even though a lot of security features are currently in place in many apps, mobile banking applications still have security challenges that must be tackled. Security is one of the main concerns for financial institutions. People who wish to use mobile banking also need to keep security in mind. Finally, here are some useful security tips:

1. Don’t use mobile banking apps on a rooted or jailbroken device
2. Don’t download apps that did not undergo a vetting process (by either the App Store or Google Play)
3. Use secure Wi-Fi connections whenever possible
4. Put a password on your smartphone.

By following these recommendations, you will minimize security risks and diminish the odds of falling prey to cybercrime.