Here is a snapshot for my interview with African Business Review (ABR)
With advancement in technology, artificial intelligence, organisations outside the banking industry diversified and demystified financial services by targeting small & succinct margins in the space. These were organisations servicing millions of customers through broad distribution channels, be they mobile operators, mobile handset manufactures, retailers or on-line merchants. Integrating AI applications, such as IBM Watson and N26 with Siri.
By the time advancement in machine learning got in and machines became intelligent machines, deep learning caused huge disruption in the info security and made machines super intelligent (off-course artificial super intelligence and machine consciousness is not the discussion here as these are still almost 80-100 year far from today). Artificial consciousness also known as machine consciousness or synthetic consciousness, is a field related to artificial intelligence and cognitive robotics details of which are outside the scope of this article.
Just one or two out of million of banks are getting disruptive. These model of banks with no physical branches, conducting all business through apps and websites. Incorporating chatbots and video calls for client communications, chatbots and robotic advisors.
ABR – Tell us a little about your role with Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.
[Vinod] – You can find everything on my blog, but here’s a brief word or two about where I am right now. I have extensive experience in IT networks, telecom services, and the financial technology space, now exploring artificial intelligence to add value to myself and add to my skills, as machine learning is the future of every business and technology of today. I sit in a very key position to oversee the entire changing landscape of the financial IT i.e. fintech services sector.
In our previous issue of African Business Review, (ABR) you discussed the challenge that banking and financial organisations face in trying to keep costs low while ensuring the same high quality of services – is this still the case?
“Sometimes its ok and good for everyone to un-develop something existing to uncover the hidden gems. Maybe we should un-develop to innovate?”
[Vinod] – Unfortunately it’s the same case and I believe fintech will settle its score in the next couple of years. Keeping costs low is the prime idea, as this is a low margin business for low value transactions, if the cost at any time starts looking north, customers immediately start running south.
ABR – With the continued growth of mobile payments, how has this impacted the industry?
[Vinod] – The continued growth has made a positive impact to the industry and will only continue to do so. As mentioned before, fintech will be settling down in the next couple of years and will rest for good in order to look at what it has got and how to make best out the tools in its pocket. One of the biggest tools is the data it has collected and continues to collect. It’s a time for data science and to explore every bit to see how cost, revenue, sales, growth, usage etc. can be optimised.
How has the pace of innovation impacted the financial industry?
[Vinod] – With the advancement of technology, our computers start simulating our actions, interactions, perception and will be equipped with cognition abilities very soon. Intelligent machines are no longer science fiction with experts divided as to whether artificial intelligence should be feared or welcomed. AI is going to cover all industries like banking, fintech, payments and almost every single business domain.
Financial services websites provide tips as a site banner or blog posts for its customers, but the content that comes out is dependent on customer’s activities, including their spending/saving/investment habits and how they interact with the apps.
Descriptive analytics is all about using cutting edge tools meant for data science to understand what has happened in the past and how this will predict the future.
“Functionally, a typical banking organisation sees IT as a cost centre and every one working in IT and technology as a cost rather than an asset”
ABR – What are some of the current trends?
[Vinod] – The future is more scientific. Rather than simple analytics, AI will help fintech market as it’s all about descriptive analytics, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics. These will guide fintech businesses on where, when, and how to invest. What’s important though, is that cost is king of controlling these trends.
What do you think the future African financial space will look like?
[Vinod] – The African financial space is still very new and bears so much potential. Advancement of technology, financial services, machine learning for business excellence and customer centric solutions will allow services providers to penetrate the segment. Other factors like financial inclusion, financial innovation and financial technology will allow service providers to serve customers with more and more solutions at a lower cost.
The most striking AI solutions to FinTech, banks, insurance companies (now called InsureTech) and any other financial services company will probably be those that have the robust & smart financial systems with data security, machine learning (machine conciseness is very far for now) and strong analytics features in place. On usage and acceptance part of AI i.e.
AI for intelligence or AI for automation we will probably see both types of services getting emphasis heavily by Fintechs to gain a competitive lead. AI will sit on top of every industry of today and will dictate what to do, when to do, how to do and what not to do. Usage of statistics analogy for real life problems to make succinct sense of the information around us support intelligence for better prediction and strategy. Predictions are fintech could be bigger than ATMs, PayPal, and Bitcoin combined in few years time.
FinTech brings efficiency as well as the ability to deliver new services and a much improved customer experience throughout the global financial services industry.
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