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Cash, Data and Scams: Hot topics for the BSEC-SSBEC20 event this year

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by Hannah Duncan

This year the BankSec and Self-Service Banking Europe conferences combined to bring viewers an explosion of insights, in a fast-changing financial world. The event brought together a broad range of industry experts, spanning several topics. Of course, the major benefit of a virtual event is that more people can attend, and the organisers certainly took advantage of that. We saw prominent experts from all over the world unite to deliver a steady process of high-quality talks.  

I settled in to absorb some cash and security-related content. I thought I’d already learned everything I needed to know about ATMs in the Asia Self-Service Banking conference. But I was about to be proved wrong. 

After a few words of welcome from Dominic Hirsh, Managing Director of organisers RBR, the day began. Viewers were treated to a huge range of talks, covering everything you could possibly need to know about the industry. Here are some of the points that stood out throughout the day. 

Cash is still (just about) King 

The role of ATMs has changed since COVID-19. While footfall has dropped significantly, individual cash withdrawals are greater. 

“People do fewer, bigger, shops now, which has impacted consumer behaviour”  Peter McNamara,  CEO and Founder of NM Money Group (UK) 

Despite all the many constraints on handling cash over the past year, there is still a high dependency on the stuff. Turns out, that in spite of the extra hand sanitiser needed and convenient contactless card increases, we still love to stuff a bunch of notes into our wallets. We can’t help ourselves! 

Data is the new oil 

Covid-19 triggered a rise in online banking. Banks looking to make themselves future-proof are using more and more data to sell their products. 

“It’s not that we’re pushing products in a blind sighted way… At the moment, it’s all about data” – Thomas Winandy, Head of Mobile Banking, Commerzbank (Germany) 

I found this a bit unnerving, for several reasons. Firstly, the general creepiness of your bank celebrating your so-called “micro-moments”, such as birthdays, graduations, the birth of your children feels unsettling. And secondly, it seems to me that customers lose some of their objectivity when the ads are so very targeted. On the other hand, a tailored financial service could be exactly what consumers today need, as we battle through the global recession. One to watch! 

Financial scams on the rise

Cyber-crime attempts have significantly increased over the past year, as criminals take advantage of stressful situations. 

“Cyber criminals love a crisis. The love to exploit the vulnerable”  – Sarah Armstrong-Smith, Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft Cybersecurity Solutions Group (UK)

The type of crime is evolving too, with an increase in CEO impersonation, as criminals try to steal money from companies. Expect to find more identify theft attempts in your junk mail over the coming months, and always double check if something doesn’t sound right. 

Scams use our own vulnerabilities against us

To help consumers combat the rise in financial scams, we need consider how they attack us psychologically. Cybercriminals take advantage of our individual vulnerabilities and interpretations. Then they apply time pressure and stress, using (for example) news events to make people react. Much of what we read in these emails comes from our own unique interpretation of it. Criminals chose their words carefully, using our biases against us.

“We project our vulnerability onto technology”  – Paul Maskall,  Manager, Fraud & Cyber Crime Prevention, DCPCU (UK)

Banks and Fintechs looking to raise awareness should help customers understand how the crimes work, and encourage them not to react quickly, but take a step back.

A new dawn of fintech is emerging 

Fintech is spreading and growing faster than ever, but not just in the traditional finance hotspots. It’s filling a customer segment which banks have traditionally underserved, in places where people are underserved. This means people who have limited access to finance and financial literacy. Some areas which are set to continue growing at break-neck speeds are the marketplace fintechs, which make it easier for people to buy and sell locally. 

 

“The lion’s share [of growth] seems to be around the marketplace model, which seems to be gaining traction… Agriculture platforms in Africa for example, which enable small-holders and farmers to sell their products to customers – or take Uber in North America – those to me, are indicators of where fintech is going”.  Simon Hardie,  CEO and Founder of Findexable (UK) 

To benefit from the job creation and economical boost, governments should embrace fintech-friendly regulations. Fintechs are looking for places where they can scale abroad and reach people easily, also where they have access to affordable and qualified workers. Lithuania ticks these boxes and is one of several countries benefitting from the fintech surge. 

What I took from the event…  

As our dependency on financial technology continues to evolve, we must remember that our psychology is still the same as our ancestors’ some 2000 years ago. We have the same basic needs to access marketplaces, find products which suit us, and keep a little cash in hand for reassurance. 

We also share the same vulnerabilities; we all have our own Achilles’ heels – which criminals can take advantage of in stressful moments. As we advance forward into the future, entering the digital era at pace, it’s these pointers which guide us.  

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