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Banking and Finance Magazine

IoT: Latest buzz in banking sector

ATMs are becoming self-service, smart banking options in the 21st century

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to positively impact the future of the 21st-century banking industry.

While explaining this phenomenon, Mike Hoy, Technology Director at Pulsant, remarked, “From a commercial perspective, this rapid expansion is enabled by a combination of high-speed, high-bandwidth 5G connectivity and rapidly-developing edge computing platforms. Edge computing, based on a highly connected network of regional data centres, is critical. It enables specialised gateway hubs in those data centres to process or pre-process massive amounts of data generated by the millions of devices that comprise the IoT.”

“Being close to the source of the data means this processing is accomplished at low latency – a vital requirement for many advanced applications, including artificial intelligence (AI) driven solutions and services. Processing all this data at the main public cloud providers’ data centres is not a viable option because the latency is unsustainable,” he added further during his interaction with Global Banking and Finance Review.

What is IoT?

As per ScienceSoft, “The Internet of Things (IoT) is an advanced technology that enables networks of connected devices (e.g., sensors, cameras, smart gadgets) to collect real-time data, transfer it to the cloud for processing and analysis, and react to events in real-time. IoT plays an important role in banking and finance, ensuring efficient data collection and processing and supporting digital automation of key processes. With IoT-enabled solutions, BFSI companies can optimize their services and operations, enhance the security of transactions, and offer cutting-edge customer experience.”

IoT offers a range of digitalization benefits to the banking and finance industry, from 360-degree customer view to enhanced financial security, fraud detection, advanced insurance strategies, and many more.

Talking about IoT and the financial industry, in 2018, spending on this front averaged roughly USD 153 million. However, it has already positively impacted the financial sector and will be the next big thing to watch out for in near future. Not only companies can save a lot of time and money on data-related operations, but they can also improve their customer experience and detect fraudulent activities in a better manner. In short, it can improve the entire banking security system in various ways.

Examples of IoT usage in financial industry

Talking about the best cases of IoT usage in the financial industry, we have chatbots, used by banks to provide a 24/7 customer service experience through the use of virtual assistants. As per an Insider Intelligence report, by 2022, conversational assistants could allow for operational cost cuts of over USD 8 billion across global banks. These bots use natural language processing and machine learning to improve each customer interaction and offer better-personalized experiences. For example, Capital One’s Eno was the first natural language SMS text-based assistant offered by a US bank. Eno can alert customers about suspected fraud, potential double charges by a merchant, or an overgenerous tip.

Then we have the innovation called smart speaker devices. Amazon’s Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant are becoming hits in the banking sector as well. In 2019, NatWest piloted a voice banking feature with Google Assistant. The feature was compatible with the Google Home smart speaker and allowed customers to inquire about account balances, the latest transactions, and pending transactions.

Blockchain-based smart contracts are another innovation taking care of the security and privacy aspects of online banking, by providing better customer authentication. Blockchain-backed identity authentication ensures that customer identity credentials, which have already been in a logged-on mode on the bank’s website, can’t be changed. Blockchain also eases the cost of cross-border payments and increases the efficiency of trade finance processes. As per Insider Intelligence, financial institutions are investing about USD 1.7 billion annually in blockchain technology.

Another breakthrough innovation in this field has been Smart ATMs, which are basically Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that have more functionality than dispensing cash. Smart ATMs enable consumers to do tasks (account opening, depositing cash and cheques, money transfers) which previously required them to undertake branch visits. Using the tech, banks are now increasing their digital footprint, while saving costs of building new branches. ATMs are becoming self-service, smart banking options in the 21st century. Powered by revolutionary data-gathering and analytics capabilities, smart ATMs now have the ability to collect massive amounts of information and process them to that extent, where they can even predict customer behaviour and preferences. Using biometrics in these smart ATMs, customers can also gain access to their accounts in a secure manner. 5G to play a crucial role as IoT continues to evolve.

“For banks, one of the most important aspects of IoT technology is its ability to develop use cases from the data generated by billions of smartphones. Statista believes that by 2030, consumer internet and media devices such as smartphones will number more than 17 billion globally. The data is increasing in volume all the time. According to IDC, IoT big data statistics show that, with increased adoption, numbers will reach 73.1 ZB by 2025, which equals 422 per cent of the 2019 output, when 17.3 ZB of data was produced. As companies integrate IoT devices into their network infrastructure, they will need edge infrastructure platforms to manage, process, filer and transmit this data,” Mike Hoy said.

“The ability to exploit such vast networks of consumer devices will lead to far higher levels of personalisation together with, much greater emphasis on frictionless transactions and higher quality of customer experience. This is vital in a market where fewer customers now have direct relationships with bank managers or their branches. Using personalisation and customer experience to build loyalty is certain to be a key feature of retail banking as consumers are now more likely to switch bank than their parents ever were,” he remarked further.

“The roll-out of 5G is pivotal for IoT because it enables faster, more stable, and more secure connectivity. For IoT to accelerate, access to high-quality connectivity is essential. Applications focused on real-time and aggregated data analytics need connectivity that has either low jitter, loss and lag or has dedicated high bandwidth. The telecommunications companies have been first movers in this market with 5G, but carrier fibre is an alternative and in many ways, more dependable. Yet we should not forget that strong IoT growth also depends on edge platforms with genuine compute power, network connectivity and resilience, and friction-free, fast access to the proprietary applications hosted with the big names in public cloud,” Mike Hoy said.

The ability of edge platforms to process and transmit data from 5G-enabled telemetry devices will have a significant positive impact on aspects like the quality and speed of policy and credit approvals, thus providing accurate, verifiable data on everything from vehicle usage to agricultural or factory outputs.

How banking industry can be benefited from IOT?

IoT devices can gather intelligence from the bank’s user activity of a bank, thus helping the management to understand the financial needs of the clients. Apart from this, IoT can also help the bank to perform functions like sending account balance-related notifications to the client, without human assistance. Data collected via connectivity devices will provide insights into clients’ demands, allowing banks to offer better services to them. Forget about visiting smart ATMs, clients can get their basic banking jobs done via smartphone as well. In the whole process, clients’ banking experiences will get improved with timely information and tailored products. IoT is known for its quick data-gathering process. Using this, the mechanism can easily be used to collect data about the customers’ financial behaviour, and based on the results; personalised products can be formed as per the needs of the clients. For banks, the innovation will help the management to digitize their daily, mundane paperwork and cut down their operational expenses.

In terms of combatting fraudulent activities, IOT, armed with the biometric system, can help the bank in identifying even the slightest sign of irregularity. All transactions can be handled by a smart network of sensors and linked apps. Banks and their clients can now have technological control over payments, functioning as a vital security regulator. If a transaction gets flagged as fraud that will in turn freeze the source account. At the same point in time, the technology can also perform both monitoring and data-gathering functions, via a well-connected network of CCTV, smart alarms and other security devices. In case of a security breach/suspected fraudulent transaction; the whole operational infrastructure can be locked down with the help of an IoT network.

Another crucial benefit comes on the analytical front. The Internet of Things is all about data. An IoT network can gather a high volume of data. Special automated software then processes the data and produces useful information for the banks. Financial institutions can use this ability to gather information on their clients, something which comes in handy during the loan sanctioning process. Using IoT network gives the banks the opportunity to monitor the economic activity of loan applicants, apart from viewing trading data about private and government-issued bonds and their market volumes.

Another advantage of using IoT comes in form of smart Wallets. The 21st century is all about the invention of wearable payment devices like fitness trackers, smart watches, wristbands, and jewellery, which have smart features like allowing users to access their credit cards and check bank accounts from anywhere. Since the technology is still evolving, expect a future where autonomous cars would be paying for parking, gas, rental or even maintenance service, while using its embedded wallet. Each and every home appliance and consumer equipment would be able to host an embedded, pre-funded wallet that can manage its operating expenses on its own.

Account management, leasing finance automation, automated payment through things, risk mitigation in trade finance, tailor-made insurance services and P2P finance on tangible assets are some of the areas where the banks are onboarding IoT solutions to make their digital transformations future-proof. However, to enable this, banks will have to expand and overhaul their digital infrastructures. Another challenge will be finding/training staffers for handling these complex mechanisms, as all these solutions will give the desired results only when man and machine achieve perfect harmony.

Now the financial industry has access to a resilient edge infrastructure platform that comprises compute, network and cloud to deliver seamless, high performance. IoT’s ongoing evolution and the ability to operate on edge computing infrastructure present a bright prospect for the finance industry and a win-win situation for both customers and banks.

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