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June 26, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 1:26pm

Market case study – how is the Fintech sector utilising the cloud?

A rundown of some of the top financial technology news over the last month.

By Vinod

The latest issue of CBR is available to download today, and as part of our cloud-themed issue, we took a look at some of the innovative ways that the financial technology (fintech) market is utilising cloud technology.

This article is published in CBR Digital magazine on iPad, which is available here.

SAP teams up with Visa to expand its Financial Services Network

Business Cockpit provides more details and control for customers.

Software provider SAP has announced an expansion to its cloud-based Financial Services Network (FSN) which it hopes will be a major step towards simplifying payments between businesses, their customers, and banks.

Dubbed ‘Business Cockpit’, the new add-on provides a single solution for businesses for payment transactions monitoring, including business and technical levels monitoring, approvals and so on.

It enables businesses to see their payments activity across all the banks they are dealing with, the company says, instead of going separately to each bank portal. They can also set their own controls as well as slice and dice data across various geographies and types.
SAP has seen high interest across the financial sector for these services, and has signed up Visa as a customer for the FSN.

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As a company that processes a large amount of corporate payments, and issues corporate cards, Visa wanted to bring more efficiency and transparency into the overall payments system for its customers, and after discussions with SAP for several months about the new network, it quickly saw the value of connecting SAP’s business customers with Visa and the company’s financial institution partners.

"By combining our relationships with financial institutions and SAP, we believe we have something that can be game-changing," said David Henstock, Visa’s VP of global commercial solutions.

FundApps uses Rackspace Hybrid Cloud to deliver compliance software

London-based start-up looks to "shake up" fund management.

UK financial services provider FundApps has announced its intentions to ‘shake up’ the fund management market thanks to a new supply partnership with Rackspace Hybrid Cloud.

The company will look to connect cloud and dedicated servers using the Rackspace Hybrid Cloud, meaning it can then benefit from a lightweight SaaS platform that will be able to meet the needs of both a growing start-up and the security standards of blue-chip clientele.
Utilising Rackspace Hybrid Cloud to provide its infrastructure allows FundApps to leverage the flexibility of cloud without losing the trust of customers accustomed to dedicated environments.

"We decided to go with a hybrid solution with RackConnect because it offered the best of both worlds: you’ve got dedicated servers for your customer data, but then you’ve also got that flexibility to spin up extra cloud instances," said James Crowley, FundApps CTO. "That works quite well for us, and customers like it from a due diligence point of view as well."

Following an initial implementation, FundApps will look to move more workloads to cloud as customers become more comfortable with the service, as it sees large potential for future growth in shifting customer attitudes.

"In the long term we see everything moving to cloud, but in the short term, as a startup with customers with very specific requirements, we’re always going to be pragmatic," Crowley added. "We see the hybrid model as a stepping stone to full cloud when our customers’ attitudes evolve."

Syniverse and MasterCard introduce overseas payment service

Travellers will be able to use their cards abroad without fears of being blocked.

MasterCard and Syniverse have announced a partnership to deliver mobile and payment services to enhance peace of mind for mobile users travelling abroad.

The two companies are currently running a pilot phase for an opt-in service that will enable users to carry out card transactions with their mobile devices whilst in a selection of overseas locations.

This service aims to reduce consumers’ frustrations associated with having their payment cards used without their knowledge or having their own transactions unnecessarily declined when trying to make purchases in another country. Financial institutions will also have an additional tool that will help them make more effective decisions when approving or declining a transaction on behalf of their customers.

In addition, mobile users could also have a choice of prepaid data packages that they can purchase directly from their phones when they arrive in their destination country.

"This collaboration of two global technology leaders opens up a whole new range of possibilities for end users, ensuring a seamless payment and mobile experience," said Hany Fam, president of global strategic alliances at MasterCard. "By leveraging the speed and intelligence of our global network and combining it with geolocation solutions, we are enabling your MasterCard to uniquely work where you and your phone are, anywhere in the world."


Intuit moves new security feature to the cloud

Twilio APIs will help ensure payroll customers remain secure.

Intuit, which powers payroll systems for over one million small businesses, has teamed up with Twilio to provide two-factor authentication services.

In order to ensure its customers stay protected from online fraud, Intuit wanted to implement an additional layer of security to protect their customers’ sensitive data.

The company turned to Twilio’s phone call and text messaging APIs to provide another layer of protection. When an online user attempts to change sensitive data, Intuit sends a verification code to the user’s phone, via phone call or SMS, to provide out-of-band identity verification.

By proving that the online user is in possession of their phone, Intuit thwarts would-be identity thieves with minimal inconvenience to legitimate customers.

For Intuit, Twilio proved to be the fastest way to move their new security feature to the cloud. "With Twilio, we get all the support we needed, and in a timely and efficient manner," said Ariege Misherghi, product manager at Intuit Online Payroll. "Using Twilio, we built both phone call and text-messaging features with just one API and one vendor, which saves time and money."

"Given the urgency around changing payroll information for employees before a payroll run, it was very important to find a low-impact solution," added Misherghi.

Equity Insurance looks to Actifio to streamline storage

Virtualisation of data could reduce costs by up to 90%.

Equity Insurance, the underwriting arm of Lloyds of London banking group, is using virtualisation services from Actifio as it looks to refocus its business strategy.

The company recently decided to concentrate on its historical speciality, motor insurance, a move which necessitated a refresh of its infrastructure, and especially a strengthening of the company’s disaster recovery capabilities. Actifio’s virtualisation of data means that instead of a number of versions of the same piece of data existing across an application, a ‘golden’ virtual copy existing in the cloud is created, reducing storage costs by up to 90% and network bandwidth by up to 70%.

Using Actifio’s services, Equity Insurance can now also group servers and applications into Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) and then replicate them with three or four clicks of a button. If Equity’s customers (the internal business) need a physical or virtual server backed up in a particular SLA on either fast or slow storage, the company can now give them an ultimate price and a recovery timetable.

The company’s disaster recovery time has also been cut to minutes instead of hours, as Actifio creates a single, perfect copy of production data and maintains changes to that master copy in a way that gives users a simple application running in a single window to recover anything, from any time, instantly.

This even works for large scale application data sets, while reducing total cost of ownership by as much as 90% versus the traditional model.

"The attraction to Actifio is around mounting that copy data within an environment to a server instantaneously and being able to access it," said Keith Bucknall, lead technical architect at Equity Insurance. "It was an appliance for backups, it was an appliance for replications, for recovery, for business continuity, and it was an appliance that allowed us to do data migrations."

Clarus sees increase in growth and performance thanks to PaaS platform

CloudBees service has saved Clarus an estimated 10-15% in savings in overall costs.

Financial services application company Clarus Financial Technology has hailed the effects that adopting a PaaS platform from CloudBees has had on its overall growth.

The new service has allowed Clarus to reduce infrastructure implementation costs, along with their associated maintenance, leading to an increase in efficiency and productivity due to their cloud-based approach to application development and deployment.

Clarus has used the CloudBees Platform since inception to provide source control management, continuous build management, hosted databases and web application deployment. The CloudBees Platform also provides an option to receive a bug report in the morning that allows the company to make fixes, run test suites and deploy the fix that same evening.

"It was a no brainer for us. At the outset we knew that taking a cloud-based approach to our application development was going to be critical to our success, and enable us to handle fast growth," said Gary Kennedy, COO at Clarus Financial Technology.

"PaaS offers us an agility that our competitors struggle to match. I’d imagine it’s given us around a 10-15% saving in overall costs vs an on-premise solution."

Kennedy said that Clarus had been keen to work with a PaaS company that offered it consistent 24×7 up time, a secure infrastructure and the ability to be flexible in their development approach.

"Our business within the financial services sector means security is an imperative part of our offering, we felt CloudBees offered a very secure environment, and its customers attested to that," he added. "The reliability of the service is second to none, which is critical for us when trusting a service provider with our infrastructure."


Zapp teams up with Featurespace to cut down on mobile payments crime

Behavioural prediction service helps stop fraud in its tracks.

Mobile payments company Zapp has announced a partnership with behavioural analytics firm Featurespace which it hopes will put it at the forefront of fighting payment fraud.

Under the deal, Zapp will implement a fraud monitoring and alerting system based on Featurespace’s ARIC adaptive behavioural analytics engine into its payments systems. This engine is powered by machine learning adaptive algorithms, which run in real time and spot subtle changes at account level. The new technology enables existing and new types of fraud to be identified and prevented: a modern technological solution to an age old problem.

"Zapp will provide a great payment experience that is simple, quick and above all, secure," said Peter Keenan, CEO of Zapp. "We need to ensure that Zapp payments are trusted by consumers and merchants alike and our implementation of Featurespace’s incredible real-time analytics capability will be essential to delivering a great experience, whilst providing some of the highest levels of fraud protection in the industry."

Featurespace was created out of Cambridge University’s Engineering Department, co-founded in 2005 by world-renowned expert in applied statistics Professor Bill Fitzgerald. Today, the Cambridge-based company employs the University’s brightest researchers, software engineers, and data analysts, combined with the best of commercial and industrial IT experience.

Domestic & General looks to cloud-based automation to simplify certification procedures

SureCloud service replaced multiple systems to speed up variety of initiatives.

Following the appointment of a dedicated CISO, extended warranties provider Domestic & General (D&G) has turned to SureCloud in order to support its SaaS-based compliance strategy.

Founded over 100 years ago, D&G provides more than 13 million customers with product protection for their electrical appliances by offering extended warranty services. Prior to adopting SureCloud, D&G relied heavily on spreadsheets to gather and store all compliance-related information, and was using several systems to support its multiple compliance requirements including PCI DSS.

However, the limited manageability of spreadsheets and lack of any centralised process control made devolving individual tasks and consolidating responses difficult. The process was also overly dependent on the knowledge of individual stakeholders and could be severely delayed if one of the responsible parties ever left the organisation.

D&G wanted a cost-effective way to centralise and automate these processes in order to significantly reduce the amount of stress and pressure routinely experienced at audit time.

"We’ve become far more efficient and have made substantial time savings by using the SureCloud platform, as many of the larger solutions would have taken years to implement," said Vince Pillay, the new CISO of Domestic & General. "We now have visibility and control across the IT GRC space, and have progressed from passive to proactive compliance."

Bank of Cyprus UK hails effects of Salesforce cloud

Processes have been greatly improved since adopting Salesforce platform.

Bank of Cyprus UK has spoken out about the important role Salesforce’s cloud platform played in ensuring it remained buoyant and continued to lend despite recent economic crises.

With 50,000 customers and four business centres, Bank of Cyprus UK has moved on from using manual processes to work through applications to provide a number of service improvements to customers thanks to Salesforce’s services.

For example, by using Salesforce to automate the retrieval of security data from back-end systems, it has cut the time taken to identify a customer on a call by 65%.

Currently, 140 of Bank of Cyprus UK’s 165 employees log in to Salesforce to work on a daily basis, using its Salesforce Platform and Salesforce Chatter programs, with the latter helping to reduce the bank’s reliance on email and foster greater collaboration across its employees.

"Salesforce works behind the scenes to pull all the information together so we can provide a more efficient service to our customers," said Jonathan Wood, the bank’s head of systems. "It is now much faster and easier for customers to open an account – they can make their first deposit in three hours instead of three days."

"The power of Salesforce means it has gone well beyond just the customer service piece, it has gone right to the core of our internal efficiency," added Wood.

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