Confession of a Program Manager (Part III) –First Install and Testing Phase

From the last blog if you remember the project phases, we had seen a sequence of

Inception -> Elaboration -> Install & Testing ->Dress Rehearsal & Go-Live ->BAU Stabilization

In this blog we will be talking about the First Install and Testing
As it is famously said that well begun is half done, but the real fight still awaits to make it a total success. In the previous two phases most of the action is happening either remotely or with select business, IT, Operations, vendor teams. But when it comes to first install and testing, it’s time for majority of the teams to get involved and get the ball rolling.
As a program manager some of the things that needs attention and monitoring are listed below:
1) First Install of the product: Once the product vendor is ready with their pieces of enhancements and customizations it’s time to install the SW and make it up and running for shakedown. Depending on the strategy approaches might differ for installation. Everything gets installed in one go or a phase wise / drop wise approach is taken. Infrastructure team and bank internal IT team gets in to action to check all connections, integrations, handshakes, setting up test and prod segments. Getting necessary approvals from Change Management Committee and in some cases handling unplanned challenges.
 2) Department Involvement: after the first install and systems are shaken down for confirming the basic connectivity and handshakes, it is good to be handed over for next steps. Typically it involves Training and system integration testing before the functional UAT starts.
It’s essential to get the order of activity sequence right. An experience project manager needs to ensure all the dependencies are well understood and factored in while coming up with sequence of activities. Although the challenges are always new and specific to that installation.
Some quick tips for aligning important activities
• Get departments aligned – for the set of activities they need to perform, get their commitments and structure in place. It’s a good practice to involve them in the working committee meetings and track progress
• No surprises – Sometimes we have observed in the past that due to various reason like change in department head or late realization some tasks gets added to the list and becomes mandatory for obtaining sign-off. Example late request of getting vulnerability testing done or adding another round of operations users testing on top of already planned activities. As a project manager it has to be wisely understood and quick decisions taken to make necessary amendments.
• Walkthrough sessions – Over the years as a project manager I have experienced that walkthrough session are far more effective than the number of emails sent to people. It’s time saving and you get instant buy-in and common understanding across teams during such sessions.
• Teams under one roof- getting dedicated team and co-location is equally important for faster interactions and quick progress. However the reality is most of the times, the teams are neither located at the same place nor same country / time zone, effective co-ordination and management becomes key.
3) Trainings: As the saying goes ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn’. One of the important activities for business, technology and operations team during this time is to undergo hands-on system training, self-learning and increasing their expertise and knowledge on the new system being implemented.
From past experience couple of tips for project managers. Arrange the training only after the first SW install that is specific to bank requirements rather than any vanilla version of install.In order to save time is try and get the training for operations and technology, business done in parallel if possible as the content topics differ.

 4)Testing: This is one of the most crucial phase of the project. Testing must complete on time and successfully. The outcome drives the go-live and overall success or failure of the project. Depending on project size and complexities various types of testing are required like SIT, UAT, OAT, Interface, Regression, Performance, Security, Vulnerability and the list continues. The earlier defects are detected in the testing cycle, better it is.

As an industry best practice, it is advisable to carry out multiple rounds of testing specifically the UAT rounds. Typically 2-3 rounds of UAT based on the complexity and volume of the changes that are being introduced. This should be followed by at least 1 clean pass run of regression testing ensuring the last lot of changes that went in to the system are not impacting the previously working functionalities.

The number of UAT rounds is also dependent on the number of code drops to the environment and making a prudent decision specific to project instance will benefit most. Example – at an installation client had taken an approach of monthly code drops 4 in total, so UAT rounds needed to be extended to match with code drops and increased to 6 rounds in total.
An experienced project manager will definitely be able to sail through these decisions quickly and confidently.

Another important thing is the decision on how many open incidents should be acceptable before exiting the testing phase. In an ideal world this count should be Zero but it seldom happens. This decision is tricky but ensuring that no critical or high priority incidents are open is essential. There could be some medium or low priority incidents hanging around but then having a mitigation plan and knowing how to tackle it in production is important.
It’s all about finding the optimal release point rather than fixing all miniscule defects and loosing precious time resulting in further delays and overall costs to the project.

5) Payment Scheme certification: No matter how fast your testing team progresses and completes the testing the Payment schemes must certify in order to go-live. There are different elements of certification testing, Issuer Host certification, CPV, Acquirer certification. Every scheme has its own procedure of allocating their resources and opening up the project with banks. Experienced project manager helps greatly reducing the time wasted during initial information exchanges with schemes, with prior knowledge of what is expected. It is essential to factor in this critical timeline for overall completion.
After all these hurdles get near to completion, program manager must take fairly access the situation whether all the exit criteria are correctly met or not. Are there any exceptions? If so, why and with a plan to tackle them individually. Risk assessment for the open incidents what are acceptable levels and what is not etc. It takes lot of effort and energy to get all these things sorted and in order.
Things may not be perfect, never will be perfect. For me, what is essential at this point of time is having the pragmatic approach. Crux is to know the ground reality, what is possible in given time, what best can be done in order to close open points and proceed to the next stages.
As someone has said ‘Progress is more important than the perfection’ the decisions need to be taken at appropriate time and keep moving in right direction to achieve project goals.

Are challenger banks or fintech’s transforming the lending market or just providing digital makeup?

 

We live in a dynamic world where industries have transformed rapidly over last decade due to digital technologies. Financial services are no exception and have seen enormous disruption, and now financial services are not just dominated by banks or credit unions. Fintech organizations are revolutionizing finance services especially in lending and are bringing paradigm shift in this space.  There are many Fintech organizations, which are doing phenomenally well and are considered serious competitors for traditional financial institutions.

Financial services industry is highly regulated, and traditional financial institutions were sceptical of new technologies, features, products & services until they have been thoroughly worked out by someone else. On the contrary, Fintech are young, innovative and are very enthusiastic. They are experimenting new technologies (Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain etc.) to improve customer experience.

Lending is a key service for financial institutions and depending upon geography, compliance & regulations, the lending process may become complicated. It becomes more complex for unsecured lending in countries where you have many borrowers from unorganized sectors.

There was certainly a need to change the lending process because requirements are changing. Nowadays customers even require loan to buy a mobile phone, laptop or go for a vacation. Small & micro businesses also sometimes require loans to meet their working capital requirements. Fintech organizations are evolving every day and are offering various kind of lending to cater the need for different sectors.

This blog will cover four types of lending offered by various Fintech organizations, and risk & compliance aspects related to lending.

  • P2P lending

Many of Fintech organizations have provided marketplace to lenders and borrowers to come together and offer peer-to-peer (P2P) lending service. Lenders and borrowers have to register themselves and after comprehensive verification process, lenders and borrower can do transactions. These platforms also suggest best deal to lenders & borrowers based upon their profile. These platforms certainly provide better offers to both lenders and borrowers as compared to traditional financial institutions.

Faircent is one of the P2P lending platform in India and claims to have 6000 registered lenders, 30,000 registered borrowers and an average of Rs 1 crore loans disbursed every month. Central bank and other regulators are also working on policies to ensure new business models & services can be used to provide better customer experience. Faircent has received Certificate of Registration (CoR) as an NBFC-P2P from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

  • SME Lending

Small & medium size enterprises (SMEs) are generally not cash rich organizations and don’t have capacity to be well prepared for any unforeseen cash flow problems. We’re seeing this problem with many of SMEs nowadays due to Covid-19 lockdown in India. These organizations require working capital to ensure their existence.

Fintech organizations have also started participating in SME lending and some of these organizations have started providing unsecured loans.  Due the digital transformations entire loan application process has been on-line and loan disbursement can be done within 3-5 days.

Capital Float is one of the platform, which provides short-term loans to SMEs to meet their working capital requirements. Some of the loans are also collateral free which makes life much easier for small businesses because they don’t need to mortgage their assets.

  • Invoice Discounting

Invoice discounting is the method of using company’s unpaid invoices to raise working capital from a lender. In most of the businesses, payment terms are between 30-90 days after invoicing, which becomes a challenge for small businesses, which have started recently.

Traditionally financial institutions have been discounting invoices for small & medium businesses. Invoice discounting involves transfer of rights on an asset (invoice) from the seller to the lender at an agreed value.

Fintech organizations have started invoice discounting using online platform. KredX and Lending Kart are few of the Fintech, which are offering invoice discounting in India.

  • Intelligent Lending

Fintech ecosystem is loaded with disruptive technologies – big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain. Some of the Fintech organizations are using innovative ways for lending.  SALT is an organization, which allows people to leverage cryptocurrency for taking loans. Borrowers can use Bitcoin, Litecoin or Dogecoin and can take loans. SALT uses smart contract using blockchain to ensure the crypto is safely transferred.

Another organization, TALA is using big data to serve under-banked population. TALA’s consumer lending app usages cell phone data – like social connections, texts, calls and bill payments to determine creditworthiness.

TALA has teams located in Kenya, the Philippines, Tanzania, Mexico and India, and to date, the company has secured more than $500 million in loans for its borrowers.

Compliance & Risk Management

Traditional financial institutions are in the business since a long time, and are well versed with regulatory requirements and associated risks. Fintech has a bright future but should start focusing more on regulatory requirement because they are not just a technology company but they are also moving towards becoming financial intuitions.

In India, Central bank (Reserve bank of India), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Securities Exchange Board of India are the bodies, which governs financial institutions and Fintech. So far all these regulators have been very supporting and have encouraged Fintech.

Fintech organizations provide best of the breed services to their customers with the help of best in class technologies and on the other hand, traditional financial institutes have long lasting relationship and trust of their customers.

Number of Fintech start-ups are growing rapidly across the global. As per Statista (https://www.statista.com/), the number of Fintech start-ups have grown from 12,131 to 20,925 during 2018 to 2020 worldwide. India has seen a tremendous growth in Fintech in the recently years, as per Invest India (https://www.investindia.gov.in/), the overall transaction value in the Indian Fintech market is estimated to jump from approximately $65 billion in 2019 to $140 billion in 2023. The numbers and trends are encouraging and interesting but we need to see how this translates in to real value moving forward.

 

Card-less Cash withdrawal cash transactions: the new prospect of ATMs?

Do not worry there’s a good news for you!

We all have days where we don’t remember important things like keys or wallets. Recently I had one of those days. I had run out of the house in a rush and, at lunch, I realized I had forgotten my wallet.

Sometimes we run out of money in our wallet and also don’t have Debit / Credit Cards with us. Then it will not be possible to withdraw money from ATM. But now, you don’t have to worry, as banks has launched Card-less Cash withdrawal ATM service due to which you will be able to withdraw money and that too without using debit or credit card

Traditionally the Debit / Credit Cards security is based on two-way authentication process which has a card and a pin number, but it has now been made Card-less Cash withdrawal and painless. Now these days Banks are introducing a very different type of ATM — one that doesn’t require users to swipe or insert their debit cards. Instead, users can withdraw the cash they need using smartphone technology.

This is not the first time wherein banks have embraced the technology of Card-less Cash withdrawal from the ATM. Many Indian banks have already introduced the Card-less Cash withdrawal service which allowed its customers to engage in monetary transactions through the ATM without the need of possessing an account. The service enables bank’s customer to transfer money to any person with the help of receiver’s mobile number and a sender’s code through text message. The person who received the money can withdraw from ATM by providing details like sender’s code, mobile number, amount transferred and SMS pin to the receiver through SMS within 14 days.

Understanding Card-less cash withdrawal technology

With technology penetrating every walk of life, banks are trying to improve customer services with new modes of monetary transactions that are convenient and secure. Now, you don’t have to carry a Debit Card or hold a bank account to withdraw money. Card-less Cash withdrawal are making their way into the system to make our lives easier. This method can be a game changer. So, how does it work? The process differs slightly from bank to bank. However, in general, you would need to use the bank’s mobile banking app. Once you log in to the app, you will need to initiate the transaction and provide the amount you wish to withdraw. A temporary PIN will be generated which you will enter at the ATM after choosing the option for Card-less Cash withdrawal. One of the major advantages of using a Card-less Cash withdrawal service is that it eliminates the need to carry a Debit or Credit Card. Hence, it’s safe and reduces the risk of fraud mainly skimming and cloning of your cards. Have you tried it yet?

Challenges:

While Card-less Cash withdrawal ATMs are considered to be safer than using your physical card, the security of this method is still a bit of a mixed bag. If you’re worried about ATM skimmers or theft, you may be relieved to not have to risk it with your physical card. (You do, however, need to keep tabs on your phone if you’re going out wallet-free.)

More limitations come regarding the amount allowed to withdraw, a number of transactions, the time required to enter a verification code, or availability of the Card-less Cash withdrawal ATMs nearby.

There are few challenges that we must take care of before using the Card-less Cash withdrawal cash withdrawal which are stated as below –

  1. Cash withdrawal limitCustomer can withdraw a specific amount within the min and max range as per the bank regulatory requirements
  2. Customer Type – As of now, banks offer this service to their savings bank customer
  3. Charges- For every card-less cash withdrawal transaction, bank will charge the customer a specific amount of fee which varies from bank to bank.
  4. Card-less Cash withdrawal ATM – According to research, 78% of consumers would rather use a Card-less Cash withdrawal ATM solution than carry a physical card. Therefore, installing those machines is just a reasonable answer to public demand. Their main prerogative is convenience.

Many mobile apps offer to locate the nearest Card-less Cash withdrawal ATM of the banking network which adds up to the convenience factor.

Advantages:

Yet why would any bank invest money to upgrade ATMs for Card-less Cash withdrawal withdrawals?

No Debit card required – Card-less Cash withdrawal is here!? We are truly living amidst the golden era in banking. Digital Transformation has revolutionized the way banking transactions were carried out traditionally. It’s drastically changing every single day!

Following are some of the few benefits of this Card-less Cash withdrawal technology

  1. Faster Transactions – Card-less Cash withdrawals take about 15 seconds from start to finish. This is in sharp contrast to traditional card-based transactions that can take anywhere from 45 seconds to several minutes. By Setting up the transaction in advance we can reduce our time spent in ATM.
  2. Improvised safety & Security – Debit card information isn’t stored directly on the smartphone. Even if a thief gets his hands on a user’s device, he doesn’t necessarily have access to that user’s banking data. We don’t have to worry about losing a card or forgetting PIN.In addition, cards can occasionally get stuck. Unlucky users may have to wait an entire weekend before getting in touch with their banks to resolve the issue.
  1. P2P payments: Another compelling benefit of Card-less Cash withdrawal ATM transactions – specifically cash-by-code transactions – is the opportunity for customers to initiate P2P payments. Customers can set up the transaction using their banking app, and send the code to friends, family, etc. for them to withdraw the funds from an ATM.
  2. Convenience of usage: Now we need not carry Debit or Credit card for withdrawal of cash. Card-less Cash withdrawal ATMs join a long list of mobile payment options that have already taken the retail and restaurant industries by storm. The problem of the account being hacked or any fraud from card loss or theft will have a full stop.

Conclusion:

Mobile Era and Card-less “Mobile device everywhere and every time”

The banking industry is on the edge of another fintech revolution. Card-less cash withdrawal ATMs are about to go mainstream and can create a major shift that will have a big impact on the banking industry.

Myths of Contactless Payment Security!

For many people, paying with a card is still associated with a “swipe” or a “dip”; however, for the owners of more than 440 million contactless cards accepted in over 9 million locations in 114 countries, they pay with a tap. Contactless cards were introduced to give consumers a safe and simple way to pay that helps speed them through the checkout line. The same technology also backs the ability to pay with a phone. Contactless technology was developed with the mindset of never sacrificing security for convenience. The cards and devices contain an embedded chip and a radio frequency (RFID) antenna that provide a wireless link with the contactless reader.  When the card or device is tapped against the reader, information is transmitted in a highly secure manner within a fraction of a second.

Contactless payment options are appearing everywhere, but many of us are still hesitant to tap. Despite the availability of this technology, consumers aren’t entirely convinced that it’s a secure form of payment. After all, the whole idea of our personal information being transmitted through the air is a scary thought. But with contactless payment information being transmitted wirelessly, some people question whether it’s truly safe. The simple answer: yes.

Here we try to debunk popular myths about contactless payments so that you can go cash free with confidence.

Myth 1 – A thief can easily electronically pickpocket your contactless card to make a fraudulent transaction if a thief approaches with a terminal to you

Reality – In order to get hold of a terminal for setting up such a business, you need to see a terminal provider, which is a financial institution. They will run you through a whole Know Your Customer process. This means that they know who you are: you are identified. Contactless payments are electronic; they can be traced back. Since you are identified, and the payment can be identified, there is a 100% chance to get caught, for only INR 2000 which is the limit set by RBI for contactless transaction. INR 2000, that is the maximum amount in India without a PIN code: Do you think A thief would risk for this less amount

Myth 2 – If a thief does intercept your contactless information, they can create a counterfeit card to use in a store

Reality –  Card details are encrypted. For every individual card transaction, there is a one-time, unique number that is communicated between the card and the terminal. Contactless does not change anything more than the way of communicating information between one device to the other. It does not change the information itself. As such, contactless does not pose any risk whatsoever when it comes to counterfeiting a card.

Myth 3 – Even if a thief cannot counterfeit your card, they can make purchases online or by phone

 Reality – Contactless is nothing more than a feature to enable communication between a card/device and a terminal. It is technology that is only relevant in the physical world. Just like a regular card, a contactless card does not know your name, billing address, or even the 3-digit CVC code at the back of your card. That is right: the card does not know what is written on its front or back. Making a purchase online requires strong customer authentication. Sometimes a card number, cardholder name and 3-digit CVC code are enough. Since these data cannot be transmitted, there is no risk someone gets access to it through contactless communication.

Myth 4 – In addition to stealing your card data, thieves can also steal your identity

Reality – Contactless cards do not transmit any information about the card holder, such as name and address. This information is not known by your card. There is no interest whatsoever to have this information on the card, because it is not required for making a transaction.

Myth 5 – If someone steals my connected watch, he/she can make purchases from my account.

 Reality – Paying with a connected device is made even more secure than contactless cards. It is important to know that the device does not know your card number. What the device knows is a token of your card number, an encrypted alternative number. This is highly encrypted information that first needs to be ‘detokenized’ by a third party, like MasterCard, in order to make a transaction.

On top of that, a smart watch will not be able to make a transaction without:

  • Wearing the watch: the payment feature will be disabled once you take it off
  • Minimum one PIN per day is required in order to make other no-PIN contactless transactions.

Myth 6 – If I put two contactless cards near a terminal, it could charge the wrong card – or even charge me twice

 Reality – When you put two or more contactless cards near a terminal, the terminal will – most likely – charge the first card it sees. That’s why we don’t recommend tapping your wallet against the reader if you have more than one contactless card.

Myth 7 – I could accidentally tap my card against a reader and pay for someone else’s shopping

 Reality – There’s no need to worry about picking up someone else’s bill; most terminals can only read cards when they’re within 10cm, so you’d have to be very close to pay by mistake.

Myth 8 – If my card is lost or stolen, someone could spend my money and I won’t get it back

 Reality – Contactless uses the same level of security as a Chip & PIN transaction, and has certain features that limit fraud. For instance, your contactless card can only be used for transactions under a certain amount – INR 2000 in India. And as an extra security measure, you will also be asked to enter your PIN for transactions amount more than INR 2000

Myth 9 – But it isn’t safe 

 Reality – In actual fact, contactless payments are one of the most secure ways customers can pay. The technology is just as safe as swiping or inserting a credit or debit card. An added bonus is that the card remains in the customer’s hands at all times, so there’s no chance they’ll leave it behind by mistake.

Myth 10 – Apple pay or Google wallet is not secure.

 Reality – When contactless payments first made their debut on smartphones concerns were raised about the security of card details being stored on, and transmitted from, a smartphone. In the case of ApplePay, for example, card details are only transmitted when the phone detects a Chip & PIN machine that is requesting payment, it requires either a passcode, or thumbprint, to complete the transaction, and the 16-digit card number transmitted is semi-randomized per transaction. These features give contactless payments via a phone another level of security in cases where the phone is either stolen, or a receipt is dropped at the point-of-sale terminal displaying the full card number.

 Keep yourself safe from contactless fraud

Contactless payments offer a convenient way for consumers to pay for goods but, like most technology, come with a handful of security concerns that everyone should be aware, but not scared, of.

With that in mind, here are some top tips to help keep yourself safe from contactless-based fraud:

  • RFID-blocking wallets will block any wireless signal from leaving your wallet without your knowledge
  • Using systems like ApplePay and Google Wallet give an extra level of security when paying and don’t transmit your card details without your consent
  • Report any cards that are lost or stolen immediately to your bank.
  • Keep your mobile phones locked using pin or thumbprint to prevent access to contactless payments apps
  • Be in control of your card – Keep your card always with you and never hand over it to someone else while paying using a contactless card machine
  • Regularly check your bank account statements to keep an eye on fraudulent transactions
  • Keep your bank SMS alerts active and report to bank in case you receive SMS for any transaction not done by you.

 

Digital world of Payment Wallets and Tokenization

We all have used credit cards and Digital payment wallets. However,     nowadays carrying a credit card or debit card seems to be a burden. The technology is very rapidly moving towards digital payment wallets e.g. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay etc. These wallets provide the liberty of not carrying a physical card and transaction can still be done at ease. It also provides an additional layer of security as the digital payment system passes the Virtual Card Number (Token) instead of actual Card number. Following important stake holding parties are involved in the digitization process:

  • Cardholder
  • Digital Payment Wallet (Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay)
  • Acquirer
  • Schemes/ Association
  • Token Service Provider (TSP)/ Token Vault
  • Issuer

The digitization process of the cards consists of three main stages,

  1. Provisioning and IDV (Identity and Verification),
  2. Transaction Processing
  3. Token Life Cycle Management.

1) Provisioning: In this process, a customer enrols with a digital payment service provider by providing card details such as Card No, Card Expiry, Security Code, etc. The digital payment service provider requests a token from the TSP.Once the token is assigned to enrolled account or customer, the token service provider sends the token details to the digital payment service provider and replaces the Card No details with the token details and the same is used for online and NFC payment. The provisioning process is further sub-divided in to three steps

  • Eligibility criteria check
  • Approval of the Provisioning process
  • Cardholder Step Up Validation

At first, the token service provider checks the eligibility of the cardholder with the issuer.  Based upon the eligibility criteria checked in first step, TSP would take appropriate action, e.g. approve, decline, or step-up, based on attributes to provision the token. In the last step, the TSP allows the issuer to provide the supported methods of cardholder step up  Authentication such as OTP validation.

2)Transaction Processing: For the transaction processing the customers, do not require its physical card. They can tap their mobile that is registered with payment wallet, to the NFC enabled POS terminal . It then processes the authorization and appropriate action will be taken care based upon the account eligibility. The transaction flow can be visualized as:

 Authorization Process:

  • A Customer initiates the purchase by tapping their mobile at an NFC enabled terminal
  • The merchant sends the Token instead of Card No to the Acquirer
  • Acquirer passes the token to the respective association such as VISA
  • Association send the token details to TSP and retrieve the Card No details and then send both the details to the issuer
  • Issuer approve/decline the transaction based upon the Card No eligibility and send the response along with Card No and token details
  • Association sends the response along with the token details to the Acquirer and the same is passed on to the Merchant.

Clearing Process for Merchant: The clearing process include token details in the clearing file. It consists of a few steps:

  • The merchant submits the capture file to Acquirer with token details
  • Acquirer prepare the clearing file with the token details and send the same to the association
  • Association / Token service provider fetch the respective card details and send along with the token details to the Issuer
  • Issuer process the clearing file with both Card details and token details and send the acknowledge with Card No and token details.

3)Token Life Cycle Management: Apart from provisioning and transaction, the token service provider takes care of Token Life Cycle Management. There are 3 more sub-stages in the Token Life cycle apart from an Active token:

  • Suspend Token: Whenever a payment wallet user lost its device, one need not worry. One simple phone call to the customer care can save them the headache of misuse of his payment wallet. Once the payment wallet user calls the customer care (Issuer) they raise a token suspension request to the TSP to update the token status to “Suspend”. Post updating the status the same is notified to Issuer as well. Issuer acknowledges the change TSP and TSP confirms the same to the digital wallet. Once Token is suspended the customer can not do the transaction till the token is resumed.
  • Resume Token: There can be situations where the Cardholder finds his lost device or wants to resume the same token, In these scenarios also just by dialing the customer support the token can be resumed. The process flow is the same as Token Suspension. Issuer will raise the token resume request to TSP and the same is informed to Issuer as well. Post the token resumption confirmation the Cardholder can continue using same wallet once again without too much of hassle.
  • Deactivate Token: Conditions where Customer does not want to continue with the payment wallet or their card or Device is permanently damaged the existing token needs to be deleted or deactivated. Even the deleting of the token or payment wallet is also very easy for the customer. They just need to raise a request to the Customer care or through device itself to deactivate or delete the token. The issuer or Wallet partner will raise to TSP. They deactivate or delete the token and the same is notified to Issuer as well. Issuer acknowledges the change TSP confirms the same to the digital wallet.

In Summary the usage of digital wallet very easy way of transacting, as it allows the customer for a  cardless transaction. It also provides an extra layer of security. The tokenisation helps by way of a virtual Card Number, which keep away the original card details      from the Acquirer. The original card details are only exposed to Schemes and Issuer. The life cycle management of tokens gives the privilege to activate, de-activate or resume the token services when needed and controllable at customers fingertip.

What needs to be tested during CMS Migration Project? How and Why?

Card Management System (CMS) Migration:

The Card Management system migration projects is one of the critical projects for any institutions or bank processors; as it involves the data which is extremely critical to banks and data migration is challenging in nature. Data migration is a prominent data-movement technique that is usually combined with other techniques.

The CMS migration includes the migration from legacy system to newer system, which includes data and other internal & external systems like Cards, Collections, Dispute, Statements, Embossing, PIN Mailer, HSM & keys, Payment Scheme and Authorizations etc.

What is CMS Migration Testing?

The CMS Migration Testing is a verification process of migration of the legacy CMS to the new CMS with minimal disruption/downtime, with data integrity and no loss of data (Data correctness), while ensuring that all the specified functional and non-functional aspects of the CMS are met post-migration.

CMS Migration testing includes

  • Functional testing
    • Regression
    • Functional regression

The regression testing is to perform testing with old data, new data or combination of the both, old features (unchanged features of CMS), and the new features of CMS, if any. The functional regression testing is to perform testing with newer data as per test cases defined by the testing team.

  • Data Migration testing
    • Mock
    • Dress rehearsal

The mock testing is to perform testing with migrated data to perform data validation, data sampling and data reconciliation. The dress rehearsal testing is critical activity for CMS migration projects. This includes the migration from legacy to newer CMS along with data migration, HSM & key migration, other internal & external systems.

  • Non-Functional testing
    • Certification
    • Performance testing

The Certification testing is to perform and validate the payment scheme (VISA & MasterCard) set of pre-defined test cases. The Performance testing is to determine how a system performs in terms of responsiveness and stability.

Designing the test strategy for migration include a set of activities to be performed and few aspects to be considered. This is to minimize the errors and risks that occur because of migration and to perform the migration testing effectively.

  • Data sampling
  • Data validation
  • Data reconciliation

Critical Points for CMS migration:

Below are the critical points for CMS migration:

  1. Identify the functionality from legacy system to new system
  2. Prepare the network diagram
  3. Identify the list of new functionalities for newer system
  4. Approach for data migration
  5. Data mapping
  6. Data validation
  7. Data reconciliation
  8. Payment scheme, if any changes
  9. Embosser , if any changes
  10. Statement vendor, if any changes
  11. Interfaces (ESB / EAI API’s), if any changes
  12. Card Plastic, if any changes
  13. CMS end points (ICA)

Why CMS Migration Testing?

The CMS migration to a new system could be for various reasons, system consolidation, obsolete technology, optimization or any other reasons.

While the existing legacy system in use needs to be migrated to a new CMS, it is essential to ensure the below points:

  1. Any kind of disruption/inconvenience caused to the cardholders due to migration needs to be avoided/minimized.

Example: downtime, loss of data, transactions declines etc.

  1. Need to ensure if the cardholders can continue to use all the CMS features by causing minimal impact during migration.

Example: change in the functionality, removal of a particular functionality

In order to ensure a smooth migration of the CMS, it is essential to carry out Migration Testing.

Technically, it is also required to be executed for the below purposes:

  • To ensure compatibility of the new/upgraded application with all possible hardware and software that the legacy application supports. In addition, new compatibility should be tested for new hardware, software platform as well.
  • To ensure all the existing functionalities works as in the legacy application. There should be no change in the way how the application works when compared to the legacy one.
  • The possibility of a large number of defects due to migration is very high. Many of the defects will usually be related to data and hence these defects need to be identified & fixed during testing.
  • To ensure whether the System response time of the new/upgraded application is the same or less than what it takes to the legacy application.
  • To ensure if the connection between servers, hardware, software etc., are all intact and do not break while testing. Data flow between different components should not break under any condition.

Migration testing life cycle

  • Pre-Migration phase

Before migrating the data, set of testing activities are performed as a part of Pre-Migration test phase. The important activity is to create “migration strategy” document along with identified set of test scenarios, test plans and test cases.

  • Migration Phase

Migration Strategy needs to be strictly followed to carry out the migration activity. Ideally, the migration activity begins with the data back up and conversion, so that, any time the legacy system can be restored.

This activity is extremely important and need to perform Mock runs for data sampling, data validation and data reconciliation with both legacy and newer CMS.

In addition, EOD validation need to be check with legacy and newer system to validate the accuracy of transaction amounts and statements.

Migration Test Summary Report

The test summary report should be produced after completing the migration testing and should cover the report on the summary of the various tests/scenarios carried out as part of various phases of migration with the result status (pass/fail) and the test logs.

Following activities need to be recorded during migration:

  • Total time for CMS Migration
  • Downtime of the applications
  • Time spent to CMS migrate
  • Time spent for rollback

In addition to the above information, any observations /recommendations can also be reported.

  • Post-Migration Phase

During Post migration testing, perform out the functional testing with older and newer records in the CMS. In addition, data reconciliation and CMS end points with ESB middleware, Collections, Payment scheme’s and other internal system need to be checked. As this might have customer impact.

Instant Merchant Payments in India – What can other emerging countries learn from it?

UPI: Solution to Instant Merchant Payment and lot more!

Borrowing, lending, credit periods, debts are usual terms in any business environment. One factor remains constant here is ‘delay’ in payments. These flexibilities make merchants happy only when there is a prospect for making or increasing business profits. Otherwise, any delay in payment may lead to direct or indirect losses.
In fintech, one noticeable example of such indirect losses to merchants is POS transactions. Where the majority of the merchants are neither receiving payments on a real-time basis nor on the same business day. This is due to dependencies at the host like merchant settlement processes.

Due to which merchants have to wait for their hard-earned money. This commercial gap becomes substantial when transaction volume and amounts are high. And can lead to difficulties in reckoning daily transactions, gaining bank interest or instant utilization of earnings, etc. Naturally, the happiest merchant’s the one who gets paid immediately, just like cash transactions.
But being in the era when the payment industry was focusing on innovations and upgradations, digitization and cash transactions became inverse-in-proportion.
Considering this fact, National Payment Corporation of India introduced an innovation called Unified Payment Interface (UPI).
UPI brought revolutionary transformation to the electronic payments industry by not only bridging the above-mentioned gaps but also providing a lot of other benefits to each participant of the ecosystem like an end-user customer, merchants, and banks.

What is UPI?
Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood. It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.

Objectives

Characteristics

Exclusives
Supports both transactions Purchase and Fund Transfer.
• Immediate money transfer through mobile device round the clock 24*7 and 365 days.
• The best alternative for POS transactions.
• Single mobile application for accessing different bank accounts.
• Single Click 2 Factor Authentication – Aligned with the Regulatory guidelines, yet provides for a very strong feature of seamless single click payment.
• The virtual address of the customer for Pull & Push provides for incremental security with the customer not required to enter the details such as Card no, Account number; IFSC, etc.
• Bill Sharing with friends.
• The best answer to Cash on Delivery hassle, running to an ATM or rendering the exact amount.
• Merchant Payment with Single Application or In-App Payments.
• Utility Bill Payments, Over the Counter Payments, Barcode (Scan and Pay) based payments.
• Donations, Collections, Disbursements Scalable.
• Raising a complaint from Mobile App directly.

Who are the participants?
• Payer PSP
• Payee PSP
• Remitter Bank
• Beneficiary Bank
• NPCI
• Bank Account holders
• Merchants

Advantages
The registration process at the end-user as well as a merchant is quick and simple. It gives the experience of PIN-based smooth and secure transactions.
Below are the benefits to the ecosystem participants.

• Benefits for banks:
1) Single click Two Factor authentication
2) Universal Application for transaction
3) Leveraging existing infrastructure
4) Safer, Secured and Innovative
5) Payment basis Single/ Unique Identifier
6) Enable seamless merchant transactions

• Benefits for end Customers:
1) Round the clock availability
2) Card-less transactions hence no need to carry debit cards
3) No Payee registration
4) Instant fund transfer with no or minimal transaction fee
5) Single Application for accessing different bank accounts
6) Use of Virtual ID is more secure, no credential sharing
7) Single click authentication
8) Raise Complaint from Mobile App directly
9) Directly linked with bank accounts and supports real-time debit entries. Unlike e-Wallets in which user has to maintain sufficient balance.

• Benefits for Merchants:
1) Instant credit of customer payments to the merchant account.
2) Seamless fund collection from customers – single identifiers
3) No risk of storing customer’s virtual address like in Cards
4) Tap customers not having credit/debit cards
5) Suitable for e-Com & m-Com transaction
6) Resolves the COD collection problem
7) Single click 2FA facility to the customer – seamless Pull
8) In-App Payments (IAP)
9) Low or no investment cost unlike POS, as personal smart Phone can be used to install UPI app.
10) Unlike POS it has no maintenance cost.

Disadvantages:
• Transaction Limit:
It varies from bank to bank but, the majority of the banks are having a maximum per day transaction limit of Rs. 1 lakh. However, one can perform a transaction of more than Rs. 1 lakh using internet/ mobile banking for fund transfer or POS for merchant payment. In simple words, it is ideal for transferring or paying smaller amounts.

• The Requirement of Internet and Smartphone
This payment method is totally internet and smartphone-dependent. People who are not using smartphones and the internet cannot use UPI.

Evolution:
Customers started using UPI applications actively to make payments. They are happy that now they don’t have to bother about carrying cash or cards while shopping. Also, they don’t have to maintain sufficient balances on their e-Wallets. Customers started giving priority to those merchants who support UPI.
Looking at this kind of customer behavior, more and more merchants started supporting UPI payments and for the same, they got enrolled with the respective banks.
Eventually, the majority of the banks started supporting UPI transactions.

Conclusion:
Looking at all the characteristics of UPI we can say that, Disadvantages are easily overruled by its advantages.
UPI module got developed with a specific motive and now that motive is working as expected, that too with huge success.
I would like to conclude this topic by saying, a few years ago NPCI planted a seed of correct fruit on a perfect time which is become a big tree and everyone is enjoying its fruits.
Observe this tree, it is still growing!

Source: www.npci.org.in

Are Payment Cards Under Threat from other Digital Payment Options?

Threat of digital payment channels on Credit Cards in India

The payments ecosystem is evolving at a very rapid pace in India. With the advent of digital payment channels like Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Amazon Pay, Pay Pal etc. a large volume of transactions is getting routed through these channels. These new channels have started challenging the more traditional credit cards in various ways. In the below section we have tried to evaluate the threats posed by the digital payment channels to credit cards under the categories – ease of use, acceptability, ancillary benefits and security.

Ease of Use

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India has enabled digital payment channels to provide a seamless payment experience to their customers. The customers can simply select the payee from their contact list or add a mobile number and initiate the payment which gets reflected on their bank accounts immediately.  This has not only allowed customers to make payments but also to receive payments. For example, a small-time carpenter/plumber can now deliver his/her services at the customer’s door steps and receive payments instantly on his/her bank account. Similarly, a landlord can now receive the rent for the rented property directly in his accounts through such channels without the tenant having to login to his net banking portal, adding payee and waiting for 24 hours to transfer the rent. These have opened up new avenues for performing business. Now anyone with a mobile phone and linked bank account is able to make/accept payments.

The credit card ecosystem on the other hand has evolved with contactless payments to provide a tap and go experience to its customers. But the penetration of contactless payments has still remained relatively sparse in India. The merchants accepting credit card have to register themselves with the banks before they can accept the payments. Small and medium sized merchants have stayed away from accepting credit cards till now.

Acceptability

Digital payment applications have an edge over credit cards in terms of acceptability. As mentioned above anyone having a bank account and a linked mobile phone can now accept payments. Digital payment channels have been able to penetrate one of the most unorganized payment sectors (peer to peer) and brought it under the digital ambit. According to recent trends UPI transactions by volume have clocked almost 800 million transactions in March 2019. This has increased from 178 million transactions in the same period in 2018. This trend clearly shows how the acceptance of digital payments is increasing at a rapid pace in India.

Credit cards on the other hand are accepted mostly at medium and large merchants. Also, the usage of credit cards in tier-2 and tier-3 cities are relatively low. As per RBI data, the volume of transactions done on credit cards at ATM and POS terminals was almost 175 million in May 2019 which has increased from 145 million in August 2018. Although the growth is significant, it clearly looks dwarfed when compared to the transactions performed on digital channels.

Ancillary Benefits

Credit cards offer a huge range of supplementary benefits to its customers. Loyalty points, cash back offers, movie vouchers, air miles, co-branded cards, lounge access and a host of other benefits are now part and parcel of a credit card offering. These definitely help issuers to attract new customers. The customers can also benefit a lot if they choose the right card and make optimized use of their credit card.

Digital payment channels on the other hand have mostly depended on cashback feature to attract new customers. The initial days of digital payments saw a huge volume of cash back transactions when the service providers invested heavily on acquiring new customers. These have gradually dried up as more and more customers have started using these digital channels for making payments. Digital payment channels will have to come up with some innovative perks for its customers to ensure customer loyalty in future.

Security

Security is another aspect where the digital payment channels are scoring big time over more traditional methods of credit cards. Banks issuing and acquiring credit cards have to undergo PCI DSS compliance which is mandated by the card associations like MasterCard, Visa, AMEX. The compliance to PCI DSS ensures that the card data stored at the host are secured using stringent rules. However, this is still not full proof and a lot of frauds are reported for credit cards on a daily basis. There are multiple points in the card transaction life cycle where data leakage is possible. Sealing all these points with stringent rules becomes a big challenge for the card issuers. Now a days some banks are introducing virtual cards to eliminate these risks.

Digital payment channels are relatively more secure as these platforms ride on the security infrastructure provided by UPI and also use tokenization during the transaction processing. With tokenization, the customer’s account number is never visible to any third party.  This makes the system less vulnerable and hence more secured.

Conclusion

With the push from government to promote a cashless economy, a lot of customers are moving towards non-cash mode of payments. Post demonetization the number of credit cards issued had seen a sudden spike. But with more and more digital payment options coming into the market, customers have gradually started moving towards these channels. Banks, credit card issuers and card associations have to start taking these threats seriously and disrupt themselves with new offerings to stay relevant in the near future.

 

Role of Data Science and AI in Improving Test Automation!!

As the world is moving faster with emerging new technologies the need of improving Test automation also grew. Now when large data is required for testing within less time latest technologies such as Data science and AI can be helpful to improve Test Automation. Where data science can help in generating data from different sources AI can help in creating codeless automation based on data generated.

What is Data Science and AI?

Data Science is a blend of various tools, algorithms, and machine learning principles with the goal to discover hidden patterns from the raw data. Data Science is primarily used to make decisions and predictions making use of predictive causal analytics, prescriptive analytics (predictive plus decision science) and machine learning.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. Some of the activities computers with artificial intelligence are designed for include: Speech recognition. Learning, observation.

Need of Data Science
Traditionally, the data that we had was mostly structured and small in size, which could be analysed by using the simple BI tools. Unlike data in the traditional systems which was mostly structured, today most of the data is unstructured or semi-structured. This data is generated from different sources like financial logs, text files, multimedia forms, sensors, and instruments. Simple BI tools are not capable of processing this huge volume and variety of data. This is why we need more complex and advanced analytical tools and algorithms for processing, analysing and drawing meaningful insights out of it. Let’s dig deeper and see how Data Science is being used in Banking domains.

How about if you could understand the precise requirements of your customers from the existing data like the customer’s past browsing history, purchase history, age and income. No doubt you had all this data earlier too, but now with the vast amount and variety of data, you can train models more effectively and recommend the product to your customers with more precision. Wouldn’t it be amazing as it will bring more business to your organization?

Let’s take a different scenario to understand the role of Data Science for Fraud Detection. What if customer who always makes transaction less than 500 rupees per day and suddenly his transaction spikes to 10000 a day isn’t is suspicious. In such case Data science can help in early prediction and restrict the account from making such transactions . Based on customers previous transaction history, location history, income history and data from other sources like social media will help data science to predict and act against the fraud.

How Data science and AI will improve Test automation?
Traditional testing techniques still rely on humans to source and analyse data. But let’s just say that humans are not infallible and are quite prone to making poor assumptions.
The less time there is for handling data, the greater the chance that testing will produce skewed results with overlooked bugs in the software. Before you know it, consumers will pick up on these bugs, which usually leads to frustration and undermines the brand’s reputation.
That’s why machine learning, which teaches systems to learn and apply that knowledge in the future, makes software testers come up with more accurate results than traditional testing ever could. Not to mention that the probability of error is not the only thing that gets reduced. The time needed to perform a software test and find a possible bug is also shortened, while the amount of data that needs to be handled can still increase without any strain on the testing team.

Test creation:
In Traditional Testing process human creates the test scripts on the assumption and understanding of the application but with help of Data science System can gather the real-time data from different sources identify the hidden pattern and provide new rare critical scenarios also which could help in improving the quality of Product.

With the help of data generated from Data Science Predictive analysis AI can build the test scripts Based on this AI can start creating test cases on real user data. It is smart enough to identify commonly used actions such as logging in/out of the application and cluster them into reusable components. Then it injects these newly created reusable components into our tests as well. Now, all of a sudden, we already have actual tests written by the AI based on real data, along with reusable components that can be used within other tests as well.

Test execution:
Some of the biggest obstacles keeping companies from moving forward with automation is the amount of time and effort it takes to write and execute tests with the chosen tool or framework and the availability of skilled resources to do this task. There are some AI tools that overcomes this issue. Test that use to take multiple weeks can be done now within few hours of time. This is achieved by creating reusable components, run test quickly integrate CI/CD with different grids.
As the test time is reduced the productivity of the test automation is increased and also non-technical person can perform the automation with help of AI.

Maintenance:
One of the most common problems with test automation is maintenance. For example, say we have 100 automated tests running on a daily basis to ensure the main functionalities of the application are still stable. What if the next day we come back to work and find that half of the tests have failed? We would need to spend considerable amounts of time to troubleshoot the failures and investigate what actually happened. This involves figuring out ways to fix the failures and implement the fixes. Then, we re-run the automated tests to ensure everything passes.AI can help here:

Self-maintenance:

Resultant tests are modelled and thus maintained by the combination of an exhaustive and autonomous set of data points, such as the size of element, location on a page, previously known size and location, visual configuration, XPath, CSS selector, and parent/child elements.

Self-healing tests:

Root cause analysis highlights all potential causes for test failure and provides a path for one-click updates.

Data modelling:

Selector maintenance should be eliminated by having elements identified by hundreds of data points that are rated and ranked instead of a single selector.

Conclusion
Machine learning gives testers the opportunity to better understand their customers’ needs and react faster than ever to their changing expectations. In addition, testers now also need to analyse more and more data and they are given less and less time to do that, while their margin of error decreases constantly. Data Science and AI offer a way to address these challenges. This approach is set to fill the gaps of traditional testing methods and make the entire process more efficient and relevant to the users’ needs.

Blockchain: The Disruptive Technology and its Challenges!!!

Introduction

Blockchain is a buzzword which is creating a hype now a day. This technology was first introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto in a paper published in 2008. It’s like the internet in the early 90s but can be as big as same. Blockchain is not a use case of internet like retail or ecommerce, in fact its parallel to internet. It’s simple yet powerful and has the potential to change our life like internet has changed in past 20 years. Most of the people think blockchain as Bitcoin, but then it’s like using the internet for sending mails.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a distributed, peer to peer technology that allows the data to be stored globally on thousands of services while letting anyone on the network to see everyone else entries in real time, which makes it difficult for one user to gain control of and hack the network. Every time a set of transactions is added, that data becomes another block in the chain (hence, the name). Blockchain can only be updated by consensus between participants in the system, and once new data is entered it can never be erased.

There are 3 key technical aspects of a blockchain

1) Maintain a Replicated Ledger: Record a history of all transactions details, append-only with immutable past transactions, and can replication and distribute to all participants.

2) Cryptography: Use of cryptography in the ledger to guarantee the authenticity of the transactions, the privacy of the transactions and confirms the identity of the participants.

3) Consensus Logic: It’s an algorithm that confirms the validity of all the transactions happening on the network and produce the relevant block to the network chain.

 

The blockchain data structure is time stamped, non-repudiable transaction list of the entire systems history. Blockchain utilizes a distributed network of nodes that stores and maintains a copy of a “public ledger” containing a full list of transactions. A group of these transactions referred to as a “block,” are encrypted and added from top-to-bottom in the order that they occur. A block adds to the end of each “chain”. Once a block adds to the chain, it becomes a permanent record and data in that block is never modified. Blocks are connected through hash chaining, utilizing a cryptographic hash. Blocks connect through hash chaining. Blocks contain a header; headers chain, therefore blocks chain. The Merkle root relates the transactions in the block to the header, creating a logical combined unit. Blockchain does not allow an arbitrary block to attach to an arbitrary header. Each header only attaches to one set of transactions.

The Merkel tree is the consensus protocol used by blockchain and is an essential part of blockchain’s data integrity. The Merkel Tree detects any changes to any data within a block, by rerunning the process for each transaction—and comparing the results to the original hash. Transactions propagate across the network where the Merkel Tree consensus algorithms check whether a node copy of the ledger matches the copy of other nodes. This continuous verification circumvents falsification of data anywhere within the chain, and the process is known as a consensus protocol. Each node keeps a copy of the block to give to other nodes when requested. Every block after that relies on that hash, and that hash relies on the Merkel Root, and the Merkel root relies on the hash of the transaction data. Altering the data within a chained block will cause that copy of the chain to no longer match the other nodes, thereby causing that node to be corrupt. The Merkel Tree allows nodes with matching ledgers continue to process, while nodes with mismatched ledgers are marked as corrupt. Transactions can be “pruned” from blocks, therefore removing the corruption.

Benefits of Blockchain

  1. Greater Transparency – Since blockchain worked on distributed ledger technology, all participants in the network share a copy of the documentation.  The data on a blockchain ledger is easily accessible for everyone to view. If a transaction history changes, everyone in the network can see the change and the updated record.
  2. Enhance Security – Blockchain works on the consensus algorithm. Thus any update/modification in the data over the blockchain requires the agreement from other participants. When a new transaction is approved its encrypted and connected to previous transaction and data is stored across a network of computers making it very difficult for hackers to compromise the data.
  3. Improved traceability – With the use of Blockchain, the exchange of data is added and recorded by adding new blocks to previous one. It gives an audit trail to understand the source of data, increasing the traceability of source to avoid fraud.
  4. Reduced cost by avoiding 3rd parties – As blockchain eliminates the need for third-parties and middlemen, it saves enormous costs for businesses.
  5. Increased data integrity –  Accessing and modifying the data stored on the blockchain is nearly impossible without notifying and seeking consensus from the entire network. Thus, blockchain can be used as the source of truth by participants and drive a secure ecosystem that can function in a trustless manner, i.e., without requiring any trust or even familiarity with the other party.

Why blockchain is not yet evolved in market?

Creating a robust blockchain implementation requires integrating a wide variety of systems: homegrown application systems, databases, files, and networks that businesses rely on. For years, businesses have struggled to integrate their information assets and systems within a single enterprise. A network of blockchain participants, each having its own interoperability challenges, poses even greater obstacles. The scale of the integration needed to implement even a small private blockchain can be complex, time consuming, and expensive.

Scalability is another problem blockchain is facing. The early blockchain protocols are quite constrained by the number of transactions they can process concurrently, and the cost for committing a transaction on the blockchain network is too high.

The current blockchain systems are complex to understand. If we consider from payment card industry point of view, a mass adoption would require for a system as seamless as a card payment, or mobile wallets. Shoppers and even merchants often aren’t too familiar with what is going on in the background. They wouldn’t have to understand the technology; it would just have to be much more accessible. This is another reason why blockchain hasn’t quite disrupted the industry just yet.

Conclusion

Blockchain has the potential to satisfy requirements for protection of sensitive information within a transaction. However, to be useful, it must transform or extend to the degree that it can be applied, and implemented by mainstream business in manufacturing, supply chain, food industry, healthcare, Banking and Financial services including issuing banks, acquiring banks and endorsed by card schemes, payment processors and card networks.

Digital Wallet – The Road Ahead

Digital Wallet as a concept has evolved over time since its introduction from 2007. It started getting more traction with big players like Google, Apple and Samsung etc. joining the band wagon. If we go by the predictions of domain experts and industry leaders, it is one of the top trends to reshape the payment space in this decade.  However, as per the 2018 world payments report, the market share for digital wallets of total global non-cash payment is still less than 10%. Also, the penetration of digital wallet among its potential customer base has been quite stagnant at close to 26% for last 2 years.

This trend raises a few questions:

  1. Why is Digital Wallet not growing at the predicted rate?

May be the answer to this lies in another question: “What’s the problem that Digital Wallets are solving for the customers?” If we analyze only the technology, Digital wallet is just another payment instrument for customers. It is convenient and fast compared to any other payment instruments, especially when used for Online payment and In-app purchases.  Apart from that Digital wallet technology doesn’t provide any tangible benefits to customers. In fact, the convenience factor in a physical payment scenario is similar to that of using a contactless card. Moreover, it can’t completely replace the Physical wallet, yet.

  1. Why Digital Wallets are still considered a game changer for business?

Though, digital wallet is not the most preferred payment method for customers now, it has a lot of future potential. In the current form it provides better cart to sell conversion for merchants, makes the payment quicker and frictionless. It also has potential to provide better insight to customer behavior and provide targeted cross-selling options for the merchants. So digital wallet is more beneficial to merchants and service providers. Therefore, there will be a considerable push to encourage customers to use digital wallets instead of other payment instruments

  1. What can be done to expedite customer adoption rate?
  • Improve customer awareness: There is not much of awareness in the market about wallet services. Customers most of the time are either not aware of the wallet services or don’t have full understanding of its capabilities. Therefore, building a good awareness around the services that a wallet can provide will be beneficial to increase penetration.
  • Incentivize usage of wallet: Cashbacks and discounts are still the top drivers for influencing customer behavior. Service providers in association with merchants should incentivize the usage of wallet through various offers.
  • Improve acceptance of Digital wallet payments: More and more merchants should enable acceptance of payments using Digital wallet. Banks and Technology providers can also play a role here by playing the role of an aggregator and making it easy for merchants to accept payment from any digital wallet without going through a lot of technology changes. With improve in acceptance, the ease of usage will also increase. Thus, giving customers required confidence to move to digital wallets.
  • Build customer confidence in technology platform: Data security is one of the prime concerns for most of the customers who are aware of wallet services but have never used it.  Though current customers’ data is being stored and transmitted using industry accepted security standards, a few stray incidents of data theft are enough to shake customer confidence. Keeping the platform secure and spreading the safe usage awareness will help service providers improve higher customer participation
  • Provide customer more control and insight: The wallet should provide users more insight into their payment and usage patterns. It should provide users to control spends on different accounts, different channels and different period of week/ months. It should also help in automating some mundane tasks as bill payment for utilities, credit cards, etc.

For payment instruments, the last major shift in customer usage pattern was observed when payments through Debit cards surpassed payments through Cash. Banks, Service providers, and Payment Interchanges achieved this through a lot of focus on improving customer convenience, customer awareness, global acceptance, interoperability and payment platform security. Regardless of all this push, it took some time to attain any significant change in customer usage pattern. So, digital wallet also must go through the same cycle. Digital wallet can achieve similar changes in customer usage pattern by focusing on constant improvement of its value proposition i.e. easy, swift and secure.

 

MasterCard Dispute Resolution!!

Introduction:

MasterCard is enhancing the charge-back process by making it easier and faster to handle disputes. It’s called the MasterCard Dispute Resolution Initiative and it will be a rules-based charge-back decisioning process.

The aim from MasterCard is to improve the dispute handling process by automatically detecting invalid disputes, shortening dispute resolution time-frames and updating some dispute reason codes and their conditions. This will decrease the charge-back volumes and allow for faster resolution of disputes.

The Dispute Resolution Initiative will roll out in phases, according to the below timelines:

  • First phase: October 12, 2018 (No development changes required)
  • Second phase: April 12, 2019 (The announcements in this phase are subject to change by MasterCard)
  • Third phase: October 18, 2019 (Impact will be further clarified by MasterCard)
  • Fourth phase: April 17, 2020 (No development changes required, however the announcements in this phase are subject to change by MasterCard)

 

First phase: October 12, 2018

Issuers will be required to request more information from their cardholders so they can file charge-backs for the following reason codes:

  • 4863 – Cardholder does not recognize
  • 4853 – Cardholder dispute (for recurring billing and digital goods)
  • 4834 – Point of interaction error
  • 4831 – Incorrect Transaction Amount/Transaction amount differs

By requesting this information at the first charge-back stage, MasterCard aims to reduce invalid charge-backs raised without the necessary information. Our customers don’t need to take any action regarding this change.

Second phase: April 12, 2019

As of April 12, 2019, if acquirer initiates a refund after the charge-back has been reversed and the issuer files a second charge-back, it will result in a double loss. Acquirer don’t recommend to initiate refunds once a charge-back has been reversed.

As a best practice, communicate clearly with the shopper if acquirer do perform a refund after the first charge-back has been reversed.

As always, if a refund is issued before the first charge-back, acquirer have one opportunity to provide the refund information to the cardholder, which is in the response/defense to the first charge-back.

Issuer have automated dispute defense for fully refunded transactions and will always send the refund details to cardholders.

To support faster resolution of disputes, MasterCard has reduced the timeframe to file a charge-back for reason code 4834 – Point of Interaction Error from 120 days to 90 (counted from the transaction date). The customers won’t need to do anything here if they are an existing one.

Lastly, the below charge-back reason codes will be removed from the rules and issuers will no longer be allowed to file a charge-back:

  • Charge-back reason code 4840 – Fraudulent Processing of Transactions
  • Charge-back reason code 4863 – Cardholder does not recognize

Third phase: October 18, 2019

MasterCard has announced they are planning additional changes effective in October 2019.

Fourth phase: April 17, 2020

MasterCard will not send a second charge-back for the following reason codes.

  • 4837 – Fraud (excluding 4870 – Chip Liability Shift and 4871 – Chip/Pin liability shift charge-backs)
  • 4853 – Cardholder Disputes
  • 4834 – Point of Interaction Error

Instead, for these reason codes the issuing bank will be able to send a pre-arbitration charge-back.

MasterCard will align with the Visa collaboration charge-back process (the consumer dispute category) whereby issuers can continue the dispute with a pre-arbitration charge-back.The pre-arbitration chargeback is initiated by the issuing bank, when the cardholder does not agree with the defense information provided by the merchant.

Based on the current information MasterCard has provided that there will not need to be any development work, as the new flows should match the ones currently used for Visa VCR. Merchants should keep in mind that MasterCard is only removing the second charge-back cycle for the above-mentioned dispute reason codes.Dispute reason codes that do not fall in these categories (for example, 4808 – Authorization related disputes) can still receive a second charge-back.

MasterCard’s dispute process Life cycle:

Stage One: First Presentment

First presentment transaction is when the transaction has been processed and is settled. The funds are in the merchant’s account, and the cardholder received a withdrawal and merchant descriptor on their account statement.

Currently, the MasterCard Dispute Resolution Initiative does not appear to make any significant changes to this stage. The only phase that will affect First Presentment is the first phase, where Late Presentment will be a new condition under Dispute Reason Code 4808.

The thing to remember is Late Presentment will still be a reason for a potential dispute, even if this reason no longer has a distinctive code. The best way to protect your business from late presentment is to settle funds before the Approved authorization expires. The authorization time limit will vary from business to business, and it can range from 24 hours to 31 days

Stage Two: Charge-back

The cardholder submits a claim, and the issuer believes it is valid to file as a dispute. As a result, the merchants receive a dispute. And the disputed funds are withdrawn from their account and transferred back to the cardholder’s account. This of course is a simplified explanation of the charge-back process.

At this point, MasterCard’s charge-back time limits are still 45 days from the charge-back date. But there is a possibility that the network will want to reduce these time limits and streamline its dispute process. This is based on the actions Visa took under the VCR. It will not be surprising if the MasterCard Dispute Resolution Initiative does something similar.

But even when MasterCard rolls out a more streamlined dispute process, merchants won’t receive the full benefit when their dispute workflow is manually-driven.In short, a streamlined dispute process will involve automation in order to pull and format data into a response document. That is what makes dispute management software more of a necessity to catch up with these upcoming changes.

Stage Three: Second Presentment (a.k.a, Pre-Arbitration)

The cardholder and/or issuer challenge the merchants’ argument for successfully initiating a chargeback reversal during the Chargeback stage. They do so based on one of two conditions:

  • The cardholder and/or issuer believes the merchant’s response did not fulfill the requirements of the dispute reason code
  • Can provide information that addresses the original reason for the dispute

Stage Four: Arbitration Charge-back

It is too soon to extract insight that gives some notice of potential changes in Arbitration Charge-back.

 

Non-banking Financial Company : The Indispensable Facts!!!

Introduction:

A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 of India, engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares, stock, bonds, hire-purchase insurance business or chit-fund business but does not include any institution whose principal business includes agriculture, industrial activity or the sale, purchase or construction of immovable property.

A non-banking institution which is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in installments by way of contributions or in any other manner, is also a non-banking financial company (Residuary non-banking company).

The World Bank has endorsed the use of reported non-financial data in the credit origination processes and considers it a powerful tool for driving financial inclusion in emerging markets. More recently, in the Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI 2020) roadmap, Accion highlighted the great value of alternative data as an instrument to increase financial inclusion and help achieve their FI 2020 objectives.

Salient features of NBFCs:

  1. The NBFCs are allowed to accept/renew public deposits for a minimum period of 12 months and maximum period of 60 months. They cannot accept deposits repayable on demand.
  2. NBFCs cannot offer interest rates higher than the ceiling rate prescribed by RBI from time to time. The present ceiling is 12.5 per cent per annum. The interest may be paid or compounded at rests not shorter than monthly rests.
  3. NBFCs cannot offer gifts/incentives or any other additional benefit to the depositors.
  4. NBFCs (except certain AFCs) should have minimum investment grade credit rating.
  5. The deposits with NBFCs are not insured.
  6. The repayment of deposits by NBFCs is not guaranteed by RBI.
  7. There are certain mandatory disclosures about the company in the Application Form issued by the company soliciting deposits.

Types of NBFCs in India:

  1. Investment Company: IC means any company which is a financial institution carrying on as its principal business the acquisition of securities
  2. Loan Company: LC means any company which is a financial institution carrying on as its principal business the providing of finance whether by making loans or advances or otherwise for any activity other than its own but does not include an Asset Finance Company
  3. Asset Finance Company: An AFC is a company which is a financial institution carrying on as its principal business the financing of physical assets supporting productive/economic activity, such as automobiles, tractors, lathe machines, generator sets, earth moving and material handling equipment’s, moving on own power and general purpose industrial machines. Principal business for this purpose is defined as aggregate of financing real/physical assets supporting economic activity and income arising therefrom is not less than 60% of its total assets and total income respectively
  4. Infrastructure Finance Company: IFC is a non-banking finance company a) which deploys at least 75 per cent of its total assets in infrastructure loans, b) has a minimum Net Owned Funds of ₹ 300 crore, c) has a minimum credit rating of ‘A ‘or equivalent d) and a CRAR of 15%.
  5. Infrastructure Debt Fund: Non- Banking Financial Company (IDF-NBFC): IDF-NBFC is a company registered as NBFC to facilitate the flow of long term debt into infrastructure projects. IDF-NBFC raise resources through issue of Rupee or Dollar denominated bonds of minimum 5 year maturity. Only Infrastructure Finance Companies (IFC) can sponsor IDF-NBFCs.
  6. NBFC-Factors: NBFC-Factor is a non-deposit taking NBFC engaged in the principal business of factoring. The financial assets in the factoring business should constitute at least 50 percent of its total assets and its income derived from factoring business should not be less than 50 percent of its gross income.
  7. Housing Finance NBFCs: It is a form of non-banking financial company which is engaged in the principal business offinancing of acquisition or construction of houses that includes the development of plots of lands for the construction of new houses.

Residuary Non-Banking Companies (RNBCs): It is yet another form of a financial institution engaged in the principal business of accepting deposits, under any scheme or arrangement or in any other form and not being asset financing, investment, Loan Company. The Residuary Non-Banking Company primarily deal in accepting deposits in any form and investing these in the approved securities. The operations of such company are regulated by RBI and in addition, to the liquid assets, it maintains its investments as per the RBI directions.

National Common Mobility Card: One for All!!!

Introduction: 

Todays generation is an evidence of revolution which’s taken place under the tag of Digital India. So far, face of the Payment industry is changed drastically and that too within last few years. And a good thing is, uprising phase is still in-process.

One of the positive and important outcomes of this is, rise in the Technological awareness within common man. Trust towards technology has grown within Indians. Day by day people are becoming more comfortable with digitalization. Result of which, people have understood the importance of cashless transactions. Per individual average usage of a card or mobile phone to make any payment is now increased. Matter of fact is, people are avoiding cash transactions wherever it’s possible.
Bill payments, Fund transfer, ATM transactions, POS purchase, recharge and top-ups of mobile/DTH, E-commerce, Online Ticketing of movies, transit etc. can be easily done by using any of the options from Cards (Debit, Credit, Prepaid, Gift, Transit etc.), UPI, Online/Digi Banking, e-wallets etc. But each payment method requires its respective product to be used to perform a transaction. Like one cannot use a bank issued standard debit/credit card on all transit systems, a transit card cannot be used at fuel stations, prepaid cards cannot be used everywhere and so on.

National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) identified this gap and came up with a solution of having a ‘single card’ which can support maximum possible payment methods and channels.The card got its name as ‘National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)’ aka ‘RuPay Contactless Card’.
It is based on qSPARC specification, which is NPCI’s Dual Interface Open loop payment specification with the feature of loading multiple payment applications on a single card. This card is supported by diversified sections like retail shops, restaurants, retail outlets, ATM/Kiosk, Vehicle Parking stations, Buses, Cabs, Metros etc.

Some more information like, how to get it? other aspects? pros & cons? etc.

Card issuance: 

The card can either be a Debit, Credit or Prepaid card. To get this card, one will need to make an application at Bank. One can apply for a new card or an upgrade for existing one.

As of today, these cards are available with below banks.

  • Debit Card – PNB, BOB, Saraswat, TJSB and UBI
  • Prepaid Card – ICICI, Axis, HDFC, SBI, CSB, YES, Paytm, Andhra

NCMC card can be issued by any member authorized by RBI. Near future, this card will be available with some more banks as well.

Usage: 

This card can be used at all those channels on which the existing cards are being used in traditional ways. For example, at ATMs, POS & online (ecommerce) payments etc.
On top of it, this card can also be used at additional services such as transit, toll, parking & other small value merchant payments where a traditional bank issued Debit/Credit fails to work.

Service area/compartments:

 As the NCMC card is based on qSPARC specifications, this card comes which a unique feature of storing values on card.
It enables Acquirers or Operators to own independent blocks on the payment card. These blocks are referred as ‘Service’.
An acquirer who wishes to implement special function along with the EMV based payments on specific terminals can do so using empty storages area called as ‘service compartment’ or ‘service area’.
Service compartments may contain data which is specific to a particular operator.
Single card is capable of supporting multiple services for payment and non-payment capabilities.

Service area activation:

  • To use these additional services, a card needs to have the service areas activated into it.
  • There are two ways by which the service areas can be activated.
    • Pre-issuing: Service can be personalized on a card by bank while personalization of card.
    • Post issuing: User can have services personalized on card by writing desired services on it. This can be done using special Terminals which are capable of writing services on card. Please check below flow diagram.

Card Top up or recharge:

Top up is purely categorized on the basis of types of services.
Let us assume that one wants to use the card at metro station. Then the person will need to top up the card for its respective supported service area like ‘Transit’. Later on, the same topped up amount available on card can be used for other services as well, which falls under same service area.

Below are the options by which a top up can be done.

  • Online using card
  • Internet banking
  • IVR
  • ATM
  • Over the service counter using Cash
  • Auto top-up

Comparison between NCMC and Other Proprietary prepaid cards:

Concern NCMC – Open loop smart card Proprietary – Closed loop smart Card
Customer Friendly Customer can use the same card for Metro and Bus travel in all the City and States within the country. Customer need to buy different cards for transport Systems.
Convenience Customers will use their bank issued NCMC card for fare payment rather than waiting in a queue for card/token/ticket issuance. Customer may require to stand in queue for card issuance, Top up etc.
Loyalty Points Consumer may benefit from loyalty/reward points from partner banks, as provided in case of Debit and Credit cards. No such provision. Any such loyalty and discount are cost to the Public Transport Operators.
Minimum Infrastructure Public Transport Operators can minimize their cost involved in maintenance of infrastructure and manpower for card issuance, Top-up, card replacement and refunds, as open loop cards can be issued by multiple partner banks. Each Public Transport Operators need to bear the significant expense for maintenance of infrastructure and manpower for card issuance, Top up, card replacement and refunds.
Negotiating Power As open loop acceptance devices are based on open interoperable standards, there are multiple vendors available for payment acceptance devices, which provide an opportunity for cost and service negotiation. Closed loop cards may be of proprietary standards, leading to vendor lock in for subsequent purchase and renewals of acceptance devices.
No vendor lock in Open standards-based payment acceptance devices provide the freedom for subsequent purchase and renewals of devices. Proprietary standards may lead to vendor lock in for subsequent purchase and renewals of acceptance devices.
Ease of Implementation Well standardized payment acceptance devices and availability of multiple vendors provides ease of implementation. Payments related scope of work to be taken care by partner bank and hence PTOs may focus on their key activities. PTOs need to evaluate multiple proprietary specifications leading to difficulty in implementation.
Fast Deployment Due to similar implementation process, best practices and reference implementation guidelines, there will be standardized procurement practices, and RFPs. This considerably expedites the deployment of digital payments in Public Transport Operators. Each deployment will have specific requirements and considerable expertise is required by each Public Transport Operators for selection of appropriate solution.
Retail acceptance NCMC open loop card offers acceptance at all the existing retail POS devices. Closed loop cards can only be accepted within their operating environments.

Now let us see what are the Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • No need to keep multiple types of cards in wallet (Like debit, prepaid, transit etc.). As one card supports maximum services.
  • Supports online as well as offline payment modes with minutest risk of fraud.
  • Motivates customers for cashless payments and provides a mechanism of including Low Value Payments (LVPs) into cashless. Result of which, customers end to end everyday needs would shift from cash to cashless transactions.
  • Supports EMV based contact and contactless payment transactions with standard guidelines.
  • Supports both Account based and Card based payment models.
  • Supports cashless and contactless ticketing across various transit operators.
  • Reserved space on card for acquirer or operator specific program implementation. Supports Closed, Open and Semi-closed loop environment.
  • Multi-level wallets: qSPARC specifications supports creation of wallets in card at two different levels – Global and Local.
  • Other benefits:
    • Open Standards
    • High Security
    • Vendor Agnostic
    • Data storage
    • Inter-operability
    • Scalability
    • Stored Value

Cons:

  • Presently the number of merchants who are supporting qSPARC cards is very less.
  • Certification will be applicable for Acquirer, Issuer and Terminal vendor. Which involves both the factors ‘time and money’.
  • Cost is involved to replace already issued RuPay cards with new qSPARC cards. Hence either issuer Bank or customer has to bear the cost.
  • People are not yet very much aware about this card and its features. A strong product marketing will be needed to promote this card.

Future of NCMC:

  • Understanding perspective: Looking at the pace of digitalization towards cashless transactions in the era of Digital India, we know very well that how people have managed to utilized services made available so far. NCM card and its features not being exception, people should not find it difficult to understand.
  • Card issuance view point:Issuer would prefer to re-issue an expired card with new NCMC. Techno-savvy’s and exited ones would not think of bearing cost to go for this new card. Reaching up to large number of card base would take some time.
  • About transaction volume:
    Projects like smart cities would accelerate the future of NCMC. Apart from this, many other types of acquirers are supporting NCMC card.Looking at overall market available, if the supported platforms are made available in decent numbers then, it will be a definite addition to the list of NPCI’s successful products.

The QR Code Evolution/Revolution!!

QR Code: A QR code, also known as a Quick Response Code is a 2-D (two dimensional) barcode. A QR code usually contains information pre-programmed by the originator. It could be a URL, text, image or general information. To reveal the information, the user will require a mobile phone software with the ability to scan and understand the code using the mobile phone’s camera.

A QR Code is an ISO 18004-compliant encoding and visualization of data.

QR Code Based Payments: The Visa QR Payments Code is a form of barcode that has the merchant’s information (merchant name & account details) required for bill settlement. To make payments, all that is required is for the customer to scan the merchant’s QR code by selecting Visa QR on his/her mobile banking app.

The new world of commerce with the QR code can be conducted anywhere there is an outlet — you can stand on the surface of the planet and get a cell phone signal. It is quite likely, in many of these markets, that plastic and legacy POS will leapfrog almost entirely. The standard must also be capable of enabling a secure payment via a static QR code on a merchant placard.

A QR code is a pointer to an underlying credential to initiate and receive a payment. The pointer now is a QR code — I don’t know if it will always be. But, in these markets, QR is about getting credentials in everyone’s hands and getting the usage understood. From there, is it is an easier evolution to provide other use cases to people based on something beyond QR.”

Visa QR is an innovative way to make payments with your mobile phone. There is no need to carry cash everywhere you go. Just select Visa QR on your mobile banking app and scan the merchant’s QR code to make payments.

How Do QR Code Payments Work?

Customers simply need to scan the QR code and enter the transaction amount. The amount gets transferred directly from the bank account without the need of a swiping machine. It eliminates the need of entering the merchant’s ID or phone number to make payments.

For those using mobile banking apps for scan and pay, the app acts like a virtual debit card that can be used online or offline.

1.Buyer-to-Large Merchant Transactions – Buyer Scans

This system of QR Code payment applies to large retailers such as supermarkets. Let’s assume they have barcode scanners at every POS.

This is how it works:

  • Let’s say customer picks up items worth INR 500 at Merchant shop and goes to the cashier for checkout
  • The cashier scans each item and generates a bill of INR 500. He generates a unique QR Code on a screen near the POS
  • Customer opens the payments app on her smartphone, scans the QR Code, and authorizes the payment
  • The cashier gets a notification that customer has made the payment and prints the sale receipt.

2. Buyer-to-Large Merchant Transactions – Merchant Scans

There is another variant to this QR Code payment method:

  • Instead of scanning a QR Code generated on the cashier’s screen, customer generates a QR Code on her app or Customer owns a card with a QR Code
  • The cashier then uses his barcode scanner to scan this QR Code and complete the payment.

3. Buyer-to-Small Business Transactions

This mode of QR Code payments applies to small businesses and retail outlets. Let’s assume they do not have barcode scanners at POS.

This is how the process works:

  • Customer picks up items worth INR 100 at a small store
  • The cashier requests her to make a payment and points at a printed QR Code near the POS
  • Customer opens the payments app, scans the QR Code, enters the amount, and authorizes the payment
  • The cashier gets confirmation via SMS

Note that in this case, the buyer enters the amount and the merchant has a permanent QR Code. This QR Code helps the buyer app to identify the merchant account.

4. Peer-to-Peer Transactions

This mode of QR Code payment applies when an individual needs to pay another. For example, friends, family members, or self-employed professionals.

What is Scan and Pay?

It is a mobile-based payment facility that enables fund transfer by scanning a quick response (QR) code using an app which supports this feature. It can be used for making payments at merchant outlets, e-commerce websites and grocery stores, among others.

How did it evolve?

Visa introduced mVisa, a QR code-based payment facility for Visa cardholders only.

In November 2016, MasterCard launched an interoperable Masterpass QR which could be used with other networks.

In India, E-wallets companies like Paytm, Mobikwik and FreeCharge also enable transactions through QR code, but both the receiver and the sender of money needs to have these mobile wallet apps.

However, QR code-based acceptance systems in the India country were largely closed until the launch of Bharat QR, a common QR code jointly developed by four major card payment companies—National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) that runs RuPay cards, MasterCard, Visa and American Express—under instructions from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 20 February.

It was a revolutionary step because of interoperability. The merchants could be identified by one QR code whether the payment is through MasterCard, Visa or RuPay. Bharat QR payments can also be made through account number with IFSC code, UPI (Unified Payments Interface) payment address or Aadhaar number.

Digital Lending – A Growing Technology!!

Lending is simply the act of giving money on credit to another person called the borrower. The borrower repays the money to the lender with interest over a defined time-period. Lending is a widely understood concept. However, the traditional approach to avail loans is fairly long and complex. Therefore, Banks and financial institutes as part of their Digital strategy trying to digitalize the lending process as well

However, today’s challenge is not digital technology; it is the enterprises’ ability to re-imagine how businesses run by harnessing digital’s power to adapt and compete.

Digital lending can start as basic as an online loan application offered by a bank or credit union on its website. It can also be as comprehensive as an entirely automated platform that includes a full suite of software, such as an online loan application, document capture, electronic signatures, credit analysis, loan pricing, loan decisioning and loan administration.

A few drivers for Digital lending adoption:

  1. Loan Origination Costs: Application for a new loan comes with a high loan origination cost. These costs are incurred due to handling the physical records, paperwork and background checks involved in approving the loan. Most of the time these costs are passed on to customers in form of processing fees
  2. Turnaround Time: The paperwork is not known for its speed and things move at their comfortable speed. Most of the cases loan disbursal using conventional lending method takes around two to three weeks, sometimes might have wait even longer
  3. Manpower Requirement: Document collection, Data entry into system, data storage / archival and retrieving documents require a lot of man power
  4. Location Constraints: Lender needs to be present at the same location to process any conventional loans, which can be a needless restriction

Therefore, most of the Banks and financial institutions have undertaken digital lending initiative in one form or other.

As mobile technology penetrates every aspect of the customer’s daily lives, banks and finance institutes are now focusing their strategy on creating mobile applications to acquire new and serve existing customers.

In these cases, the entire loan processing lifecycle (from the application boarding, supporting documents submission, real time data verification, eligibility calculation using scoring model, loan disbursement, loan repayment till loan closure) is managed through Customer Mobile application.

A few Benefits for Digital Lending:

  1. Minimal operational Requirement: Digital lending transforms the traditional process as there is minimal paperwork involved also distribution cost of physical channel gets reduced.
  2. Self- Serving channel: Bank can reach to higher number of potential customers thus increasing addressable market
  3. Quick Disbursal: The loan disbursal process has been upgraded with digital tools, As soon as the application processing is complete, the loan amount is transferred to the applicants bank account
  4. Alternative Credit Models: A lack of historic credit data makes lenders skeptical, in Digital Lending; however, your digital life is your history. Social networking profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn, and other channels may serve as surrogates for credit history.

Although Mobile app lending is a fast-growing platform, there are a few risks involved in adopting such technology. For example: Since it is a fully automated process there are possibilities of fraud injection in the process by exploiting the vulnerabilities of the application. There are also possibilities of providing fraudulent documents as verification process for documents doesn’t always involve authentication against a central database. Moreover, banks have to make a lot of changes to their existing policy and processes to implement digital lending. These challenges are delaying adoption and progress to complete digitalization.

Mobile lending application are helping banks, financial institutes and consumers equally. These applications are effective as it saves time, cut short many processes, includes features like list of other products of banks which might interest customers. Therefore, digitalization is the future for lending. The technology industry should enable quick adoption of digital lending by all Banks and Financial institution by addressing the challenges of implementation time, fraud risks and process changes through building secure applications which are highly customizable and easy to implement and at the same time highly secured with streamlined processes and improved document verification methods.

Reconciliation is the biggest challenge for Migration Projects!!

Evolving technology and a highly competitive market are pushing organizations to embrace advanced software systems to run their business and stay relevant against their competitors. Banks and financial institutes are no different to this phenomenon. The existing software & systems used for processing various business functions poses certain limitations as the business requirements evolve over time. For some software products they may be able to quickly upgrade to handle the changing requirements or need to be gradually being phased out in order to make way for a better system. Core systems are relatively difficult to replace compared to satellite systems mainly because of the involvement of huge volume of data.  The core systems are already highly customized as per the business needs and also due to multiple interfaces with other systems. This system design and architecture become extremely humongous to manage which is a necessity to fulfill day-to-day business requirements. So, Migration projects becomes a critically important project by Banks and financial institutions,

While undertaking such a core migration project, business has to perform a lot of tasks. Some of these tasks are listed below:

  • Identifying existing core functionalities
  • New functionalities requirements
  • Interface requirements
  • Environment setup
  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Reconciliation

While performing these tasks, invariably, Reconciliation activities gets lesser importance but which is one of the most critical tasks to ensure success for the project. It has been observed that in almost 90% of migration projects, planning is not done for reconciliation activity in advance.

The lower priority for this critical task causes stress in the system during the final stages of the project. The go/no-go decision for a migration project is also dependent on successful reconciliation which adds to the stress and leads to failure in most cases.

Reconciliation comes out as the biggest challenge in a migration project mainly because of the following reasons:

  • Volume of data to be reconciled

During a core migration project, the reconciliation needs to be performed between the source & destination data. That is double the volume of data that the core system handles. In the first stage, reconciliation is performed based on the reports generated from the source and destination system. A match in this stage is taken as a successful indication for the migration. But in 99% of the cases the first stage fails. In the second stage the data from source and destination are compared to find out the exact issues causing the mismatch. This is a tedious activity considering the volume of data from the two systems. Finally, the identified issues are resolved & reports are re-generated which is used for signing off the project.

  • Multiple input formats

The data from source and destination are provided as inputs in different formats – fixed length files, delimited files, database, reports etc. The data needs to be converted to a format that can be processed easily. The conversion jobs are created to handle such data. It also requires pre-validation on the data to ensure correct data is used for comparison.

  • Dependence on spreadsheets to perform reconciliation

Most business teams are dependent on spreadsheets to perform reconciliation. However, spreadsheet is a slow and non-reliable method of performing reconciliation. When the volume of data is huge, spreadsheets fail to process them and leads to lot of errors. Some organizations use database to handle the huge volume of data. But this involves creating queries which are technical and introduces dependence on IT teams.

  • Time critical

Last but not the least, reconciliations in migration projects are time critical. The entire go/no-go decision is dependent on the outcome of this activity. Any error in this process leads to additional downtime and loss of business. Most migration projects have to roll back to older systems when the reconciliation fails. Hence the success of this process is most critical and should receive its due importance.

As per Gartner 83% of migration projects fail to achieve their target. This can be reduced to a great extent if banks plan their migration reconciliation in advance and identify the points of failure well before the actual migration. The reconciliation activity is a specialized task which requires a great understanding of the data and hence business plays the most critical role in this activity. But without the use of technology it becomes the most difficult task for any business to complete this activity with an acceptable outcome.

Having executed significant number of data migration projects in the past, Verinite understands the challenges involved in the reconciliation process and is in a better position to assist banks to fulfill this task as per their expectation. Please get in touch with us at [email protected] if you want to know more about our capabilities in this

Agile Methodology – Using Agile to Build the Bank of the Future!!!

What is Agile?

Agile means the ability to move quickly and easily. In 2001, 17 software developers met to discuss some alternate lightweight development methods which will be able to adapt quickly to the changing requirements of a project. They published a Manifesto (known as Agile Manifesto), which covered how they found “better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.” Any process that aligns with the concepts of this manifesto is called an Agile process.

How is it different from Waterfall?

Any agile process is based on an incremental, iterative approach. Instead of in-depth planning at the beginning of the project, Agile processes are open to changing requirements over time and encourages constant feedback from the end users. The goal of each iteration is to produce a working product.

In traditional Software development methodology like waterfall, it builds in Phase. This type of product development delivers everything at a single Phase. This approach is highly risky, costlier and generally less efficient than more Agile approaches. Any issue found in Product design and code it blocks until issue is resolved.

On other hand, Agile methodology uses short development cycles called “sprints” to focus on continuous improvement in the development of a product or service. This approach carries far less risk than Waterfall approaches and focus on delivering fully-tested, independent, valuable, small features.  As such, this diversifies the risk – if one feature goes wrong, it should not impact another feature. The work is planned in iterations and at the end of each iteration a working model is released for user review and feedback.

Over a period of time multiple methodologies were derived using Agile philosophy, characteristics and practices. But from an implementation standpoint, each has its own processes, terminology, and strategies.

A few popular Agile Software Development Methodologies are: Agile SCRUM, Kanban Software Development, Extreme Programming, Feature Dirven Development

In this blog we’ll focus only on Agile SCRUM methodology.

A few terms from Agile SCRUM lexicon

  • Product Owner – The Scrum Product Owner has the vision of what to build and conveys that to the team. He or she focuses on business and market requirements, prioritizing the work that needs to be done, managing the backlog, providing guidance on which features to ship next, and interacting with the team and other stakeholders to make sure everyone understands the items on the product backlog.
  • Scrum Master – Often considered the coach for the team, the Scrum Master helps the team do their best possible work. This means organizing meetings, dealing with roadblocks and challenges, and working with the Product Owner to ensure the product backlog is ready for the next sprint.
  • Scrum Team – The Scrum Team is comprised of five to seven members. Unlike traditional development teams, there are not distinct roles like programmer, designer, or tester. Everyone on the project completes the set of work together.
  • Sprint – A sprint is a time boxed period (typically between one and four weeks) repetition of a continuous development cycle. Within a Sprint, planned amount of work has to be completed by the team and made ready for review, where a team commits to completing a set of defined User Stories. A project is comprised of multiple sprints.
  • Sprint Planning – Before a sprint begins, it’s important that the team is all aligned, and that we have up-to-date story points for the features. The role of the Sprint Planning session is to go through the highest priority items in the Product Backlog and agree which User Stories will be included within the next Sprint.
  • Sprint Backlog – A Sprint Backlog is a list of User Stories that the team will aim to complete during a sprint. All of the User Stories will have Story Point estimates alongside them, and this total should align with velocity achieved in the previous sprints.
  • Daily Scrum meetings – The Daily Scrum is a 15-minute stand-up meeting that happens at the same time and place every day during the sprint. During the meeting each team member talks about what they worked on the day before, what they’ll work on today, and any roadblocks.
  • Sprint review meeting – At the end of each sprint, the team presents the work they have completed as a live demo rather than a presentation. Sprint retrospective meeting: Also, at the end of each sprint, the team reflects on how well Scrum is working for them and talks about any changes that need to be made in the next sprint.
  • Product backlog – The product backlog is not a list of things to be completed, but rather it is a list of all the desired features for the product. Sprint planning: Before each sprint, the Product Owner presents the top items on the backlog in a sprint planning meeting. The team determines the work they can complete during the sprint and moves the work from the product backlog to the sprint backlog.
  • Backlog refinement/grooming – At the end of each sprint, the team and Product Owner meet to make sure the backlog is ready for the next sprint. The team may remove user stories that aren’t relevant, create new user stories, reassess the priority of stories, or split user stories into smaller tasks.

 

In the next blog we’ll discuss more about the role of Tester in the Agile environment and what are typical challenges a Tester faces in an environment where change in requirement is always welcomed

Visa Claims Resolution (VCR) Part-II!!

In the last weeks article, we have shared the overview of Visa Claims Resolution process. The way terminology has changed and resulting in lesser number of groupings. We also coved the flow of chargebacks, how it works. In this article we are going to cover about the Allocation and Collaboration workflows, about the impact of reduced timelines, some benefits and concern

So, lets continue with the workflows:

Allocation: Fraud and authorization disputes will be processed via the allocation workflow. Automated
checks on Visa’s side will ensure the rejection of invalid disputes. Invalid disputes
could be disputes on transactions that have already been refunded or transactions with
expired timeframes that are automatically invalid. Visa will block these disputes from
becoming a chargeback. On the other hand, all disputes which are accepted by VCR will be the merchant’s liability. In that scenario, pre-arbitration is the only possibility for the merchant to object the chargeback.

Collaboration: Processing errors and consumer disputes will be processed via the collaboration workflow.
Both processing errors and the consumer disputes categories imply collaboration
and interaction between all involved parties and there is no change from the current
handling of such issues.

 Reducing Timelines: The dispute resolution timeline will be significantly reduced from earlier existing process. The process currently takes an average of 46-105 days, depending on the complexity of the case.

With VCR, industry members can expect:

  • 31-70 days for fraud and authorisation chargebacks
  • 31-100 days for customer disputes and processing error chargebacks

How Will Visa Claims Resolution Change the Dispute Process?

Visa will consolidate 22 chargeback reason codes into 4 dispute groups. Following table illustrates how the new groupings will be done as opposed to existing ones.

Fraud Authorisation Processing Errors Consumer Disputes
62 – Counterfeit Transactions 70 – Card Recovery Bulletin or Exception File 74 – Late Presentment 41 – Cancelled Recurring Transactions
57 – Fraudulent Multiple Transactions 71 – Declined Authorisation 76 – Incorrect Currency or Transaction Code or Domestic Transaction Processing Violation 53 – Not as Described or Defective Merchandise
81 – Fraud – Card-Present Environment 72 – No Authorisation 77 – Non-Matching Account Number 85 – Credit Not Processed
83 – Fraud – Card-Absent Environment 73 – Expired Card 80 – Incorrect Transaction Amount or Account Number 30 – Services Not Provided or Merchandise Not Received
93 – Merchant Fraud Performance Programme 78 – Service Code Violation 82 – Duplicate Processing 90 – Non-Receipt of Cash or Load Transaction Value at ATM
86 – Paid by other Means

 

This will certainly increasing the dependence on VROL. VROL will play an increasingly important role with VCR.

Before a dispute can be initiated, a Transaction Inquiry must be requested on VROL. Issuers and acquirers will no longer be required to initiate financial messages through an existing provider, as this can now be processed through VROL. There is an option for issuers and acquirers to use the existing systems and connections to submit fraud report via VROL

Positive impact to merchants after VCR:

  • Reduced reason codes
  • Reduced Representmentdecision time frame
  • Reduced dispute acceptance from customer
  • Chargeback rights removed for CVV mismatch transactions
  • Reduced chargeback dispute for cardholder

Negative Impact to Merchants after VCR:

  • Chargeback acknowledgment
  • Compelling Evidence regulated
  • Questionnaire form to file disputes
  • Chargeback Representmentfor AVS/CVV Match transaction only

Conclusion:

The Visa Claims Resolution (VCR) by Visa has been welcoming to merchants, especially those online only merchants who are accepting Card-not-Present (CNP) transactions.

Most of the changes implemented by Visa are geared towards simplifying the dispute process and helping merchants prevent revenue loss.

However, Visa has to balance the needle and ensure it is fair for both the consumer as well as the merchant.  VCR also has some regulations for merchants, and it can affect merchants who are not used to processing chargebacks in the past.

Visa Claims Resolution (VCR) Part-I !!

Visa announced the Visa Claims Resolution (VCR) initiative to improve the dispute process.

VCR is Visa’s new system to help reduce timelines and simplify dispute resolution for issuers and acquirers. This is a mandatory change for all issuers and acquirers.

On April 15, 2018, Visa’s new rules on chargebacks, called Visa Claims Resolution or VCR came into effect. This new program has already gone live in Hong Kong and New Zealand in October 2017. Now these new rules will be migrated to all the remaining countries.

The main reason for Visa to change the existing chargeback rules was to simplify the dispute process whilst reducing not only the overall number of chargebacks but also the time to resolve these chargebacks.

Benefits:

VCR will have the following impact on the dispute process:

  • Simplify the dispute process by collapsing 22 chargeback reason codes to only 4 dispute groups
  • Streamline existing workflows by reducing the number of chargeback reason codes from 22 to 4:
    • Fraud
    • Authorization
    • Processing Errors
    • Consumer Disputes
  • The dispute timeframes will be reduced to provide a quicker resolution, meaning resources will be in limbo for a shorter period of time
  • The Merchant Process Inquiry will be beneficial, as the cardholder will receive details of the transaction at the first point of contact. This will reduce the number of first-cycle chargebacks submitted and representments received
  • Financial institutions will be able to eliminate invalid disputes using existing data and applying automatic, real-time liability assignment
  • There will be less chances of error through prepopulated transaction data, increasing the ‘right first time’ ratios
  • Help reduce abusive and “frivolous” usage of chargeback/claims system, lowering dispute volumes
  • Simplify the definition of specific documents and evidence required to support claims
  • Provide a better customer experience with shortened timelines for the dispute resolution.

 Does Any Terminology Change?

Yes; the basic vocabulary associated with the dispute process will change under VCR:

Current Defined Term  New Defined Term
Chargeback Dispute
Representment Dispute Response/Pre-Arbitration
Chargeback Reversal Dispute Reversal
Representment Rev/Adjustment Dispute Response Reversal

How it works:

Visa Claims Resolution was designed to change the process from a litigation-based model to a liability-assessment model:

 

  • Visa consolidated the existing 22 chargeback reason codes into four new groups,
    It turns out that one of the most used chargeback
    reason codes, ‘RC 75 – Transaction not recognized’, will be discontinued. Visa now requires the issuers to use the existing data in the Visa portal to assist the cardholder to recognize the transaction instead of disputing the transaction immediately. This represents a clear advantage for the merchant but could probably lead to increased chargebacks in the new fraud group. One key message for merchants to avoid disputes would be to communicate with the end-customers before issues arise.
  • Visa will be stricter on chargebacks from the same credit card. For Card-Not-Present transactions, Visa will now only allow 35 fraud chargebacks from the same credit
    card within 120 days.
  • A big change for merchants is the reduced timeframe for their response to disputes. Instead of the current response time limit of 45 days, Visa cuts this dispute-window by one-third to only 30 days and in 2019 Visa plans to reduce the 30-day window to 20 days. Merchants should be aware that the response time limit includes the reaction time of both the acquirer and the merchant, this could result in the merchant having a limited timeframe to response appropriately to the chargeback
  • Two new workflows were created to process disputes which shortened the communication between end-customers, issuers, acquirers and merchants. These two are Allocation workflow and Collaboration workflow.

 

We will continue on these two workflows and some more details in our next article, stay tuned!

7 Characteristics of RPA Tool!!!

Since the beginning of this decade there have been some speculations as to whether the robotic automation workforce will take over the manual tasks? Will it result in unemployment? Or does it mean making good use of robotic automation tools to benefit us all.

Various attempts are being made & we clearly see a trend where the robotic automation workforce is going to be of prime importance in banking and financial industry which is our focus area.
Many a times the primary process candidates for using robotic automation are the repetitive, manual, resource consuming processes that are routinely executed but in due course builds up process errors and manual errors. Robotic process automation can help streamline this area by way of implementing this digital workforce to our advantage.

Let’s take a look at the characteristics we should be focusing on while choosing a RPA tool.

1. Minimum Coding or Technical knowledge: When a non-technical person can use and create automation script with minimum guidance, it becomes the best solution to implement and use. The tool should offer flexibility that any user can automate the scripts. Ability to maintain and create new scripts. The tool that allows ability to create and maintain existing automation scripts is definitely a plus point. RPA solution that is designed to be as user-friendly will be the winner. Robotic process automation is aimed at bringing an intuitive interface that can easily be learned by any person.

2. Platform Independent: A tool that can run on a given operating system OS, which may be used by the bank or their employees is what is the best solution for them. RPA solution that can run on Windows OS, Linux or other standard operating system is an essential characteristic. Also, it should have ability to work across multiple browsers, namely – Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc. This becomes highly resourceful while executing tests across various platform browsers simultaneously. Repeating tests manually is a time consuming and a costly process. Automated tests can be run repetitively at no additional costs. So, it should be a highly portable tool that runs on multiple platforms as well as browsers

3. Robust Architecture: RPA solution that follows MVC i.e. Model – View – Controller is considered as robust to support multiple features. It is a software architectural pattern for implementing user interfaces on computers. It divides a given software application into three interconnected parts. So to separate internal representations of information from the ways that information is presented to or accepted from the user. MVC offers support for rapid and parallel development. So, developing web applications using the MVC model it is possible that one developer work on the view while the another can work on the controller.

4. Performance Efficiency: RPA tool which takes less time to create and run scripts will effectively yield better performance over a period of time. Once automated, the test library execution is faster and runs in an automated state than manual execution mode. Automated testing comes as a relief for validation during various phases of a software project lifecycle. This improves communication among Developers, Designers, Product Owners, and allows potential glitches to be immediately rectified.

5. Cost Efficient: One of the essential factors for choosing RPA tool is cost, it must justify the purpose it is deployed for. Sometimes cost is sacrificed for achieving efficiency or vice-versa. A tool that manages the perfect balance is what industry gladly accepts. Also point to consider is the implementation and maintenance cost. On one hand tool implementation saves time and cost but it should not result in addition of another person or a team to maintain the well being of the tool.

6. Automation Coverage: Through the implementation of automated tests, more number of tests can be executed pertaining to an application. This leads to a higher coverage that in a manual testing approach. An increased test coverage leads to testing more features in less time and a higher quality of the SW application. An RPA tool that can schedule and run lengthy tests automatically without unattended or consuming large amount of human resources is a better candidate for selection. Automated tests can save you a lot of money! They can detect bugs before they are deployed to the production system which can prevent big damage. They can also help you to design your code in a way that makes it easy to maintain and make it scalable for the future.

7. Re-usability: Any RPA tool that is a for a single use is a disaster. The RPA tool must showcase the ability for multi-use and with relatively easy configuration changes. With some SW knowledge and technical support, it must become reusable to the extent required. Also, the ability to produce, store or integrate with other subsystems is a necessary factor in choosing RPA tool.

Some other aspects include fast, reliable, keyword driven, database supported, remote execution, scheduling features etc. to be characteristics of the automation tool. With banking industry coming to a point where everything is connected to the online world it becomes a necessity for banks to automate some of its business processes. This gives them ability to take control of the information that they have to be utilized in a better way to their benefit.

Keeping these in mind Verinite has embarked on a journey to create a robotic process automation tool that will serve fit for purpose and quick to deploy. As a bank or financial institute if you are thinking of automating business processes you have come to the right spot! Look no further, choose Veribot our Robotic automation solution that caters to your needs. Here is a link to our product that is offered in this space “https://verinite.com/product_veribot/”

For inquiring please connect with us, we are always happy to help!

The New Face of Digital Transformation : Open Banking!!

Introduction to Open Banking:

Open Banking is a financial services terminology and can be defined as below:

  • The use of Open APIs that enable third party developers to build applications and services around the financial institution
  • Greater financial transparency options for account holders ranging from Open Data to private data
  • The utilization of open source technology to achieve the above

Open Banking, as a concept could be considered as a subspecies to the Open Innovation concept, a term promoted by Henry Chesbrough. In simple words, The “Open Bank” Project is an open source API and App store for banks that empowers financial institutions to securely and rapidly enhance their digital offerings using an ecosystem of 3rd party applications and services.

Concept:

There are two main strands to Open Banking: a piece of EU legislation — the second payment services directive (PSD2); and the “Open Banking” project specifically spearheaded by the UK’s Competition and Market Authority (CMA).

Principles while designing APIs:

  • Guidelines for user privacy and design in consent management controls
  • Embed privacy into design and use maximum privacy as the default setting
  • Maintain transparency of operations of the IT systems
  • Strive to detect and prevent privacy-invasive events before they happen.

How does it work?

APIs technology that allows banks and other companies to conveniently and securely share data between their organizations. We use services built using APIs all the time. For instance, Uber uses APIs to Integrate Google maps, payments and telephony in one useful app to help people order and pay for taxis quickly.

How Financial Service Firms Can Benefit from Open Banking APIs:

Financial services firms are waking up to the value of Open Banking initiatives and the fundamental role of APIs. Traditional banks understand that in order to better compete in the industry; they must develop their digital capabilities to avoid being dis-intermediated by new entrants with superior offerings and services.

As a result, many financial services firms are embracing Open Banking initiatives; this includes PayPal, Wells Fargo, and Visa. And for financial service firms in Europe, Open Banking initiatives are gradually becoming the norm, especially because from 2018, banks will be legally obliged to facilitate access to account information through APIs, per the Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

Around the world, the industry is starting to recognize that Open Banking is redefining the financial landscape in a number of ways, specifically by helping financial services firms enhance service offerings, improve overall customer engagement, and increase revenue from new channels.

Enhance Service Offerings with Open Banking APIs:

In the new ecosystem of Open Banking, APIs are a channel for doing business. A recent report by the European Banking Association (EBA) reveals that through adopting and deploying APIs, banks can extend and enhance their native services and offerings. However, these APIs can also create a threat for banks by opening doors to FinTech firms, who may leverage this data to extend their own offerings as well.

First, by opening up their APIs, banks are able to easily connect other APIs in the market in order to extend their service offerings by introducing native FinTech solutions in a plug-and-play manner. Examples of such APIs include the Experian Connect API, which provides customers the ability to see their credit score in real-time through their existing bank account, or the National Change of Address (NCOA) API, which notifies banks if a customer changed their address or whether an existing address is deliverable. Through embracing the Open Banking API economy, banks are able to further enhance and transform current offerings––increasing their appeal to existing and prospective customers alike.

However, Open Banking APIs can also create a threat for banks, as they enable FinTech firms to tap into a bank’s financial data. For example, a FinTech startup may decide to use a bank’s “Customer Data API” in order to build one mobile application where customers budget their finances, manage their debt, and get real-time investment and financial advice through chat. The majority of traditional banks do not offer such debt and real-time finance management services. This means that by opening up their API, the bank has enabled the FinTech startup to fulfill this existing gap and drive a wedge between the bank and the customer.

On the one hand, a bank can view the above example as a threat and completely reject the concept of Open Banking initiatives. But on the other hand, a bank can also view this example as an opportunity. Open Banking is not going anywhere. In order to establish their position within the value chain, banks must not turn a blind eye to these initiatives. In fact, FinTech firms are already creating such services by leveraging existing APIs or without APIs, through insecure methods such as screen-scraping. In order to capitalize on this opportunity and improve security, banks must better address this threat by owning this existing relationship and enhancing their own products and offerings through innovative partnerships.

Overall, banks can expect Open Banking APIs to provide them with the opportunity to improve, inform, and further the value of their analytics and data securely. This can be through introducing native solutions or partnering with other FinTech firms that offer innovative services. These benefits, in turn, can help enhance one aspect of the banking experience: customer engagement.

Improve Overall Customer Engagement with Open Banking APIs:

Open Banking APIs increase the appeal of a bank and enable them to meet the changing demands of existing customers as well as appeal to prospective customers. These APIs can also serve as a unique way to increase customer engagement and attend to customer needs in a secure, agile, and future-proof method.

Such engagement is crucial, especially as upstarts and new entrants continue to disrupt the financial services industry and more services, offerings, and devices enter the market––leading to an increasingly competitive environment for traditional banks and changing customer expectations. This competitive landscape creates challenges for traditional banks, and forces them to further innovate in order to retain and attract customers

Open Banking API – Performance Monitoring:

The “Open Banking” performance monitoring tracks the execution of algorithms that constitute an app, measures and reports, determines whether the application executes successfully, records the latencies associated with execution step sequences and determines why an app fails to execute successfully or at expected levels.

Following are the way to monitor performance:

  • End-user experience monitoring: The capture of data about how end-to-end app availability, latency, execution correctness and quality appear to the end user.
  • App topology discovery and visualization: The discovery of the software and hardware infrastructure components involved in app execution, and the array of possible paths across which these components communicate to deliver the application.
  • User-defined transaction profiling: The tracing of user-grouped events, which comprise a transaction as they occur within the application as they interact with components discovered in the second dimension (application topology discovery and visualization). This is generated in response to a user’s request to the app.
  • App component deep dive: The fine-grained monitoring of resources consumed by, and events occurring within, the components discovered in the app topology discovery and visualization dimension. This may include server-side components and client-side devices and interfaces.
  • IT operations analytics: The combination or usage of techniques, including complex operations event processing, statistical pattern discovery and recognition, unstructured text indexing, search and inference, topological analysis, and multidimensional database search and analysis to discover meaningful and actionable patterns in the typically large datasets generated by the first dimensions presented here.

Security challenges in an open environment:

The underlying issue is that web and mobile applications are a particularly soft target for cybercriminals for a number of reasons. There are inherent vulnerabilities in the APIs that transfer data and communicate with back- end systems

  • Constant exposure to the Internet makes them easy to probe
  • The openness of the web allows hackers to view source code and data and learn how to attack it
  • Insecure web browsers leave the UI and APIs vulnerable to attack

Although security standards may become more rigorous to meet the new challenges of these environments, there are inherent vulnerabilities in Internet-based applications (and APIs) that:

  • Exacerbated by these new regulations
  • Not addressed by current security standards
  • Not anticipated to be addressed in the near term

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that there is apprehension about the coming “all access” environment. Banks will not only lose direct control of their customers, they will incur yet more operational costs required to overhaul platforms and processes, while at the same time being exposed to even greater risk that will most likely not be directly addressed by these overhauls.

In order to thrive in this new, more connected world, banks and payment service providers (PSPs) must balance innovation and their desire to maximally capitalize on new opportunities with the right security to protect their brand and customers from a significantly increased threat profile.

Turning a negative into a positive:

  • Make API security an integral part of PSD2 implementations, and ensure that security controls for APIs are at par with digital banking.
  • Adopt a user-driven authentication framework that doesn’t disclose user credentials to TPPs.
  • Use biometric technologies for authentication, as that will not only address the PSD2 requirement for more accurate validation, but will also provide a better consumer experience.
  • Assess customers’ location and behavior against their usual patterns to gain a clearer view of the risks and the level of authentication required

Conclusion:

Truth be told, no one can predict the future with 100 per cent accuracy. That’s the beauty of Open Banking and PSD2 (they allow newcomers, teams and developers to blaze a digital innovation trail) but arguably also their weakness.

Are Card Payments becoming Simpler or Complex?

We are almost half-way through the year 2018 and today, card payments are the norm. Most of us prefer carrying a credit card and making all payments with it instead of carrying a lot of cash. However, the debate here is whether card payments have actually become simpler or are we using a complicated mode of transaction without realizing it?

Here’s a look at how card payments have evolved through the years?

A few decades ago, we barely heard about card payments. Cash was still the primary mode of payment and many consumers were actually scared to switch to cards. Slowly, we saw businesses and consumers open their doors to the world of card payments and today, we see a major shift. Cards are the way to go, both for businesses and consumers. The number of card holders and the number of card payments in retail stores have grown exponentially, proving this exact point.

Are credit cards the only mode of card payment? No. We now live in a world of PIN and Chip that have replaced card swipe payment. One might argue that the new technological advancement has complicated processes but if you think about it closely, you will understand that PIN and Chip are much safer in that you cannot have counterfeit cards and makes it very difficult for some unscrupulous element hacking into someone’s account.

Was the shift from cash to cards easy?

Cash payments were a habit and to get out of any habit is difficult. That was the conundrum that many people faced. People liked holding money in their hands instead of plastic cards. They felt it was safer to have all the money and see how much they were spending. Plus, technology was a scary thing back then and many users had trust issues.

If cash was stolen, they at least knew that what was in their bank was safe. What if their card was stolen? Their bank accounts would be compromised, and they would face bankruptcy. Also, with card payments it is easier to sub-consciously spend more.

However, people were made aware of the benefits of making the shift. For example, keeping track of expenses and budgeting are simpler. Your statement at the end of the month tells you about every expense. Another point is that if you, unfortunately, misplace your card, you can call your bank and freeze it immediately. You will not lose even a penny of your hard-earned money.With consumers having finally realized that the pros outweigh the cons, we saw the mega-shift of usage in the recent years. It definitely wasn’t easy but now, the tables have turned and many prefer cards over cash.

What are the security concerns revolving around card payments?

As aforementioned, security was a prime reason for people to resist card usage. What were these threats? Account getting hacked was definitely number one. Besides that, fraud and data security are major concerns. How often have we heard that people were cheated into revealing their card information? Too many times. We have also heard cases of security breach, hacking, etc. during online payments using card information.

Talking about online payments, we must not forget the complexity that passwords come with. Passwords must be unique, difficult to hack, and so on. With increasing complexity comes better security feature; one might argue is it worth the hassle? Yes definitely, it is for your hard-earned money.

What does the future look like for card payments?

Today, we have chip cards with fingerprint security, virtual single use cards, and contactless cards. These cards are the future of card payments. They put to rest all the risks surrounding security and ensure that payments are smooth.

In conclusion, we think it would be safe to say that even though card payments have become complex from the technology standpoint, they are simplifying transactions, which is a big step towards user satisfaction and security.

Is Tokenization the Future of Payment Security???

Tokenization – An extra layer of Security for Cards Payment!!

The PCI Council defines tokenization as “a process by which the primary account number (PAN) is replaced with a surrogate value called a token. De-tokenization is the reverse process of redeeming a token for its associated PAN value.

The replacement of card numbers with unique one-time only codes also knows as Token. Just like EMV chip has brought security to the physical world, tokenization everywhere is critical to secure the digital world.

Tokens can be generally identified as either single use or multi use.

  • A single use token is typically used to represent a specific, single transaction.
  • A multi- use token represents a specific card number and may be used to track an individual PAN across multiple transactions. A multi-use token always maps a particular card number value to the same token value within the tokenization system. Determining whether single use or multi use tokens, or a combination of both, are appropriate for a particular merchant environment will depend on the merchant’s specific business need for retaining tokens

Tokenization vs Encryption:

The Concept of tokenization is different from Encryption. The purpose of encryption techniques is to mask original data, then allow it to be decrypted. Encryption uses an algorithm to credit card information that makes the data unreadable to anyone without a proper key. The original card data, however, stays intact and often resides on a company’s internal networks — thus creating vulnerabilities.

Tokenization completely removes card data from a institution internal networks and replaces it with a “token”. Merchants use only the token to retrieve, access, or maintain their customers’ credit card information. Meanwhile, their customers’ real card data is stored at a highly secure, offsite location.

How Does Tokenization Work?

When used in card transactions, tokens are created to replace your card number. The token in this case would be a string of seemingly nonsensical letters and numbers, which represent your 16-digit account number. The token, rather than your actual cardnumber, would be used to complete the purchases.

But if a token – rather than your account number – is passing through all the systems involved in authorizing your transaction, your payment information stays safe. The token can only be “unlocked” when it has reached its payment processor. Until then, it’s meaningless to anyone who might encounter it.

Below are the five steps that will explain the Authorization process with Tokenization:

  • A credit card is swiped in a POS machine or entered into an ecommerce site.
  • The POS machine (or ecommerce site) passes the PAN to the credit card tokenization system.
  • The tokenization system generates a string of 16 random characters to replace the Card Number or retrieves the associated token (if it has already been created) and records the correlation in the data vault.
  • The tokenization system returns the token to the POS terminal (or ecommerce site) and is used to represent the customer’s card in the system.
  • If the business is using a payment processor’s tokenization solution, the token is sent to the payment processor, who, using the same tokenization technology, can de-tokenize and view the original credit card number and process payment.
  • If the organization is using a third-party tokenization solution, the token is sent to the third party, who then de-tokenizes it and sends it along to the payment processor for credit card processing.

Benefits:

The main benefit for banks is significant reduction of fraud losses related to PAN compromise. Reduced card and payments fraud also means fewer disputes.

In addition to protecting against card number compromise, rolling out a tokenization-based contactless mobile payment application provides other benefits for banks. As an example, a PAN-based payment application that only provides payment functionality for POS-transactions can be optimized into a smart token application to provide payment functionality at online checkouts from mobile devices as well. Mobile payment applications based on smart tokens can also provide greater insights into customer payments, enabling banks to recommend and provide services and promotional offers during payments and at checkout.

Furthermore, banks can set accurate risk ratios and transactions limits and authorize high value transactions for genuine customers. These benefits are more difficult to achieve with a PAN-based solution because of security implications and incompatibility of supporting e-commerce checkouts.

Scheme Compliance Advantages:

In the payments industry, merchants handling customer payment card details are required to comply with industry standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). This costly and time-consuming compliance requires stringent audits and implementation of security controls.

For merchants, tokenized customer payment records are exempt from PCI-DSS compliance. This is not to say that merchants should not implement adequate security controls to safeguard data from compromise, but the risk of tokenized records being breached is minimal.

Risks of Tokenization:

There might be a risk in Tokenization. With cross-domain tokenization, businesses request the ability to tokenize data across all of their customers in a single data vault.“This scenario creates will a situation where a token for one merchant can be used across all merchants in that vault – essentially making a token a card.

“Organizations that opt for a phased approach to tokenizing data can actually end up storing payment card data as well as tokens in their databases. This can create a challenge with some token schemes, as it makes it nearly impossible to determine what is a token and what is a payment card number.”

Future of Tokenization with Payment Security:

Summary:

The tokenized payments add an extra layer of security for payment transactions and offer improved functionality and customer insights. Although used by contactless mobile payment applications such as Android Pay and Samsung Pay, token-based solutions market share remains small compared to that of the less secure PAN-based solutions.

The tokenized payments technology will likely gain more popularity in coming years. This would translate into fewer financial losses from fraud and greater cost savings for financial institutions, which can be passed on to consumers as well as merchants.

Contactless Payment – A Hit or A Miss!!!

Step in -> Tap / Wave ->Payment done ->Go!

The advent of cutting-edge technology has brought huge changes to the card payment systems. An example of this is the contactless payment systems that have come up with the help of contactless cards, mobile phones, payment wrist bands etc. Contactless systems or mobile tap-to-pay systems securely store credit and debit card information, which can be used by consumers to pay for purchases by just tapping their devices in front of radio frequency readers at the payment counters of stores. Contactless payment systems also allow customers to make online purchases from their mobile and PCs.

The technology behind contactless payments is NFC or Near-Field-Communication technology. NFC utilizes short-range radio signals which work in a range of around 20 centimeters but are effective in a range of 4 centimeters. NFC technology can only be used with special tools called NFC readers, which are compact devices used by merchants to accept payment from customers’ contactless payment devices.

Mobile tap-to-pay systems do not act like bank accounts. They don’t have the ability to hold cash balances but can be paired with digital wallets for this purpose. The only function of such systems is to securely store your credit or debit card details. You can add as many cards as you like once the payment system app is downloaded.

After knowing what contactless payment is, let us look at whether this technology will gain success or not.

Here are the reasons why it is gaining traction among people today:

1. No more need for plastic cards or wallets: The only component required for contactless payment systems to work effectively is an NFC-enabled device. That means you will carry your digital wallet with you wherever you go without actually carrying a physical wallet. If you are going to purchase from a store that you know has the facility for contactless payment, you can simply take your phone and leave everything else at home. With no more plastic cards, the risk of losing or misplacing the cards is also substantially reduced. Also, you no longer have to carry around bulky wallets filled with cards whenever you go to make a purchase at your neighborhood store.

2. No additional fees: Merchants who accept contactless payment can rid of the extra fees they pay to third-party payment services. They will instead pay the same credit/debit transaction fees which are usually between 2% to 3%. Therefore, merchants will have all the reasons to accept contactless payments.

3. Faster: In some situations, contactless payment systems save a huge amount of time. This is mainly because the system of tapping your payment instrument in front of the reader one time is much more convenient and handy as compared to using clunky card readers and paying by physical cash. This system can save a lot of time at gas stations, vending machines, transportation ticket kiosks, and so on.

4. Security: The biggest advantage of contactless payment is that the card or digital payment instrument is never handed over to the merchant & is always in possession of the cardholder. Thus, reducing the chances of card fraud by way of cloning or other fraudulent methods. Also, the exposure is limited to the set floor limit

There is always a flipside to everything like a coin. Take a look at some of the challenges that we face today for of contactless payments:

1. Inconsistent acceptance by merchants: It has taken a long time for merchants to accept contactless payment methods for their stores. So even if you are an early user of the contactless payment methodology, you will find very few stores that support the technology. This is very frustrating for users since they have to use alternate forms of payment even though they have the ability to use contactless payment.

2. Lack of technical knowledge among merchants: With very few merchant patrons of contactless payment technology at the moment, it is obvious that not many merchants would know the troubleshooting required to be done in case of any hardware failure or system functionality issue. Even simple issues such as lack of an internet connection are enough to befuddle them, and technical support needs to be brought in from the experts.

3. Limited international payment acceptability: Even though NFC standards are almost the same everywhere, there are limited areas overseas where your contactless payment method would work, even though the merchant accepts contactless payment from local users. This challenge has its roots in foreign transaction fees and the limitation of the technology at the moment. Since the transaction fees would vary for every place you visit, it might be required to carry alternate methods of payment. Therefore, while traveling overseas it is always a better option to carry your cash and cards with you.

All in all, we can definitely say that contactless payments are here to stay. With slight modifications to their existing technology, the above challenges could be addressed and turned into benefits of using the technology. Even though contactless payments are a novice in the market, we can definitely see a future where they would play a predominant part in changing the entire payment system.

Know more about Deploying Digital Work Force using Veribot!!!

Yesterday I met Sankhadeep Chakraborty our Head of Engineering over Coffee. Where he spoke at lenght about Verinite Labs recently developed solution for the Banks  and Financial Institutions in the field of Robotic Process Automation which is called as “VERIBOT” !!!

He mentioned that Verinite Labs is very much excited to launch this omni solution to transform the businesses for customers of banks. Below are the glimpse of the discussion we had about Veribot!!

Prasanna: So, first things first – What is Veribot?

Sankhadeep: Veribot is our process automation Product which will help banks and financial institutions to automate most of the manual, repetitive tasks performed on the systems using robots. Veribot allows the user to record processes which can be executed manually or scheduled automatically to perform the task without any human intervention.

 

Prasanna: Okay, Sounds interesting! Can you help me understand how relevant it is for the existing Verinite client and for the market?

Sankhadeep: Robotic Process Automation is the next focus areas for the banking sector. Most of the banks and financial institutes have started to realize that their work force is tied up with a lot of manual repetitive tasks. For example, one of the leading financial services company in Vietnam processes more than 10000 loan applications daily. While processing these applications, the risk team must fetch the credit history of all these customers from the credit bureau. The credit bureau provides the credit history information of the customers over a webpage where the users have to query the customer information. This is a typical scenario where the organization can deploy a RPA solution to perform the manual repetitive task and allow the users to perform other productive tasks. RPA solutions can easily perform such tasks without human intervention. The human workforce can be utilized to perform complex and more meaningful tasks which not only help to improve the skillset of the workforce but also improves the productivity of the organizations.

Verinite focuses primarily in the banking and finance sector. Most of the banks have processes which are repetitive and consumes a lot of time and effort of the resources. The example mentioned above clearly shows the type of effort associated with the manual repetitive tasks in such organizations. Also, traditionally the banking sector has been pioneers in embracing new technology. Hence, I believe that a RPA solution from Verinite will be a right fit to solve some of the current problems faced by our customers.

 

Prasanna: How would you differentiate Veribot against other solutions out there in RPA space? What are Veribot’s USPs?

Sankhadeep: Veribot has been designed for the banks and financial institutes. Normally such organizations use a wide variety of applications for their daily operations. These applications consist of both legacy and newer technology. Veribot is capable of handling most of these applications quite effortlessly. This characteristic differentiates Veribot from all the other solutions in the RPA space.

Veribot also provides an option to use the OCR technology. This helps the automation scripts to replicate the exact human interactions with the system. This is also one of the USPs of the Veribot tool.

 

Prasanna: Wow, cool. I am ware that you have undertaken some PoCs too Right? How far has Verinite Labs progressed with it?

Sankhadeep: We have done a PoC with our existing client. During these PoCs we have been able to showcase the features of the Veribot. As part of these exercises we have been able to automate processes involving

  • browser-based applications,
  • legacy applications, &
  • interfacing with desktop applications etc.

We have successfully demonstrated the capability of Veribot in all the use cases shared by our clients till now.

Prasanna: What would be your advice to existing and potential clients regarding Veribot as the answer to their process automation needs?

Sankhadeep: My advice to them would be to follow the below steps prior to selecting Veribot as their solution for process automation:

  • Identify all the repetitive manual processes that are being performed as BAU
  • Categorize the processes into three categories – Effort Intensive, Error Prone, Cost Intensive
  • If the processes do not fall in the above categories it is better to keep them untouched for now
  • Study the processes which fall under the above categories and evaluate the savings in terms and effort and cost if these processes are automated
  • Evaluate if these processes can be automated without using an off-the-shelf product
  • If automation is possible without a standard product, then evaluate the cost associated with building such a solution. Most processes evolve over time, so it should also be considered that the solution developed to automate the process can handle any changes to the process in future.
  • Following this approach if clients find that the effort in building a customized solution for the process is not beneficial they should approach Veribot as an alternative. Before finalizing Veribot as the right solution, clients should share the use cases for the identified processes. And we will be happy to perform a PoC for the same. I am confident that Veribot will be able to automate most of these processes very easily.

Prasanna: What is typical implementation lifecycle for deploying Veribot?

Sankhadeep: The Veribot tool can be deployed very quickly including customizations within a period of 4-8 weeks. The following are the steps involved:

  • Share the use cases with Verinite for the PoC
  • Verinite will perform a PoC to show the processes are automated as per the expectations of the users
  • Deploy the solution in the client’s premise
  • Customize the solution to handle custom requirements (optional)
  • Train the end users on the usage of Veribot
  • Assist the client teams to create the processes in Veribot with minimum support
  • Provide post implementation support for the client for the implemented process for 2 weeks

Prasanna: What are the hardware & infrastructure requirements for bank’s to run Veribot?

Sankhadeep: Veribot can be deployed as a standalone application on a user’s machine. For a standalone deployment it can be deployed on any workstation which supports Java.

For an enterprise solution Veribot provides a central monitor which can be used by administrators to monitor the execution of the process from a remote location. The individual robots are deployed in user workstations or virtual machines in the network. The central monitor can be deployed on a server which is connected to the different user workstations in the network.

Prasanna: Is Veribot’s Robotic Automation Platform secure and auditable?

Sankhadeep: The Veribot tool provides reports showing the different processes executed by different robots. Using these reports the organization can easily audit the processes and identify the source of any anomaly in the processes.

Prasanna: That gives me plenty of insights in to this new Venture; how about some parting views?

Sankhadeep: Robotic Process Automation is the future. Coupled with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning this kind of tools will help to improve the productivity of the organizations to a great extent. Although 100% process automation is still a myth, the new innovations allow organizations to bridge this gap to a great extent.

 Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is a progress; working together is success #Productlaunch.

Factors to consider before embarking on the RPA Implementation!!!

A recent survey by Redwood Software of 300 corporate decision makers from the US and the UK founds “79% of enterprises said automation delivered time savings, 69% cited ‘improved business productivity’ as the key benefit of automation, and 61% said automation regularly provides cost savings. Hence more & more organizations are turning to RPA (robotic process automation).

RPA brings a variety of advantages to the table, which is why it is quickly becoming a favorite of so many organizations. Some of these advantages include:

● No more additional investments since RPA uses the existing systems
● Providing results that are reliable and accurate
● Reduction of lead time in the automation of processes, which ultimately saves cost
● Allowing resources to focus on additional/ more complex tasks
● Reliability and the ability to work on multiple projects at once without any kind of break

There has been a lot of research going on in implementing RPA to various organizations, specifically which activities they can be applied to. If you are a multinational organization operating in multiple continents, multiple time zones, and across multiple verticals; RPA will make your teams’ jobs much easier. RPA is one of the best alternatives to traditional workflows and processes handled at most of the banking and financial institutions.

However, before you can begin implementing RPA for your organization, there are a few things you should consider. We take you through each of those points, so that it becomes much easier for you to start implementing RPA!

The process in consideration may be complex or simple, it may be frequently changed or kept static, the automation may need to reduce the lead time, and so on. Once you have listed out and answered all these questions, you will come to know the processes that fit the criteria listed out by you. After identification you can start implementing the RPA automation.

1. Stability of processes: When you are selecting the processes for automation, ensure that they are not changed too frequently. Any process that is constantly subject to changes is a very poor choice for RPA since you will need to change the guidelines under RPA every time the process is changed. A stable process is one which does not require frequent updates, and can save a significant number of man-hours and incurred costs. When a process is selected for RPA implementation, make sure you are clear about the goal for automation in your mind.

2. Scalability of process: When setting up RPA in your organization, it may seem logical to deploy it at a smaller scale. However, once the benefits of RPA come to light, you will want to deploy the same automation throughout your organization. Therefore, it makes more sense to think big and implement RPA on the processes that can be scaled massively, and are critical to your organization’s global operations.

3. Speed of implementation: One of the main objectives behind setting up RPA for your processes is to save time and money for your organization. RPA that requires your team to put in a lot of extra effort with respect to coding, or takes up a lot of man hours for your team in spite of automatically executing the tasks it is assigned to do, is not the right fit for your processes, and should be avoided. The whole purpose of implementing an RPA is to design and create robotic processes in a few hours or less, and optimize the robots, so they can carry out the same responsibilities from then on. An RPA solution that allows you flexibility while creating and performing operations is the best solution for your organization.

4. Implementation intelligence: The RPA solution you implement should have the agility to apply appropriate business rules within a process to make sense of complex data, extract the information required from it, and modify it to enrich and transform the data according to your business needs. These solutions should ideally be able to read and write to any data source, and support the task-based activities that they are assigned.

5. Simplicity and Reliability: If your RPA solution is more complex than the task it is trying to automate, it will not achieve the desired results. Any RPA that needs an IT ticket to be created every time it makes a change is slowing down the time required for processes to be carried out. Your RPA should be so simple that any employee in your organization should be able to build them and use them for various types of work, from gathering data to changing the data into desired business information. Reliability is an equally important factor to be considered before implementing an RPA solution. Your RPA will have the responsibility to carry out hundreds, maybe even thousands, of tasks. Therefore, an RPA which has built-in analytics and monitoring will definitely be preferred.

Apart from the above factors, there are many more things you should keep in mind, such as whether you’re using the right tools for automation, which technology platforms get you the best results, and how much automation will you need for getting the expected results. All in all, these factors will help you analyze and monitor all the right processes before you can implement your RPA on them.

Is this the right time for banks to launch Personalized Image Cards???

Once upon a time, debit and credit cards were simple (and somewhat boring) pieces of plastic. The only ‘personalization’ that came was in the form of your name which was put on the card along with the bank’s logo and other important information. Now, you have the freedom to choose your favorite image and see it every time you make a purchase with your card! From cheering for your favorite team to bringing up the memories of your favorite vacation, to showing off your pet’s tootsy smile, the options for your card image are limitless.

Capital One provides this feature on both credit and debit cards, but if you only want to stick to debit cards for now, Wells Fargo offers the best for you to choose from. You can upload any image, with a few restrictions such as no pictures of firearms, skulls, celebrities, etc. Many other banks also provide you with the feature of putting personalized images to your credit and debit cards, each with their own guidelines and restrictions.

The trend of using personalized images has recently become more popular- with family pictures, scenic images, and pets appearing in increasing numbers on bank cards. This trend also boosts sales, as can be seen by the rise in transaction volumes among America First’s Picture Perfect card users. Personalized debit card users managed to make an average of 20 transactions per month while standard debit card users made an average of 12 transactions. Similarly, personalized credit cards had an average balance $200 higher than an average balance of a standard credit card.

This increase is attributed to the customers’ emotional attachment to their debit and credit cards. The connection provided to the customer by means of these cards translates to more business for the banks.

Another benefit of using personalized credit and debit cards is the increase in security measures. As a part of Visa’s new design standards, the personalized card design will switch the Visa dove hologram from the front of the card to the back and integrate it with the magnetic strip. This makes card counterfeiting more difficult and protects the identity of the user better.

Here are a few other benefits of issuing personalized image cards to customers:

1. It helps in retaining existing customers and bring in new customers: Since it is an out-of-the-box idea, more people have started beginning to adapt to it, thereby increasing the number of customers for the banks. The existing customers are also given a new channel to stay engaged and continue providing business to the bank.

2. People are constantly looking to distinguish themselves: In a population of billions of people, it becomes very easy to get lost in the crowd. Most customers are very keen to distinguish themselves. Everyone wants to be seen and regarded as an individual when dealing with their bank and everyday payments. These personalized cards are a way for customers to not feel like one of the masses, and instead be thought of as an individual. When banks issue personalized banks, they give customers the chance to embrace banking in a new way.

3. These cards also have an added benefit of being eco-friendly: Customizable cards have a sustainable production process that reduces the strain on our environment. Responsible and sustainable banking is the need of the hour and is being recognized by the banks for the same.

4. They are easily identifiable among all your cards: With all the cards you carry in your wallet it can get a little difficult to pick the right one at the time of a purchase. Sometimes, you might also give out the wrong card at the counter, which leads to a lot of confusion in managing your expenses. The average American has 3.7 cards, so it is understandable that they would prefer different cards for different purposes- such as personal purchases, business purchases, family card, etc.

With customized cards, you can easily distinguish different cards even if they are from the same bank, thanks to the different pictures on each of them. This way, your family card can have a picture of your family, your business card can have an image of a favorite tour, and so on, therefore when you make a purchase you will know exactly which card to use for what.

5. They allow third parties to tie up with banks and provide offers: Customizable cards are an excellent way to gain a few loyalty points from third parties such as supermarkets and retailers that have partnered with your bank for customizable cards. Example- every time you shop at a retailer partner with your personalized card, you get loyalty points and sometimes even a discount.

6. They’re fun to use!: Using customized cards, your bank and you can have some much-needed fun in banking. With a pet, or an interesting photo, you can create the best designs for your credit and debit cards!

The world of financial services is ever-changing, with customers looking for more personalized, convenient, and secure options to interact with their banks. Customized cards take you a step closer to a better way of banking.

Be DevOpstastic !!!!!

DevOps!! The new trend coming in the Industry….

Let’s see the whole world of IT Industry with the lens of DevOps. DevOps does not go with only one thing, it has got the combination of Continuous Integration, Delivery, Continuous Deployment and more. DevOps can give the beautiful experience to the Industries handling large customer volume, bringing more enhancements on Automation services and Product Life cycle. As every business needs to stay agile, wants to improve their speed and innovate faster, DevOps methodology supports quality assurance and risk management factors.

DevOps equals Continuous Delivery. DevOps is a (combination of development and operations) software development method in which the operations and the development engineers participate together in the entire service lifecycle, from design through the development process to production support helping an organization rapidly produce software products and services. DevOps practices arena started nearly around 2007.DevOps innovate faster.

Dev and Ops are the two different terminologies which shows that the developers work with Ops to understand the impact of code changes also developer works more closely with production equivalent systems.

DevOps an evolution in the Software Delivery and what does it address?

Several times we have come across conflict conversations like “It’s not the server, it’s your code”, “It works on my machine” etc. What can be the major reason behind this conflict?? There might be the lack of synchronization between the development and the operations or infrastructure team?? Well, the answer to this question is “Yes”. The above conflict can be reduced by adopting DevOps. The development team is responsible for the creating and modifying the code on the other hand the operations team is responsible for creating stability and enhancing services on the developed code. With today’s constant pressures to provide new and innovative services—IT organizations must encourage and institute a culture of continuous learning and improvement. DevOps, a relatively new approach that draws on agile IT development but goes far beyond, can help IT achieve these goals.

DevOps brings out the collaborative mindset between Devs and Ops covering all the aspects of functional and non-functional requirements of an Industry. The complex banking applications takes months or up to a year to develop and launch. However, with the adoption of DevOps methodology and the tools the entire process can be completed in the matter of weeks after rigorous testing.

Before adopting the DevOps methodology, the development and the operations teams used to work individually for the launch of the application. After the introduction of the DevOps the teams collaborated with the single shared objective enabling Agile development and continuous delivery. The API’s introduction made the development process and helped in enhancing the existing services. Performing the non-functional testing approaches from the cloud became a part of it. Thus, DevOps has got great advancements within itself.

Agile and DevOps – How is it connected?

How Agile and DevOps works together is now a question in our mind. Basically, the answer could be “DevOps is an extension of Agile Methodology” Or “Agile Methodology works for DevOps software development processes and product/application delivery enhancements”.

The end to end Automation and the Collaboration between the Dev and Ops teams are the two key ingredients for making Agile and DevOps successful. The question also arises that what can be the use of Testing in DevOps? There are various testing tools (Jenkins a CI tool) and the activities which we need to sink along with the development process in order to help or to speed up the application delivery in a transparent manner. When the developer deploys the build to the QA and the QA has to run the test automatically providing the test results to give an indication where the build can be deployed to the production. As always said finding a bug in an earlier stage is less expensive. Hence, the testing is triggered automatically when the build is available. The diagram below shows how the Agile and DevOps works together hand in hand.

Agile deals with the processes like scrums, sprints etc whereas DevOps deals with the technical practices like CI etc.

How DevOps solves the problems that the Banking Industry is facing????

We all know that the many people are doing the online banking like never before. According to 2016 MX customer survey, clients find it more important to have an easy digital banking experience (67%) rather than a friendly teller or staff (33%) when choosing where to open an account and contact their banks mainly through mobile devices. The 3 main priorities that have been listed by the banking IT executives to enhance the customer service experience and banking software’s: –

  • Redesign or enhance the digital experience
  • Find ways to reduce operating costs
  • Enhance data analytics capabilities to enhance customer needs

In the highly competitive banking industry, we always look to leverage the power of Software. As IT is becoming the heart of the Banks, with DevOps we can have it all (The cost, The Time, The Quality and The Delight). The large automated banking applications and the team have noticed an integration issues with the older codes. The Continuous Integration (Each new application build is automatically deployed and regression tests are triggered against the build) and the automation implementation ideas can bring out the best in the DevOps delivery chain.

Well with all the advancements DevOps is becoming the predominant industry solution. In summary, DevOps is evolving rapidly and each of these pieces provide a slightly different outlook on 2017

How is Cognitive Computing Transforming the Landscape of Banking??

The financial world has been in a state of constant change for a while now. Most of the changes being brought about are positive, such as making the banking industry more transparent and interactive for customers. These changes are mainly brought about by the successful application of the latest technologies, including cognitive computing.

What is Cognitive Computing?

Cognitive Computing is a term coined to define the simulation of human thought via artificial intelligence and machine learning. Processes like pattern recognition, speech, and language processing are all examples of cognitive computing. In the banking industry, the collection of customer information is of paramount importance. This data is then analyzed and used to make the banking industry more customer friendly and efficient. In such a scenario, cognitive computing fits very well in the banking industry.

How cognitive computing is changing banking

IBM has recently stated that 88% of bank executives are planning on investing in cognitive computing for their organizations. Here are a few ways that cognitive computing is changing things in the banking industry:

1. Banks can now fine-tune their services on a micro and macro level
The more information obtained by banks about their existing and potential customers, the more they can fine tune their services to satisfy them better. Cognitive computing helps in this aspect since it can easily create simulated responses according to the customer data input it receives. Banks are therefore able to collect more personalized data about their customers thanks to cognitive computing. They can later use this data to modify spending trends according to individual customers.

A great example of cognitive computing is the series of apps that can successfully sync your payments with your calendar, such as picking up flowers for your grandma or taking your family out to dinner. When the budget of a particular customer is about to exceed, caution messages are provided during/after every purchase to ensure that the customer doesn’t go into debt. These apps utilize the concepts of personal financial management with intelligent automation, the result of which clearly demonstrates a significant improvement in the relationship between customers and their banks.

2. Banks can now provide specific and relevant responses to customer queries-
The use of cognitive computing in the banking industry also gives you the freedom to explore and create intelligent interfaces that can have efficient conversations with customers. These interfaces sift through the data that is fed into it and gives you the answers to your queries. A good example of this would be a ChatBot.

Chatbots are assistants that are powered by artificial intelligence, used to streamline the customer service experience. Conversational interfaces are quickly cementing their place in the banking industry, with more and more banking organizations investing in them.

3. Banks can now implement more effective Cyber-Security measures-
For any bank, ensuring the complete protection of financial data is imperative. Cognitive computing technology operates to simulate human thought and behavior, including perceiving data the way humans would and then building solutions accordingly. Processes such as pattern recognition allow this technology to sift through data on a massive scale and detect anomalies, which ultimately leads to figuring out fraudulent and false transactions faster than anything seen before. Cognitive computing can also help your Cyber-Security systems by revealing all kinds of malicious software. Features like these make cognitive computing a key part of any bank’s Cyber-Security strategy.

4. Banks can now be more transparent-
There are many regulations required to be met by banks when it comes to implementing transparency. These complex regulations can be tough to follow without expert knowledge of data strategy and the current trends in data policies. All these limitations make it hard for banks to comply with all the regulations. With the arrival of cognitive computing, this task has become much easier since cognitive computing can track changes in data laws in real-time and give suggestions on how to apply them to your organization. Due to cognitive computing, long and arduous policy documents are read and understood at unmatched speeds thanks to which, organizations can keep with the rapid changes made to policies.

Cognitive computing has proved to be an incredibly beneficial tool for both organizations and customers. A few of the many ways cognitive computing is being used are- apps with built-in algorithms, artificial advisers, and many more. Cognitive computing has made a direct positive impact in how regular consumers manage their money.

5 Banking Trends to be prepared for in 2018!!!!

The entire banking industry is standing on the brink of change, with many trends being predicted to take over the industry in 2018 and beyond.

In 2018, banking is predicted to get smarter, more personalized, more secure, and more convenient for the customer. As 2017 is on its way to departure, we list the upcoming trends that are being predicted for 2018 in the banking sector.

1. Mobile banking applications on the rise:

Mobile applications are gaining traction as a means to interact with the world. When considered in banking industry, mobile applications could become the principal way for customers to interact with their banks. These mobile applications may or may not be developed and maintained by the banks.

Using these apps will reduce customers’ visits to the physical branches of banks, and therefore give customers more and more independence and flexibility over their finances. With mobile wallets cropping up left, right, and center, many are also predicting the complete disappearance of cash. Banks who are planning to surf through this change need to be masters at integrating their systems with highly interactive technology.  According to statista.com, 89.9% of the millennials are familiar with and regularly use mobile banking, and other generations are also catching up fast.

2. IoT enabled voice commerce:

With interactive technology progressing at the rate it is, it is not difficult at all to imagine a world where everything runs on voice commands. This trend will also extend into the banking industry, with voice commerce coming into the limelight. Imagine a world where everything around you are equipped with your very own voice assistant, or even better, various devices having multiple voice assistants interact with each other to provide you with a seamless experience.

If you bring banking into this picture, you can buy any product/commodity by requesting the same to your assistant, who will use your linked bank account to make the purchase and confirm the transaction. Later, the products can be delivered to your doorstep. This year, Capital One began testing applications using Cortana and Alexa, hopefully they will be coming out with something by next year. Another way that voice control can be used is as an additional layer of security. There are many banking institutions which are experimenting in this aspect as well.

3. Blockchain steps into the real world:

For those who are not yet aware of blockchain, it is a technology that is used by many globally connected computers to supervise the database that takes care of every Bitcoin transaction that is happening. Blockchain is the decentralized authority that manages Bitcoin.

Blockchain is finally ready to step out of controlled environments and into the big world. We are already seeing traces of this happening, and it is only going to get more omnipresent, from derivatives to online money transfers. Forbes has stated that 45% of institutions such as stock exchanges and money transfer service providers suffer from some or the other kind of economic fraud. With its decentralized database, blockchain aims to eliminate such economic crimes.

4. Applying virtual reality to banking:

Virtual reality has the potential to perform wonders in the banking industry.  All these possibilities are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the partnership between virtual reality and banking.

VR can provide a new pathway of communication between a client and a banking institution/adviser to appease the need to transform the way banks and customers interact with each other, including finding advisers, collaborating with clients, and much more.

5. Cognitive Banking is rapidly growing:

The increasing number of users that digital transactions have in today’s market leads to a mind-numbing amount of data. Every user will have their own set of data which will keep increasing in volume with time. When looked at from the perspective of a bank, such huge amounts of data need to be properly managed to gain invaluable insights from it. This is where cognitive computing steps in. It aids in sorting through the data and finding out the important or relevant data while tossing away the other unnecessary data.

With the introduction of AI into the picture, banks are slowly moving toward cost-cutting procedures to maximize their efficiency. Using AI and cognitive computing in the banking industry also aids the customer relationship management aspect in a huge way, since these technologies are self-learning, meaning they don’t need to be updated with every new change, and they can also be used to empower staff to cater to customer requests in a much more satisfying manner.
These are simply the most important predicted trends that are expected to take over the banking industry in 2018. The banking industry is changing rapidly, and these trends are the proof for it. They will definitely influence the way that financial institutions and leaders shape the future of the industry. Banks that fail to act and adapt to these upcoming trends will find it very hard to stay afloat in the current of change that is sweeping through the industry.

IoT(Internet of Things) Waiting At The Banking DoorStep!!!!!

A person sitting in one corner of the world able to control things at the other end of the world merely through the gadget in one’s possession and able to receive the response in real-time. Remotely switching on the tube lights, fan or a music system. Getting reminder about daily dose of medicine or getting an offer for a restaurant you are walking by is happening and gaining popularity too. Banks too have started using this for creating a better customer experience by providing offers or knowing the personal profiles. The more data points you have more you can explore & offer. The question is how is this thing done, what is the underlying technology that lets these things happen?

The Internet of Things, or IoT as it is called, is slowly but surely taking over one industry after the other.It is a network of physical devices, appliances, vehicles, health monitoring sensors etc. that are connected through some network or embedded software sensors that can exchange data. The data thus gathered can be analyzed, optimized and result is customized services or operations.

Wi-Fi and sensors are changing our lives from the minutest to the biggest details, bringing in a whole new age of connectivity. The connectivity obtained due to IoT also gives people and businesses the chance to obtain much more data, which they can use for different purposes.

The IoT market is expected to grow to a staggering amount of $15 billion by 2020. And that is just the beginning. Europe has a 40% share of the global IoT market. Western European countries are especially promising in the IoT market.  There is a lot of unexplored potential within IoT is still unexplored, and one of the areas where it can potentially become a game changer is the banking industry. With the help of IoT and its concepts, the relationship that people share with their banks today will change forever. And that is just the beginning in a long list of benefits brought about by IoT to the banking industry.

Challenges using IoT in banking:

Even if this looks much promising and interesting there are certainly some concerns and challenges in implementing this especially in banking industry. Take a look at following challenges:

  1. Complex: The IoT system is extremely complex, because the number of possibilities for any situation is truly endless and nobody can think of and program every single possibility for every action and connect it to each possibility from another action, and so on. No matter how many possibilities you can think of, there will always be a couple of them left out. Therefore, sometimes it is better to simply steer clear of IoT when precision or completeness matters.
  2. Common Standards: Today we have so many kinds of devices it is tough to keep track of how diverse their technologies are. However, the basis for IoT is to have hundreds, and possibly, thousands of devices interconnected. Even if we consider only smartphones as the device, there are plenty of smartphone companies with multitude of service providers. What makes the matter worse is not having a common standard amongst these devices. In such cases, it is very difficult to create information that is universally compatible with all devices. Similarly, it is unsuitable to perform data integration among such varied devices to complete a certain assignment.
  3. Privacy: This is perhaps the most important concern of all. When all devices are connected to each other, and the data is available to organizations and businesses, where does the privacy of a person begin, and where does it end? Without the appropriate data encryption that needs to come with IoT, your personal bank details could fall into the hands of any interested party. Your personal details should never be available so easily on the Internet, as it becomes a sitting target for hackers. Giving your bank details out into the digital world is a lose-lose situation for you.

Now let’s focus on other side of the coin – Banks can utilize the sensors, analytics, and technology that comes with IoT to provide customers with more personalized services. This can happen only when the banks receive data about their customers and tailor their services accordingly.

IoT can bring an extent of change that was never previously thought of with regard to the banking industry. The only limit to the change is our imagination. Novel applications and services are already rolling out for trial followed by implementation. It is time for IoT to bring some revolutionary changes to banking.

It can help banks in dealing with the world of online banking, especially when it comes to incorporeal assets such as trademarks, contracts, patents, and more.

Benefits of using IoT in banking:

  1. Real Time offers: In a world where everything (including cities, stores, people, and even transportation) are connected, IoT empowers banks to interact with you real- time, for example- you are presented with offers available at the same store that you are passing by right now.
  2. Futuristic Solution: IoT can make payments as easy as a piece of cake for you. Instead of reaching into your purse/wallet, IoT along with your bank will give you the provision of simply entering a store, picking what you need, and paying as you leave, with the help of some biometric scanner or face recognition. Last year in the US, Citibank launched the trial of its beacon technology. This technology was Bluetooth-enabled and gave people the opportunity to access ATMs anytime using their smartphones. Customers also received offers based on their geographical location!
  3. Insights: IoT can also be utilized by banks to gather insights on the customer service provided at the physical locations of the bank, for example- how much time on average does a user spend waiting at the bank? Data that provides banks with the solutions to such questions helps them improve their service and go the extra mile for their customers.
  4. Track: Using IoT also lets commercial banks keep a track of their assets, and scrutinize whether their investments are working out as expected. This lets commercial banks open their doors to even those who lack a strong credit history.

IoT is a vast sector with many possible opportunities for investment and partnerships. Banks which utilize IoT can also make use of this to form partnerships with other sectors which have also invested in IoT.

Although there are a few concerns regarding the utilization of IoT in banking, the benefits it gets to the banking industry cannot be ignored. Since there is still a long way to go in integrating IoT with our lives, there is still time to work out the kinks before IoT becomes an integral part of our household. Banking sector in particular will have to take stringent rules regarding use of IoT as it deals with matters of personal data and money! People will love to use IoT provided the safe-guarding measures are ensured. Every sector is touched by technology and internet in particular. This is going to be the medium through which communications will happen in future.

Block and Chain : Together they lead to Technology Gain!!

What is Block Chain?????

Over the past decades technology has constantly upgraded itself and is reshaping to match the future. If we look back in time over last 5 decades we can clearly see the shift in technologies. Advent of Mainframes as computing machines in 1970s to evolution of personal computing machine i.e. PC in 1980s, then came the world wide web in 1990s, social media & mobile boom in 2000; now is the era of artificial intelligent and connected systems.

In recent times the words Bitcoin and Blockchain have been making news for various reasons. For a commoner the question remains what is Blockchain?

 

Many a times Blockchain is equated to Bitcoins or just a crypto currency but it is not true. Blockchain is the foundation on which multiple application are built and can be built. Bitcoin is one of the first and most popular application which brought this blockchain concept in to limelight. Origin of this concept is attributed to a white paper published in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto which some believe to be a real person or an anonymous group of person/s. Who has gone great lengths to keep the identity secret. Satoshi Nakamoto the Creator of Bitcoin is believed to have worth of approximate $ 7Billion by November 2017!

To put Bitcoin and Blockchain in to perspective Sally Davies (Financial Times reporter) says “Blockchain is to Bitcoin, what the internet is to email. A big electronic system, on top of which you can build applications. Currency is just one.”

A Blockchain by definition is a decentralized, distributed digital ledger. It is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and thereby making it secure.

Blockchain consists of two types of records

  1. Digital Transactions &
  2. Blocks

Blocks that contain the batches of valid digital transactions that are encoded in to a structure called as Merkle Tree (Cryptographic Hash function). A link is maintained between connected blocks by holding a hash of previous block. And the structure keeps growing with each new node, digital transactions being created.

In simpler terms it is a stack of blocks ever growing in numbers linked in a certain type of network which is secured by a key. Each new block is linked to previous block by a hash total and a timestamp. It is a mega data base that can record digital transactions efficiently. This is a database that keeps continuously updated digital records of who owns what rather than having a central administrator system in traditional database.

There can be two types of Blockchains namely Private and Public. Privately held blockchain is like an intranet limiting it only to the members of the group. Public blockchain is open to everyone like an internet network and accessible to anyone. In both the cases a blockchain is typically managed by Peer-to peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for verifying new block that gets added to the chain.

 

While centralized data is more controllable, information and data manipulation are common. By decentralizing it, blockchain makes data transparent to everyone involved. This very nature of blockchain makes it suitable for recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, such as identity management, transaction processing etc.

Due to this inherent nature of blockchain it provides following advantages:

  1. It is verifiable by anyone (node) in the system and can be stored in a permanent manner. By design it inherits a property that data is immune to alteration as the data stored in any single block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of subsequent blocks which needs a collusion of majority of the network.

 

  1. It’s a complete decentralized system with no special privilege accesses granted to any single block. By design it proofs against any single point failure as information is distributed across the network and can be verified easily having unlikely chances of alteration. Thus, the data stored on the blockchain is generally considered incorruptible.

 

Blockchains are open, cryptographic protection and ease of operation will mean a great deal of decentralization of data and making it ever increasingly harder for a hacker to steal any data or manipulate any set of transactional data. If hackers really want to hack it then they have to not only hack the block to steal / change the data but also hack all the preceding connected blocks until the origin of that transactional data which would be a herculean task and effectively making it not worthy of hacking. This will deter the miscreants automatically away from the system.

Blockchain is a disruptive technology, make no mistake about it! It’s going to change the world of businesses where intermediaries are involved in a massive way. This will have profound impact on banking, finance, lending, mortgages, insurance, equities, real estate, healthcare, legal almost all the major areas as we know off today.

  • Will it mean massive job losses?
  • Will it challenge the regulatory requirements?
  • Will it mean a positive or a negative impact to businesses?
  • Will it enable people and businesses to trade frequently, efficiently without any intermediators?

Well we don’t have definite answers to all but what we know today is just the beginning & the greater uses of this disruptive technology will evolve and surprise us. It promises to have massive impact and many of the exciting applications that are just either a concept right now or still to be conceptualized. This will certainly impact financial sector, payments, and global financial systems in unprecedented way.

 

 

Robotic Process Automation and Veribot!!!

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is an emerging form of clerical process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers. Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.

Traditionally robots revolutionized the manufacturing industry largely in context of assembly lines. Today, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is impacting the back office and process related work in the very same way. In the manufacturing sector, physical robots replaced workers doing repetitive tasks, whereas in the office world, software automation (termed as RPA) is replacing many of the repetitive tasks and associated jobs which occur across business offices worldwide.

Benefits of RPA

RPA is most effective when:

  1. Actions are consistent and steps repeated
  2.  Applications are rule-based
  3.  Data is template based
  4.  Data is entered repeatedly in the same fields

Many organizations use RPA across many functions. Some of the most common avenues of usage are:

  • Data entry and validation
  •  File and data manipulation
  •  Automated formatting
  •  Multi-format message creation
  •  UI manipulation
  •  Web scraping
  •  Text mining
  •  Uploading and exporting
  •  Downloading and importing
  •  Workflow acceleration
  •  Currency/Exchange rate processing
  •  Reconciliations

There are some notable use cases for RPA across specific industry verticals also.
Regulatory Compliance for Financial Services: RPA solutions address regulatory compliance by performing the function in the same way repeatedly and provide a detailed and sustainable audit log of activities, which is a crucial requirement for compliance. RPA tools can also be scaled easily and made to ‘learn’ and perform new processes as they are introduced by regulatory agencies.

Mortgage Loan Processing: RPA tools execute routine rules-based tasks and therefore provide increased and accurate loan processing experience. By applying rule-based algorithms RPA tools resolve errors and increase speed through the loan origination systems. Also RPA tools can “learn” to analyze data in the applications and recommend cross-selling of other products to the customers like insurance, savings instruments etc.

Telecom Sector: Telecom providers need to switch circuits based on customer movement. However, some of the decommissioning work requires verification from multiple systems and third party circuits and sources. Traditionally these have been resource intensive processes, requiring multiple steps and checkpoints. RPA tools have been employed across such areas and are providing increased efficiency as most of these processes are rule based.
This is still an evolving area and with more cognitive and artificial intelligence being built into the tools, they are becoming smarter. The impact of this smart revolution is felt across many industries not limited to BPO only, not to mention the impact it has on jobs and the change of human roles and skills required along the way.

According to Harvard Business Review, most operations groups adopting RPA have promised their employees that automation would not result in layoffs. Instead, workers have been redeployed to do more interesting work. One academic study highlighted that knowledge workers did not feel threatened by automation: they embraced it and viewed the robots as team-mates. The same study highlighted that, rather than resulting in a lower “headcount”, the technology was deployed in such a way as to achieve more work and greater productivity with the same number of people.

How to use RPA?


First things first though – how is it done? Once it has been established that a business process is automatable using a robotic solution, the business rules need to be captured, connectivity tests with the systems in question completed, and process flow optimized for robotic automation. Developers then code the business process into the RPA software and enable it to deal with business exceptions. It works by employing a variety of tools for grabbing digital data, which can include screen scrapping and digital image recognition. The robots employed can then process transactions, manipulate data, trigger responses, and communicate with other systems as necessary.
Some of the notable RPA Software provider vendors are:

  •  Automation Anywhere
  •  Blue Prism
  •  EdgeVerve
  •  Kofax
  •  Pegasystems
  •  UiPath

This RPA software are different from traditional Software
1. Code-Free – RPA does not require programming skills. Business operations employees – people with process and subject matter expertise but no programing experience – can be trained to independently automate processes using RPA tools within a few weeks.
Many RPA platforms present a flowchart designer, much like Microsoft Visio, process definitions are created graphically by dragging, dropping and linking icons that represent steps in a process.

2. Non-disruptive – One of the challenges of traditional IT deployments is that the transformation or change of existing systems is complex and risky. Thus, many large organizations are reluctant to redesign, replace or even to enhance existing systems through the creation of new IT interfaces (or APIs). For this reason, the philosophy behind RPA is to avoid the complexity and risk of such changes where they are not warranted, (or indeed to enable such changes to be prototyped and tested, simply by simulating equivalent input/output via the user interface in lieu of APIs).
RPA tools therefore lean towards “light” IT requirements and do not, for example, disturb underlying computer systems.
3. Business user friendly – RPA’s ease of use and low requirement for technical support perhaps explains why adoption typically originates inside business operations and not inside Information Technology (IT) departments. Because RPA projects do not require expensive IT skills and investment in new platforms, the economic threshold of processes with a viable business case for automation is substantially lowered.

Future of RPA

RPA is still in early stage and many big organizations are in study phase, there are many areas like banking, accounting and insurance where RPA can be proved as Gold Rush for these organizations. All of these sectors are looking for cost effective solution, faster and lesser error prone process. Automation has the potential to make companies more agile and responsive, which is crucial in today’s increasingly global and complex marketplaces.
Study shows Automation technologies, such as RPA, will have a potential economic impact of nearly $ 7 trillion in next 7 to 8 years. Traditional approaches will have to make way for RPA in most of the aspects in current IT industry processes in order to excel.

Interesting time ahead for RPA and by considering this high expectations our Verinite labs has introduced Veribot an off-the-shelf product for performing robotic process automation.

VeribotTM allows organizations to manage process automation from a centralized server with multiple bots operating at individual desktops and reporting back to the server. It enables improved operational efficiency and accuracy by automating repetitive manual activities which are prone to errors.

Stay Tuned for more details about Veribot!!!!

How Small Finance Banks are Different from Other Kinds of Banks??

What are Small Finance Bank ???

The Small finance banks are a kind of niche banks which can provide basic banking services like accepting deposits and lending facility to customers. The focus is only on small businesses, marginal farmers and micro industries.

The small finance bank can perform all kind of operations which normally commercial banks provides but at smaller level and targeting low level income segment.

The aim of the small finance bank is to provide financial inclusion to sections of the economy not being served by other banks, such as small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganized sector entities.The minimum paid-up equity capital for small finance bank is 100 crores.

Objective

The main purpose behind having small finance banks is to expand access to financial services in rural and semi-urban areas.The Objective is to provide an institutional mechanism for promoting rural and semi urban savings and for providing credit for viable economic activities in the local areas.

  • They were established as public limited companies in the private sector
  • They are promoted either by individuals, corporate, trusts or societies
  • The minimum paid up capital of such banks was Rs. 5 crores
  • The promoter’s contribution should be at least Rs. 2 crores

Difference Between Payment Banks and Small Finance Banks

 

  • The payment banks are to provide payment solutions Whereas the Small Finance Banks are to provide basic banking services for financial inclusion and boosting saving habits among lowest strata of the society
  • The Small Finance Bank can take any deposit but Payment banks can accept only 1 lacs per customer
  • The Payment can’t lend but Small finance bank can lend. The focus will be on small lending
  • The Payment bank can provide remittance services But The small finance bank can provide both remittance services and credit cards

How it will change current financial system??

The licenses given to payment banks and small financial banks will be the major step towards pushing financial inclusion in the country.The main target will be small businesses and low-income household by providing them financial services at low transaction cost.

The Payment bank will reduce dependency on cash and will increase m-commerce, as mobile wallets will be used as payment option.

The Small financial banks will extend formal financial access to small enterprises that are currently dependent on high-cost unorganized sector lending. According to RBI estimates 90 percent of small enterprises do not have access to formal financial institutions. So it will be a huge step towards full financial inclusion.

The Commercial banks mainly focus on funding large and medium industries or give loans for home, education or vehicle purposes. But it is very difficult for restaurants or any other small enterprises to get working capital funding. Small financial banks can fill this gap and can provide loans.

How it will affect Commercial Banks??

 

 

The commercial banks customers might move or reduce due to shift of savings account money into payment bank account. So low cost deposits of banks might reduce drastically.

The commercial banks’ regular fee incomes might reduce. The fees include cash transfers, cheques withdrawals, fee for making demand drafts or ATM transactions, etc.

Limitation and Challenges

  • The initial challenge for the newly licensed banks will be to adjust their promoter’s contribution and foreign shareholding to comply with the RBI guidelines
  • The Small banks are geographically concentrated and there are more vulnerable to systemic risk such as crop prices, and regional economic performance as compared to large banks
  • The local nature also makes them more prone to capture. This lead to persistent governance problems and owing to the higher exposure to risk, as they should have to pay a higher rate to their depositors which in turn, might create the need to make riskier loans resulting in a vicious cycle of rising non-performing assets
  • To restructure and transform into a bank from a non-banking financial institution and offer multiple banking products. This requires large capital to build ATM’s, Branch network. This will make the banking service costlier.

Primer to Payment Banks in India!!!!

Payment Banks:
A payments bank is a bank, but operating on a smaller scale without involving any credit risk. In other words, it can carry out most banking operations but customer can’t take advance loans or issue credit cards.
The Payment Banks is based on the concept of PPI that is to load cash into mobile and use it to do various transactions and offer services like ATM/debit cards, mobile banking, net banking and third-party fund transfers.
The objective is to propose measures for achieving financial inclusion and increased access to financial services.

The concept of payment banks was given by Nachiket Mor committee taking cue from Vodafone M-Pesa in Kenya, where 68 percent population don’t have bank accounts but has financial inclusion of 70 percent due to M-Pesa.

Why payments banks?
Payment banks can be conceptualized and understood as an entity similar to traditional banks but
catering to a niche area. The objectives of setting up of payments banks will be to further financial inclusion by providing:
• small savings accounts
• payments/remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganized sector entities and other users.

Features of Payment Bank:
1. Accept deposits upto Rs. 1,00,000 and pay interest just like savings bank account
2. Issue debit cards usable at ATMs of all banks
3. Transfer money and remittances through mobile phones
4. Offer third party card acceptance mechanisms like ‘Apple Pay’
5. Offer financial products like mutual funds and insurance

Challenges:
The payment bank is like new kind of banking in India.There are few challenges:
1. The Payment only model:
A payments-only model is an incomplete proposition and relies highly on account balances (capped at ₹1 lakh) for
profitability. It’s akin to any high volume-low margin commoditized business, driven by convenience and pricing,
with little customer stickiness. Making a payments bank viable requires a fine balance between cost of
acquisition of granular liabilities, offering competitive pricing on transaction charges and ability to quickly
reach critical mass.
2. Cross Sell fee:
The cross sell fee is called as green pasture for building profitability Like Selling of insurance and mutual
fund products is closely regulated by sectoral regulators (IRDA and SEBI), Cross-selling credit products like
loans from NBFCs or Banks is not easy.
3. Restriction on Fund Deployment:
Payments banks are required to invest 75% of their CASA balances in Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) eligible
government bonds
4. No lending:
Payments banks are not permitted to lend. Their investment in stipulated government securities and bank FDs
would yield 2-4% net of cost of funds

Why payment banks will change the banking game for customers?
First, and foremost, payment banks will bridge the last mile between bank branches and the remote customer’s living in a rural hamlet. Payment banks will essentially rely on technology to reach payment services to all customers, using mobiles as the vehicle of banking. Mobiles go even where humans don’t. Physical bank branches (or bankers or ATMs) will still be needed for some functions – opening an account, depositing cash, etc – but all day-to-day payments, including peer-to-peer payments) can be done remotely. The mobile phone will become the virtual ATM and small-payments cheque-book. In less than 10 years, every Indian will have a bank account. Payment banks are the key enablers.

Second, banking costs will come down due to intense competition driven by the expected proliferation of payment banks. Currently, we pay through our noses for banking services, whether it is above-limit ATM transactions, additional cheque-books, big money transfers, maintenance of minimum balances, or draft issuance fees. These costs will come down as payment banks start offering zero-balance accounts and low-cost services.

Third, the public sector banks are sitting ducks for bankruptcy and taxpayer bailouts if they do not change. Between then, efficient payment and private sector banks will take away their lucrative businesses and prized customers, as they will be both well capitalised and efficient.

THE EVOLUTION OF ATM: CASH DISPENSER TO REMOTE BRANCH

Now-a-days long queues at Bank’s Branch for Cash withdrawal are a rare sight. But not very long ago, before arrival of ATMs, it was the only way of getting cash out from Bank accounts. Well from then to now, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have definitely changed our ways of cash withdrawal. But we are not going to talk about that change.

In this blog we’ll discuss about a new evolution which is pretty much recent. This has started around 3 – 4 years back and now it’s distinctly evident at some of the high end Banks who take pride in providing exceptional customer services.

It’s about ATM working as a Remote Branch which can provide services 24*7 to Bank’s customers

Though modern ATMs were in use since 1972, they were primarily used as automated cash dispensers. Post 2008 financial crisis, when Banks were trying to cut down their operational expenses and improve the standards of customer services, ATMs emerged as a viable solution.

According to a survey in the US, per Transaction cost at an ATM ($0.27) is much less than per transaction cost at any Branch ($0.75). Such surveys on Banks’ operational expenses suggested that branches were best suited for specialized services which require human interaction.  They also indicated that leveraging the available digital channels (like ATMs) to support simpler transactions would reduce the cost of transactions for banks.

This is how the recent evolution of ATM began.

Banks started putting a lot of effort to make ATM banking more popular. Customer convenience, accessibility and secure technology were used as buzzwords. Moreover Increase in hardware capabilities, software competency, and network bandwidth helped technology providers to build new features and functions into these ATMs. In an attempt to make people identify themselves with the banks, newer facilities were introduced more frequently. Advanced machinery (e.g. audio and video enabled ATMs) and personalized experience (e.g. Welcome messages, favourite transactions) were also provided. ATMs were given a complete makeover to work as an efficient customer touch point which can cater to most of the customer requirements. Along with many advanced features, some promotional offers were also introduced to make ATM usage more popular. Soon ATMs started to support many banking operations like Cash withdrawal, Cash deposit, Cheque deposit, balance inquiry, Passbook update, Printing Statements, etc.

However, the accessibility and convenience provided by ATMs were only matched by their vulnerability to fraud. All the efforts that Banks had put to build and promote ATMs as a secured transaction point were marred by multiple fraud incidents. There were numerous “Cash-out” incidents reported using various cyber-attack methods, where the common denominator was introduction of undetectable malware to the system. These malwares allowed criminals to issue cash-out commands to ATMs for cash dispensing. Similarly incidents of cloning of customer cards at ATM and using the same for transactions were also reported.

Before long Schemes and Regulatory bodies intervened to protect both Banks and customers from these frauds. They issued some guidelines and mandates to curb these frauds and make customer transactions more secure.

PCI DSS compliance for ATM and implementation of EPP7 were made mandatory to improve security of ATM acquiring environment. Similarly EMV Cards mandate and Liability shift clauses for chargeback were also introduced to protect Issuers from ATM frauds. These measures not only reduced the number fraud incidents but also helped to instil customers’ trust in ATM.

Gradually Banking was untied from physical branches and made available 24/7 through ATMs.

Initially ATMs which were constructed as an extension of bank branches, now have started working independently as an alternative center for day to day banking requirements.

A recent survey result shows 82% of Indian consumer want an ATM nearby compared to meagre 9% who want a Branch nearby. This undoubtedly reflects a change in customer behaviour over these years.

But this evolution is not complete yet. In coming years we might also see integration of Mobiles, Payment wallet, NFC and Bio-Metrics facilities with ATM to make banking more digital and seamless for customers.

A statement made in the chemical bank’s advertisement, which once claimed, “Our branch will open at 9:00 and never close,” pretty much sums up this metamorphosis of ATM.

IS COBOL DEAD??

It was a long time ago when I wrote my first program as a professional developer, but I still remember the requirement. The requirement was to write a program for generation of a report from the system with some credit card details for a business scenario and guess what, it was in COBOL.

Now, I read blogs by programmers working on some new programming languages, that talk about “COBOL is dead”, “No COBOL renaissance” and “Cobol is a programming relic of enterprise system”, etc.  After reading such blogs I can’t help but wonder, Isn’t this similar to a teenager saying that Justin Bieber or Katy Perry or whatever kids are listening to these days are better than the old classics. Well, everyone is entitled to their opinions. I also agree that some of these new tunes are catchy and they are composed keeping the current audience and their taste in mind, but does that mean the old classics are nothing but a pile of junk.

Similarly, writing a code in COBOL might not be the coolest thing in the campus anymore, but it sure isn’t worthless. Certainly COBOL doesn’t need anyone to defend it. It was there before I started my studies and I’m pretty sure it’ll still be there after I hang up my boots. So all I want to understand, why is there a change in perception?  My guess, it is “Out of sight, out of mind”.

In the last two decades we have witnessed incredible advancement in programming languages. Mobile and social networking revolution have brought software technologies closer to us. Now they are a part of our day to day routine and we see them work for us to make our life better and simpler.

Think about the first thing that you see every day when you wake-up. It is probably your smart phone. With new functions and innovations coming in every day, it’s difficult not to get awed by the power of these softwares that run it. At the same time, we don’t see COBOL helping us to wakeup or plan our day or keep us updated about social circle and so on. So understandably we find ourselves more impressed by these new programming languages when compared to COBOL. Therefore to appreciate the true importance of COBOL in the current world, first we need to imagine a world without it.

Let me share with you a day of my life on which COBOL was on a vacation…

It was a normal weekday or at least it started as one. I woke up and realized that I overslept. Now I had to get to work fast. Already I had received one warning from my Boss this week, I couldn’t afford another incident in the same week. I got ready quickly and jumped into my car. As soon as I started my car, a beep came from the fuel Indicator; DTE (distance to empty): 12 KMs.

I had to stop on my way for gas. I drove as fast as I could and got to the nearest gas station. Luckily there was no queue. I got out of the car, swiped my credit card but it got declined. I swiped it again – no luck. I tried my debit card next, again in vain. I gave the station attendant a puzzled look. He told me that the POS machines were down since midnight, so I needed to pay by cash.

I knew there was an ATM nearby. I thought to myself, “With a little luck I can still make it in time, all I need to do is take a shortcut”.

I ran to that ATM. There was a guy inside, so I had to wait for my turn. He was taking unexpectedly long time. I started feeling restless. Any withdrawal shouldn’t take more than a minute, what was taking him so long? Finally he came out and it was my turn.  But on his way out, he murmured “Not working”.

I hoped I had heard him wrong. But when I stepped inside and dipped my card, a message flashed on the screen “Out of Service”. I almost screamed in frustration. First time I actually realized the importance of cards in our life. It could be a Debit or a credit or a Pre-paid. But no doubt that since their arrival, life had become less complicated.

The next gas station was 10kms away. I didn’t have time to try my luck at the next gas station. So I started working on Plan B. There was a railway station nearby. “I could get there in time, catch a train, get down after 5 stops and walk the remaining distance to my office”. That seemed to be a good plan. So I drove down to the railway station, parked my car and ran to catch a train.

As luck would have it, there was a long queue at the access control gates. I had read that NFC card readers had been implemented at every station, so that people could tap their electronic ticket cards and get inside quickly.  But that day there was a long queue at the access control gate and I was surprised to see a railway officer checking physical paper tickets at the entry. I asked the guy standing in front of me. He said the ticketing systems were down since midnight. So everybody had to buy a paper ticket from ticket counter by paying cash only. I could see a long queue at the Ticket counter as well. By this time I had realized there was no way of reaching office in time. But there seemed to be a wide spread problem with cards and transaction systems. This could be an excuse for showing up late.

Finally after 15 minutes of wait in the ticket queue and 20 minutes in the entry queue, I was at the platform waiting for my train. I had not got time to go through morning headlines, so I opened the newsfeed on my smartphone. After going through the first news article, I realized that the problem was bigger than what I had guessed.

As per the news article, since morning 92 out of top 100 banks were unable to process any transactions electronically. Even they could not process any withdrawals or deposits at their branches. It was a panic situation everywhere. There were also some unconfirmed reports that the financial data available with the banks might be lost forever. This was having a catastrophic effect on the share market. The market index had gone down drastically since the market opened.

Suddenly my problem of getting to work in time started looking small and insignificant.

After a wait for another 10 minutes at the platform, a train arrived. I boarded the train, took a seat and continued with my newsfeeds. After 40 Minutes the train stopped at my destination station. I got down and started walking to my office.

To be continued….