INCAT is a partner of the Fintech & Insurtech Digital Congress 2022

In just over a week – on September 27th, the 12th edition of Fintech & Insurtech Digital Congress starts in Warsaw – an industry event devoted to the development and modern technologies in the finance and insurance sector. INCAT – the BOS provider, is the official sponsor of the event.

 

FinTech & InsurTech Digital Congress is an elite forum for the exchange of thoughts and creating strategic partnerships, deriving from international experience. The autumn edition of the congress gained wide interest in the presentation of current trends such as: the new wave of Fintech 2.0 in the context of fintech valuation, challenges in building new era fintechs, condition of Polish fintechs, new bank business models, Embedded Finance & Insurance acceleration, investment in insurtechs, Insurance as-a-service, evolution of customer communication in a hybrid and digital interface.

INCAT has once again joined the group of partners of the event, which includes brands such as Raiffeisen Digital Bank, Sellions, Biuro Informacji Kredytowej BIK, Live Comply and many more.

Our company will be represented by Zdzisław Grochowicz – our Chief Product Officer, who will deliver a speech on the conscious look at modern fintech cloud services. The presentation will be part of the program block “Fintech&Insurtech stage. Brainstorm. Examples of implementations” and it will take place on the first day of the congress.

Alongside with Zdzisław, representatives of Polish and international financial institutions, fintechs and banks will perform on the stage (including Revolut, Twisto, BLIK, Klarna as well as PKO Bank Polski, PZU and Uniqua.)

The 12th edition of the event will be held on September 27-28th at The Westin Warsaw hotel. The full agenda and the important details of the event are available on FinTech & InsurTech Digital Congress. 

See You in Warsaw.


Your own fintech in a few weeks? With FaaS it's possible

According to the recent CB Insights report, the number of unicorns (companies with a market value of more than $1 billion) in the fintech industry has increased by almost 600% since 2016*. This is an absolute record on the market. Fintech is the sector with the largest number of unicorns, with about 20% of them falling in this category. Such dynamic growth is possible thanks to phenomena such as embedded finance, as well as technological solutions allowing for the possibility of offering financial products in a relatively short time and with reasonable financial outlays.

 

 

Post-covid reality

The pace at which new fintech startups have been able to achieve unicorn status in recent years is unprecedented. The dynamic growth of these companies was certainly influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced and accelerated the digitization processes in many enterprises. In industries ranging from healthcare to education, finance and manufacturing, the virus situation has forced companies to use technology to redesign almost every aspect of their business. In financial startups, the transition to digital technology has been going on for a long time. Fintech innovations, such as contactless payments, mobile financial services, and loan and insurance technologies, have been continuously growing for years. And although the current development results are still influenced by the pace of changes, most of which took place before the global crisis, it is still a great unknown how the industry’s performance will be affected by factors such as the war in Ukraine, rising global interest rates amid record inflation, unceasing supply chain difficulties, ongoing uncertainty about the further development of the pandemic, and increased regulatory scrutiny.

Embedded finance

The growth of the entire sector has been largely helped by the immensely popular trend of embedded finance, i.e., the phenomenon of offering banking, payment and insurance products within the ecosystem of an entity whose main activity hasn’t been related to the provision of financial services to date. Embedded finance allows organizations to launch new sources of income. As a result, companies aren’t the only ones to benefit, because customers also do. According to a study by Juniper Research, the value of the embedded finance market will exceed $138 billion in 2026, while in 2021 it was “only” $43 billion.** In order for new financial products to be created, and relatively quickly, appropriate technological solutions are needed.

At INCAT, we understand this well, which is why we have created FaaS – a comprehensive transaction platform in the form of a service (SaaS) enabling the efficient implementation of all processes necessary to conduct financial activities while taking into account operational security standards and applicable legal regulations.

Banking as a service platform

FaaS is a response to the growing demand of companies for financial services and products that are fully adapted to their needs. The name of the platform is derived from the phrase “Fintech as a Service”, which clearly refers to the concept of “Banking as a Service” (BaaS). The solution is based on advanced machine learning mechanisms and is addressed to entities from the fintech, neo and challenger banking industry. It allows the platform users to verify their business idea very quickly – with low initial expenditure.

The FaaS platform is technologically based on BOS transaction system and includes all the functionalities necessary to start financial activities, such as accounts and transactions, limits, loans, general ledger, payment gateways, and many more.

FaaS supports the financial services of any business focused on ensuring a seamless transaction service and integrating banking, payment and loan products into an existing ecosystem. The platform is in the form of a service and allows efficient implementation of all processes necessary to conduct financial activities, taking into account applicable laws and operational safety standards.

First-choice solution for starters

The FaaS platform is aimed at neo and challenger banks, as well as all companies and start-ups that operate or are related to the fintech industry and are at the beginning of their business journey. FaaS is the perfect solution for those who don’t want to get involved in the technological challenges of implementing a comprehensive financial system – and, therefore, don’t want to invest in the development teams needed to run a given financial product.

FaaS is available in a subscription model, i.e., a flexible licensing and billing model. This means low initial investment and a short lead time. FaaS is a platform that allows the creation of any financial product, efficient implementation of all processes necessary to conduct financial activities, and minimization of operational risk.

Are you looking for a tool that wi’ll allow you to launch a financial product?

Discover FaaS

* source: https://www.cbinsights.com/research/unicorn-startup-market-map/
** source https://www.juniperresearch.com/press/embedded-finance-market-value-exceed-138bn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Piotr Hanusiak is the CEO of INCAT Sp. z o.o. Prior to INCAT, Piotr was General Director of Delivery and a Member of the Management Board at Innovation Technology Group SA –a company focused on integrating IT solutions for multiple sectors; banking, utilities, and general business. Before joining ITG, Piotr performed managerial roles in the banking division at Sygnity S.A. – one of the largest tech companies involved in software production.
Piotr has extensive experience in project portfolio management, software project management, and IT Strategy. Piotr has graduated in education faculties in the field of Commercial Banking, Market Policy, and Marketing Management.

Contact an author: piotr.hanusiak@incat.com.pl 


5 reasons to switch from monolithic to microservices architecture

For the last several years on the IT market, we’ve been seeing the growing popularity of microservices, which are slowly pushing out monolithic architecture, which has been dominant to date. In contrast to the monolith, the structure of microservices is a set of many independent services and processes that together create an application.

Microservices are a convenient solution when creating an advanced system or large applications -– they allow for quick project implementation and simultaneous work on several modules. Although giants such as Netflix and Uber have based their solutions on microservices, this is not the only thing that makes this approach unique.

 

 

1) Flexibility

In contrast to the architecture of monoliths, microservices allow for easy modification of functionality in projects. Due to the fact that each microservice is an independent element of the application, subsequent components can be changed, added, and removed in such a way that it does not affect the functioning of the whole. Therefore, problems such as the cyclical change of automatic tests or the risk of stopping the entire application when implementing the next module are eliminated.

2) Easy integration

Open API, which is used in the microservices architecture, enables quick and trouble-free integration with other services. A solution such as API Gateway mediates communication between modules, allowing for convenient adaptation of the API to specific customers without the need to place it in each microservice.

3) Scalability

The modular approach allows quick and effective reactions to the dynamics of the business environment. Changing business requirements don’t mean restructuring the entire application, but only the module that relates to the given functionality. In addition, in the case of high loads, microservices enable an efficient increase in the number of instances that balance redundant traffic in the application, which also addresses the performance problem.

 

In case you’re considering implementing microservice architecture, the key question you should ask yourself is not "if?" but "how?"

 

4) Fast implementation

Microservices enable quick MVP release of the system. The implementation of a fully functional, basic application with this architecture that’s ready for further development is a matter of a few weeks. On the other hand, adding new modules and modifying existing ones don’t complicate customers’ use of the system in any way, because it’s simply less invasive than in the case of the monolith, and doesn’t affect the application core.

5) Independent development and autonomy

Distributed architecture also means independence for project teams. There is no central management center here, which makes the information flow smoother. Each team works on "its" component of the application and doesn’t have to take into account the databases or architecture of other modules. Interestingly, microservices allow you to develop each element in a different technology and language, and maintain services on separate servers and in repositories. This type of independence solves the problem of technical debt and increases the efficiency of the system itself.

 

Of course, microservices are not a cure-all. Currently, there’s no architecture that would be flawless and suitable for all types of applications. It’s no different with microservices. In case you’re considering implementing microservice architecture, the key question you should ask yourself is not "if?" but "how?". Neglecting these issues at the planning stage may result in the classic pouring out of the baby with the bathwater and, as a result, it will most likely turn out that the architecture, which was supposed to facilitate many processes, actually makes everyone interested in sleep.

If this is the case, it’s worth considering the support of a technical partner with experience in creating solutions based on microservices. This will help avoid many difficulties related to the implementation, and at the same time, you’ll be sure that you'll have an efficient release and a system that can be modified flexibly to adapt to rapidly changing business requirements.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 


Michał Mazur is the Senior Business Development Manager at INCAT Sp. z o.o.
In his over 20-year career, he has been involved in financial and IT sector projects. He has extensive experience in project management, analysis, business development, system architecture, and quality assurance. Michał  is a graduate of AGH University of Science and Technology.

Contact an author: michal.mazur@incat.com.pl


Put NOT a customer at the centre. A new approach to the customer-centric strategy. 

Why you shouldn’t ask your customers what they want?!

 

 

It has been assumed that most companies, when crafting product portfolios, seek to understand customers’ needs first and then fine-tune product’ parameters so they’re best suited to answer these needs.
At INCAT, we believe that to be successful in today’s finance world, you need to take this approach two steps further…

Going two steps further…

1) Step one is focusing on customers’ stories rather than just their needs.
2) Step two is to jump into the story at the very moment it starts unfolding.

But what exactly do we mean by customers’ stories and how focusing on them can help you achieve business success?

Let’s start with an example.

Imagine a well-off individual who’s in the market for an expensive piece of electronics – say, a pricey TV.  He or she may have a sufficient amount on a current account or credit card, but deducting the full price straight away would mean that the account would be swept clean for the rest of the month.

This, of course, calls for some sort of short-term financing: a loan, buy-now-pay-later or a similar product. If you have a solid grasp of customers’ needs and preferences, you’ll be able to tell which product would be best suited to their needs, and which of its optimal parameters and benefits to highlight.

Let’s take another case: a foreign vacation. All the excitement of holiday making – traveling, sightseeing, visiting tourist attractions, dining out, partying – inevitably tend to be followed (or sometimes preceded, e.g. booking a hotel) by a rather mundane string of transactions. These often include currency exchange, which can lead to a sobering realization of how costly it can be to just use your ordinary Visa or Mastercard.

Again, when you know your customers’ preferences, you should be able to present a product your customer perceives as optimal: quick currency exchange, a multi-currency payment card or a currency account.

There are two challenges, though.

First, although such a needs-based approach – or a customer-centric approach – tends to be more and more effective as your understanding of customers’ needs grows, it still has its limits. It doesn’t facilitate innovation, as it tends to keep you within the realm of products that customers already know.

This is a major drawback in a world that is being reshaped, and sometimes even revolutionized, by new products emerging on virtually a daily basis. Just think about how all the online currency exchange services have been made basically redundant with the emergence of Revolut.

Therefore, we believe that the customer-centric approach needs to be reimagined as a customer story-centric approach.

 

Introducing BOS’ customer story-centric approach

It’s tempting to think that customers need specific financial products in certain situations. It seems to be a very convincing point of view, since even customers themselves tend to adopt a product-oriented perspective. Buying a house? I need a mortgage. Buying a car? I need leasing and insurance – or maybe a deposit and insurance, if I choose to save up and finance the purchase myself. Going abroad on a regular basis? I need a multi-currency card. Getting a new TV? I need an installment loan.

But the truth is, customers don’t really need these financial products – they just use them to realize their true needs.

These stories can be simple or quite elaborate. Buying a TV is the former: it’s just making the purchase and paying for it in a way that doesn’t distress the monthly budget. Going abroad for a vacation? While a vacation might be an amazing adventure and make a great story that takes hours to tell, its financial aspect boils down to spending money and exchanging currency in the process, preferably quickly, hassle-free, and inexpensively.

Did you notice how we’re not talking about specific products here? This is deliberate. A product-free perspective lets you see more clearly what the core of the story is.

On the other hand, buying a car or house is usually a complex endeavor, with its stages interdependent on each other and more than one potential path from start to finish. In such cases, it can be virtually impossible to avoid bringing up specific products, because they are sometimes rigidly tied to a given process. Nevertheless, you should still be trying to sketch out the core story.

Once you’ve got it done, you can begin picking specific products – your own and third parties’ – to match it. The less they affect the underlying customer story and the more seamlessly they fit into it, the better.

Remember, your customers don’t really want to use your products. They only need them to have a great time on holidays, get a huge screen for their home cinema or drive a new, safe, eco-friendly car. The less time is needed to spend with your products, the less effort these products require and cost, and the more transparent they are – the better.

And the more likely it gets they’ll… grow to love using your products.

Your customers don’t really want to use your products. They only need them to have a great time on holidays, get a huge screen for their home cinema or drive a new, safe, eco-friendly car.

 

Real-time marketing turns into real-time banking

Of course, you might say that this is an approach that the financial sector is already starting to embrace. Even some of the biggest banks are aiming to make their products as “light” as possible, i.e. effortless to use and readily available via mobile apps with just a few taps.

They’re also getting better and better at targeting their customers and presenting them with products they likely need. If banks notice their customers are making frequent card transactions abroad, they offer them a multi-currency card or a currency account. Once the total amount on the monthly credit card statement reaches a certain level, they suggest paying it back in installments.

And this brings us to the second challenge we mentioned earlier.

By its very nature, customer profiling takes time. Also, it’s usually processed in separate systems, such as CRMs or dedicated analytical software. As a result, banks are usually weeks or at least days behind their customers.

This, however, is not the case with BOS. With BOS, you can jump into the customer’s story at the exact moment it is starting to unfold.

This is possible thanks to BOS’ event-driven architecture, which means that:

  • every action taken by the customer is an event
  • events are processed in real-time
  • every event may trigger a system action, such as generating a transaction or sending a message to the customer (or other recipient).

With BOS, you can jump into the customer’s story at the exact moment it is starting to unfold.

In other words, every card transaction, every bank transfer (initiated or received by the customer), and every loan application submitted is an event – and so on. Also, every system-originated activity, such as charging a fee or generating a monthly statement, is an event.

And that’s not all, as events reach beyond financials: every time a mobile app is open also constitutes an event. So does logging in to your online banking system.

-> Your customer has just paid over $2000 in a consumer electronic store with your card? Ask them straight away if they want to split it into installments, or automatically “re-route” the amount to your buy-now-pay-later product.

-> It’s your customer’s third day abroad and their currency account is running low? Send a display notification suggesting currency exchange – or even process one automatically if the customer has chosen such an option earlier.

A specialized BOS module – the Event Orchestrator – lets your system administrators set up triggers and relations between events and create scenarios – such as the ones mentioned above or more – complex ones. Their number and level of sophistication depends solely on you. You can rely on the event definition supplied with the system, or create your own. Event Orchestrator is intuitive to use and ergonomically designed, so setting up scenarios is fast and requires only basic training.

The only limitation is the innovative spirit of your company, as well as its ability to spot emerging opportunities and its understanding of customer needs.

Or should we say: stories.

***

Have thought about this subject? Contact the author: zdzislaw.grochowicz@incat.com.pl

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Zdzisław Grochowicz is the Head of Business Development at INCAT. Zdzisław has been involved in the banking and financial sector for almost 30 years. Previously, he worked for Comparex Ltd. For many years he was also associated with the Sygnity Group – where he played numerous roles.
Zdzisław Grochowicz graduated in Electrical Engineering at the Szczecin University of Technology.

Email: zdzislaw.grochowicz@incat.com.pl

 

 

 


How to start a fintech company: 7 steps to make it happen

According to Valuates Reports, by the end of 2025 the size of the global fintech market will grow to USD 124.3 billion, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.84%. At the same time, the largest and most dynamically developing players on fintech market which are neo and challenger banks, will reach a value of USD 30 billion with a CAGR of 40.4%.  

In the light of this data, it is not surprising that the fintech industry is becoming more and more attractive to both investors and entrepreneurs. This does not mean, however, that launching a fintech or financial industry startup is an easy task.
On the contrary — before making such a risky decision, each fintech entrepreneur should take into account a number of external market factors, as well as internal risks related to creating their own offer and organizational structures. It is difficult to predict all the potential problems and challenges related to building a fintech startup, but a few issues should be considered in advance to increase the chance of success. Below, you will find 7 areas you should take care of when starting your fintech business.

It is difficult to predict all the potential problems and challenges related to building a fintech startup, but a few issues should be considered in advance to increase the chance of success.

 

1. Obtain a license for financial activity

To start a financial activity, you need to obtain a license appropriate for your purpose. The scope of the license depends on the type of activity, so the simplest division includes the following licenses: banking, payment, brokerage, investment, loan, credit, peer2peer, insurance, cryptocurrency or securities issue. 

For fintech entrepreneurs who decide to operate in the management and processing of electronic payments, the most important should be payment and banking licenses. They include, among others, LPI (Licensed Payment Institution), PSP (Payment Service Provider), EMI (Electronic Money Institution) and EBL (European Banking) licenses. What is significant, is the fact that licenses for financial activities are issued by regulatory authorities competent for the country and region of the world in which the company is registered. 

Licensing a financial entity is one of the most demanding and time-consuming stages of fintech development, and above all, it is crucial for the ability to operate in this industry.
Therefore, applying for a license should start at the very beginning of the project to confirm the purposefulness of the other activities related to the launch of a fintech project. Fortunately, there are countries in Europe where the process of granting financial licenses takes much shorter time than the standard one. One of such countries is Lithuania. More and more fintech start-ups start to register in this country. 

 

2. Look for stable financial support

Start-up capital is the basis, and it is almost impossible to start a business without it. Building the offer, team development, marketing activity or legal issues – all these elements generate huge costs. And if you want to develop a fintech, you should secure financing for your business for the minimum of 2 years – and preferably for even longer. You should consider that even after the project enters the market, for the long time, the revenues may be much lower than the regular maintenance costs. Such a prospect may not seem very encouraging, but you need to know that there are many opportunities to obtain funding, which will be sufficient to calmly develop fintech. 

The most popular option is, of course, to look for a venture capital, i.e. an external investor. Business angels, i.e. private investors who are looking for innovative companies and solutions to locate their capital in, can be one of the solutions. 

You should consider that even after the project enters the market, for the long time, the revenues may be much lower than the regular maintenance costs.

 

3. Build partnerships

Building a partnership is not a crucial factor to run a fintech, but it is a step worth taking for many reasons. For a beginner fintech, the partnership is an opportunity for intensive development, financial and substantive support and increasing credibility in the eyes of potential customers and investors. 

Membership in foundations that create an ecosystem supporting the development of fintechs is also worth considering.
They help to build financial, technological and business facilities, as well as provide access to the knowledge and experience of market experts and investors. They can also be helpful if it comes to finding economists, lawyers or IT specialists whose knowledge and contacts can be of considerable value, especially at the initial stage of fintech development. 

 

 4. Find a trusted technology partner

Behind each successful fintech company, there is not only an innovative idea, but also, and perhaps above all, advanced technology.
Therefore, when creating a startup, you have to consider both perspectives – business and technological points of view. While there are no major problems with the first one, fintech creators are often unaware of the technical aspects of financial solutions. 

Fintech creators, having an innovative idea for a financial product or service, know exactly WHAT they want to do, but in most cases need support in HOW to achieve the result they want. At our company, we often advise our customers in the areas of ​​infrastructure, tools, and architecture of the solution. The support of a technological partner that cares about the customer’s success is precious. Thanks to their knowledge and experience, the customer optimizes costs, develops new functionalities and selects technology that allows them to achieve business goals much faster and more efficiently than if they had created the solution on their own. 

…when creating a startup, you have to consider both perspectives – business and technological points of view. While there are no major problems with the first one, fintech creators are often unaware of the technical aspects of financial solutions. 

 

5. Ensure you have legal support

The financial industry is the area of many restrictions. Offering financial products or services requires obtaining appropriate licenses and approvals from financial supervision authorities. Therefore, it seems necessary to start cooperation with an institution that is well-versed in applicable laws, directives and legal conditions of the financial industry. Ideally, it would be a RegTech entity that specializes in technologies allowing fintechs to meet the requirements of these regulations.  

The popularization of each is a great help for companies that can adapt their activities to the current legal requirements in a cost-effective manner, and thus expand the scope of their activities. 

 

6. Introduce modern technology

Solutions based on microservices, blockchain technology, AI and machine learning are a necessity for fintechs today. First of all, it’s because of the fact modern fintech offer must be highly competitive in comparison to traditional financial solutions. Fintechs offer their customers faster, cheaper, easier and more modern services than those offered by classic banking institutions. Fintechs achieve advantage mainly due to the identification of optimization areas, technological advances and their skillful implementation. 

The use of modern solutions is also an added value in the context of marketing communication. The aforementioned technologies, such as AI or blockchain, still have a strong impact on the imagination of recipients and customers, giving a sense of modernity to the services offered. 

 

7. Last but not least – central transaction system or platform

Fintech is the network of related services and technologies that, when properly integrated, allow us to offer our clients innovative financial solutions. Startups and other non-bank institutions do not have to build systems as complex as traditional banks. Nevertheless, they need an IT solution to conduct financial activities, which will, on the one hand, meet compliance requirements, and, on the other hand, allow for the functional and product-related development of the fintech offer.

Modern and fully flexible transaction systems, such as BOS or the FaaS AI platform, save time by reducing the implementation period by up to 50 percent. At the same time, they are cost-effective – easy modification of individual microservices and full automation of transaction processes generate significant savings. Functional flexibility, scalability, quick implementation and the possibility of advanced integration are key factors that should be taken into account when choosing a transaction system for your fintech. Especially since it is a one-time choice – so it is worth making sure that it is a winner and fully fulfills its task at the start, but also in the following years of fintech development. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Piotr Hanusiak is the CEO of INCAT Sp. z o.o. Prior to INCAT, Piotr was General Director of Delivery and a Member of the Management Board at Innovation Technology Group SA –a company focused on integrating IT solutions for multiple sectors; banking, utilities, general business. Before joining ITG, Piotr performed managerial roles in banking division at Sygnity S.A. – one of the largest tech companies involved in software production.

Piotr has extensive experience in project portfolio management, software project management and IT Strategy. Piotr has graduated in education faculties in the field of Commercial Banking, Market Policy, and Marketing Management.

Contact an author: piotr.hanusiak@incat.com.pl 


Want to build a fintech unicorn?

Although it is still believed that the success of a fintech startup revolves primarily around an innovative product and great marketing, in the context of this demanding business, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to the challenges related to financing the business or taking care of formalities, such as licenses and approvals for financial activities, other aspects also need to be taken care of. The most important activities include selecting and implementing the appropriate technology on the basis of which you can freely build your product. In the following text I will try to explain why, in my opinion, the modern technology dedicated to fintechs supports not only the technical aspects of the product but also gives financial entities a significant business advantage.


A solid foundation is the key to success

Each institution that begins financial activities must base them on a transaction system that, in the simplest terms, processes and organizes data about customers, their accounts and transactions. The system is the basis, and it's built around additional functionalities such as front-end mobile and browser applications, AML and anti-fraud systems, KYC (Know Your Customer) modules and currency transfers. To date, the role of transaction systems has been limited primarily to the functions listed above. They were aimed at enabling efficient financial activity in a manner that is consistent with the assumptions of compliance. However, transaction systems are currently playing an increasing role in shaping the products and services of fintechs as well as support in the field of marketing and product development. Today, the transaction system is important not only from a technology perspective but also from a business one. How is this possible?

Good product is smart marketing

Nowadays, a great advantage of fintech is not only an innovative product, but also the ability to implement new business functions as quickly as possible and to respond to new customer needs. To achieve this, it is worth first focusing on a transaction system that enables the efficient creation of a modern offer, and maintains existing products, aimed at consolidating the business advantage.

 

By creating the BOS transaction system at INCAT, we noticed that our clients need solutions that, irrespective of their original application, address the requirements of a modern end customer in the customer-centric model.

 

Therefore, currently modern financial entities require core systems with the functionalities not only focusing on the technological and product layer but also supporting an innovative approach to processes that  addressing customer needs. Today, customers are not looking for a savings account with specific parameters, but a set of functions that will at a reasonable price efficiently achieve their goals in compliance with quality and safety standard.

Core banking engine supports your business

In the light of the above, we need to ask the question "which areas do a modern transaction system work in"? and "what functionalities can play the role of autonomous processes directed at specific target groups"? The advanced technology behind modern banking solutions actually has no functional limitations. Whether we create solutions only to solve a problem, or also to provide new opportunities, depends only on the boundaries we impose on ourselves. The mindset at INCAT, supported by the creativity of our clients, has always been focused on full business usability. Hence, ideas on how to develop this area in our solutions come to us quite easily. I am often asked about examples of the functionalities of the transaction system, which are also characterized by considerable marketing value. In response, I quote specific products, that are ready to be used in financial activities. These include partner programs, automated cascade currency conversions, or support for white labeling (multi-brand).

Partner Program

The transaction system can be used when creating a product such as a partner program. Thanks to this functionality, entities offering their customers a system of collecting points, obtaining discounts or quick returns can build the long-term loyalty of their recipients. An example of a great implementation of this tool is the ZEN card offered by the dynamically developing fintech ZEN.COM, which provides a number of benefits for its users, such as extended warranty and a quick cashback module.

Currency cascade

This is another example of a very interesting solution that makes it easier for customers to make payments under non-standard conditions. It allows for the automatic use of the customer's funds accumulated in various currencies during the execution of a single transaction if there is a lack of funds on the main account or an account kept in the currency of the transaction. In other words, if a customer makes a payment of EUR 40, with only EUR 30 available on the account, the payment system automatically takes the missing amount from the remaining foreign currency accounts, e.g. in USD or PLN by making an immediate currency conversion. The whole process takes no longer than a standard contactless payment and doesn't require any activity on the customer's side. Currency cascade is another example of a solution that's available to users of a payment card offered by the ZEN.COM fintech.

Multi-brand

Multi-brand is a functionality that enables the separation of independent environments of several brands and institutions, administered by one entity.

 

This is a great solution for institutions that decide to offer products directed at various target groups and different market segments.

 

An example of using this product is the offers of large loan companies. In order to expand their customers' portfolios, they create several loan brands that differ in their parameters and terms of obtaining financing. At the same time, they are formally part of one large capital group and don't have any business relations. The system also supports the possibility of running many independent brands/institutions thanks to the tight separation of parameters and data as well as proven performance. The advantages of multi-brand are already noticed by some Polish fintechs that use this functionality, for example, to integrate their own financial products with the offers of their partners.

The above-mentioned examples are only a small sample of what can be achieved in the field of financial product development, with a modern transaction system at your disposal, the open architecture and adopted solutions of which allow for their quick implementation. Today, in the era of modern banking, it is not enough to do something well enough - you have to stay ahead of trends and create solutions that respond to needs that are yet to emerge. It's worth spreading this awareness so that the promising fintech industry, develops even faster, creating a completely new quality in the financial market.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Michał Mazur is the Senior Business Development Manager at INCAT Sp. z o.o.
In his over 20-year career, he has been involved in financial and IT sector projects. He has extensive experience in project management, analysis, business development, system architecture, and quality assurance.
Michał Mazur is a graduate of AGH University of Science and Technology.

Contact an author: michal.mazur@incat.com.pl [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


Flexibility is King

A recent survey conducted by Accenture leaves little doubt: the future of finance lies in the cloud. Even seemingly sedate institutions such as banks are determined to migrate most of their core functions away from their mainframes. 82% will operate more than half of their workload in the public cloud in the next ten years (in fact, almost a third already does). This represents a massive shift in IT strategies over the course of just a few years. The main reason? The agility and speed of cloud-based core systems. 
In INCAT we believe that agility and speed are only some – although important – properties that cloud-based core banking systems should boast. When we were designing BOS – our flagship core banking engine, we decided to offer to the market much more than just agility and speed. We decided that ‘full flexibility’ would be something that will make our system stands out. And flexibility itself became a part of the DNA of our product.
After many years of developing our system, we have identified 4 key areas that have to be covered if the core banking system is to be considered fully flexible:
  • technology: IT solutions that allow for scalability in both quantitative and qualitative aspects,
  • functionality: ability to easily shape and modify the customer stories to perfectly fit customer’s needs and the company’s marketing strategy,
  • implementation: an agile approach to launch and system development,
  • business: pricing adapted to the scale of operations.

THE FOUNDATION: FLEXIBLE FUNCTIONALITY

Choosing the core IT system is vital to the success of a fintech startup or a challenger bank. Not only must this crucial system allow for crafting products aligned with current marketing strategy and consumer preferences, but it also has to enable adaptation as they change in the future. Also, the ever-evolving technological landscape and regulatory environment require constant, sometimes swift adjustments and product modifications.
Many fintech brands start with a very limited product portfolio, oftentimes limited to a single product with a breakthrough in its service. While such a focus on perfecting a product is beneficial at the early stages, it may become a barrier to growth when customer numbers increase. Take Revolut – a company that started off as a money transfer and currency exchange is now a full-fledged neobank with 18 million customers, boasting dozens of products, including personal and corporate current accounts, deposits, loans and Mastercard and Visa payment cards.
While hardly any new player to the market will have a precise, predetermined path of product growth, most will need a possibility to evolve inscribed into its core system. This should be possible via both proprietary modules, supporting all the core banking products (accounts, payments, deposits, loans etc.) and fully documented APIs, allowing for integration with third party solutions.
BOS does it all. Thanks to its Customer Stories concept, fintechs that run it as a core system can offer their customers banking products ranging from payments, savings through loans based on a foundation of the general ledger. Whether they need the full variety or just the selected product, BOS will suit their needs.

TECHNOLOGY MUST BE UP TO THE TASK

All of these require adequate technological solutions – APIs being only one of them. Deploying the core banking system in the cloud is probably the most vital when it comes to scalability. Unlike mainframe systems, cloud-based ones easily and effortlessly adapt to fluctuating workload, be it a sudden growth or a significant decrease. Hardware ceases to set limits for operations: cloud-based core banking systems can serve 10 million customers as easily as it just served 10 thousand. Even though it’s hardware, it still can – and should – be flexible.
Another key feature technology-wise that fintechs and challenger banks should be on the lookout for when choosing a back-end system is a microservices architecture. Not only does it further increase scalability, but it also allows for smooth and simple functionality development. Microservices-based systems also tend to be more resilient and potential issues are easily isolated and fixed.
Also, there are things that should go without saying – but surprisingly often don’t. In today’s world, when customers access their financial services 24/7, fintechs should be able to provide them with virtually 100% availability. Gone should be the weekend upgrade breaks or downtimes of any other nature.

Hardware ceases to set limits for operations: cloud-based core banking systems can serve 10 million customers as easily as it just served 10 thousand. Even though it’s hardware, it still can – and should – be flexible.

 

KEY TO IMPLEMENTATION: AGILITY

The phrase “time is money” is probably even more true than it has ever been: months or even weeks can mean the difference between success and business failure. Thus the dominant MVP-oriented approach among startups, also including those in the financial sector. Product definitions are outlined in general terms and detailed only as the project is already ongoing. Agility is no longer avant-garde or nice-to-have: it’s a prerequisite for survival.  Thus, when choosing core banking solution providers, challenger banks and fintechs should be looking for companies that can fit into this regime. The ability to launch a product within weeks of project start can spell a market win.
This of course requires full support and partnership from IT solutions providers.  In INCAT we understand it perfectly and we make our implementation team fully available to our customers. And last – but definitely not least – is the business aspect.

BUSINESS MODEL ALIGNED TO STARTUP’S NEEDS ALIGNMENT

Deploying a core banking system can present significant business risk, as it often means high initial investment and significant monthly overheads. These in turn have to be counter-balanced by adequately high sales and margins, which may be challenging for a newcomer. According to Statista.com data, there were over 26 thousand fintech startups globally, as of November 2021. It’s a 26% percent rise when compared to 2020, and a whopping – 116% –  leap from 2019.
The twofold rise over the last two years represents both the sector’s attractiveness and lower costs of entry, but the sheer number of players shows how competitive the market has become. If a fintech is not able to start off light, its chances of success – or even survival – grow slim. The possibility to build a business over a core banking system with flexible price plans, with relatively low initial investment and price tiers based on scale of operations (e.g. the number of customers, accounts or transactions) can make the business case solid and as safe as it can be in today’s environment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

Zdzisław Grochowicz is the Head of Business Development in Incat. Zdzisław has been involved in the banking and financial sector for almost 30 years. Previously, he worked for Comparex Ltd. For many years he was also associated with the Sygnity Group – where he played numerous roles.  
Zdzisław Grochowicz graduated in Electrical Engineering at the Szczecin University of Technology.

Contact an author: zdzislaw.grochowicz@incat.com.pl


10 Words of Wisdom quotes about financial industry

Who doesn’t like a good quote? We come across interesting and useful quotes all of the time in literature, news media, entertainment, and so on. A potent, succinct quote that underlines a key point or supports an important truth can be like gold. Here are some great quotes from industry leaders that simplify big ideas, point to the future of banking online, and inspire us to implement more effective strategies.

1. Brett King

The CEO and co-founder of Moven, King is also a bestselling author and Breaking Banks radio show host. King was named “King of the Disruptors” by Banking Exchange magazine, with American Banker naming him Innovator of the Year in 2012.

Banking has to work when and where you need it. The best advice and service in financial services happens in real time and is based on customer behaviour, using principles of Big Data, mobility and gamification.

2. Arvind Sankaran

Arvind has global expertise in retail banking and wealth management, built over 25 years with focus on ASEAN markets. He currently advises fintech and edtech ventures. He also serves as a strategy for Crayon Data.

We’re witnessing the creative destruction of financial services, rearranging itself around the customer. Who does it in the most relevant, exciting way, using data and digital, wins!

3. Ron Shevlin

Shevlin is currently director of research at Cornerstone Advisors where his research focuses on retail banking products and services. He is the author of the bestseller, Smarter Bank and is the author of the award-winning blog Snarketing 2.0 which is published by The Financial Brand.

The challenge for banks isn't becoming “digital” - it’s providing value that is perceived to be in line with the cost - or better yet, providing value that customers are comfortable paying for.

4. Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is a London-based independent commentator on the financial markets and the chairman of the Financial Services Club. He is the author of ten books including his most recent bestseller, Digital Bank. He is also chief executive of the research firm, Balatro Ltd, and a regular commentator on BBC News, Sky News, and Bloomberg about banking issues.

By partnering with fintech startups, banks will give their account holders the right measure of security and speed. Account holders can know that their money is safe, and they can enjoy the latest financial technology. This is the way to becoming a digital bank.

5. David Brear

David Brear has a deep range of experience in agency, consultancy and client side work for a number of top financial services brands.

Brear is now part of the international Think Different Group. Previously, Brear headed the UK Digital Banking practice for Gartner Consulting, helping key banking clients put in place the right foundations and innovations to grow, expand, defend and run their markets and operations.

Technological innovations will be the heart and blood of the banking industry for many years to come and if banks do not make the most of it, the new players of Fintech and large technology companies surely will.

6. Jim Marous

Jim Marous is currently the co-publisher of The Financial Brand and the publisher of the Digital Banking Report.

Financial institutions must be able to deliver an easy to navigate, a seamless digital platform that goes far beyond a miniaturized online banking offering

7. Giles Sutherland

Giles Sutherland is the Chief Commercial Officer at Carta, where he leads a team developing and executing business strategies to drive partnerships, commercialize products, and monetize technology platforms.

At the end of the day, customer-centric fin-tech solutions are going to win.


5 myths that fintech startups shouldn't believe

The fintech industry has been growing at an impressive pace for several years. New, unusual solutions are appearing and the biggest players are outdoing each other in offering innovations. Due to the increased interest in modern banking, the fintech industry is surrounded by long-held beliefs that have little to do with reality. At INCAT, while working every day with entities planning to enter the fintech industry, we encounter such misconceptions all the time, so today we decided to tackle the most popular ones that create a false image of the industry.

 

1. It takes a huge amount of money and time to make a fintech

What is the truth?

The amount of financial expenses that a fintech startup incurs depends primarily on the business model adopted. If you decide to develop the whole fintech infrastructure and a wide range of services, then of course it requires a lot of funding - you need a budget for operations, infrastructure, team, technology and marketing. However, if you choose the minimal option and decide to develop one service at the beginning and see if the market will accept it, then you can afford to optimize cost and time by choosing, for example, the INCAT FaaS AI platform, which allows you to quickly implement a transaction system and the possibility of subscription billing instead of a standard license.

2. Your product or service must be a gamechanger

What is the truth?

Innovation is a word that is used in all cases in the fintech industry. It is commonly believed that a solution offered by a fintech company must be unique and must completely change the rules of the financial market. Meanwhile, the recipe for success in the fintech industry is much simpler - you don't have to reinvent the wheel and create a solution that no one else offers yet. You can do similar things to those already on the market, just do them better. Find out what the pain points of users of existing solutions are and answer them, without necessarily changing the status quo right away.

3. Fintech's biggest enemy is the traditional bank

What is the truth?

The competition titled "fintech vs bank" has existed since the very beginning of the fintech industry. The thing is, while in the beginning there was a slight rivalry between banks and fintechs, this has now changed to collaboration. Banks recognize the technological potential of fintechs, while fintechs are open to partnerships with banks to build their customer base and navigate the challenging regulatory environment. The PKO Polish Banki initiative titled “Let’s fintech with PKO'' can be an example of such cooperation. Let's Fintech with PKO Bank Polski is a program of partnerships with startups under which PKO is looking for fintech solutions ready to conduct internal and production pilots and scale their business in partnership with the Bank.

4. Regulation kills innovation

What is the truth?

The fintech industry is an area that, just like banks, operates in a certain regulatory environment, but it is not designed to stifle innovation, but to create standards and to ensure transparency and security of financial services. In addition, Polish regulator - KNF creates a number of initiatives that support and educate fintechs on the requirements they must meet to become a full-fledged participant in the financial market. Such initiatives for example include the creation of the Innovation Hub educational program and the creation of a virtual sandbox for fintech start-ups.

5. Fintechs don't care about client’s security

What is the truth?

It is exactly the opposite. Fintechs, unlike traditional banks, are still working on trusting users and convincing them to deposit their assets with them. This makes it all the more important for them to take care of the security of their customers, because not taking care of this issue is a one-way ticket. Although we still hear about various security-related mistakes in Polish banks, banks have such a strong position among their customers that they often indulge in such slip-ups. It's different with fintechs - any mistake can have consequences in the form of ruining the image of a trusted financial partner, so fintechs are very sensitive to user security aspects.


5 financial industry trends in 2022

The end of the year is coming, so on the one hand is the time to sum up the past months, but on the other hand, it is a good moment to forecast what to pay attention to in the next, coming year. Although technology in the financial field is not changing so rapidly in comparison to others, there are still new solutions and trends to consider. What technology trends will emerge in the fintech industry in 2022? Let's find out:

1. Hyper Automation

Hyper automation is not just a technology trend, it touches business processes in a big way.

The increasing emphasis on growth, digitization and operational excellence
have highlighted the need for better, more widespread automation.
Hyper-automation is a business approach to identify, verify and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. It requires Orchestrated use of multiple tools and technology platforms, including RPA, low-code platforms and process mining tools.

It is an extension of existing business process automation beyond the boundaries of individual processes. By combining AI tools with RPA, hyper-automation enables automation of virtually any repetitive task performed by business users.

It even takes it to the next level and automates automation - dynamically discovering business processes and creating bots to automate them. Hyperautomation was identified by Gartner as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends of the year.

With an array of tools such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) working together in harmony to automate complex business processes - including where domain experts were once needed - hyperautomation is the way to go for true digital transformation.

2. Buy-Now-Pay Later Goes Mainstream

With the rise in popularity of online shopping and new generations coming online, the adoption of new payment options is happening faster than ever before. Take, for example, buy now, pay later solutions like Klarna and Afterpay, where consumers can now even convert their homes into a ‘virtual changing room’ by trying before they buy.

The BNPL industry has modernized layaway and installment payments to offer consumers flexible payment options for their purchases. Compared to credit cards, intended to be used repeatedly, BNPL solutions are applied to individual transactions—appealing to consumers who want to make less of a financial commitment, even on lower ticket items.

The pandemic’s impact and BNPL’s overall rise in popularity will lead the industry to rack up $680 billion in transaction volume worldwide in 2025.

While some BNPL solutions are available in-store, they are native to ecommerce checkout, making them more widely available when shopping online. And with ecommerce sales climbing an estimated 44.4% year-over-year (YoY) in Q2 2020, more consumers may choose to use BNPL solutions more regularly, if they haven’t already.

3. DeFi

The essence of decentralized finance is that it is a set of tools and applications functioning in the blockchain network and allowing the user to use a number of financial services that we know from the traditional financial sector, but mostly implemented without the involvement of a central institution (e.g. bank).

As indicated by Fintech Poland, decentralized finances have a huge growth potential. In less than a year and a half (from July 2020 to October 2021) DeFi market capitalization increased from 3 billion dollars to over 200 billion. Adding to these numbers is the potential of the crypto-asset market - today there are already 330 million crypto-asset users worldwide, and the value of transactions on the Etherum blockchain reached $2.5 trillion in the second quarter of 2021.

DeFi seems to be one of the most innovative and fastest growing areas of modern finance. The development of decentralized finance changes the foundations on which the banking system was based for years - it neutralizes the role of financial institutions, balances the level of control of system participants, gives wide access to capital and new users.

4. Cloud for banking

Data, its storage, processing and analysis is the most sensitive part of banking, which is being addressed by the most trusted cloud solution providers and companies implementing them in organizations. Replacing on-site infrastructure with cloud solutions is a natural direction of technological development for banks, which responds to their most important needs.

Implementation of cloud solutions in the case of financial institutions means a significant reduction in expenses on data storage and archiving. Cloud also allows to offload central systems and faster changes to the process or product that is built on it. The biggest challenges can be seen at the interface between new technologies and traditional solutions. This is not only the reorganization of the entire IT, integration of new cloud infrastructure with central systems, but also changes in the operating model.

5. Cross-Platform Services

Digital finance transactions frequently cross over to various other industries such as retail, healthcare, and utilities. On point, the emergence of third-party payment providers such as PayPal and AliPay largely attribute their success to making the most of this phenomenon.

Due to the commonly lengthier transfer process and tediousness of going back and forth between banking apps and other business sites, many consumers are turning to third-party providers who most likely have already made themselves available in growing digital spaces such as e-commerce. In terms of proportion, the global tally of online banking direct payments are 5.3% lower compared to third party payments accounting 39.7%.

By embedding payment services such as developing mobile pay or hybrid wallets available for cross-platform transactions, your business can turn the situation around. Evidence of this can be observed in the growing popularity of Payment Mini Program Integrations within WeChat in China. By integrating services such as payments or transfers as a bite-sized app or service in the multi-purpose WeChat app, many finance vendors have not only increased awareness but also significantly raised their total revenue outside of interbank and intra fintech transfers. This goes to show that in the advent of digitisation spanning industries serviced by the financial sector, visibility will be the key to sustaining business.