Founded in 2017, WorkApps with its enterprise-grade messaging platform for large organisations has been working towards enabling enterprises to augment their communication efforts, improve efficiency and change the way people collaborate and work together. “While we worked with enterprises, we realised the communication requirements for sectors were different and specialised and needed messaging solutions,” shares Rudrajeet Desai, Co-Founder and CEO, WorkApps.

The realisation saw the startup led by Rudrajeet Desai, Shankar Borate and Kaizad Shroff mastering workflows to make chatting as well as audio and video calling more effective for banks, NBFCs, insurers and the other players of the FinTech sector.

“Today, we are synonymous with being a video banking company. WorkApps’ video platform enables banks in the sector to migrate business processes and customer interaction to video channels,” he says.

This includes 14 key processes such as KYC, credit verification, loan and wealth advisory, customer support, online assistance during digital onboarding, video Medical Examination Report, and asset verification among others.

As the WorkApps’ video banking solution gained momentum, one use case in particular, began gaining increased traction – the VideoKYC. Further impetus came in the form of an RBI amendment to the KYC norms in January 2020 that allowed banking and other lending institutions regulated by it to use Video-based Customer Identification Process to onboard customers remotely. And, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, the nationwide lockdown thereafter, and the need for minimising physical interaction saw the video KYC solution gaining increasing significance so much that VideoKYC has been rolled out as a product in itself within the larger gamut of the WorkApps’ video banking solution.

Watch the video to see how VideoKYC makes it easy for banks, NBFCs, payment banks, small finance banks, wallets, fintech to onboard customers remotely seamlessly

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Building on AWS

While the environmental factors provided the nudge for accelerated adoption, the key growth drivers for VideoKYC have been its depth of features, smooth user journey, security and data ownership. And AWS has played a key role in enabling this. “VideoKYC’s development, staging, testing and production setups are hosted on AWS enabling a product company like us to focus only on core product and feature development. It helped us reduce the effort required to deploy and manage development infrastructure by almost 80 percent,” says Rudrajeet.

This has translated into a faster time-to-market. “What would otherwise take three months gets done in three weeks when you are leveraging AWS services.” Pointing to the face match with documents feature on VideoKYC, Rudrajeet says it would have been extremely challenging for a small startup like WorkApps to create a face comparison feature on its own from scratch. On AWS, it’s literally like a takeaway. You can integrate a face comparison feature by leveraging Amazon Rekognition in just about three hours.”

In addition to Amazon Rekognition, VideoKYC uses a range of services like AWS Elastic Load Balancer, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) for MySQL, Amazon ElastiCache for Redis, Amazon Elasticsearch Service, AWS Lambda, Amazon CloudWatch, and Amazon Simple Email Service, among others.

“The Video KYC platform runs on different traffic such as https, web sockets for web and TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)/UDP (User Datagram Protocol) for audio/video traffic. The different load balancer options such as Application Load Balancer (ALB) for https and Network Load Balancer (NLB) for TCP and UDP available on AWS Elastic Load Balancer addresses our different needs. The inherent capabilities of these load balancers to scale for different loads solve our scalability concerns,” explains Shankar, the CTO and Co-founder. And, given that different banks have different capacity needs, which also vary at different times during a day, Amazon EC2 helps to scale up and down the infrastructure, providing cost savings in addition to flexibility. VideoKYC also leverages Amazon Simple Email Service to send notifications to email and uses AWS Lambda to call their messaging service to integrate alerts to its chat platform. “This way we can see all the alerts in e-mail as well as in the chat application,” says Shankar.

The AWS advantage

The breadth of AWS services, its ability to facilitate scale, and the quick turnaround time to setup infrastructure were critical aspects that led VideoKYC to choose AWS. But another but equally critical reason to choose AWS was its strong security framework.

“AWS provides many native security features, which are required when you operate in the Banking and Financial Services space. And, KYC in particular is a highly regulated subject in India because you are owning very critical information such as bank account details, Aadhar card details, among others,” says Shankar.

AWS provides different security control such as Virtual Private Network (VPC),Security Groups, and Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles to control the accesses of infrastructure along with secure connections using Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Secure Shell (SSH), Shankar explains.

While VideoKYC offers a number of deployment options – from a complete SaaS model hosted on AWS (Mumbai Region) to Hybrid SaaS model to private cloud or even traditional on-premise model, most of its clients are on AWS. “So this makes deploying and managing our platform on their AWS infrastructure extremely simple, reducing the time-to-market and the cost of management and support.”

A pioneering effort

Today, VideoKYC powers over a million transactions for India’s top banks, which includes Kotak Bank, Axis Bank, IndusInd Bank, ICICI Bank, Paytm Payments Bank, RBL Bank, and Yes Bank. In addition to that, other BFSI players like HDFC Life, Aditya Birla Capital, Max Life Insurance, Tata Capital, Muthoot Capital also use various other services of WorkApps. Rudrajeet says that VideoKYC has been a pioneer in the space. “We were the first to launch the solution with Kotak 811, and today we are also the largest deployed solution in the BFSI sector.”

The on-ground impact speaks for the efficiency and effectiveness of VideoKYC.

“It has brought down the customer onboarding time to 15 minutes from an average of 48 hours as is the norm in a physical KYC process. Banks also save about 90 percent of the KYC cost when done on video. In addition w.r.t. the consumer convenience perspective, the impact is massive,” says the CEO. He adds, “The Video KYC platform, which is deployed on AWS by most of our customers has become the largest customer acquisition channel for banks in India.”The global opportunity

Reflecting on VideoKYC, Rudrajeet says creating a video KYC platform when there was no set precedent and then working on it to develop and nurture into a market-winning enterprise grade platform has been a journey that has catapulted the startup to growth.

“VideoKYC has today become a WorkApps’ flagship product.” The support of angel investor Sashi Reddi (SRI Capital) has also provided the startup much needed guidance on building a global product.

The founder explains that the startup’s strong understanding of the banking and NBFC sector and its dominance in the Indian market has doubled up as an advantage to further its global expansion plans. “The volume that Indian banking players handle is very large. In fact, the volumes handled by one single leading banking player in India is often equivalent to an entire country’s banking volume in some cases. In addition, when it comes to digital banking regulations, India is a forerunner in the space. So, there’s a lot to learn from India for other markets.” It has already channelised efforts in the direction by launching in Thailand in August. “We are in talks with local banking players,” reveals the Founder. Middle East and SouthEast Asia will be a key focus area for VideoKYC's global expansion in the coming months. “While the KYC regulations will be different across regions, we are looking at co-creation to win the market,” says Rudrajeet.

Industry experts say that the accelerated shift to digital will fundamentally change the way banks will scale and grow. Rudrajeet concurs and says “Video will be the future of banking and WorkApps aims to become the default video banking platform for the sector.”

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Original Source: yourstory.com

Launched in 2012, YourStory's Book Review section features over 250 titles on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital transformation. See also our related columns The Turning Point, Techie Tuesdays, and Storybites.

Transformations in the worlds of money and technology are converging, as described in the book by Sanjay Phadke, Fintech Future: The Digital DNA of Finance.

The material is spread across 17 chapters, and makes for an informative read for beginners new to this field. However, the choice of font could do with considerable improvement, and there are several typos; more figures would have been a welcome addition to improve readability as well.

Sanjay Phadke is the Head of Global Platforms and Alliances at Vayana Network. He describes himself as a “tinkerer (almost) and teacher (hopefully)”. He graduated from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies and Sardar Patel College Of Engineering.

Here are my takeaways from the 190-page book, summarised as well in Table 1. See also my reviews of the related books Prediction Machines; Seeing Digital; A Human's Guide to Machine Intelligence; Machine, Platform, Crowd; and The AI Advantage.

T

Table 1: Fintech transformations (image credit: YourStory)

Evolution of money

The invention of language and money are key contributions to the evolution of society, Sanjay begins. Money acts as a bridge from past to present and future. It is a form of payment and trust, and even a way to acquire more money through financial investment.

Money is a means of exchange and way of comparing the worth of different assets and services. It has deterministic, probabilistic, and even emotional connotations. Evolving from shells to coins and banknotes, currency and its governance are being transformed in the digital era.

While coins did not need numbering, banknotes do. Banknotes today account for only five percent of monies globally, Sanjay explains; the rest is stored in digital or ‘dematerialised’ form.

“Digital money is data,” the author observes, it is a string of characters, and does not derive trust from its physical form any more. New risks arise, of course. “No digital property can be guaranteed to be foolproof from digital theft,” he cautions.

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Key players

Banks, big tech giants, and fintech startups are the three categories of players in today’s financial scenario, Sanjay explains. The industry is tightly regulated, so governments and exchanges play a key role as well.

There are significant differences in the mindset and operations of banks and tech-led firms. Tech DNA is about rapid change, agile development, and learning quickly from mistakes to develop easy-to-use offerings. Bank DNA is about being cautious, paranoid, careful in experimentation, and slow change.

One chapter traces the evolution of the “finscape” in the US, China, and India. The US already had a mature system in place in the pre-digital era, with social security numbers, credit cards, and credit bureaus. “China and India, in contrast, had vastly underdeveloped ecosystems,” Sanjay observes.

The US tech players have now set high expectations for engagement among the younger generation of mobile-connected always-on users around the world. “Silicon Valley is coming,” in the words of Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan.

The market value of US tech giants like Apple and Amazon is around half of India’s GDP, and they are entering the world of finance along with Google and Facebook as well, Sanjay explains.

Fintech 1.0

Mobile payments and digital-only banks are some forms of Fintech 1.0, Sanjay explains. Alibaba’s Ant Financial set up MyBank as a digital-only bank to offer loans to small businesses in just minutes. It draws on transactional and social media data, fed into AI scoring models.

Neo-banks do not have a banking license but partner with banks to offer banking services. Some existing banks have also rolled out their own digital-only banks, such as Fidor by JPMorgan Chase and Kotak’s 811.

Payment via QR codes has accelerated mobile payments even more. IoT and the emergence of 5G will speed up the momentum further. IoT sensors in vehicles are being used by automobile insurance firms; voice-based assistants and face-recognition technologies are other trends to watch in fintech.

Paypal was one of the first “native-Internet” fintechs. Microsoft is more likely to be a collaborator with banks than a competitor. Softbank is another player to watch, thanks to its investments in fintech startups, the author writes. Fintechs in other countries include Adyen (Netherlands) and Klarna (Sweden).

China has a highly-innovative landscape at scale, as seen in Alibaba’s Alipay, Yue Bao (money-market fund), and Sesame Credit (social credit rating). Ant Financial is the first of the “super fintechs," according to Sanjay. (See also my reviews of the related books Tech Titans of China, China's Mobile Economy, and AliBaba.)

There are new active players in wealth management, consumer loans and insurance. Alibaba also expanded into finance for logistics services, a move copied by other players around the world. Thanks to not having legacy baggage, China has created a “futuristic fintech ecosystem,” Sanjay explains. However, it is siloed into the BAT trio worlds.

India has emerged as a laboratory for global big-tech players, along with local firms like HDFC Bank and Bajaj Finance. Among startups, the book focuses largely on Paytm and not the broader spectrum of players. Paytm’s fortunes were boosted by events like demonetisation, and also received India’s first investment by Warren Buffet.

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Fintech 2.0

The world is awash with money, yet few get loans, the author laments. Cautious banks need collaterals, guarantors, or credit history data based on past records. Unfortunately, the aspirational needs of low-income or poor people cannot be fulfilled in such a system, even though India has 120,000 bank branches – the highest number in the world.

“The poor pay the highest for a loan and gets next to nothing on deposits,” Sanjay observes. Even remittances of foreign labourers are charged relatively high service fees.

Frauds and false identities have plagued the banking system. Digital transformation can help in this regard, but there are also risks regarding theft of data, money and reputation, the author cautions.

India’s larger fintech moves have been cautious and led largely by the government, as seen by inter-connected developments in the B2C and B2B sectors like biometric UID, UPI (Unified Payment Interface), and GST. The author identifies other developments as well, such as DEPA (Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture), PCR (Public Credit Registry), and AA (Account Aggregator).

Aadhaar helped Jio acquire a million customers a day, and reduced activation times. Jio is forging alliances with a range of tech giants, Sanjay observes. Digital technology and finance innovations helped spur the Chinese economy and created a vast pool of SMEs; it is hoped that a similar boom can take place in India as well.

The API architecture is spurring a range of innovations on top of existing digital infrastructure, driven by the talent of entrepreneurs. Hopefully, these combined developments can make access to capital easier and more automated, given the rapid growth of data communications in India.

The success of emerging economies like India depends on democratising access to capital as raw material for the needy, the author emphasises.

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Fintech 3.0

The author charts a range of technologies in the next wave of fintech, clustered as the new ABC: AI, algorithms, autonomous operation; big data, blockchain, bitcoin; and cloud, crypto, cybersecurity. Other trends to watch are quantum computing, which can also pose risks to security via the ability to crack codes.

Continuous feeds of data and powerful algorithms can improve automation and robustness of financial processes at scale. For example, they can improve assessment of ability and willingness to pay by better understanding social psychology (though overcoming bias will be a challenge). Spotting anomalies and outliers can improve fraud detection defences.

Bitcoin regulations vary around the world, but some blockchain features are being implemented. Hybrid systems may emerge in such a context, the author observes.

Platformisation combined with AI is a powerful combination. But countries have adopted varying positions on cloud infrastructure and data sovereignty as well (eg. EU’s GDPR), and trade wars have triggered off new moves in geopolitics.

If all goes well, however, the dream of making financial security and prosperity for all can become a reality when arteries of finance become unclogged, the author sums up. Innovation, agility and scale can be enhanced through financial ecosystem partnerships and progressive regulation.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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Original Source: yourstory.com

The fintech industry in India is growing rapidly. They have captured a good space with advanced technologies like smart usage of Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Even large banks and financial institutions have now started to value the importance of fintech.

The rapid growth of India’s fintech space can be attributed to the success of mobile payments and digital lending. Hence, it is not very surprising that traditional banks are also keen on embracing new technologies and partnering with fintech players to improve their service standards.

Many large banks have even set up fintech subsidiaries to internalise fintech competitiveness and export technology capacity to smaller banks. Fintechs are also stepping in to help financial institutions handle the large number of loan applications by enabling digital applications, facilitating data collection or assisting with the underwriting and approval process.

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How fintechs are helping keep consumer liquidity flowing?Mobile payments

Fintech has significantly pervaded the mobile payments landscape. Many fintech players are taking advantage of the rise in the use of smartphones, improvements in digital infrastructure, and a growing interest in online shopping.

The advent of UPI has further eased the process of making payments online. The biggest advantage offered by UPI is its interoperability among multiple banking platforms. This enables customers to enjoy a fast, seamless and reliable payment experience, and pay utility bills. In addition to this, they can send money to their family and friends almost instantaneously.

Digital lending

The process of availing loans from traditional banks is not only time-consuming but also paper heavy. It sometimes takes weeks to just get approvals for the loan. The COVID crisis has further worsened the situation as most of the banks are reluctant to lend in this uncertain scenario. Against this background, digital lending NBFCs have emerged as a saviour for customers.

Fintech companies operating in the digital lending space uses new-age approaches to disburse credit. Instead of relying on traditional financial data, they are now using alternative data to make more accurate and informed credit decisions.

Alternative data for credit scoring can cover employment history, academic background, rental payments, utility bill payments, insurance payments and even social media activities.

Since there is a shortage of credit data on MSME borrowers, fintech lenders leverage alternative data to assess their creditworthiness. This method improves access to credit for MSMEs, who are often declined credit from the formal banking sector.

Not just MSMEs but alternative data also helps salaried professionals and freshers who do not have any credit score. This explains why despite being a fraction of the banking system in size, the digital lending space is growing at a rapid pace owing to the faster and hassle-free process of loan disbursal.

Another main advantage of digital lending is that it allows for digital customer onboarding and credit disbursements, thereby eliminating the need for the customer to be physically present at the lender.

The digital lending space apart from being hassle-free is also helping the new to credit customers and those who have lower income to avail short term personal loan with a few clicks. The fintech companies, through technological means, can promptly evaluate credit risks by using the database containing loan applicants’ background and approve the loan.

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Savings and ProtectionFintech firms are offering platforms to customers to enable them to save, manage their wealth, and make investments. They also help them to choose from a spectrum of financial products across categories such as insurance, savings account and mutual funds.

Some fintech companies are also providing customised financial advice on a range of financial products. Mutual funds, for example, can play a key role in addressing the credit needs of customers.

In March and April this year, around 1.2 million new investors opened demat accounts with the Central Depository Services (CDSL) despite the ongoing nationwide lockdown. This is an indication of more and more retail investors in the country taking to equities and MF route as against the more traditional forms of investments, viz., FD, gold, property, etc.

As many as 122 million Indians have lost their jobs due to the pandemic during the period between March and April, according to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy. This means a large portion of the population do not have a steady income source and are suffering from a liquidity crunch. While traditional banks are not much of help in this situation, fintech NFBCs are providing a wide array of products and services to cater to their liquidity requirements.

Be it a personal loan or insurance, fintechs are using their strategic partnerships within the industry to financially empower their customers. The uptick in smartphone use and availability has also prompted many insurance providers to enable customers to complete applications and file claims from their smart phones.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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Original Source: yourstory.com

Goldman Sachs NYSERamin Talaie/Corbis/Getty Images

Goldman Sachs said in a note Thursday the S&P 500 can hit 3,600 if markets price in the bank’s “comparatively more optimistic US GDP forecast.”
The bank’s strategists Dominic Wilson and Vickie Chang say if the economy contracts by only by 5% in 2020, and grows by 6.2% next year, then real yields will rise sharply to levels of “cyclical optimism” in June. 
The US bank said in a note last week banks are underpricing a scenario that a vaccine will be developed by year-end and widely distributed by the first quarter of 2021. 
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The S&P 500 could hit 3,600 if markets price in a “comparatively more optimistic US GDP forecast,” Goldman Sachs said this week. That is almost 7% above where the index is currently trading.

In a note published Thursday, strategists Dominic Wilson and Vickie Chang said if the consensus forecast moves to its “comparatively more optimistic” forecast of a 5% contraction in 2020 and 6.2% growth next year, then real yields will rise sharply back to levels that prevailed at the peak of cyclical optimism back in June. See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Screenshot 2019 11 08 at 14.29.14Disruptive digital-only banks, innovative regulations, and shifting consumer demands have made today’s banking digital-first — but the benefits of digitization are being held back by identity verification challenges.

Identity verification underlies many of the core processes associated with financial services, with banks required to subject their customers to strict identity checks, both to protect those users’ finances and to meet regulatory compliance demands.

There have been a plethora of efforts aimed at streamlining identity verification online, but these attempts have largely failed to address the issue in its entirety. For example, customers are often required to create unwieldy passwords and verification details that can be difficult to keep track of to access their accounts. Not only have these efforts created new points of friction for users, but they’re also expensive for banks, with each password reset costing up to $70 according to Forrester Research estimates.See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Deutsche Bank is partnering with Google Cloud to use its cloud computing capabilitiesPaytm has agreed to acquire insurance firm Raheja QBE for $76 millionGig workers pose a huge revenue and brand image opportunity for banks

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