This year marks our second annual Fintech & Regtech Global Awards, which were launched to recognise technological excellence in the field of central banking and among the firms that provide essential support to the community.
In every category, the winners have pushed the boundaries of technology and shown how an innovative approach can make the work of central banking faster, safer and more efficient. Central banks are not known for their speed in embracing change, but this year’s crop of winners push back against that stereotype.
Central bank leaders
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority wins this year’s Global Impact Award. The HKMA has been working hard to move the country’s banking sector towards a “smart banking era”, upgrading core infrastructure, encouraging firms to embrace change and improving its in-house systems.
HKMA chief executive Norman Chan welcomed the recognition, saying: “We will continue with our best efforts in facilitating the development of fintech to make Hong Kong a global fintech hub.”
The 2019 Pioneer Award goes to the Banque de France. The central bank established Le Lab in 2016, marking the start of an ambitious digital transformation programme. Le Lab brings together a specialist team of 12 to harness new technologies and integrate them into the institution’s processes. It is helping to bring artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced data analytics to the central bank’s work.
“Le Lab is our anticipation tool,” says Banque de France governor François Villeroy de Galhau. “It allows us to shape the future of our institution, to involve financial actors in an open innovation process and help the French financial place to become one of the most attractive in the Eurosystem. We are open, we are proactive and we show it.”
We are open, we are proactive and we show it
François Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the Banque de France
Similarly pushing the boundaries of AI is the Bank of England’s (BoE) Prudential Regulation Authority, which has been using the technology to improve its analytical capabilities and automate processes. The regulator wins this year’s Techforward Award for its experiments in using AI to cope with vast quantities of unstructured data.
“I’m delighted that the PRA has won this award, which highlights our commitment to embracing new technologies in order to become more effective and more efficient,” says Sam Woods, chief executive of the PRA. “We are still only at an early stage of this work and will continue to explore opportunities to innovate in the period ahead.”
The Central Bank of the Philippines scooped not just one but two awards, for data management and the use of AI. The BSP developed a system based on an application programming interface (API) to streamline the transmission, processing, warehousing and analysis of prudential reports.
“The impetus was clear: with increasingly digitalised financial services, the amount and nature of data that can be captured and used for supervisory purposes have evolved – and so must our technology,” says Benjamin Diokno, governor of the BSP.
The BSP also turned to AI and natural-language processing to develop a ‘chatbot’, which can register, classify, sort and analyse customer complaints. It can interface with a wide range of channels, including Facebook Messenger and webchat.
Sandboxes are now a widely accepted part of the fintech landscape, but the Central Bank of Brazil has taken a different approach to many. With its Lift sandbox, it requires firms to meet full regulations, rather than the common approach of allowing weaker rules before firms transition to market. At the same time, early-stage firms in the sandbox are supported by major firms and organisations in developing prototypes. The central bank wins this year’s Best Sandbox Initiative award.
The European Central Bank takes the award for Best Cyber Resilience Initiative, having developed the Tiber-EU framework for ensuring the cyber resilience of regulated firms. Tiber-EU has been rolled out across the eurozone and is contributing to enhanced security across the financial sector.
Frankfurt-headquartered BearingPoint is the winner of this year’s Distributed Ledger Technology Provider Award. BearingPoint says its approach helps firms keep up with ever-changing regulations and differs from other blockchain networks by actively involving regulators.
BearingPoint chief executive Jürgen Lux says: “Our focus is on reliability, quality and efficiency, and with our solutions we want to contribute to the stability and transparency of the financial markets. We strongly believe in the potential and transformative power of blockchain/DLT.”
Vizor, another key regtech player, takes the award for Global Regtech Provider of the Year. The firm already counts a long list of central banks among the clients of its regulatory reporting software, and it added the Monetary Authority of Singapore in 2019. Vizor is building a “Data Gateway” for the MAS, which will launch in 2020.
“This reflects Vizor’s significant progress in its strategy to engage with the wider regtech ecosystem to deliver new innovative solutions,” says Vizor chief executive Conor Crowley.
Token.io scooped Global Fintech Provider of the Year. The firm is helping banks adapt to the demands of Europe’s second payment services directive (PSD2), by giving them a simple means of providing an API to aggregate banking data. The cloud-based platform allows great flexibility and scalability.
We strongly believe in the potential and transformative power of blockchain
Jürgen Lux, chief executive of BearingPoint
SkySparc wins this year’s Best Technology Consultant Award. Over the past 15 years, the firm has established itself as a leading consultant and systems-support services provider to central banks. Its recent development of “patch upgrade as a service” has helped clients keep up with fast-moving cyber-security threats.
“It is only through deep, long-term relationships with leading players that initiatives such as ‘patch upgrade as a service’ can be developed and brought to market, addressing the evolving needs of clients in a fast-changing environment,” says Joakim Wiener, chief executive of SkySparc.
A key role for fintech worldwide is to help marginalised groups gain access to finance. India’s Bonfleet took the award for financial inclusion technology with its platform for short-term credit. The firm updates credit scores in near real-time to keep control over default risk and it is now seeing rapid growth in the south Asian nation.
Technology is also helping to shake up cross-border payments, making it easier to send money across the globe – and also to steal it. With cyber risks growing by the day, Swift has led the way in boosting its customers’ defences with its Customer Security Program, giving users greater control over their systems and sharing threat intelligence. Swift is the Best Cyber Security Provider of the Year.
Data is a critical part of the new technology landscape, and Bloomberg – winner of the data analytics award – ensures central banks worldwide have access to the right information and analysis when they need it. The company’s analytics are powered by 50 million distinct streams of data, which help central banks streamline their decision-making.
“This award is a great acknowledgement of our ability to provide central banks with a comprehensive suite of advanced analytics, powered by our high-quality data, to support decision-making across most of their activities,” says Bloomberg’s chief economist and head of central banking, Michael McDonough.
Novabase takes the Best Data Management Provider for Regulatory Compliance Award. Its systems help firms translate their regulatory reporting data into the formats that central banks demand. It says it is the first commercially available platform to support automatic conversion of data, according to the Banks’ Integrated Reporting Dictionary for the eurozone.
Targens is turning to AI to tackle security flaws in the cash-management process. Its systems produce precise predictions of daily cash turnover across the network of a cash-handling firm, helping to spot abnormalities that the human eye might miss. The model draws on both “classical” techniques and nowcasting to deliver accurate estimates. Targens is 2019’s Best Machine Learning and AI Provider.
Real-time gross-settlement (RTGS) systems are some of the most important infrastructure central banks maintain. Many are now being upgraded, and the BoE turned to Baton Systems – our Best Payment and Settlement Provider of the Year – to demonstrate how distributed-ledger technology can connect with the UK central bank’s new systems. Baton’s platform can handle upwards of a billion “events” each day, making it far more efficient than many blockchain-based systems.
Kaizen Reporting wins the Best Technology Provider for Regulatory Compliance award. Kaizen is helping firms keep up with their reporting requirements. The system has a unique ability to test all of a company’s data and spot errors, rather than relying on sampling, helping to capture the complete picture.
A growing challenge for global banks is keeping up with anti-money laundering regulations. Exiger, which wins this year’s award for AML technology, provides firms with a global governance, risk and compliance framework, which enables companies to report to central banks and regulators. The system uses AI to support know-your-customer, counterparty risk management and transaction monitoring.
You can find details on all the winning entries at the Fintech and Regtech Global Awards hub.