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5th annual Digital Financial Services and Fintech Conference

  • United Kingdom
  • Financial institutions - Digital Financial Services

19-12-2019

On the 3rd December, we welcomed clients from across our Financial Services sector to our 5th annual Digital Financial Services and Fintech Conference at One Wood Street, London. We were delighted to be joined by keynote speakers and from our UK, US, and Middle East offices. As well as external speakers from Santander, Barclays Ventures, Monzo, Curve, Capgemini, 6point6 and Broadridge. A short and informative  summary of sessions can be found below.

Operational resilience

Craig Rogers and Jake McQuitty used the Rugby World Cup to demonstrate how training a “squad” for a major sports event is similar to preparing a financial institution for operational resilience. It starts with choosing the right team - with the right skill-set and experience – and then training & testing that team against a series of “real-life” scenarios. Craig and Jake spoke about the importance of leadership and the “tone from the top” to instil the right culture across all levels of the organisation – and drew parallels with the requirements under SMCR. 

They explained how in a stress situation (whether in the World Cup rugby final or in the aftermath of a major IT outage or cyber-attack) it’s important that everyone knows what their role is, plays their part and don’t all chase the same ball.  They also discussed the importance of being able to identify the threats that face the organisation and identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They also explored the importance of being familiar with the rules and regulations and maintaining an honest and open dialogue with the regulator (in every jurisdiction) and with customers – drawing parallels with recent, high profile events incidents in the UK market. 

Finally – to complete the analogy – they discussed how it’s important to learn from mistakes, celebrate successes and never become complacent. Craig and Jake’s client briefing on operational resilience for Financial Institutions is available on the Eversheds Sutherland website by clicking here.These are all critical considerations when designing financial technology and delivering digital financial services, if firms and financial service providers want to stay on the right side of the line with regulators and adequately manage their operational risk.

View from Asia

It’s an exciting time in Asia and our lawyers have witnessed the increasing digitisation in the region especially in the financial services ecosystem. Hong Kong, Singapore, and China are all strong contenders but the jury is still out on who comes out on top. There is also a push-pull dynamic between the consumers and the regulators and the banks are struggling with younger engagement while satisfying the regulators. Many thanks to our own Rhys McWhirter and Aaron Hulston for sharing with us their perspectives on virtual banking, open banking, digital currencies as well as the regulatory landscape in Asia.

View from a Fintech GC – thriving in a market disruptor

Alistair Houghton, General Counsel at Curve, provided us a rare insight into what it means to work as a lawyer in fast-growing fintech company. Alastair shared his experience with transitioning from working in a traditional framework in a large bank to working in an innovative but “immature” environment and how he brought in value not only from a legal perspective but a whole host of business skills. He also helpfully pointed out that perfection may not be the most important element in the fintech world where there is uncertainty and pace. He also called for strong belief in the core values of fintechs and their founders’ incredible motivation to continuously drive improvements and innovation.

Creating inclusive customer experiences through technology

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Eversheds Sutherland’s Eve England shared with us how digitisation brought new challenges to inclusive customer experiences, in light of the modern definition of inclusivity including invisible challenges and the expectation from regulators for customer inclusivity to be taken into account for compliance. We are also very grateful that Frances Coyle as the Legal Product Squad Lead from Monzo then shared with us the inspiring case study of how it creates inclusivity by design, including new card number reveal flow, gambling block and audio terms and conditions.

Demystifying the Dark Web

Michael Aminzade, Managing Director of Cyber Security from 6point6 provided a very useful introduction on the Dark Web, which many might have heard of but do not understand enough of it. To demystify Dark Web, Michael started by pointing out the need to monitor it including but not limited to revenue protection, then explained the infrastructure of Dark Web like onion routing and its key features, the common operation style and contents available on the Dark Web, ranging from anonymous whistleblowing hub to illegal sale and purchase platform and the recent regulatory update on how it is combated and monitored. 

e-Payments – from both sides of the pond

Eversheds Sutherland partner Tony Anderson shared with us the UK perspective on the exponential growth of payments as a sector and how the push towards a cashless society and the increasing reliance on mobile payments globally have driven the growth of large companies and fintechs with revenues linked to payments. On the other hand, partner Bob Pile spoke about how the complex regulatory environment in the US and the tension between state and federal bank regulators have hindered the development of fintech companies in the US. The audience were very much engaged to learn about the various ways federal and state regulators are attempting to alleviate this.

Building pirateships inside a 325+ year old company

Martin Halford gave a very impressive session on building pirateships from his experience as the Head of Legal, Ventures and Corporate in Barclays Ventures to bring about risk taking, agile and free thinking pirateships. In the context of banking, Martin shared the concepts and tips of bringing about disruptive innovation, then looked more specifically at how his legal team was getting more involved in the early stage of ideation and shared the common challenges faced in facilitating LawTech pirateships to encourage law firms to co-operate with technology ‘disruptors’ to implement LawTech models.

Fintechs and the 2 speed digital economy

Jon Mulder, Vice President at Capgemini Invent, shared with us how a ‘two speed’ digital economy has emerged over the past decade between traditional banks and Fintechs, as both sides of the table look to improve ROE opportunities to collaborate. However, traditional banks have been remarkably resistant to change at the cadence Fintechs need to operate.  Striking the right balance beyond technology will only come from finding the right degree of separation and the right connection leveraging the Fintech culture and legacy market advantage. 

Cloud and the regulatory landscape: Help or hindrance

Simon Gamlin, Head of the International Technology Group at Eversheds Sutherland moderated a panel discussion on whether regulating the use of cloud is a help or hindrance for financial institutions. While the Bank of England has encouraged financial institutions to “embrace technology”, many still find that the regulatory landscape is complex and difficult to navigate. With the EBA Guidelines on Outsourcing coming into force earlier this year, many financial institutions are taking a closer look at whether their cloud outsourcings are compliant with the regulatory framework.

Technology and technology enabled services are moving to the cloud and therefore both financial institutions and vendors need to work together in a pragmatic manner to achieve a position that is both compliant but also takes into account some of the constraints for vendors that are inherent in a cloud solution. Many thanks to Shantini Satyendra (Santander), Hafiz Wong (Broadridge) and Nasser Ali Khasawneh (Eversheds Sutherland UAE) for an engaging conversation on this fascinating topic.

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