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The role of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) has moved beyond traditional financial and accounting supervision. They now operate in the centre of the organisation delivering relevant insights on business performances that underpin and guide the entire company functioning. CFOs are increasingly becoming key advisers to business, making near real-time, data-enabled decisions.

As data becomes more distributed, dynamic and diverse, data no longer resides in a single enterprise repository. Instead, it is likely to be housed and processed in multiple parallel operating locations, such as ERP systems, billing systems or commerce platforms.

It is imperative to develop advanced forecasting capabilities and new finance management technique which provides the opportunity to take analytics capability and data beyond the finance function to support the enterprise holistically.

Along with developing new talent and skillsets, and through investment in technology, using analytics in finance enables CFOs and finance teams to generate a competitive advantage and growth for the entire enterprise.

Analytic Process Automation (APA) is the key. APA enables easy data sharing, automates tedious processes and unlocks predictive insights that drive timely attainment of goals. It eliminates the need to use multiple discreet tools to manage data, processes and people, making it easier and faster for governments to take care of the citizens.

APA is an effective tool for the public sector industry to track and fight the pandemic outbreak, improve data accountability, increase transparency in procurement and facilitates effective disaster recovery and relief.

By intelligently automating the hundreds of repetitive and complex analytic processes, the finance team can save hours of manual work and be able to spend more time on delivering vital outcomes. On top of that, the accuracy and flow of data would significantly be improved in its operation as APA streamlines entire data-driven processes in a preferred consumption format.

The full visibility of data across key financial management systems enables every function in the finance team to take advantage of data and easily collaborate across departments, where the analytic effort can be shared and reused.

Knowing this, the core question remains: how can CFOs and the finance team leverage Analytic Process Automation without dependencies on the IT department?

This was the focal point of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 09 June 2021. The event aimed to impart knowledge on the democratisation of data and analytics in the office of finance and explore best practices to achieve a culture of analytics, upskilling of employees and service efficiency.

The session served as a great peer-to-peer learning platform to gain insights and practical to implement Analytic Process Automation to enable more efficient data processing while reducing the complexity and cost.

Digital Transformation Within the Office of Finance

Mohit Sagar: Find the right partners for your data and digital journey

Mohit acknowledged that life in financial organisations is filled with challenges. Financial officers juggle many roles, responsibilities and requirements. Not only do they need to understand the numbers, but they are supposed to make sense out of those numbers.

At the same time, technology is moving so fast and comes at a significant cost. Previously considered a somewhat unnecessary expense, tech has now become the backbone of every business. In these current times, organisations welcome technology as an investment.

Along with the rise in technologies, more data than ever before is being collected. But in and of itself, data can do nothing. Mohit emphasised users must fully understand what data can do for them. Data must be unlocked to achieve better business outcomes.

Most people do not know where to start – that is where problems come from. Users need to investigate the depth and scale of data and not merely play on its surface. Data must be democratised through three mega pillars: comfort, tools and culture. Financial offices need to understand that data must be democratised and made accessible so more people can use it.

Organisations from all over the world came up with a slew of ad-hoc solutions and band-aid technologies to further their digital transformation journeys during the pandemic. Digital initiatives and tech platforms were launched left and right but COVID-19 taught us that there is room for change.

Mohit emphasised that this is the time to recognise what organisations can automate and this is the perfect time for comprehensive digital transformation.

In closing, Mohit urged the delegates to find the right partners for their data and digital journey. If they want to stay ahead of the curve, it is vital to work with experts who can guide them along the right path.

The Convergence of Data, Process and People

Philip Madgwick: Data and analytics must be open for democratisation

After the opening address, the session heard from Philip Madgwick, Regional Director (ASEAN), Alteryx, who talked about the state of the analytics market and the journey to analytic process automation.

He believes that the process of utilising data is built on three key pillars. First is the idea of data democratisation which means making data accessible for anyone in the organisation to drive digital transformation initiatives. The second is process automation that ensures that the organisation can automate repetitive processes, increasing overall efficiency and decision-making. Thirdly is upskilling that promotes the improvement and capabilities of people handling the data within the organisation.

For Philip, CFOs have a unique vantage point that ensures investments are aligned to outcomes and growth. The process starts with purchasing, spending on analysis and vendor management. Next are business units, margin erosion analysis, pricing analytics, service level and customer profitability alignment.

Sales and marketing also come into play. Price-point, revenue leakage, revenue driver, demand/price elasticity, customer retention and churn analyses are vital in the process. Another one is the supply chain. Sales and finance-linked forecasting, new product introduction, profitability and dollarisation effect.  Lastly, is IT or the organisation’s technological investment planning and prioritisation.

With these steps, financial offices can ensure an efficient operational execution from operational decision-making, strategic decision-making and driving profit lost in operational execution.

There are, of course, organisational challenges that stand in the way of achieving these desired outcomes. A disconnected approach between data, process and people prevents ideal outcomes. Challenges also include limitation of data, slow data curation, analytics and data science, processes that are manual and unoptimised, disjointed and unengaged people with no sign of upskilling.

To rise above these challenges, Philip emphasised that the three pillars – data, process and people – must converge into one priority. Data and analytics must be open to democratisation to allow easier access to data and automated machine learning for analysts and data scientists. Automating processes is key to minimise manual intervention, achieving high efficiency and minimal error.

Last but not least, is upskilling people. Governments must have a robust analytics community, enriched step by step with a classroom curriculum and by utilising intuitive and engaged platforms to help build confidence among the workforces.

To end his presentation, Philip shared how Alteryx automates an Office of the CFO. It starts with tax automation, risk, audit and compliance monitoring and optimising accounting and operations. By automating these processes, the office of finance saved on resources like manpower hours and allowed them to focus on tasks that require more human intervention.

Philip is positive that the automation procedure helps organisations in advancing their digital transformation journey. He conceded that the office of finance must continuously embrace the innovation of the three key pillars of digital transformation moving forward.

Analytic Process Automation for Finance Functions

Rinrat Pasavekin: The capabilities of finance must be transformed and reframed

The delegates moved to a presentation from Rinrat Pasavekin, Partner, PwC Thailand. She discussed the process of delivering actionable insights with Analytic Process Automation in the office of finance.

Rinrat is firm in her conviction that the office of finance needs to transform its processes. She emphasised that finance is perversely impacted by several global trends creating an urgent need for finance to transform to better support the business.

Typical triggers for transformation are:

  • Workforce Skills Gap (Source and retain new skills, Managing an ageing workforce)
  • Emerging Technologies (Siloed information systems, Increasing data volumes)
  • Investor / Cost pressures (Decrease costs to serve, Business enablement)
  • Reporting and Analytics (Integrated information, Improved decision making)

Typically, the office of finance responds to these triggers by exploding data volumes, changing regulations, radical automation, industry convergence, settling with unstructured data and building B2B to B2C business models.

Rinrat believes that the office of finance’s digital transformation is enabled by a seven-point Modern Finance Agenda. She underlined that this agenda requires a strategic shift in the operating model to be digitally enabled:

  • Finance Workforce of Future
  • Finance Organisation and Structures
  • Process Excellence and Automation
  • Cloud ERP and Digital Platforms
  • Automated and Predictive Controls
  • Advanced Analytics, Insights and Action and,
  • Insightful Finance Business Partnering

In her experience, clients have a proclivity driven by their culture, values and objectives which drives their focus on what key aspect to start their digital transformation on. Ideally, finance offices must start leading with people, leading with the process and ultimately leading with performance.

Leading with people involves a digital finance workforce. Upskilling finance workforces to be digitally savvy and supplemented with new human and machine-based roles. It also deals with modern finance workplaces. Re-thinking collaboration spaces and structures for finance employees and external parties (e.g., suppliers).

Leading with process means utilising intelligent automation. Finance organisations must learn to apply automation to simplify, accelerate, or re-design processes. The capability to predict enterprise risks is also key. Applying automation to rationalise and re-design control structures to shift from detective to predictive controls must be focused on. Lastly, is utilising a pre-configured Cloud ERP, shifting and upgrading the existing ERP to deliver new finance capabilities in public/private clouds.

Leading with performance on the other hand is by using a connected, self-service data, enabling the enterprise’s digital core by connecting ERP/EPM tools, data lakes and self-service, voice-activated information supported by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Assisted insights and performance must also be looked upon. Applying analytics and machine-based models to deliver business function insights and financial planning and analysis improvements will help a finance office in any organisation in a big way.

She acknowledged that there are certain challenges in trying to implement digital transformation within the office of finance. One is identifying and consolidating data, which takes a lot of time and resources. Another issue is that data owners may be hesitant and/or unable to provide quality data.

Rinrat advised the delegates to always evaluate the integrity and organisation of current data for them to recommend the accurate timeline and they must look to reach out to required data resources as quickly as possible. With leadership support, they can further the office of finance’s digital and data journey.

Interactive Discussion

After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This activity is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences and impart professional learning and development for participants.

The opening poll asked how delegates would rate their organisation’s use of data and data analytic tools for decision-making. Half of the delegates (50%) said that it is fair and they use data in their decision-making process. However, they acknowledge that the analysis is primarily a manual process as they do not have enough data analysts/scientists. About 28% said it is good and they have some tools in place but are still learning how to optimise them fully. Just over a fifth (22%) indicated that it needs improvement and they need better tools to analyse and are currently relying mainly on Excel.

The delegates were asked what they consider the greatest barrier to integrating more data and analytics into their day-to-day decision-making? A third (32%) indicated that the lack of trained people to do actual analysis is the greatest barrier. Around 29% conceded that they have limited access to data because they are kept in silos or disparate locations while 21% said that the available data are not accurate or updated.

The next poll was about the delegates’ top drivers of data and analytics usage in their respective organisations. About 43% acceded that removing inefficiency in processes and speeding up decision-making is their desired outcome, 39% said that achieving better organisational decisions and outcomes are the main drivers, while 11% said that ensuring compliance with laws, rules and policies is their main priority.

On being asked what their biggest barrier to progress in their organisations’ data journeys was, more than half of the delegates (54%) said that the disconnect between IT & business / organisational requirements is the biggest hindrance. Just over a fifth (21%) said that poor quality and availability of data causes them to further their data journeys, while 11% said that a non-data-literate workforce is the biggest barrier.

The delegates voted on four strategies that they are thinking of implementing or interested in. A significant 43% are interested in reviewing existing processes and identifying which ones can be automated and can be made more efficient. A shade over a third (35%) are contemplating upskilling thei workforce to scale use of data analytics on their own, while 11% are interested in consolidating current analytic tools to simplify adoption across the entire organisation.

In terms of their strength in the use of data analytics, about 31% of the delegates said that understanding, support and commitment from top management remains their biggest strengths. A quarter (26%) voted for the deployment of powerful tools and efficient process to facilitate good data analytics projects, while another 26% of the delegates said that deriving meaningful insights through data analytics is their biggest asset.

Conclusion

The session concluded with closing remarks from Philip and Rinrat.

Philip reminded the delegates to always focus on the three key aspects- data, people and processes – in their digital transformation journeys. He further advised the delegates who were just starting their digital transformation journeys to remember that they can always reach out for partnerships; not just to Alteryx, but to other service providers. Organisations who were well on the path to a true digital transformation would also make great advisers.

Rinrat thanked the delegates for attending and the wonderful time of discussion. She stressed that true digital transformation involves partnerships that ensure an organisation’s desired outcomes. She invited delegates to contact PWC for any concerns, especially those regarding finance offices’ data and digital journeys.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority recently unveiled its Fintech 2025 strategy which aims to encourage the financial sector to adopt technology comprehensively by 2025 and provide fair and efficient financial services.

The authority’s Chief Executive said at a press conference that the strategy comprises five focus areas – all banks go fintech, future-proofing Hong Kong for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), creating the next-generation data infrastructure, expanding the fintech-savvy workforce, and nurturing the ecosystem with funding and policies. “Fintech is, without doubt, a key growth engine for the financial industry in the post-pandemic era, and now is the right time to double down on our efforts to grasp the opportunities. Fintech 2025 sets out our vision in this regard,” the HKMA CE said.

To promote all-around adoption of fintech by Hong Kong banks, the authority will roll out a Tech Baseline Assessment to take stock of the banks’ current and planned adoption of fintech. This would help identify fintech business areas or specific technology types which may be underdeveloped and would benefit from the authority’s support.

In addition to the continued effort on wholesale CBDCs, the authority has been working with the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub Centre in Hong Kong to research retail CBDCs and will begin a study on e-HKD to understand its use cases, benefits and related risks. HKMA will embark on this study to see whether there is a case for Hong Kong to issue a retail e-Hong Kong dollar, the official noted.

The authority will also work with the People’s Bank of China in supporting the technical testing of e-CNY in Hong Kong with a view to providing a convenient means of cross-boundary payments for both domestic and mainland residents.

Hong Kong’s existing data infrastructure will also be enhanced, which would include building the Commercial Data Interchange, digital corporate identity and distributed ledger technology-based credit data-sharing platform to facilitate consent-based data sharing.

To groom more fintech talent, the authority will collaborate with various strategic partners through developing fintech-specific training programmes and qualifications, as well as promoting joint projects between the industry and academia. The Industry Project Masters Network scheme will be piloted in September to provide internship opportunities to postgraduate students to work on banks’ fintech projects on federated learning and other artificial intelligence technologies.

The authority and industry key players will establish a new Fintech Cross-Agency Coordination Group to formulate supportive policies for the city’s fintech ecosystem. Preparatory work for the Hong Kong Growth Portfolio, which seeks to reinforce the city’s status as a financial, commercial and innovation centre, is underway. The authority will also enhance its Fintech Supervisory Sandbox and is exploring with the Innovation & Technology Commission the possibility of providing funding support to qualified fintech projects.

“I urge all stakeholders to join forces with the authority. Together, we can take our city’s fintech ecosystem to new heights,” the HKMA CE added.

Another report notes that according to the PBC’s annual payment system report, in 2020, banks in the Chinese mainland handled a total of 354.73 billion in non-cash payment transactions, amounting to US$627.3 trillion. Of these transactions, 235.23 billion were electronic payment transactions, worth a total of US$423.69 trillion. The data showed that nearly 70% of the non-cash payments were made via electronic means last year, indicating that electronic payments have high recognition in the mainland.

With increasing uncertainty from the pandemic, Chinese financial industries are in urgent need of digital transformation. The volatility has created unprecedented opportunities for digitalisation across the world, and the financial industry continues to explore openings to embrace technology and uncover new areas of growth.

An observation on startup distribution between technology and applications has indicated that privacy computing would grow rapidly in China. Chinese authorities issued policies to vigorously promote the data factor and establish a comprehensive data protection mechanism. Therefore, privacy computing technologies federated learning have started small-scale deployment.

With the development of China’s “New Infrastructure Construction” strategy, traditional industries are all undergoing digitalisation. The industrial internet will also become more segmented, intelligent, and personalised, and financial institutions can benefit from this evolution, approach new assets, and transform these assets into data and credits.

Fintech companies have gradually penetrated all aspects of financial services by improving the capabilities of front to back offices. Meanwhile, banks are more aware of the penetration of financial technology. More and more commercial banks are positioning fintech as the “key driver” for business transformation. State-owned banks, joint-stock banks, and other small and medium banks are all applying financial technologies to digital transformation.

Chinese fintech strategies combined with current digital transformation trends will likely produce the following footprints:

  • Fintech industries will be more online, open, and intelligent: Industries will convert more traditional services from offline to online and build an omnichannel strategy by tapping into emerging channels. They will apply artificial intelligence (AI) applications to online business with matching needs from both retail and corporate customers. They will create more data streams and use cases to strengthen client relations.
  • New technologies and applications will be introduced to improve operational efficiency with emphasis on data factor: Industries will focus on the introduction of smart operations, smart risk management, and smart customer relationship management (CRM) with the integration of low-code SaaS applications. They deploy blockchain applications to build and expand a trusted financial service environment, piloting applications such as traceability, authentic right, trusted execution environment, and multi-stakeholder transactions.
  • Integration of the industrial internet: China will focus on several core industries, deep dive into specific business scenarios, and connect financial services to the chain of transaction-account-data. China will help traditional industry clients with digital transformation to generate new service opportunities because Chinese banks normally have better technological capabilities than traditional clients.

Following the target of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan on the development of new infrastructure construction since 2020, traditional industries are undergoing digital transformation rising upon the methodology of the industrial Internet. Enterprises of all sizes must pursue development through collaboration with each other, and more attention should be given to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) address their challenges in accessing capital.

Due to the urgent need for digital transformation, the corporate finance field nurtures innovation opportunities. Compared to the revolution of the mobile Internet which emphasises the consumer end, the revolution of the industrial internet asks for in-depth knowledge of value chains and first-hand industry knowledge from the supply side.

In 2021, financial institutions will rely on the retail banking side and develop a niche market in clothing, food, housing, and transportation as their moat. An economic moat is a business’s ability to maintain competitive advantages over its competitors to protect its long-term profits and market share from competing firms. On the corporate banking side, they will provide digital solutions for industries that have comprehensive value chains such as healthcare, automotive and education to capture new growth opportunities.

The Indonesian banking platform being launched by the messaging platform is the outcome of a 2018 agreement. The $182 million (JPY 20 billion) investment in the country’s digital payments network will go to improve online and traditional banking services including deposit accounts, microcredit products and remittance and payment services.

Online banking has evolved into the most convenient service for paying bills, transferring funds, and accessing a record of your checking account activity all from the convenience of a web browser. Everything related to personal finances easier when people can bank from the comfort of their own home, at any time of day or night. Digitalisation is transforming how people interact and conduct business on a daily basis, and advances in banking technology are influencing the future of financial services all around the world. The banking industry is being transformed by increased demand from millennials and Gen Z’s for a digital banking experience.

Mobile banking or online banking has become a major differentiator for banking leaders since it allows consumers to make deposits, account transfers and manage their expenditure and profits. Online banking has been a more important feature in banking services among respondents since the commencement of the coronavirus pandemic. Financial institutions are increasingly eager to know which mobile banking services customers enjoy the most and where they stand in comparison to their competitors so they can work in certain sectors.

According to a report, downloads of digital banking apps in Indonesia has increased by 7% last year with apps from major banks in Indonesia leading the way. However, many other Indonesian digital bank users tend to download various digital bank applications. However, a major issue is that users tend to uninstall the banking app within the first 30 days of download. This is an indication that a dominant provider has yet to develop and the reason why a messenger service that encourages more participation could be an ideal solution.

The Tokyo-based chat app, founded in early 2014, extended its reach into digital payments in July last year. Since then, the company has rapidly expanded its banking operations to support its massive user base of 50 million registered customers, which is roughly double the number of individual accounts held by Japan’s largest megabank. Being one of the most popular apps in Asia, this messaging platform has been making money through its cross-industry investments into the banking and finance sector. The corporation is already investing heavily in cryptocurrency, announcing last year that it would offer loans, insurance, and other services backed by its own digital currency.

Apart from Japan, the messaging platform carries a strong corporate bond in three of Southeast Asia’s most important markets – Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia. The messaging app has introduced its banking services to its Thai users last October as part of a joint venture with a local bank. In Taiwan, its subsidiary was granted a banking license earlier this year by the Financial Supervisory Commission.

The messaging app has over 165 million monthly active users and 40 million registered to their banking platform, according to company research. The company is expanding its footprint across Asia but has not made an entry in Singapore as yet.  Nevertheless, in September, the app announced that it would raise $1.33 billion through convertible bonds to expand into the island nation’s financial services market.

Indonesia is keen on digitalisation and has implemented several initiatives and programmes to ramp up digital transformation in the country. This is especially true for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are the backbone of Indonesia’s economy, absorbing 97% of the workforce. OpenGov Asia recently reported on a tech firm focused on digitising the 60 million small businesses in Indonesia.

Similarly, a report ranks Indonesia as the fifth largest share (US$ 2.9 billion) of the Islamic financial technology (fintech) market in the world. Reports noted that millennials dominate borrowers on the platform.

The Philippines’ Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said that digital transactions in the country continue to rise with the public turning to electronic payment facilities to carry out financial transactions safely amid the COVID-19 health crisis via news reports.

Combined PesoNet and InstaPay transactions in April this year were higher by 276% in volume and 127% in value, compared to the figures recorded during the same month in 2020. The PesoNet and InstaPay are two automated clearing houses under the National Retail Payment System (NRPS). PesoNet is a batch electronic fund transfer (EFT) which can be considered as an electronic alternative to the paper-based check system while the InstaPay is a real-time, low-value EFT for transaction amounting up to USD 1,000 and is useful for e-commerce.

Also, the volume and value of QR PH person-to-person (P2P) payments in April this year increased by 23% and 38%, respectively, compared to the figure posted a month earlier. The BSP said a turning point in the country’s digital transformation journey is the National QR Code Standard or QR PH, which leverages the efficiency and affordability of the QR technology.

The BSP also revealed that 82 BSP-Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFIs) were participating in PesoNet and 52 in InstaPay as of end-April 2021. The Philippine central bank said that the data is encouraging. These indicate the sustained adoption of digital payments in the country. The preference of consumers for safety in their financial transactions, coupled with the readiness of the BSFIs to offer digital payment choices that are safe, convenient, and affordable will continue to support the widespread use of digital payments.

With over a year into the pandemic, the BSP said that financial consumers are adapting to the use of technology for their financial transactions. New adopters have experienced first-hand the advantages of going digital. Their positive experiences are expected to create a ripple effect and to promote the wider use of digital payments, the central bank added.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the BSP’s Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap 2020-2023 (DPTR) says that the BSP’s thrust to promote financial inclusion and digitalisation of payments is mutually reinforcing: they go together, each enabling the other. With the sudden onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the shift towards digital payments has become imperative as physical distancing rules become the norm under the “New Economy” environment. By using digital payments with due care and vigilance, Filipinos reduce the need for mobility and prevent health risks from face-to-face and over the counter (OTC) financial transactions. The greater usage of digital payments will also facilitate the growth of Fintech businesses engaged in e-commerce businesses as the consumption of goods and services is increasingly driven by online purchases.

The BSP’s DPTR strategic outcomes are the following:

  • Strengthened customer preference for digital payments by:
  • Converting 50% of the total volume of retail payments into digital form, considering that payment services are the gateway of most Filipinos to the formal financial system. This shift can be made by offering customers faster and more affordable payment options that provide greater convenience.
  • Expanding the financially included to 70% of Filipino adults, by onboarding them to the formal financial system using payment or transaction accounts. With the use of these accounts over time, they can build financial profiles with their payment service providers (i.e., banks and non-bank e-money issuers).

More innovative and responsive digital financial services characterised by:

  • Innovation-driven use of consumer data to design financial products and services that are responsive to the needs of consumers, including those from the lower-income sectors
  • PhilSys-enabled Know-Your-Customer (KYC) to allow more individuals to access financial services; and
  • Availability of a next-generation payment and settlement system to facilitate real-time processing of financial transactions of the banking public and the Philippine economy.

A new research report from a global digital payment firm has found that over 8 in 10 Filipinos (83%) are aware and interested (81%) in using digital banking services. However, only 32% of respondents are currently using services offered by a digital bank.

As more digital-based solutions develop in the market, Filipinos are more open to innovations that make payments and banking more convenient, accessible and seamless, said the global digital payment firm’s country manager for the Philippines and Guam via news reports.

Top interest drivers for Filipinos to use digital banking services include access to banking services any time of the day (68%), time saved from not having to queue at bank branches (68%) and convenience (67%). The study also showed that Filipinos are most keen to work with a financial services brand for digital banking services (93%) and traditional banks (92%), followed by new start-ups with digital banking services (72%).

Filipinos interested in banking with digital banks are keen to use services such as paying bills (84%), transferring money locally (78%), making deposits and withdrawals (76%), and making payments for purchases at local retail locations (71%). However, the preference of using digital banking for traditional bank services such as investments (52%), international transfers (48%) and loans (46%) is lower.

In addition, 86% of Filipino respondents would switch current banking services to digital banking services if the bank provided better rewards and 85% would do so if they can benefit from lower costs for their banking transactions. Filipinos’ interest to use digital banking services increased to 80% compared to 70% in the previous year when the same research was conducted.

Awareness of digital solutions such as biometrically authenticated payments grew to approximately 80% in 2020 from 60% in 2019. Almost 8 in 10 Filipinos express high awareness and interest in using biometrically authenticated payments.

Biometric payment is perceived as a quick (62%) and innovative (61%) way to pay. In addition, 5 in 10 Filipinos (55%) think it is a more secure way to pay. However, usage is low at 23% since its accessibility depends on market availability. Finger scan as one of the biometric authentication methods is most popular amongst Filipinos (59%) especially for making bill payments or purchases at convenience stores. This is followed by facial recognition (31%) and retina scan (16%).

There is an opportunity in the Philippines for traditional banks and new players to launch digital banking services in the country that will better serve the needs of underserved and underpenetrated segments, said the digital payment giant. They believe this will transform the banking and payments landscape in the country and they are keen to work with all their partners to help them create a better user interface and experience when they create and enhance their digital banking solutions.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the Philippines’ Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) has a vision for the country to become a digital-heavy, cash-light society to help achieve inclusive growth. According to the BSP, 50% or half of all transactions should be digital by 2023, and 70% of Filipino adults should have formal bank accounts by 2023.

The BSP highlighted how the pandemic has been a catalyst for financial digitalisation, as mobility restrictions prompted more people to use digital payments. In 2020, over 4 million new electronic financial accounts were created in the Philippines. Cybersecurity is also top of mind for the BSP as it seeks to build public trust in digital banking, adding that digitalisation measures go hand in hand with ensuring a safe cybersecurity environment with fintech institutions facing the same regulatory environment as banks.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) signed a $35 million contract with a Florida-based software company to lead the migration of the unemployment compensation system to a new cloud-based platform. The state aims to simplify the process of file unemployment claims to receive the payments.

According to a document, the current system is scheduled to go offline to allow for data migration from the old system to the new one. It is the most complex part of any system upgrade. L&I anticipates a high volume of individuals will attempt to log onto the new system immediately after it is launched. If the volume of active system users reaches a specific threshold, the system will automatically instate a virtual “waiting room”. It will place visitors into a queue and allow them into the system when other users have logged off.

This action prevents the system from becoming overloaded, which could cause slowness and crashing for all users. Individuals who do not wish to wait can try to log on again later. Typically, fewer individuals try to file for their benefits later in the week and during non-business hours, so these times may have little or no wait.

For unemployed workers, employers, government staff and third-party administrators,  the new mobile-friendly UC system should be much easier to use, give users provide faster access to relevant information and streamline the unemployment claim filing process.

One new feature of the new UC system is the use of the Keystone ID, a secure online account management system that allows users to log into multiple online state services with the same credentials. Some critics of Pennsylvania’s approach have warned that unemployment modernisation projects are famous for delays, climbing costs and operational issues.

The deputy secretary for unemployment compensation programs admitted that it is not easy to modernise a system, especially during a pandemic. However, one the new system is in place,  it will be much easier to use, provide faster access to relevant information and streamline the unemployment claim filing process for workers, employers, unemployment program staff, as well as the third-party administrators who will be able to easily access and update more of their information.

The new system will offer a more modern interface for users with formatting similar to user-friendly websites most people use every day. The system will be mobile and tablet-friendly and will enable faster communications between users and L&I staff. To assist individuals with preparing to use the new system, L&I is continuing to host live workshops, provide video recordings of demonstrations, and offer written and visual walk-throughs of the new system.

U.S. agencies have been utilising cloud to improve their system, including U.S. Navy. As reported by OpenGov Asia, The Navy workforce will gain access to a single Microsoft Office 365 (M365) collaboration and productivity environment known as Flank Speed that will improve security starting on June 2021. It will over time also deliver additional tools to support a more productive Navy workforce.

While those commercially operated environments provided a crucial means of communication during pandemic-constricted work situations, the retirement of the previous tool clears the way for an improved, Navy-operated Flank Speed cloud. Flank Speed will be an evolving information technology initiative and the epicentre of Navy unclassified systems for years to come.

From Day One, Flank Speed users will have access to Teams, one terabyte (1TB) of OneDrive storage, and access to the full productivity suite from M365 to include Excel, Word, OneNote, and PowerPoint. Users will also retain access to old CVR accounts until it shuts down on June 15, and NMCI O365 until it reaches its end of life later this fiscal year. As network performance supports, every Navy employee will have access to the Flank Speed cloud.

As Singapore embarks on its journey to becoming a Smart Nation, e-invoicing has become increasingly common. However, payment processes remain a pain for many companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Now, a global payments firm made use of Infocomm Media Development Authority’s Open Innovation Platform (OIP) to ease the payment processes.

The new system automatically verifies e-invoices against other business records, such as purchasing and delivery orders and corporate bank account numbers, to detect fraud and mistakes before making payments. It also reminds users of upcoming and due payments.

Also, it is compatible with many other platforms, including procurement and enterprise resource planning solutions, so firms can unite it with their existing systems and move seamlessly from procurement to cash flow management to payment.

The OIP is a virtual platform that matches firms and organisations facing difficulties with others that can solve them. The company was partnered with a local e-commerce services start-up to develop this smart digital system that integrates billing and payment functions to enable businesses to send invoices and receive payments easily and quickly. The company saw the OIP as a great opportunity to partner with fintech companies on innovative payment solutions that bridge gaps and address challenges in the market.

The new digital payment system was inspired by the fact that for many SMEs in the country, their invoice management and payment process systems are not compatible with each other. Tedious processes such as having to verify and approve payments still must be carried out manually before a transaction cycle can be completed, taking up time and resources. It also means a longer wait before companies receive payment.

Many firms, especially SMEs, still rely on cash and cheques for payments. After a company generates an invoice, it takes an average of 57 days for it to receive payment. This could be even longer for cross-border transactions. As a leader in digital payments, the company aims to enable the movement of money, anywhere in the world, for everyone.

Over 6,000 SMEs have adopted it since it was launched in June last year. Furthermore, the local e-commerce services start-up who helped developed the new digital payment system will continue to tap the OIP to grow its business, especially with new features that will be added to the platform by mid-2021.

A smart discovery engine will analyse problem statements and recommend solvers with the relevant experience to improve the matching process and encourage more companies, from SMEs to multinational corporations, to co-create solutions.

Additionally, a virtual sandbox hosted on cloud infrastructure, with access to digital tools, reusable software assets, testbed environments and community partners, will speed up the development cycle of proofs-of-concept from months to weeks.

With these two new features, the OIP is expected to cater to a wider variety of innovation needs and facilitate hundreds of more matches between enterprises and solution providers.

Launched in 2018, the OIP seeks to accelerate digital innovation by matching the real business challenges of problem owners to tech solution providers. For each round of innovation calls, challenges are introduced to address issues faced by an individual organisation or a sector. In the wake of the pandemic, a new category has been added to address nationwide challenges that, once tackled, will allow Singapore to emerge stronger post-COVID.

To encourage participants to co-develop pioneering technologies and systems, the OIP has a structured process that covers ideation to commercialisation, as well as a facility for prototyping and other activities. So far, it has organised over 190 challenges, convened more than 10,000 problem solvers and initiated over 60 innovation projects, with many more in the pipeline.

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