NatWest at Sibos – partnerships and collaboration
In the midst of people in suits running around trying to make it on time to their next meeting, we managed to have a sit down with Martin Fiddaman, head of financial Institutions, transaction services at NatWest.
Right off the bat, Fiddaman exclaims: “Sibos is great!” When asked about it, he tells us that he’s loving how Sibos has become this great place to meet, connect, and overall catch up with customers and suppliers from all over the world, particularly those from places he very rarely visits.
“Plus, we can showcase all the exciting stuff we have been up to! Namely, we‘ve partnered with some of the R3 banks to develop Voltron and Marco Polo; as well as two of our exciting partnerships, with Vocalink and BioCatch, focused on enhancing our anti-fraud efforts,” he continues.
Voltron and Marco Polo are trade platforms that run on R3’s Corda blockchain platform. Voltron is an open platform for documentary trade and Marco Polo is an open account trade option. The R3 partnership with Voltron was, in fact, announced at Sibos this week. NatWest, as a founding member, is naturally confident it will use blockchain technology to bring “significant efficiencies” to transacting open account trade as well as digital letters of credit.
One of the NatWest’s current partnerships is with Vocalink, whose Corporate Fraud Insights solution is helping NatWest successfully identify fraudulent transactions, with an accuracy rate of around 95%. It is being currently applied only to the BACS payment network, for both retail and corporate customers. “This implementation naturally brings cost reductions and positive risk management implications. This is a free service, built with customers in mind, and we are currently the only bank on the UK to deploy this service.,” he says.
“In a position like mine, there are four things that we consider when making decisions around partnerships and implementations,” Fiddaman explains. “Is it going to improve customer experience? Is it going to increase revenues? Is it going to reduce cost? And lastly, is it going to help us manage risk? For all thispartnership, the answer is most definitely yes.
The second partnership is with an Australian behavioural biometrics firm called BioCatch. This firm’s tech doesn’t read fingerprints, or scans faces, but it creates a personal pattern of how you use your mobile device – NatWest is currently looking into implementing it on desktops – and blocks access to the user when it spots that they’re not interacting with the phone like they usually do. Namely, that they’re a different person.
“As banks become more and more digitally-enabled, they have to manage more data, and they manage more and more digital interactions with their customers, they have more cybersecurity duties. This means they need tools to manage all this, and tech can undoubtedly help, particularly with new artificial intelligence, like in the firms we’ve been talking about”.
It’s becoming increasingly clear, for everybody in the industry, that banks cannot manage it all. Collaboration with partners and other banks is key, says Fiddaman, like the ones Natwest proudly showcases. “And nowadays, regulators are looking more at payment services processors to step up their activities to protect customers from fraud.”
“I feel that we have, as banks, a moral duty to protect customers from these attacks, while providing them with increasingly better customer experience. NatWest is trying to become a thought leader in this area, and thus, we have arranged workshops, created communication channels, and helped educate customers about how to behave to minimise exposure to fraud,” Fiddaman concludes.
“It’s important to clearly define your problem statement, look for the right partners to help you meet your challenges, and establish those communication channels with other institutions and share best practice ideas in the fight against cyber crime. Sibos is a great place to do that.”
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