• Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

Ignazio Visco: half of the banks’ investments in innovation will be on payments

Byeditorial

Jun 3, 2021

On May 31, the Governor of the Bank of Italy Ignazio Visco noted that in the euro area economic activity is still being held back “by the persistence of the pandemic and the effects of uncertainty on consumer demand and investment decisions. Growth in gross domestic product (GDP) should resume vigor in the second half of the year, exceeding, in the most recent estimates, the average of 4 per cent for the two-year period 2021-22, after falling by 6.6 in 2020 ”. Central in this sense and accelerated by the pandemic was the spread of new technologies. “In 2020, online bank transfers, card transactions via the internet, electronic payments, the share of banks that allow customers to manage requests for financing remotely have grown”. Despite this, “investments in information technology remain low. The infrastructure renewal process must be accelerated by adapting competences and organizational structures at the same time. The banks that in the recent past have invested most in credit risk assessment technologies have been the ones that have increased their lending to businesses since the outbreak of the pandemic. “” Innovative start-ups (Fintech), large technology companies (Big Tech ), companies operating in large-scale distribution as well as in the supply of services such as electricity and telecommunications now offer financial services with benefits for their customers. Competition is particularly high in the payments sector, where innovation has been favored by European regulation that now makes it possible to offer innovative services based on third-party access, with prior consent, to customer accounts (open banking ) “. About half of the investments in technological innovation planned for the next two years by banks and non-bank intermediaries “appear to be destined for projects of this type”. Technological innovation is also destined to change the offer of financing. “The use of advanced creditworthiness assessment techniques is spreading, using a variety of data, including unstructured ones. Evaluations based on algorithms cannot completely replace the judgment made by analysts; adding to the qualitative information collected by intermediaries, they will however constitute an increasingly important complement, particularly for specific market niches. ”Visco then also spoke about the cyber risks that the digital revolution entails. “Malicious activity and criminal actions, on the rise, can undermine the security of information systems and cause economic damage to intermediaries and customers. Operational risks are also significant, such as those connected with the increasing use of outsourcing, often with a few operators not subject to supervision, of significant stages of production processes, the malfunction of which can assume systemic importance. Nor should the danger of fraud, discriminatory behavior, improper use of personal data generated by applications that make use of big data and artificial intelligence be underestimated “. To deal with these risks “the supervisory authorities are committed to defining rules and procedures not to curb the changes in progress, but to ensure that innovation does not constitute a source of instability or financial exclusion”. the transition to a sustainable economy is bound to “produce significant changes in the financial industry. It offers intermediaries the opportunity to improve their income profiles while at the same time contributing to emission reduction targets. The financing of eco-sustainable projects and the issuance of green bonds, for example, can allow an increase in revenues and, in the future, a reduction in the cost of funding. Banks will also be able to benefit from the development of advisory services for companies wishing to raise funds for initiatives with a positive environmental impact and from the placement of asset management products aimed at this market segment ”.

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