As a specialist investor in the technology sector, Rami Cassis, the founder and CEO of Parabellum Investments, has a wealth of experience when it comes to understanding how technology can shape multiple industries.
Indeed, technology is one of the common denominators that run through most of Parabellum Investments’ portfolio companies.
Advanco is now established as one of the globe’s leading pharmaceutical serialization specialists, with its ARC platform widely seen as one of the sector’s most important pieces of serialization software. Additionally, Razor Risk is a leading provider of risk management technology and consulting solutions to financial institutions worldwide.
ieDigital is Parabellum Investments’ fintech specialist, a firm that builds cutting-edge financial service solutions for providers including banks, building societies, mortgage providers and even motor finance specialists. These solutions include the digital functionality that customers expect in today’s digital-led environment, including interactive websites and apps that allow consumers to interact with their financial services provider 24/7.
The work done by companies such as ieDigital highlights the scope that technology investors, such as Rami Cassis, can change the way the entire financial services sector interacts with its customers.
As an example, instead of visiting our high-street bank manager, many people will simply go online, or use a banking app, from the comfort of our own home at any time of the day or night. As a result, some financial institutions have arguably lost a degree of the “personal touch”. After all, how many people even know the name of their local bank manager, let alone have ever met face-to-face with them?
However, we are now seeing a reversal in this trend. Many financial institutions are actively using digital channels to figuratively reach out and “embrace” their customers – with companies such as ieDigital providing the technology that enables them to do so.
Blending technology with the personal touch
Younger people are demanding accessible digital banking services from their providers. They are increasingly turning to neobanks and fintech unicorns to conduct their banking, payments and investing.
Statistics show that the number of people in the UK using online banking services rose from 30% in 2007 to 76% in 2020, with just over one in four adults in the UK (27%) opening a digital-only bank account by 2021, indicating a threefold growth compared to the 9% share measured by January of 2019.
The emergence of ‘FinTok’, a community on popular app TikTok for sharing financial advice, in recent years has proved the value of the human touch.
Since blowing up during lockdowns in 2020, TikTok has moved away from just being an app for sharing trending dance videos. It is now also established as a source of education for younger generations, doubling as a video app and search engine. In particular, FinTok is a community of advice on personal finance, investment and crypto, or saving money in the cost-of-living crisis.
Almost half of bankers believe that customers will use augmented reality or virtual reality as an alternative channel for transactions by 2030. Indeed, so sure are many in this view that some of the big names have already placed their long-term bets.
JPMorgan has become the first global bank to invest in a popular metaverse platform by opening a lounge in Decentraland – a virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain that allows users to create, experience, and monetize content and applications.
More examples include HSBC buying a plot in the Sandbox, a gaming platform, and BNP Paribas launching a virtual reality app that allows customers to use virtual reality in their banking transactions, including account opening.
The key thing to understand here is that while this is wholly reliant on “impersonal” technology, the users who will most likely embrace this are those who have been brought up on technology. Indeed, there are likely to be some who have never physically set foot in a branch. For them, the metaverse will be the equivalent of popping into a high-street branch and meeting the branch manager.
The power of financial services technology
The tables are starting to turn. There was a time when people viewed technology as a replacement for the human touch in banking. However, we are now seeing technology becoming an enabler for this personal touch.
Be it ‘FinTok’, the Metaverse or banking hubs, the relationship between the personal touch and technology is becoming much more symbiotic and one where the boundaries are becoming blurred.
As a financial technology investor, Rami Cassis is at the forefront of such changes. His fintech business, ieDigital, gives banks, building societies, mortgage providers and even motor finance providers the power to interact with their customers in a much more sophisticated manner.