The robots are coming: a masterclass in understanding the different potential offered by AI, RPA, Big Data, machine learning, the Cloud and Voice

Retail Financial Services

John Hall

AuditBank and Brand Distribution of Retail Financial ServicesCapabilityDataGDPRRetail Financial ServicesTechTechnology

Given the range of tech, AI, RPA, Machine learning – it’s clear that more mid-sized companies will not be able to compete or access such technology and capability unless they outsource or their key strategic partners outsource.


Mastercard have built an outsourced AI capability

Given the range of tech, AI, RPA, Machine learning – it’s clear that more mid-sized companies will not be able to compete or access such technology and capability unless they outsource or their key strategic partners outsource

Data will be key but most companies do not know how to leverage this data

Ultimately companies have to be clear what they are good at and focus on this then look to partners for those other needs

GDPR and how data is to be used and authorised is still an issue and it will take a long while for this to be resolved, for example the wealth market is already well behind on this


The themes throughout the roundtable discussion on the progression of technological advance were split between that of optimism and cautious speculation. Has it gone too far? Has it gone far enough? Will it cost jobs? Will it improve efficiency?

Despite clear differences in opinion the one congruent detail was the sheer amount of effort that FinTech’s and Banks alike were placing on technological advance.

The discussion started with a necessary and sobering ‘reality check.’ The facilitator made the point of saying that at the turn of the century it was seen that robotics and technological advance would not just change the face of FS, but dramatically change the way we live. Whilst there have been massive amounts of technological advance. One must avoid the common trap of misunderstanding the trajectory of the tech revolution.

‘We are prone to overestimate the in advance the next two years of advance. But drastically underestimate the next 10 years.’ In short, the best is yet to come.

The combined expertise in the room continually addressed this apparent ‘expectation gap’. But the question remained: ‘So what’s been holding us back.’

The following reasons were outlined by the members of the roundtable. Some were observations others were reflections.

Legacy Systems – Another dreaded buzz word. The thing holding us all back. Legacy systems and the ‘pesky clients’ who still use them. They may have served us well over the previous decades, but the dusty outdated systems and those who relish their simplicity are becoming a barrier to the move to a new, shiny, innovative, and no doubt profitable alternative.

Internal Audit – put bluntly, technological advance can only occur if the necessary stakeholders within a business permit it. Any significant technological change requires a meaningful reflection of ones current process. All businesses claim to be innovative… some more innovative than others.

Size – large tier ones are slow moving beasts. The global wide systems they have in place, and the host of stakeholders who are involved make technological advance difficult. It favours the nimble and innovative fintechs.

Morality – the issue of moral guidelines was brought up on several occasions. Does technological advance leave room for a new upper class made up of corporates who own data and those who don’t.

Expensive – has to hit the bottom line quickly after it hurts it.

That said… The power of tech cannot be ignored.

Talk was held by Mastercard who guided the conversation to the two buzz words of the day… AI and Data. At current, using their vast payment network, Mastercard gave some insight into how weaving this technology into their offering can improve customer experience and dramatically decrease fraudulent activity. Using the vast swathes of data throughout Mastercard’s payment network, in conjunction with artificial intelligence, they have developed a system that offers decisions tailored to an individual’s spending habit.

Another example raised was Barclays and their ability to aggregate the data of local businesses in order to enable their customers. The example of a Pizza Restaurant was given. In a given area there may be 10 other restaurants. The data held by Barclays (and other banks) can, when aggregated and analysed effectively, indicate to a budding restauranteur: the average rents, outgoings, etc. Well analysed data can act as an enabler to businesses and individuals… for a fee (of course)!


In conclusion AI and Tech will be needed in future for companies to manage their vulnerable customer strategy

The importance of data is irrefutable. The question that remains however, is who will lead the race in the data war. With the likes of giants like Mastercard and Barclays at the helm, the course is set. However, fintechs still play a role in navigating these waters. The financial power of the top tier banks and the technologically innovative agility of the fintechs makes for a powerful wind in the sail of technological advance.