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Banking faces massive change

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Millions of dollars are spent to understand the impact of market forces on the banking sector, but says DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa, it is worthwhile to consider which ones could have an impact to avoid being caught off-guard.

A range of models and millions of dollars in consulting hours are expended to understand the potential impact of a range of market forces on the retail banking sector. While the potential outcomes are fraught with unpredictability, it is worthwhile to pause and consider some of the forces that could have an impact to avoid being caught off-guard.

Some of the major forces potentially playing out in the retail banking sector include:

·        The rise of the individual and the independent economic, social, and political power that this has brought to individuals;

·        The individual as the centre of the universe, marked by a “don’t do anything to diminish me or my rights without my consent” worldview;

·        The rise of the collective, which paradoxically puts groups – including anything from the state to social movements, supporter clubs, and alumni organisations – as aggregated participants in decision-making;

·        The ease of access to massive computing power for anyone who wants it;

·        The use of collateralised logic to make decisions and deliver insights, driven by big data learning and insights with predictive capabilities;

·        Massively synthesised delivery to users on devices anywhere, anytime;

·        Rapidly emerging and disintegrating business models for the creation of value, often accompanied by equal destruction of value, such as those of Google, Airbnb, and Facebook; and

·        The commoditisation of historical value-added processes such as risk assessment and payments, and thus of human logic and variability.

Two main forces of change in retail banking

In financial services, the two key forces that are set to fundamentally influence the sector are the rise of the individual (and by extension of groups), and the data-originated insights and collective individual rights inferred and accorded by a business model.

These two forces are set to change the retail banking industry by removing banks’ ownership of the payment – or financial services ‘offer’ – to customers. Customers no longer come to the bank to make their financial arrangements: they do them wherever they are through a number of channels, conducting all manner of purchasing activities whether it’s travel, medicine clothes, capital goods, music, transport, and more. Here, customers are simply relying on the process of delivery to give them their goods, without caring whether a bank is involved at all.

Banks therefore need to collaborate with providers in new business models and networks using all the collective data at their disposal to originate pre-prepared offers in real time in response to customer generated activities, or because of external events. Considering the dramatic increase in the customer’s rights and decision-making power, banks can expect customers to begin ‘owning’ their digital identities and asserting their rights and terms over contracts, usage, payments and more. Customers will assert their digital identity in explicit ways – such as putting customer-defined limits on content purchases – as well as modelled ways, for example automatically approving certain purchases because previously modelled or inferred behaviour shows customers agree with that type of purchase timing and value.

A shift in power

This shifts power from corporates to individuals, equalising the relationship between the bank and the customer, and forcing banks to apply insights and timeliness in a range of personalised offers to seduce the customer. Here, the brand name takes a back seat to the importance, timing,  quality and relevance of the offer. Customers will also negotiate and leverage their group power – for example by associating with certain support clubs, alumni organisations or social causes, customers will expect banks and financial services providers to know this and adapt offers accordingly.

These are no doubt uncertain times and banks face a very different world to what the sector has been used to. It is important therefore to hedge bets by building new capabilities so that banks are well-placed to outmanoeuvre their competitors.

Banks’ first priority should be a systematic analysis of gaps in current development spend, followed by the development of a roadmap with specific business cases and deliverables.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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