Source: Finance Derivative
By Tony Coleman, CTO, Temenos
ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) has become mission-critical for banks, from meeting regulatory obligations to aligning with customer values to win market share.
Many banks have turned to technology to manage their ESG position. But technology is not a panacea. It also presents a risk that banks fall short of their ESG targets.
Technology that greens
Let’s look at the environmental pillar. Run on-premises or in a private datacentre, technology can be a big consumer of carbon. But deployed with the right infrastructure partners, it can enable banks to reduce their carbon footprint. Cloud is the best example of this. Banks that outsource their computing infrastructure to the public cloud hyperscalers can benefit from their economies of scale and energy efficient build principles.
The geographical spread and scale of these datacentres allows for carbon-aware computing, which involves shifting compute to times and places where the carbon intensity of the grid results in lower carbon emissions. One study of Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure concluded its datacentres emit 98% less carbon than traditional enterprise IT sites. These hyperscalers have a focussed mindset and the deep pockets to match. The new Graviton3 processors that AWS is now installing in its public datacentres, which claims to use 60% less energy than the standard X86 models that have been in wide circulation, is an example of the progress that only a hyperscaler can achieve.
The green benefits ‘of the cloud’ are enhanced by software purposefully built to run ‘in the cloud’. Software vendors that are committed to decarbonising their solutions in the build phase pass those wins down the supply chain to banks. For example, the latest version of the Temenos Banking Cloud was built with a 12% improvement in carbon efficiency. How the software operates can have an even more profound benefit for banks. For example, banking software that runs ‘scale-to-zero’ protocols will automatically shut down or scale down availability according to demand for its service. This is one factor that has contributed to a 32% carbon efficiency improvement in the run time of the latest Temenos Banking Cloud release.
Collecting this evidence is not simply an internal tracking exercise. Regulations are reaching a point where publishing data against ESG targets will be legally mandated. In Europe the ECB and the Bank of England have launched climate risk stress tests to assess how prepared banks are for dealing with the shocks from climate risk. Meanwhile, initiatives like the UN-convened Net-Zero Banking Alliance (representing over 40% of global banking assets), the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero and the Principles for Responsible Banking add to the clamour for banks to evidence their progress. Tracking ‘Scope 3 emissions’, which includes all indirect emissions that are not owned or controlled by the bank, is the next phase. Recognising this, Temenos has developed a carbon emissions calculator, which gives our customers deeper insight into carbon emissions data associated with their consumption of Temenos Banking Cloud services.
The same concept can be extended to a bank’s customers, with carbon calculators and automated offsetting schemes that help people build towards their personal environmental goals. Doing so brings a bank’s green credentials into the public sphere, turning environmental initiatives into commercial opportunity.
Flowe, a cloud-enabled digital bank built on green principles, launched in June 2020. It is the first bank in Italy to be certified as a B-Corp and has been able to maintain its overall carbon footprint close to zero, saving 90.81% – 96.06% in MTCO2e emissions compared to the on-premise alternative. Within six months of launch, 600,000 mainly young Italians had become customers, at one point onboarding 19 new customers per second. This rapid launch and growth was only possible with the agility and scalability of cloud. Read more about this story.
Technology that reaches
Cloud also enables financial inclusion, a key tenet of ESG ambitions. Today, anyone with a mobile phone and internet connection can access banking services. With elastic scalability and software automation, banks have an almost limitless capacity to serve more customers. And they might not be where you think; 4.5% of US households (approximately 5.9 million) were “unbanked” in 2021. In the past, banks would have seen them as unprofitable targets. But as cloud and the associated automations cut go-to-market and operational costs, the commercial case for inclusion becomes stronger.
Embedded finance gives banks another avenue of reach. Via simple APIs, banks can provide their solutions to non-financial businesses. This ready-made audience might otherwise take years to reach through a bank’s own marketing and sale channels. The embedded finance market is set to be worth $183 billion globally in 2027. That can be seen as a proxy of greater financial inclusion.
AI offers another opportunity to improve financial inclusion. Armed with AI, banks can deliver highly personalised products and experiences for customers. People can be directed to the most appropriate investments, including funds that promote sustainability and loans made with a better understanding of the applicant’s ability to pay it back. ZestAI (previously Zest Finance), a leading provider of AI-powered credit underwriting, claims that banks using its software see a 20%- 30% increase in credit approval rates and a 30-40% reduction in defaults.
But mismanaged, AI can have a dark side. If the data used to train them has bias, systems will perpetuate these discriminations. This can lead to unequal access to financial services and unjust or irresponsible credit decisions. In a study conducted by UC Berkeley, Latin and African-American borrowers were found to pay 7.9 and 3.6 basis points more in interest for home-purchase and refinance mortgages respectively, representing $765 million in extra interest per year. What’s more, AI algorithms are often complex and difficult to understand, so it is hard for customers to challenge decisions and for regulators to enforce compliance.
ESG by design
So how do banks reconcile the ESG benefits of technology with the risks? The answer is in how the technology is built; or more specifically, in the principle of ESG by design.
ESG by design is the concept of incorporating environmental, social, and governance factors into new technology and software features from the outset. The desired outcome is that the solution’s architecture, functions and UX enable ESG optimisation. But it is enabled with a commitment that all decisions taken through the design and build phase are judged through the lens of ESG criteria and targets.
At Temenos, ESG by design is a core principle to how we build technology. Let’s unpick what that means in practice, with some examples.
- Shift-left is how we systematically embed ESG into our banking software services. It means estimating the potential carbon footprint of a new project from the start, and then working back to mitigate it at every stage. The same goes for usability, compliance, and other factors that impact ESG. Detecting and addressing issues earlier in the development process is more effective than taking remedial actions after the event, which risks both compromising the efficacy of the solution and increasing the cost and time of the development lifecycle.
- If there’s a choice to be made, banks should make it. Though ESG goals align with most bank’s commercial aspirations (i.e less carbon equals less cost, more choice and better experiences equals more customers) it is not binary. Banks will have varying appetites of commitment to ESG. Take scale-to-zero, which I referred to earlier. Limiting service availability and adding latency impacts the customer experience and regulatory SLAs, such as payment processing speeds.
The optimum balance is not a call for us, as the technology vendor, to make. Instead we give banks the parameters and configurabilities to make the choice themself. This higher degree of control encourages banks to (a) use carbon-aware computing solutions, and (b) engage with the technology with more purpose.
- Use technology to improve technology. Humans are fallible. AI is only as good as the people that program it. Their biases become the system’s biases. But the black box nature of many AI systems means that these biases go unnoticed. At Temenos we embed an explainable component to our AI tools (XAI). It allows us and our banking clients to understand how AI decisions have been made, and in doing so surfaces flaws that can be fixed. We extend this capability to a bank’s customers, allowing them to interrogate and challenge decisions.
- The complex supply chains in technology makes ESG a collaborative effort. The work we do at Temenos to support banks with their ESG goals would be undermined if our partners didn’t share our same commitment. That means working with hyperscalers and partners in our ecosystem, and opening ourself up to third party validation. We did just that, using an independent carbon calculation platform (GoCodeGreen) to assess our carbon efficiency. I shared the evidence earlier; a 32% carbon efficiency improvement in the run time of the latest Temenos Cloud release, and a 12% improvement in build time. These are the sort of independently verified data points that banks should be asking their technological providers to submit.
Collaboration also means being honest about what others can do better, and enabling their innovations. The Temenos Exchange has almost 120 vendors that are continually extending and improving our core solutions. These include Bud, an AI capability that drives highly personalised experiences for lending and money management; and Greenomy, that makes it easier for banks to capture sustainability data and report on it.
ESG by design is an holistic approach to all tenets of ESG: energy efficiency, financial inclusion, transparency and accountable governance. By working with technology partners that elevate ESG to a core design principle, banks can recognise a wide range of commercial opportunities and ensure compliance with evolving regulations. That should make ESG a core selection criteria of software vendors. Banks will want to find the evidence that their technology partners are as serious about ESG as they are; and that they have the design and build practices that bring these to life.
The modern pay experience and the role of financial education
Attributed to Judith Lamb, CHRO at CloudPay
Despite news that salaries are on the rise, and turbulent economic conditions are still being experienced globally, few businesses can afford to keep pace with the increase in wage rise demands that much of the workforce is seeking. But with skills shortages being felt across sectors, employers are finding they need an alternative solution to help their staff, without breaking the bank. This is why we believe offering financial education and wellness as an employee benefit can play a significant role.
Better financial benefits
There is a glaring gap in education curriculums for financial education, in the UK at least. This lack of focus in syllabuses means that providing a base level of understanding around financial management is often left to the individual or their employers. While businesses may be committed to supporting the wider skills development of their workforce, providing this guidance on what is often considered a life skill is rarely taken into account.
With the uncertain economic climate that staff continue to face, though, providing this support will be valuable to both the workforce and organisation as it will serve as a crucial attraction and retention tool. Household budgets are being stretched and over-inflated salaries won’t be a sustainable option for anyone. Any ability to make money go further will be welcomed by workers struggling to manage their finances.
It also can’t be overlooked that by improving general money management skills amongst workforces, firms can then gain from the knock-on benefit of enabling staff to make more informed decisions on a professional level as well.
A modern pay experience for modern needs
While financial education will certainly act as an advantage for the workforce, it more broadly follows the trend of providing a modern pay experience as a benefit that is growing in popularity. How and when people are paid, how they access their financial information and what control staff have over their payroll has changed significantly in the last year, and will only continue to do so.
Nowadays, people expect a consumer-like experience in more than just their shopping habits. Online banking has put greater control into the hands of individuals to manage their finances at the touch of a screen. This has translated into payroll as well, and flexibility is a key driver of this change.
While flexible working isn’t always an option or a desire for everyone, these type of benefits are. Permanent employees are questioning why they should wait for a rigid monthly pay day for work they’ve already delivered. This sentiment was certainly more widely felt in the peaks of the Cost-of-Living crisis, but is a challenge to the norm that has been picking up pace for some time.
That’s why we’ve seen solutions such as Earned Wage Access (EWA) becoming increasingly popular, largely driven by the demands of the workforce than employers themselves. Streamlining processes for firms and individuals has also become a priority in the modern world of work. Time is hugely valuable to everyone and for that reason, no one wants to wait around for the payroll or accounts teams to give them data relating to their own salaries, taxes or other documentation that they need at any given time.
Everyone is becoming more aware of how their information and data is stored and used, and no one wants to wait around to access their own personal documents when applying for a mortgage, for example. They want instant access and full control.
This demand for a modern pay experience that is underpinned by financial education or support from their employer is only going to increase in popularity. For payroll and finance teams, this really is a prime opportunity to showcase the role they can play in changing the employee experience for the better and improve recruitment and staff retention levels. But it takes a commitment to and investment in the right technology to achieve.
Judith Lamb is CHRO at CloudPay, the expert in global pay solutions
How will regulations effect the open banking sector?
Source: Finance Derivative
Martin Hartley – Group CCO of emagine Consulting
Comments on the future of the open banking sector and how it will affect the UK market.
“The UK Open Banking Sector is still primarily driven by regulation. In my view, two of the major current regulations will remain at the forefront moving forward, namely the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority), which mandated the major banks to provide open banking access to authorised third-party providers, and PSD2 (Second Payment Services Directive), which set the standards for secure data sharing. Cybersecurity regulations will only increase in importance, as will Brexit-related changes as any divergence between UK and EU standards could impact open banking.
“Over the upcoming months, increased data sharing through open banking will add crucial pressures to cybersecurity, likely creating a surge in the sector once again.
“I expect ongoing scrutiny and efforts to enhance data protection measures, potentially leading to more stringent cybersecurity regulations being adopted by businesses. I expect to see more partnerships between traditional banks and FinTechs or consultancy firms as they collaborate to enhance cybersecurity or offer innovative services to plug the gap. Conversely, there could be consolidation within the FinTech industry as companies merge to gain market share.
“When it comes to the size of the business and how it is affected, history has shown us that there are certainly positives and negatives of being an SMB when responding to new regulations. On the positive side, they can leverage their agility and they will have a more personal relationship with their customers, potentially leading to a higher level of trust. However, SMBs may face challenges due to their limited budgets and resources. The larger firms will have much larger budgets, allowing them to have more advanced IT systems and IT security, making it easier for them to integrate APIs and develop the necessary infrastructure.
“The benefits of open banking are endless, and the UK Government is showing their forward-thinking mentality in exploring the idea of implementing the technology to streamline wider services. But, much like anything, there are always pros and cons.
“Open banking would simplify payments for public services, making transactions quicker and more convenient for everyone. As it relies on APIs and authentication protocols, open banking would make payments more secure for the public and it would allow access to digital payments for members of the public who have smartphones but possibly no bank accounts. For any digital implementation, it goes without saying that we need to be aware of the risk of cyber attacks and data breaches. These, combined with the exclusion of non-tech savvy individuals, could mean that certain members of the public may not embrace the change, which poses a risk. There is also the additional cost of providing the infrastructure and this will have to be managed carefully to avoid burdening the taxpayer.
“We have already seen digital transformations in areas such as the GOV.UK Pay System and there are two main indicators of the success of any digital implementation; adoption rates and incidents. There haven’t been any high profile incidents that have hit the headlines in recent times so that to me is a huge positive and provides a level of confidence. It would be interesting to see how many government departments and agencies have adopted GOV.UK Pay for their payment processing needs to understand the system’s usefulness and acceptance within the government. The government must be committed to continuous improvement and to ensure that the system continues to comply with regulations and consciously drives the adoption rate to hit at least 90% of government departments and agencies.
“A favourable regulatory environment will encourage more banks and third-party providers to participate in open banking initiatives, leading to growth in the UK market and positioning the nation as industry leaders.”
Advancing green mobility for a sustainable future
Accelerating decarbonisation, the transition to SDVs and reshaping urban ecosystems, are helping revolutionise the global automotive industry
By Amit Chadha, CEO & Managing Director, L&T Technology Services
The world is changing. There is an urgent need for a transition toward sustainable practices to combat the threat of climate change. As global temperatures rise and weather patterns evolve, achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 could still help prevent irreversible damage to our planet.
With global carbon emission levels continuing to rise at an accelerated rate, there is a growing momentum toward addressing the scenario on war footing. As the most visible source of emissions, the automotive industry, and, consequently, the future of mobility, is in focus. By helping accelerate decarbonisation, reshape evolving urban ecosystems, and redefine the global automotive industry – we can help reverse the trend and preserve our shared future.
Green mobility has emerged as a major enabler in this direction. Leading stakeholders are becoming increasingly invested in developing a deeper understanding of the multifaceted realm of green mobility and its potential to shape a sustainable future.
Accelerating decarbonisation: A global mandate
Decarbonising the transportation sector is crucial to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. Fossil fuel-based vehicles are responsible for a substantial portion of carbon dioxide emissions, exacerbating the greenhouse effect. To accelerate decarbonisation, governments and businesses today need to prioritise the adoption of clean, renewable energy sources, such as electricity and hydrogen, for powering vehicles and other modes of public transportation.
Automakers, recovering from the impact of the pandemic and global supply chain disruptions, are therefore exploring new avenues to meet the rising demand for electric mobility. Electric vehicles (EVs), by eliminating the need for fossil fuel-powered engines, play a vital role in improving overall air quality and have emerged as a promising solution for reducing carbon emission levels. They are capable of meeting the diverse needs of all kinds of drivers and offer affordable mobility and maintenance options. Recent advancements in battery technology, including the growing availability of charging infrastructure and incentives for adoption, have led to a significant rise in the EVs popularity.
However, to achieve widespread adoption of electric vehicles, there is a need to address key issues such as battery disposal, supply chain sustainability, and equitable access to EV technology.
Reshaping urban ecosystems: Driving the frontiers of change
Urban areas are central to the momentum around green mobility transformation. As growing global populations gravitate towards cities – congestion, pollution, and limited availability of green spaces have emerged as major challenges. As a result, cities must increasingly reinvent themselves to promote sustainable mobility and improve the quality of life for their residents.
Smart technologies and vertical green systems can contribute to a reduction in the energy demands of buildings by providing shade and insulation, mitigating urban heat islands, and cooling down public spaces. They also enable carbon sequestration, a reduction in pollution levels, and improvements in biodiversity.
Implementing efficient transportation systems, such as buses and trains powered by clean energy, can further reduce individual vehicle usage, traffic congestion, and emissions. Pedestrian-friendly infrastructures, cycling lanes, and micro-mobility solutions like e-scooters and bike-sharing programs can further help promote eco-friendly transportation choices. At a macro-infra level, smart city technologies and data-driven urban planning practices are helping optimise traffic flow, reduce idling times, and minimise fuel consumption.
Integrating green mobility into urban ecosystems is therefore a win-win proposition – fostering cleaner air, enhanced mobility options, and healthier communities.
From a public health perspective, improved air quality can drive a decline in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases linked to air pollution. Healthier citizens translate to a more productive workforce and reduced healthcare costs, further strengthening the growing impetus for vehicle electrification. The shift towards vehicle electrification offers significant economic benefits, including greater job creation, enhanced research and development, and greater investments in sustainable innovations. A consequent reduction in the demand for fossil fuels, scarce in terms of availability and mostly imported, in turn, helps enhance energy security and stabilise fuel prices.
Software Defined Vehicles: Pioneering the change
The global automotive industry is at the core of driving the emerging frontiers of green mobility. Traditional automakers and new entrants are racing to produce eco-friendly vehicles, and this competitive spirit, in turn, is transforming the industry landscape.
Automakers worldwide need to embrace sustainable practices by reducing their carbon footprint during the production process and implementing circular economy principles. Moreover, investing in research and development of alternative materials and manufacturing processes can lead to lighter, more energy-efficient vehicles. The rise of autonomous vehicles presents an opportunity to optimise transportation networks, enhance traffic flow, and reduce accidents. Leveraging this technology, in combination with electric and shared mobility solutions, can lead to a more sustainable and efficient future for transportation.
Software would play a key role in this direction, delivering a streamlined passenger and driver experience paradigm while ensuring conformity with the evolving regulatory standards. With Software Defined Vehicles (SDVs) increasingly constituting a focus area for major automakers worldwide, the future would witness a greater demand for digital engineering services to unlock new value streams.
The importance of ecosystem partnerships
Automotive industry stakeholders are already working with ER&D partners who can deliver across the value chain and understand each of the key parameters in the EV/SDV ecosystem. However, approaching separate vendors for product conceptualisation, design and development, testing, maintenance, manufacturing and after-sales support can increase costs and complexities.
An ER&D partner, equipped with multi-industry expertise, digital engineering capabilities, and a co-innovation commitment, can help drive transformation initiatives for transportation enterprises, overcoming technology constraints with cross-vertical learnings. Leveraging global delivery capabilities, the partner can also provide computing models that consume less energy, boost performance, and optimise data-led algorithms. In addition, they can enable scalable software stacks that leverage sensors and physical components to provide the safety and performance that electric vehicles need.
ER&D companies are also increasingly being called upon to help redefine focus areas with software, ensuring third-party integration, driving feature deployment, enabling CloudOps and fast over-the-air updates. The rising complexities within the connected car landscape further call for adopting software-defined designs that can overcome multi-layered challenges – ranging from development to subsequent deployment, maintenance, and updates.
A multi-stakeholder approach
Achieving the goal of green mobility demands collaboration among various stakeholders. Governments play a crucial role in enacting policies and regulations that incentivise the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies. Subsidies for EVs, emission standards, and urban planning regulations are some of the ways governments can drive the transition towards greener mobility.
Private sector involvement is equally critical. Corporate sustainability initiatives, investment in research and development, and partnerships for innovative mobility solutions can accelerate the transformation. Additionally, consumer awareness and support for eco-friendly practices are essential in shaping market demands and influencing business decisions.
Advancing green mobility is a pivotal step towards a sustainable future. By accelerating decarbonisation, embracing the transition to SDvs, reshaping urban ecosystems, and revolutionsing the automotive industry, this can combat climate change on a significant battleground. The collective efforts of governments, industries, and individuals are crucial in driving this transformation.
Embracing green mobility is therefore not just about reducing emissions, but rather, about fostering a healthier, cleaner, and more resilient world. It is about our common future –striving together toward a prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable tomorrow.