Last week, I had the opportunity to attend two asset finance industry events in Australia; the AltFi Summit and an AFIA membership meeting. The AltFi Summit was focused on alternative financiers from start-ups to established global players, and service providers from around the region.  The AFIA meeting focused on providing updates on regulatory and policy issues facing the Australian market.

What I took away from both of these industry gatherings was a common theme…the focus has to move from the deal to the actual consumer. There is a renewed emphasis on building value for the end consumer of the asset financing effort and supporting technology. It was interesting to see both of the events focus on similar trends facing our industry.

Embracing digital is critical to our future success – This was most prominent at the AltFi Summit where fintechs would highlight new approaches to customer acquisition, customer funding and overall customer experience throughout the life of the contract. As you would imagine, the usual topics of blockchain, AI and big data were front and centre. These technologies were positioned as boosting the end consumers experience in applying for and receiving financing. This leads me to the other theme that emerged in both meetings – implementing these technologies in the post Hayne Royal Commission era.

Need to balance meeting regulation with delivering value to the consumer – This was a key topic of discussion at AFIA. Karl Turner who heads policy for AFIA summarised a key challenge faced by our industry. From a privacy point of view, we must only use data for the purpose for which it was collected. But from a responsible lending point of view, we must fully use all the data we have in order to establish consumer suitability.

Karl’s summary touched on open banking principles, a common subject at the AltFi conference.  There are many technologies out there that provide solutions to point-problems, but to provide consumer value they need to integrate with the more main stream solutions enabling a seamless experience. One example is Split – a fintech company focused on making direct debit and bank transfers fast and transparent. This is clearly a value-adding enterprise from a customer’s point of view. But again, there is a reliance on certain data flowing between parties to make this vision a reality.

So how do we balance the need for privacy with the need to share information? Is opt-in good enough, or is something more needed? One thing is certainly clear: if the actions of all parties in the value chain are demonstrably linked to creating a positive impact on the end consumer, then we are moving in the right direction.

Focus on the consumer – So rather than customer-centricity, we need to talk consumer-centricity as our starting point.  We have to look beyond the relationship with our customers and begin to see and understand better their relationship with the end consumers who are part of a larger and ever more integrated ecosystem. With this view, companies providing technology to this ecosystem will need to deliver value from across the ecosystem. This has been a core focus of IDS as we continue to build out our ecosystem of connections. This has been part of the launch and adoption of our IDScloud solution which allows customers to quickly utilise our pre-integrated connections with our core products. We continue to embrace an open API approach to allow our clients to take advantage of the value that other ecosystem providers add to the overall asset financing process.

It was a good week and there continues to be a buzz in the market. This will only grow stronger as the industry comes together to better serve our end consumer.

Duncan Smith, IDS Managing Director – APAC