Rob Morton, former Home Capital Group and Home Trust CFO, discusses continuing trend of Fintech disruption

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The world of financial services has undergone tremendous upheaval in the last several years, and many executives are saying that this will continue to take place. In large part, the operational changes and paradigm shifts are due to the evolution of new technology that is changing how almost every industry does business.

The two biggest words you hear often are blockchain and fintech: blockchain, which offers a transparent, decentralized technology that facilitates online transactions; and fintech, or financial technology, which is an emerging model that enables competition with — and improvement on — traditional methods of delivering financial services.

Many experts are advising banks and other financial institutions to stay on the cutting edge or lose competitive advantage. As they say, technology will continue to play a major role in the industry. In other words, it’s here to stay.

“The good news is that many of the new technologies that are threatening the banking industry also present significant opportunities,” says Dan Cohen, senior vice president of global financial services and insurance at Atos, a multinational information technology service and consulting company based in Bezons, France. “In fact, those organizations that can leverage big data, advanced analytics and new technologies to improve the customer experience can build trust, loyalty and revenues that are the keys to success in the future.”

Some financial executives believe that newer, innovative technologies like fintech and blockchain are placing banks at a crossroads; however, this technology also creates new opportunities for financial services companies, who now can reinvent themselves and continue to thrive.

“Technology driven services are becoming ubiquitous in finance,” says Toronto executive Rob Morton. With more than two decades of experience in the financial services industry, Rob Morton notes that new technologies will continue to disrupt the finance space.

“Blockchain and fintech are transforming business and economic models. Digital has become mainstream. And because data is everywhere, we’re able to understand customers’ needs with more accuracy than ever before. You can only do that if you have the proper capabilities. Moving into this new decade, financial firms will need to continually adapt to these and other new technologies or risk falling behind their competitors.”

It’s not just blockchain and fintech that are changing the financial sector. There’s also artificial intelligence, or AI. Two years ago a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study noted that 52 percent of financial services executives said they were investing in the technology. At the same time, 72 percent of them said they believed that AI will offer a business advantage.

In an article published last November on Forbes.com, futurist and technology advisor Bernard Marr wrote that artificial intelligence is now being used by banks. An example is the use of chatbots and robots to facilitate customer service. “Many of the largest financial institutions, such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, use AI to streamline customer service,” he wrote.

According to Marr, “The technology helps financial institutions with risk management and lending decisions and is foundational in making other technology such as big data analytics, robotic process automation, and voice interfaces work.”

One other piece of technology that’s making itself known and used in finance is the ever-present cloud that’s now starting to be embraced. However, writes Stephan Fabel, head of product and silicon alliances at Canonical, a UK-based software firm, financial services companies are still catching up with other industries in leveraging the cloud as a central part of their IT operations.

“The lag appears to stem from lingering worries about relying on the cloud for implementing production applications. The disconnect between cloud interest and implementation underlines a prolonged preference for internal systems, driven by security and compliance problems and concerns around a dearth in cloud management skills.”