Q&A: CEO of Path Solutions on banking and the changing fintech ecosystem

29 May 2019

Payments markets are changing drastically, forced by the hand of national and regional regulators as well as a technological advances driving at an incredible pace. Banks and other financial institutions are sitting up to take note.

Here, bobsguide speaks with Mohammed Kateeb, group chairman and CEO of Path Solutions – a firm that featured prominently in last year’s bobsguide Rankings in the Islamic banking, ease of using the system, customer support, and modelling categories.

Is the emergence of real-time payments and fintech payment providers a threat to traditional IT firms?

Nowadays, fintech payment companies are providing more customer-centered tools for customers to track and manage their finances. Accordingly, banks can no longer depend on their traditional processes to manage their customers’ needs, which lead them to shifting their business processes to cope with the fast-growing technologies that the fintech industry is providing in serving customers. As such, the traditional IT firms should no longer approach the financial market in the traditional way they are used to. Unless the solutions they are providing do not have the ability to integrate with the new fintech demands, they are doomed to fail.

Path Solutions is illustrating this integration by providing mobile payments app and omnichannel, open APIs and an online gateway solution to expose a part of the bank’s web services or functionalities publicly and to allow fintech developers to integrate their applications directly with those functionalities. Nevertheless, we are developing a blockchain platform on top of which many banking applications can be centralized; KYC, trade finance process, bank transfers and others.

How can firms stay relevant when nonbanking activities are becoming the norm? Does it make sense for a bank to create its own ecosystem?

In the current competitive market, along with a global recession looming in the horizon, banks are condemned to find alternative sources of revenues without relying much on the net interest margin revenues. The future of digital banking is to make customers daily life easier! A banking ecosystem is a cutting-edge over competition. The customer will be able to execute multiple operations through a single mobile connection. Path Solutions offers a wide range of nonbanking services within its core and mobile solutions and integrates with any other 3rd party; thus, promoting this single integrated experience to bank customers.

What are the solutions you are developing to take advantage of data and analytics? Are you ready for the rise of the ‘behavioral bank’?

Path Solutions is investing heavily in data and analytics solutions. From the ongoing expansion of our enterprise data lake, to opimizing the connection to machine learning algorithms, our range of behavioral predictions products covers marketing, credit risk and fraud predictions.

With new delivery platforms on the rise and the digital-only banking entities, do you believe that banks will abandon the market and disappear in the long run?

This is the era of digitization and fintech is radically transforming the way banks are offering financial services. All banks are moving towards offering most of their services on their online platforms and their customers are expecting to complete all banking related needs online at their own ease.

It is true that digital disruption is reinventing banking and is re-shaping the role of banks as we know them, but it is giving these entities the right facilities and technologies to offer faster services digitally via dynamic platforms.

Banking services will always be needed, so banks will never disappear completely; they will change their strategies and the way they do business.

Many financial services organizations are taking a GAFA (Google/Amazon/Facebook/Apple) approach, leveraging insights and data to boost their core business. Are you afraid of losing ground?

The GAFA approach is the ultimate personalized experience. We are talking about a segment of one and individualized banking across all aspects from communication to banking experience. This is the type of experience individuals expect from their banks these days and this is where we are heading. Path Solutions is building a wide range of AI-driven data solutions on top of its signature data lake, leveraging structured and unstructured data to accommodate the market needs, and allowing banks insight into customers behaviors to suggest personalized recommendations and contextual offers.

One of the most exciting innovation trends in 2019 is the continued movement to predictive banking. What are you inventing in this area?

Predictive banking continues to be the leading trend in banking. It provides the opportunity to leverage the use of a valuable asset - data - to gain customer insight and predict future behaviors. Path Solutions is building an impressive data lake to provide a holistic view of both internal banking data and external unstructured data. Joined together, these sources are allowing us to study historical data, behaviors and lifestyles using machine learning algorithms to predict actions, product preferences, risk indicators and others.

We are also investing heavily in integrating these predictions into our omnichannel in order to deliver the personalized experience through preferred channels.

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