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How global trends are shaping fintech 

March 21, 2018

Digital Reporter

Cover art Samantha Gonzales

No one can escape the inevitable. Blockchain, a rather controversial buzzword thanks to its role in virtual currencies, is seen to disrupt the business landscape—even the financial technology industry.

In fact, blockchain technology will “greatly shape” the future of the Philippine’s financial service industry. This is according to J.P. Ellis, CEO and co‑founder of Singapore‑based C88 Financial Technologies that operates digital financial service market eCompareMo, at the company’s event Finovation 2018 last March 15 in Makati City.

“Blockchain and massively open and secure ledgers improve transparency and intra‑institution data sharing,” he said, adding during a roundtable discussion with reporters: “We differentiate strongly between blockchain and cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency in many respects is speculative financial instruments, we don’t invest in that. However it is built on top of this concept, blockchain, which is essentially an open, public ledger.”

Launched in 2015, eCompareMo is an online financial tool that provides Filipino users with information about loans, credit cards, and insurance policies offered by its partner banks and insurers, to match their financial needs. Since then, the company has tied up with over 20 service providers in the Philippines and has been generating at least a million visits monthly.

While the company is keen to utilize blockchain, Ellis clarified that eCompareMo.com has no plan to involve virtual currencies (VCs) in its operation. VCs like Bitcoin, Etherium, and Ripple are digital forms of money enabled by blockchain.

He further said: “We are very keenly involved in financial technology regulations in the entire region, [but] we are not involved in cryptocurencies at all. We don’t endorse it, we don’t have a stand on it.”


Alex

But while cryptocurrency isn’t in the horizon for eCompareMo just yet, it did join another bandwagon through this (controversial) technology: AI. The company launched its AI‑powered chatbot called “Alex” during the event.

The chatbot responds to queries from customers opting to avail financial products available in the platform.

“We believe that [AI] will be able to solve our customers’ needs 24/7. A lot of customer questions are very standard, so this can be automated,” Ellis said, adding that AI “reduces costs” and cut long waiting time for consumers.

The chatbot, according to Mercedes Limson, chief commercial officer, was built in‑house and is proprietary.

“Our chatbot will also offer products that are related to your needs, and then give you alerts should you need to, say, update your insurance,” Limson said during the roundtable discussion.


Global trends

The company also named three other global trends that will shape the local fintech industry, namely big data, product customization, and information security.

“Big data [will] improve everything virtually, from parking risk to detecting fraud,” he said. “[The] ability to offer personalized pricing and more financial product manufacturing is better for customers [while] leveraging cloud [can] move the industry to world class information security and cybersecurity standards.”

These technologies, according to Ellis, will respond to the “demand of the market for faster and more convenient ways to accomplish financial processes.”

“Big data [will] improve everything virtually, from parking risk to detecting fraud,” he said. “[The] ability to offer personalized pricing and more financial product manufacturing is better for customers [while] leveraging cloud [can] move the industry to world class information security and cybersecurity standards.”

These technologies, according to Ellis, will respond to the “demand of the market for faster and more convenient ways to accomplish financial processes.”