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Federated Learning – Efficient Machine Learning That Respects Privacy?

In the financial industry, customers expect high standards with regard to data protection and the integrity of their own data. Nevertheless, from the perspective of value creation, it is essential for banks to evaluate customer data using statistical methods and algorithms. Banks are thus caught in a conflict between maintaining data privacy and enforcing their own business model. To address this problem, the concept of “federated learning” has become established on the market in recent years, in which the data used for model training is always stored decentrally and the models are trained decentrally.

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“Data-centric AI” – A shift in the AI mindset?

The traditional approach to AI focuses on the process of training the model. The underlying data is often a secondary concern. This approach works particularly well for Internet corporations, as they have vast amounts of data and the capabilities to analyze it. In contrast, there is little potential for using AI in small businesses with this approach due to a lack of data. Therefore, it is worth taking a look at the data – moving away from model-centric to data-centric AI.

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What Exactly Is “Decentralized Finance”?

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) has been one of the dominant trends in digital assets at least since the DeFi summer 2020. Since the summer of 2020, the digital assets community’s gaze has turned towards the possibilities of a decentralized financial ecosystem, DeFi applications have become highly popular and the prices of corresponding tokens have multiplied. Why is DeFi seen as having such great potential and what does this mean for regulated financial institutions? In the next three blogposts, I will outline these and other questions, show different perspectives and provide an outlook on the opportunities for regulated financial institutions in the context of DeFi. To get started, this blog post will outline the functionalities of DeFi applications, present selected use cases, and highlight opportunities and risks in this context.

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Agility – How the Achievement of Corporate Goals Can Be Supported by Using the Agile Method Scrum

Today, markets are characterized by constant change. To cope with this, many companies are applying agile methods. This article investigates how agile methods potentially affect the achievement of corporate goals in general and those in the financial industry in particular, taking the most widely used agile method, Scrum, as an example.

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Why Spotify Did Not Use the Spotify Model

The agile organizational model of the Swedish music and video streaming service Spotify has been the talk of the town for some time now. Many banks, including Commerzbank and ING, are basing their organizational structure on the Spotify model. But what actually distinguishes the model? And what is the truth behind the statement that Spotify itself has not used the model at all?

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Core Banking Radar – “Vault Core – a hyper-configurable neo-core banking system from Thought Machine”

In cooperation with the Business Engineering Institute St. Gallen (BEI), the Core Banking Radar of Swisscom has been monitoring the system support of banks since 2017, and analyses the most relevant systems for the Swiss market using a comprehensive assessment model. The latest publication of the Core Banking Radar looks at Vault Core from the U.K.-based company Thought Machine, which aims to adopt best practices in software development from technology companies with a cloud-native platform and give banks the flexibility to develop any product with smart contracts.

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Open Banking and the (Eternal?) Crucial Question: Market-Driven or Regulated?

For a good four years now, open banking has been a topic considered relevant by the Swiss financial industry. This was triggered in particular by the EU regulation PSD2, which became valid for all member states in 2018 and was subsequently implemented. Various players have been working on this topic since then, but implementation is progressing slowly.For this reason, the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF) feels compelled to make a clear announcement. Regulation seems to be getting closer.

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Five Data Strategies for Banks

Ideally, a bank’s data strategy should be derived from its corporate strategy. Possible goals of the data strategy can be process optimization with associated cost reduction, better customer understanding (which can also lead to cost reduction or revenue optimization), or the development of new business models. The following blog post provides an overview of which data strategies for banks there are generally and which use cases can be observed in practice.

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Platform Confusion: A Spotlight on the Concept of Platforms and Their Classification in the Context of Business Ecosystems

A platform, sure, that’s something you can build other things on. I’m sure we all remember the “Lego plates”, which provided the basis for giving free rein to one’s imagination and indulging in architectural test projects. In economics and science, it is unfortunately not as easy to define the platform concept as in the example described above. With this article, we will now try to shed some light on platform definitions. In addition, we will shed light on the core value driver – network effects – and establish the concept’s connection to business ecosystems.

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OKR – The Key to a Successful Company

The world is becoming increasingly unpredictable and chaotic. This makes it all the more important for a company to be able to respond appropriately to new circumstances. OKR, short for “Objectives and Key Results,” is a dynamic steering tool that helps to ensure that all activities contribute to achieving the same, most important goals within the organization.

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Cross-Company Data Exchange in a Cross-Industry Trust Network – Added Value for Customers, Companies and Partners! 

More extensive business cases such as opening a bank account or an account with a FinTech require several minutes of time each for a low-value-added customer experience – wouldn’t it be great if you could skip all the tedious steps relating to data collection during onboarding and start right away with the advisory service or the effective satisfaction of your core needs? These and other questions have been considered for a little more than half a year as part of a workshop series of the OpenBankingProject.ch (OBP) and discussed together with more than 30 companies from the Swiss financial industry. This article is intended to provide an overview of the background, initial delivery results as well as the current state of knowledge of the efforts within the OpenBankingProject.ch workshop series.

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COP26 and the Circular Economy

The Glasgow Conference and its decisions have prompted us to consider the sustainable development of our planet and the extent to which the Circular Economy can contribute to achieving climate goals. In this article, we first look at the climate challenges and the developments of the Glasgow Conference and then take a look at how companies can contribute to a more sustainable development of the economy by transforming their production according to the principles of the circular economy.

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Money – What Is It Anyway?

What is money anyway? Sure, it’s something we pay with, and according to the International Monetary Fund, something modern economies couldn’t function without. In today’s blog post, we’ll dig a little deeper into the meaning of money and get a broader picture of what it is. The question is, in my view, particularly relevant today, when new constructs such as cryptocurrencies, which diverge from what is generally considered money, such as the euro, Swiss franc or US dollar, are sometimes considered “money”.

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Synthetic Data – The Future of Data-Driven Financial Services?

One of the biggest challenges in this context is the handling of bank-specific and personal data and its processing by artificial intelligence (AI). The basis of data-driven services is a high-quality and up-to-date database. But not all companies have a large enough database to train an algorithm, and the sharing and basic use of some data is strictly limited – sometimes even within the company. To counteract these problems, the concept of synthetic data has become established.

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Target Models for a Digital Asset Offering in the Regulated Space

The topic of digital assets has finally reached the mainstream. The potential for services that make it easier for customers to acquire digital assets is great, but so far only a few financial institutions offer such services. According to the banks, there are many reasons for the lack of a comprehensive offering, e.g. concerns about the value of digital assets, high scepticism regarding money laundering or a lack of know-how in the operational handling of the new asset class. This blog post addresses the last point and aims to show that there are various operational implementation options for a basic digital asset offering for regulated banks.

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Core Banking Radar – «From Modularbank to Tuum – a core banking system that’s not only for banks»

Since 2017, the Core Banking Radar has regularly analyzed the most common as well as emerging core banking systems in Switzerland using a comprehensive assessment model[1]. The latest publication highlights the Estonian neo-system Tuum and shows success factors for its use. The Core Banking Radar is a joint project of Swisscom and the Business Engineering Institute St. Gallen.

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The Potential for Innovative Business Models in the Financial Industry with the Establishment of a Circular Economy

To preserve our world for future generations, we must take action now to stop global warming. The interesting question is how to achieve this. If you consider that CO2 emissions are largely caused directly or indirectly by us consumers, you could assume that we would have to do away with the customer. “Traditional sustainability makes the customer the enemy.” This is where the concept of the Circular Economy comes in, with its concept of decoupling growth and resource consumption. In contrast to linear value creation with its “take-make-use-dispose” concept, the Circular Economy relies on a regenerative system, a circular economy in which the concept of “waste” no longer exists.

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Gaia-X – A Revolution for the Financial Industry?

Cloud solutions are faster, more flexible and less expensive than on-premise solutions. However, the best-known cloud infrastructures – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and IBM’s Red Hat – all have one thing in common: they are headquartered in the USA and are therefore subject to the (decidedly lax) US data protection “law”. This makes using the services difficult from a data protection perspective, especially for financial institutions. The European Gaia-X project could be a real alternative.

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Towards a Framework for Understanding the Potentials of Tokenized Assets

When attempting to assess the potential of tokens for their business, decision makers face the challenge that while there are tons of technical literature on token design, there are no simple decision support tools to help identify suitable use cases for their own business.
Therefore, we conducted a study to derive archetypes that can be observed in a variety of existing token-based solutions. These archetypes provide companies with an initial starting point for addressing the benefits and potential applications of token-based solutions.

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Successful Cooperation: What Banks and Fintechs Need to Consider

For a long time, fintechs were seen as a direct threat and competitor to traditional banks due to their high innovative capacity and the disruption potential attributed to them. In recent years, however, it has become apparent that both fintechs and banks are more interested in cooperation than in competition. However, there are factors that can cause a cooperation between a bank and a fintech to fail. How to prevent this is the topic of this article.

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Embedded Finance

61 % of Germans would obtain financial services from an online retailer. In contrast, 65% of German banks do not see their customer interface threatened. The situation is similar when it comes to the question of whether banks see themselves threatened by disruption from digital competitors, with 68% answering in the negative. In view of these contradictory figures, the question arises as to whether German banks are in the process of missing out on one of the most disruptive trends in banking: Embedded Finance.

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