Benjamin Mah, CEO of V-Key shares how people-first payment technologies will transform the fintech industry and how digital security pioneer V-Key is enabling this.
The convergence of finance and technology – fintech – is turning the world on its head by disrupting the conventional mechanisms used for payments, transfers, loans and fundraising. Global payments in particular are experiencing a whirlwind of change, with fintech completely redefining how, where and when payments are made.
Yet too often the conversations around fintech focus on technological innovations and efficiency, ignoring the tangible benefits delivered to end-users.
V-Key’s CEO Benjamin Mah explains why user experience is crucial in security and how traditional financial institutions need to evolve and prioritise digital security.
How has fintech influenced global payments?
BM: The fundamental nature of payments has been radically transformed, with fintech solutions eliminating the need for physical cash and replacing it with digital cash. Customers have become increasingly mobile centric and want their needs to be met on the go. But this is just a teaser of what’s to come.
The real power of fintech lies in how it can deliver a great user experience. There is a discernible shift in focus from value processing to value creation , where payment models on mobile applications aim to go beyond mere transactions towards making life more convenient for the customer, even anticipating their needs.
User value is being maximised in a couple of ways. The first is by offering customised payment solutions based on the user’s financial history and transaction patterns , uncovered through extens ive data mining . The second is by having a sturdy and seamless payment ecosystem that will meet the end-to-end payment needs of the customer 24/7 – at a fraction of the price charged by traditional banks.
What role do banks play in the fintech ecosystem and how do you see them responding to the challenges posed by digital players?
BM: Fintech does not spell the end of the road for banks. Remember that banks take care of your needs right through your lifetime, whereas fintech takes care of you only at the moment of transaction.
With novel payment ecosystems being introduced by digital players, it is natural for banks to feel the pressure to innovate. The tier one banks are seeing fintech solutions more as an opportunity than a threat, and seem eager to leverage fintech solutions to optimise their existing operations. Noteworthy examples are DBS and UOB that have digital payment solutions such as DBS PayLah! and UOB Mighty respectively. In fact, DBS has been named the world’s best digital bank.
What is V-Key’s role in the fintech ecosystem today?
BM: It is important to understand that innovations (such as mobile wallets, contactless payments and open and closed payment ecosystems) while all revolutionary in their own right, operate in individual silos.
The need of the hour is a deep tech solution that ties all of these together to work seamlessly for individual digital identities. This will also be successful only if supported by infallible security. There is a growing awareness among various entities, especially banks, of the need to have robust security tools to combat cybercrime such as identity theft.
This is where V-Key comes in. V-Key is a digital security pioneer that enables the digitisation of physical trust assets such as credit cards, debit cards and hardware tokens within a mobile application.
How does this work?
BM: We have developed the world’s first virtual secure element (V-OS), which offers secure cryptographic storage and processing of user credentials and transactions. More importantly, our aim is to make the security process user-friendly. For instance, converting cards and tokens into software facilitates shorter transaction time, and permits the user to transact smoothly within an app or externally between apps.
Another striking feature of V-Key’s patented security technology is that it can be incorporated into any mobile operating system, hence reaching out to a wider base of customers. Our philosophy is to build an inclusive digital society where everyone is secure regardless of what type of phone they use.
We are currently working towards developing a single digital identity that can be used on multiple platforms to authenticate and authorise a transaction. This will only make the user experience easier and smoother, and take us further in our drive to be a people-first technology solution.
Why is it important for banks to partner with companies like you to make the most of the fintech revolution?
BM: In the coming years, the impact of fintech is expected to become bigger, wider and deeper, driven by newer innovations and rapidly changing lifestyles. As transactions get more digitised, the importance of securing user credentials will only increase. Hence, it is extremely vital for institutions such as banks, who are guardians of sensitive customer data, to collaborate with security players to make the digital world safe.
As banks continue to be exposed to greater risks and struggle to innovate in order to manage and mitigate them, the key is to collaborate and partner with solution providers like us in the journey to establish new digital channels that are secure, agile and convenient for everyone.