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How the financial services industry is embracing emerging tech

DIGITAL is changing the way we consume and pay. Today’s consumers want everything at their fingertips and still expect the highest security.

For the financial services industry, digital can no longer be something to consider. It’s a must-have.

At Japan’s biggest blockchain conference in Tokyo yesterday, Yoshitaka Kitao, representative director, president, and CEO of Japanese financial services group, SBI Group shared just how the company is adopting emerging technology.

Digital assets and blockchain

The Japanese finance company is making big moves in the digital currency and blockchain space, with SBI’s “Virtual Currencies” company providing exchange services for a variety of digital currencies.

The company has invested in San Francisco-based blockchain startup Ripple to facilitate the experiment of cross-bored blockchain payments among financial institutions.

Additionally, SBI Group is invested in R3, the New York-City based banking consortium.

Kitao also told the audience how SBI Group is investing in Indonesia’s Tokopedia digital asset, and China’s Sendo.

However, the companies blockchain efforts are not just restricted to financial use-cases. The company wish to expand blockchain beyond financial possibilities.

For instance, the Japanese finance giant has recently invested in Taiwan blockchain start-up OwlTing.

The start-up focuses on e-commerce and blockchain applications with services in global travel, food safety, social media platforms, global hotel bookings, and blockchain application services.


While traditionally financial advice has been a process involving a personal relationship between a client and their financial consultant, we are now seeing the rise of the “robo-advisor”.

These systems provide algorithm-driven financial planning services to customers, with little – if any – human interaction.

At the conference today, Kitao explained how SBI are leveraging a robo-advisor Wealth Navi.

“If a customer wants a blockchain asset then the robo-advisor can respond to this” explained Kitao.

Artificial Intelligence

Another emerging technology that the company is leveraging is AI.

According to Kitao, the technology is being used in a variety of ways to provide better customer service and to streamline processes.

The application for AI includes its role in the assessment of mortgage loans and to analyse and assert stock transactions.

SBI are also using AI to provide a more personalized experience to customers.

For instance, with SBI life insurance, technology is being used to capture information relating to a customer and then from this data, personalized plans can be offered to customers with reduced premiums.

“Quotes will be created very smoothly and seamlessly with the help of technology,” explains Kitao.

Robotic Process Automation

Robotic processing automation (RPA) is a growing trend in many varying industries. In the world of finance, RPA has helped banks dramatically accelerate the workload of repetitive and manual-labor heavy processes.

The combination of AI and RPA technology can truly unlock untapped opportunities in the finance industry. Some applications of RPA include credit underwriting, credit assessment, fraud detection, and more.

“What humans used to do as a routine, this can be done as robots instead. They can work 24 hours and weekends. [RPA] is more efficient and makes less mistakes,” explains Kitao.

But where does this leave humans? Should banking employees fear the loss of their jobs?

According to Kitao, this is not the case. Instead of performing routine tasks, humans will instead focus on more “value-added work”.

And the capabilities of RPA and AI will not be restricted to just routine work, says Kitao. The technology will enable the making of smarter decisions.