Modernization, sustainability, AI: Key trends shaping corporate banking’s future

Published on April 1, 2024

A recent corporate banking event series hosted by Finastra, a leading provider of financial software applications and marketplaces, brought together industry leaders from banks, financial institutions, and technology companies in Dubai and London.

The focus of the series was on the trends, challenges, and opportunities facing financial institutions in today’s dynamic landscape. Key discussions centred on digitalization, automation, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, and the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) for the future of finance.

Experts emphasised the critical role of cultural adaptation alongside technological advancements. In a challenging economic climate with fluctuating inflation and interest rates, corporate lenders were urged to prioritise straight-through processing (STP) to streamline settlements and enhance market efficiency. The need to modernise legacy systems and adopt a flexible technology stack was highlighted, particularly for handling the rising volume of transactions, especially in syndicated loans. This shift would allow institutions to leverage tools like automated underwriting, tailored product pricing, and real-time compliance checks, ultimately driving growth and digital transformation.

AI: A Tool, Not a Replacement

The discussions around AI underscored the importance of human-centric applications. Speakers stressed that AI and machine learning (ML) should be viewed as tools to enhance existing processes. Real-world use cases were explored, such as automating compliance checks, data extraction from documents, and incorporating diverse data sets like climate information to refine lending practices. Generative AI’s potential to boost productivity through creative analysis was also addressed, highlighting its role in revenue generation, cost reduction, and risk mitigation.

Standardisation for Sustainable Finance

Sustainable finance remained a central theme, with the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region witnessing a surge in green bond issuance. However, challenges in understanding and reporting on ESG risks across complex global supply chains were acknowledged. Collaboration between regulators, banks, and industry bodies was seen as crucial to establishing global standards and best practices, combating the growing concern of greenwashing.

Bridging the SME Finance Gap

Despite market volatility, the MEA region continues to witness growth in SME lending and innovative solutions, playing a vital role in economic development. However, the global challenge of limited access to credit for SMEs persists. Collective action from banks, fintech companies, and technology providers was identified as essential to promote interoperability between platforms and internal systems, ultimately simplifying and digitising lending processes for greater financial inclusion.

The Finastra event series served as a valuable platform for industry leaders to exchange ideas and explore strategies for navigating the ever-evolving financial landscape. By embracing modernization, prioritising sustainability, and harnessing the power of AI responsibly, financial institutions can position themselves for long-term success in the years to come.

Source: Daily News Egypt.


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