This week’s tech news, filtered for financial services execs

October 4

Hello and welcome to Insights Distilled, a weekly email briefing that curates tactical technology news for financial services execs. Every Tuesday morning, we send you the top five stories you need to know – and explain why they matter. Our tech news roundup helps you stay on top of the innovations driving business agility in your industry. To get next week’s edition in your inbox, sign up here.


This week’s edition highlights several examples of what a Mastercard engineer describes as a technological “butterfly effect,” where a small change (or issue) has ripple effects through a platform or ecosystem.  

Whether it’s a rogue database query that could wreak havoc on a complex IT system or integrated international credit data that can help immigrants live healthier financial lives, the stories in this edition highlight the power of a tech-enabled shift.  

Let’s dive in.

  1. Compliance matters: Chat-tracking tech takes off amid regulatory crackdowns
  2. Credit score cohesion: How HSBC is catering to immigrant customers
  3. Back-end innovation: Unravel helps Mastercard deal with IT problems more quickly
  4. Future proof: Why banks should already be preparing for the quantum computing threat
  5. Low-code love: Another big financial institution just signed on with Genesis Global

Modern message-tracking tech takes off as unauthorized communication fines for big banks have topped $2 billion.  

As US regulators hammer a dozen banks including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America with a combined $2 billion in fines for failing to properly monitor all employee messaging, comprehensive communications-surveillance tools are in high demand.

The SEC slapped banks with steep fines after it discovered that their workers were using unmonitored chat apps, including WhatsApp, for work. This communication crisis is spurring banks to adopt tools that will let employees continue using their preferred channels, but compliantly. (In the case of Deutsche Bank, WhatsApp was an approved and monitored messaging platform, but employees also used personal accounts.) 

“Employees want to communicate in ways they are most comfortable—voice, text, WhatsApp, and Microsoft Teams. It’s about choices,” CEO of compliance tech firm Movius Ananth Siva previously told Insights Distilled. Through its monitoring products, “employees no longer need to carry two phones.” 

SteelEye, Symphony, Nice Actimize, and LeapXpert all offer monitoring for modern communication apps (and the latter claims to be the only communications surveillance firm that can seamlessly and scalably integrate with and monitor Apple’s iMessage).  

“We’ve seen an incredible rise in interest from financial institutions of all kinds due to the ongoing regulatory crackdown,” LeapXpert cofounder and chief revenue officer Avi Pardo told Insights Distilled, highlighting faster sales cycles and implementation times. There’s also been a particularly major uptick in Europe as financial institutions large and small race to protect themselves from audits, fines, and reputational damage, he said: “They believe the regulatory crackdown is in the process of crossing the pond.” 


HSBC partners with a fintech to help it sign on immigrant customers faster, more easily, and at a lower cost.  

Different countries have very different credit reporting systems, which means that lenders may struggle with the underwriting necessary to approve immigrants for credit cards, loans, or other bank services. Nova Credit’s software integrates and standardizes international credit data, which ultimately reduces the effort and cost for lenders to serve these customers.

HSBC is working with Nova Credit to better provide services to immigrant customers.  

The fintech makes credit history from one country usable in another, and HSBC is currently deploying the service in its Singapore unit to help it serve people who have a credit history from India. HSBC has historically assessed immigrants’ creditworthiness by requesting documents, but Nova Credit’s system makes it easier, faster, and ultimately cheaper to serve this population.  

Helping the under-banked get access to loans is a boon to both society and banks’ bottom lines: Immigrants are HSBC’s “fastest growing” and “most commercially attractive” customer segment, it told American Banker. It plans to expand its use of Nova Credit’s service to include new geographies and invested $10 million in the firm through its venture arm. “The potential for the reach of this partnership is monumental,” a Nova Credit spokesperson told Insights Distilled.  

The relationship between HSBC and Nova Credit has been in the works since before the pandemic, the spokesperson said, and other partnerships could emerge in the future: “Global demographics continue to show that immigration is the main driver of population growth in developed economies. As other global banks take a stance behind this shift and realize the importance of the immigrant population, we are open to explore those relationships.”   


Mastercard is leaning on Unravel to reduce the time it takes to fix IT issues and root out “toxic workloads.”  

Complex IT systems require increased visibility: Observability platforms can help teams understand their tech stacks, troubleshoot and optimize data workloads, and keep costs under control. 

Mastercard’s back-end infrastructure is incredibly complicated and inter-connected. “Big data means that even a small problem can cause a large impact,” Mastercard principal engineer Chinmay Sagade said in a presentation last year, with issues ranging from system slowdowns or crashes to resource bottlenecks.  

Unravel’s tools have made its platforms more resilient, reliable, and efficient: By integrating Unravel into its software development lifecycle, Mastercard was able to identify issues in minutes that would previously have taken days (or more) to find, including by flagging “toxic workloads” likely to create cascading problems.  

Operational effectiveness improved without additional infrastructure costs, and workers could reallocate time to value-add work versus battling fire-drills. “We saw an immediate impact on the platform,” Sagade said. 

Unravel just raised a $50 million Series D and also counts DBS and Deutsche Bank among its clients.  


Quantum computing is the next decade’s cyber threat – here’s how Banque de France is preparing.  

While quantum computing holds promise for financial institutions, its eventual risk is also enormous: Experts estimate that quantum computers may one day be able to break current encryption systems in seconds.

France’s central bank worked with CryptoNext Security on an experiment to use so-called “post-quantum” algorithms to operate a data exchange system that’s resistant to the power of future quantum computers. 

This report closely follows a new whitepaper from post-trade market infrastructure firm DTCC that explores how “the quantum technology threat is coming” within the next decade and why financial institutions need to start developing their playbooks for new encryption now.  

“The banking industry handles long-term sensitive data, so banks need to protect themselves and their communications now against ‘harvest now, decrypt later’ activities,” CrytoNext CEO Florent Grosmaitre told Insights Distilled. Banks should “take inventory of their cryptography” and begin building a playbook for the years-long process of upgrading, he said, adding that CryptoNext is working with another large European bank on quantum-resistant digital signatures. IBM and Thales are also offering post-quantum cryptography services. 

Meanwhile, the likes of HSBC, JPMorgan, Ally, and Credit Agricole are experimenting with ways to use quantum computing technology for their benefit, like improving speed and precision of risk analysis, fraud detection, and the pricing of complex derivatives.


Itaú Securities taps Genesis Global to build its new trade automation and client portal system. 

Low-code platforms like Genesis Global (an Insight Partners’ portfolio company) provide ready-made, reusable code components that can simplify and speed up the development process.

The securities arm of a Latin American banking group, Itaú Securities, is using technology from Genesis to design a new cloud-based system that will automate pre-trade workflows – saving time and effort for traders – and create a more comprehensive client experience overall.  

Genesis’ platform has reusable “building blocks” that financial institutions can use to either launch services or integrate new apps into their existing legacy systems. For example, a consortium of global banks recently worked with Genesis to build an electronic trading platform about five times faster and at a fraction of the cost than they could have otherwise, a Citi exec previously told Insights Distilled. 

Itaú is the “perfect environment” for Genesis because of its ability to integrate with multiple systems both internal and external to Itaú and because of its domain expertise in trading. 

Citi, Bank of America, and BNY Mellon recently invested $20 million into Genesis. 

Quick Bits:

Personnel news: US Bank poached Milena Kohlhofer from Citi for a new position focused on helping it use the blockchain to create efficiencies in its capital markets business. Meanwhile, Bank of America nabbed Bhavana Bartholf from Microsoft to be its first chief analytics and innovation officer.

C-Suite cohesion: “Everybody’s top of mind is cybersecurity,” says Laura Deaner, chief information security officer of Northwestern Mutual, who has been working more closely with chief information officer Jeff Sippel recently. Generally, CISOs and CIOs are strengthening their relationships due to heightened cyber threats, according to the Wall Street Journal.

JPMorgan milestone: JPMorgan Chase’s digital bank in the UK has attracted more than 1 million customers with 10 billion pounds of deposits within its first year of operation. That’s more than competitors Monzo and Starling, but less than Goldman Sachs’ Marcus offering in the UK. Chief information officer Lori Beer also recently said that the firm plans to hire about 2,000 engineers through the end of year.

Creativity corner: Crypto and fiat financial app hi announced a new debit card, in partnership with Mastercard, that features NFT avatar customization.


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