What problem are we trying to solve? In short, financial inclusion. This is a long debated topic, which proves of utmost importance in the current crisis caused by the explosion of COVID-19.
We identified two sides of this problem:
– One of the unbanked, and underbanked SME’s in terms of access to finance, control of personal data and control over administrative processes;
– One of the ecosystem (banks, financial service providers and SMEs across Europe), with focus on SMEs, in terms of harmonized communication over a well-built open banking layer.
As we ourselves are one of these SMEs, feeling this problem in our own business, we decided to do something to help small and medium businesses operate more efficiently. Again, in the unfortunate situation we’re in, the outbreak of COVID-19, business continuity and disaster recovery emerges as one of the key risk mitigation plans that businesses need to have to secure their survival. Part of this is ensuring operational consistency and the possibility of working from a new location. As this article is published, our team works safely from the comfort of their homes. But what are some of the lessons learned of this emerging crisis?
Businesses need to have the capacity to remotely run their business, to keep productivity high, to automate as many processes as possible and make sure everyone knows what they have to do. Manual, or worse, pen and paper processes are mostly caused by comfortable employees who are not tempted to digitize or automate their work. They most often fail to understand the process. Opaque manual processes and their skeletons are a huge risk for business continuity. And as long as the financial process is in this situation, the future is not bright.
Back to Whizzer. Allevo partnered with Bakken & Bæck AS to design and develop an open source software solution that offers financial operations as a service to SMEs. This helps them automate and centralize common financial flows: balance sheet, salary payments, invoicing, and money flow automation, accounts payable and receivable, cash reporting.
Allevo builds on its experience with Open Banking projects and starts working on a easy to use and cost effective solution that offers a single window for the capabilities mentioned above. This results in an end-to-end integration of open source applications that provide this set of functionalities, with input at the source. What this means is that data is created only once and all stakeholders and applications use this same data, without re-entering it manually, nor via usual export and import working procedures. This ensures consistency and accuracy of the data that is being processed. It also ensures automation, bypassing the heavy use of paper that is common in financial processes due to bureaucracy, bad habits and lack of automation tools.
This solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to both profile and create personalized offerings designed by the bank for its customers, under their explicit consent. This gives extra value to data gathered by the banks and provides customers, individual or corporate, with better products, tailored to their particular needs.
Also, the solution enables banks to become more relevant and adapt their position in the market, by changing their offering in the spirit of recent European regulations (PSD2 and GDPR in particular).
This will result in lower logistical effort for the SMEs, an opportunity to standardize the communication between banks, FinTechs and companies and quicker access to finance for sustaining the business of an SME. This solution enables SMEs to be included in the bigger financial flow and it represents a first step in addressing financial inclusion.
Stay tuned for more on this topic!