Finance Indaba 2016: Meniga brings banks and clients closer together

"A single platform can become the main source of information for all digital channels, not only enabling banks and other financial institutions to offer their clients an engaging experience, but also solving simple problems related to the integration of data and reducing infrastructure costs," says Jakub Piotrowski, CRO and Head of Customer Engagement at Meniga, a silver partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

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With the event around the corner, we will be chatting to all the Indaba partners, asking them why they are joining the event and what their most important message for finance professionals is.

Do you want to hear how Meniga can help you enhance your engagements with clients? Do you want to be informed about the latest and greatest in finance? Then don't miss the Finance Indaba Africa 2016.

What will you be talking about?
"Meniga is a Fintech startup that was founded in Iceland in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2009. People realised they needed to do a better job managing their finances and there were a lot of developers who had a lot of free time because of the number of major banks that collapsed during the period. It started with the idea of making people smarter consumers and we very quickly partnered with Icelandic banks to offer personal financial management (PFM) solutions for clients. This was well received by the market and we quickly expanded throughout Europe and to other continents. We now have 70 000 customers in Iceland, a country of 320 000 people.

"Our PFM platform has advanced to becoming a true customer engagement platform, providing insights and trying to engage around everyday financial transactions and build awareness of what the future may bring. There is huge value in data we are processing and enriching to produce a good overview of personal finances and the market. Banks see the PFM as an engagement platform. We also have a card-linked marketing platform, which offers relevant discounts to consumers and a targeted marketing channel for banks, merchants and media houses. It all comes together with PFM customers creating context for this type of marketing communication. We also have a tool for banks to analyse PFM data segments and patterns and marketing analytics and business finance platforms for SMEs working through banks.

"We feel it is the right time to discuss PFM in South Africa and Africa. Clients want relevant and engaging information and are willing to discuss this with their bank, without necessarily using very complex tools. Our card-linked marketing offering is something worth considering for our talk too. It has been proven that everything goes up with engaging digital channels."

Why did you choose to partner with the Finance Indaba?
"We are constantly monitoring the market in terms of events and spaces where it makes sense to try to build a presence and engage with potential clients. The Finance Indaba is the biggest event in our space in Africa, so it was almost a no-brainer for us. We've held discussions with South African clients in the past, but the market wasn't yet there. We feel it is important to continue this dialogue, as a start-up that it is still ahead of the mainstream, in an efficient way. The Indaba partnership was simply the right thing to do."

What challenges can you help finance professionals and firms with in 2016?
"We can help them overcome problems involved in offering integrated, customer-centric views of finances. A single platform can become the main source of information for all digital channels, not only enabling banks and other financial institutions to offer their clients an engaging experience, but also solving simple problems related to the integration of data and reducing infrastructure costs. One of our clients was able to reduce the cost of its mainframe platform by 20% by using Meniga as its source of data. We help banks to create engagement and ensure that clients are with them.

"There is a global trend towards digitisation and smartphones are by far our fastest growing sector. Apps need to offer a similar customer service level to that of Amazon or Spotify, with a great experience and relevant information, otherwise people will simply not use them. Banks using our app have been getting calls from customers asking for more notifications of transactions of categorisations. There is an element of gamification involved in creating context for clients using to use products.

"Our account aggregation services are robust enough to set up for almost any geography in a couple of weeks. It is no longer about a banking app, but about one place at which one can understand one's financial position and both manage and understand other products. We take the complexity out of moving accounts and enable organisations to drive additional value from data, create marketing avenues in the process. We also offer self-service capabilities to merchants. The number of banking services is shrinking - we are helping banks to deal with other organisations and to take advantage of opportunities."

What challenges are involved in operating in different regulatory environments?
"
We offer a solution that is essentially owned by banks. At heart, we are a software vendor that has the option of helping banks create new services. Although we offer a cloud option, no bank has taken this up and we set up on the premises. This helps with regulation because we are not moving outside of processing banking data. The challenges are related to what we are doing with data, both within the limits and what the banks have agreed with the clients. In many markets, any type of data processing is tricky, but globally, there is a trend towards acceptance. With statistical overviews, we require consent from customer and want to be as transparent as possible to avoid accusations of evildoing, when offering discounting and opt-in services. Account aggregation is still a grey area within many European countries and regulators are still discouraging banks from doing this. There is increasing recognition that data belongs to the customer, but there are lots of differences between markets. In South Africa, account aggregation is fairly advanced and has been around for years, but it is not yet regulated or acknowledged as standard market practice."