Finance Indaba 2018 Q&A: XDS's Akshar Rampath

CFO South Africa talks to Akshar Rampath about the EOH information services vertical, and XDS's client offerings

Q. Tell us a bit about your current role and career history

“I am a business development executive within EOH Information Services, currently representing a company in the group called XDS – which stands for Xpert Decision Systems Pty Ltd. XDS is a registered credit bureau in South Africa. I have experience and knowledge on credit risk management processes, data information and enrichment, analytics, your typical bureau and information solution and so on. In my current role, I look at opportunities, innovation, and how we can assist companies in South Africa to make informed risk management decisions. I've been at XDS for 12 years. Prior to this role, internally, I was an account executive looking after the Telco sector, managing our strategic customers and product development.”

Q. Tell us about your business offerings

“We sell innovative solutions. Majority of companies in SA operates across four pillars – what you might call the credit lifecycle. They are (a) how you acquire customers [acquisition], (b) how you manage customers [customer management], and (c) how you collect from customers [customer collections]. The last pillar is (d) how do you prevent fraud [fraud management]? We have solutions that are readily available to help companies within these areas of their business.

XDS is regarded as a ‘dual’ credit bureau, meaning that we sell both consumer information and company (commercial) information solutions.”

“A new product solution – and a key attraction we want to showcase at the Finance Indaba – is our XBRL Solution. All companies are required to comply with the new CIPC mandate which came into effect on the 1st July 2018 where they need to submit their annual financial statements to CIPC in a format called iXBRL. We want to educate companies about this requirement, and also demo or showcase our solution where we can assist them in converting their AFS into iXBRL seamlessly. Currently XDS is the implementer of the CIPC XBRL Filing Platform and we are confident that we have an affordable solution, designed to meet company’s compliance requirements, and one that makes it easy to convert their financials.”

Q. What sets you apart as a company?

“Firstly we are part of EOH, a listed company in South Africa. We are probably the largest locally-owned credit bureau, and we are level 1 BEE-compliant. We've got a vertical called EOH Information Services and the core aim of this vertical is to be the leading data and information solutions provider in Africa. In order to achieve our vision you need to have the right companies in the group. Companies within our cluster are MIE (the largest background screening company in South Africa), Afiswitch (leaders in criminal checks in South Africa), HTSA (who specialise in data management, data migration and warehousing with consultants that are experts in IFRS), Zenaptix (who have invested and built our big data lab and also specialises in big data analytics, machine learning and fast data processing), and DIA (who are our identity management specialist focusing on voice, finger and facial biometrics). We are actively building the vertical and we believe in group collaboration.”

“When we go to our customers, we go with innovative solutions and more critically – we listen to our customer’s challenges and requirements. Credit bureaus have been in South Africa for probably over 100 years, but they still operate as traditional credit bureaus. Here and now, we are innovating, developing new solutions and more importantly offering our customers end-to-end solutions. Another key differentiator is the service and professionalism we provide to our customers.”

Q. In what ways is tech changing the finance function from your point of view?

“There are three aspects to this, the first is compliance. Software is becoming much more expensive and companies are getting quoted exorbitant costs for licences, users and hosting etc. 

This is why XDS is attending the Finance Indaba, to reassure companies and individuals that when it comes to compliance we offer the best XBRL compliance solution to the market.”

“The second part is using technology to provide accurate and quality data to our customers to make better-informed risk management decisions. Using our technology and sophisticated data processes we ensure that we provide our customers with quality and informative commercial and consumer reports. Thirdly, within the finance function – fraud losses are on the increase due to individuals committing Identity Theft and Account Takeovers. At XDS we recently deployed out biometric solution at a leading telco and within days we started preventing Identity theft and account takeovers. This biometric technology solution is available to assist all companies from a fraud prevention perspective.”

“Furthermore, using technology can help companies by automate their decisioning process with our recently deployed Decision Engine. Given the much of the technology that is transforming the finance space has to do with automation, one of our strategic products is a decision engine or automated decision platform that we are now starting to implement with credit providers.”

Q. What are your expectations of the Finance Indaba 2018?

“We hope that through engaging with us at the Finance Indaba, attendees have the informed and adequate information on all possible ways that XDS can assist them. Whether they are attending with compliance top of mind or from credit information perspective, we would like for them to know what our solutions are and how we can help them. We want people to be aware that there are not just one or two credit bureaus in South Africa. EOH XDS is a force to be reckoned.”