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Today, the financial services industry is subject to one of the most intricate regulatory systems that applies to businesses. With stringent regulations, and the growing need for operational transparency, firms are grappling to adhere to this ever-evolving situation. Over the last decade, organisations have been on the fore front to strategically align their business objectives with the Compliance obligations.  Financial Services industry is highly dynamic with ever-evolving product and services. All these opportunities produced newer risks and challenges to being compliant. And the result has been newer regulations, need for ongoing risk assessments & increased expectation around efficiency.  

Compliance and the Financial Services Industry

 Importance of Compliance

Compliance is referred to as an act that is in accordance to certain accepted norms (a specification, policy, standard or law). Regulatory Compliance means conforming to relevant laws and regulations of the country.

The financial industry by virtue of its nature of service, is integral to the economic health of a particular country. There have been periodical meltdowns in the global economy in history, the reasons for which can be pinned to a lack of compliance in some form related to the financial industry. This is also the reason for governments and regulatory bodies to constantly introduce more stringent measures to curb any potential threat that can result in such catastrophes. 

ROle of compliance1

Money laundering, terrorism financing, or other financial crimes such as fraud, bribery, scams, cyber- crimes and so on have the ability to mar a country’s growth drastically, affecting its economic, political & social stability. And it is in the hands of the organisations to build resilient compliance & security protocols and safeguard the interest of the community that it belongs to and work towards the overall growth of the economy.  

Virtually every financial institution is turning to technology to improve or automate its current infrastructure. All efforts are taken by organisations to explore the possibilities of leveraging technological expertise in bolstering their compliance systems. 

Historically, compliance and risk management functions operated in silos with very minimal overlap. It is only recently that companies have understood the importance of a collaborative approach to identifying and mitigating risks. 

Technology in Compliance

Information Technology (IT) has been playing a pivotal role in supporting companies’ compliance systems for a long time now. A majority of companies continue to treat compliance, risk and governance in silos and use disparate legacy systems. Companies that are considering technology only to enhance their legacy systems, will always lag behind changing trends. This also results in multiple independent and disparate systems that cannot intelligently interact with one another. This also means that the compliance processes are not optimized.   Data Recording, Privacy Controls, System Security, Document management, reporting and MIS (Management Information Systems) are some of the touchpoints of traditional IT systems in compliance.

Today there are complex set of rules and regulations that govern the financial industry.  Moreover, there is more than one financial institution involved in the customer value chain. And in such a situation, manual compliance systems are not only obsolete but also dangerously inefficient and may not be able to safeguard the companies from the ever-evolving risks and threats. The ultimate goal of every financial services company is to have a more integrated but tried and tested platform in which they can effectively define, manage, and monitor various business environments. And thus came RegTech (Regulatory Technology).

Regtech in Compliance

RegTech will be the future of compliance technology and is expected to be different from conventional applications in terms of Agility, Speed, Integration and Analytics. On one side it will assist companies in complying with regulations and on the other side it will provide smart data for regulators. 

Role of compliance

What RegTech can do?

1. Have Centralised Access

A good RegTech system will encompass all areas of compliance across departments, functions across multiple geographical locations. Several RegTech systems have dashboard facilities (can be customised) that will have information and continuous check over the compliance processes. 

2. Give “Up-to-date Information”

While globalisation is bringing us closer, it isn’t the case for compliance and regulations. Different jurisdictions follow different rules & the expectations of the regulators are dynamic. Even within a country, different states may have different laws and regulations. For a company that has operations in multiple sites, it is tedious to manually track every region’s regulations. A good RegTech system will have a closely connected communication protocol that ensures transparency. Such a system will be intelligent enough to notify the FIs every time the regulations are updated. 

3. Generate bespoke reports - 24/7

Report generation is one of the major bottlenecks that compliance officers face today. To generate a consolidated periodical report, the average time taken is approximately one week. A good RegTech software resolves this issue by providing data organisation, mining and offer customised reports.

4. Do Efficient Audit Trails

An audit trail (also known as audit log) is a security-relevant chronological record that provides evidence of the activities that have affected any specific operation, procedure, or event. RegTech software allows easy and simple scrutinisation of data and reports which enables quick risk identification and problem resolution.

 

Business Benefits:

Perhaps, the biggest advantage of deploying a comprehensive RegTech software, is its intelligence and that it goes beyond just reporting. According to a report by Deloitte, “In the short-term RegTech will help firms to automate the more mundane compliance tasks and reduce operational risks associated with meeting compliance and reporting obligations. In the longer term, it will empower compliance functions to make informed risk choices based on data provided insight about the compliance risks it faces and how it mitigates and manages those risks”. With banks and financial institutions having branches across the world, RegTech can deftly operate across multiple-jurisdictions with role based access saving time and money.

Better Stakeholder Value: With effective governance risk and compliance management, a RegTech solution empowers the brand to earn the confidence of stakeholders. 

Optimal Risk-Return Outcome: Greater transparency and visibility enables decision makers to undertake initiatives with the most optimal risk-reward outcomes.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership: Integrated corporate governance, risk and compliance management leads to significantly lower costs incurred in deploying such a technology.

Improved Business Performance: Robust compliance management and proactive identification, tracking of risk and resolution of issues lead to better operating performance.

At the pace in which technology is expediting globalisation, compliance functions in a financial company continuously face cyber and corruption risks. In such a demanding environment, a robust compliance/RegTech system will make an important contribution towards increasing profitability and efficiency of financial institutions. 

The focus however, needs to shift to promoting a culture which will encourage all staff to take responsibility for doing the right thing all the time. This will reinforce accountability within the business.

This article was originally published on Éclat Q1 2017 edition.

 

Today, the financial services industry is subject to one of the most intricate regulatory systems that applies to businesses. With stringent regulations, and the growing need for operational transparency, firms are grappling to adhere to this ever-evolving situation. Over the last decade, organisations have been on the fore front to strategically align their business objectives with the Compliance obligations.  Financial Services industry is highly dynamic with ever-evolving product and services. All these opportunities produced newer risks and challenges to being compliant. And the result has been newer regulations, need for ongoing risk assessments & increased expectation around efficiency. 

Compliance and the Financial Services Industry

 Importance of Compliance

Compliance is referred to as an act that is in accordance to certain accepted norms (a specification, policy, standard or law). Regulatory Compliance means conforming to relevant laws and regulations of the country.

The financial industry by virtue of its nature of service, is integral to the economic health of a particular country. There have been periodical meltdowns in the global economy in history, the reasons for which can be pinned to a lack of compliance in some form related to the financial industry. This is also the reason for governments and regulatory bodies to constantly introduce more stringent measures to curb any potential threat that can result in such catastrophes.

Money laundering, terrorism financing, or other financial crimes such as fraud, bribery, scams, cyber- crimes and so on have the ability to mar a country’s growth drastically, affecting its economic, political & social stability. And it is in the hands of the organisations to build resilient compliance & security protocols and safeguard the interest of the community that it belongs to and work towards the overall growth of the economy. 

Virtually every financial institution is turning to technology to improve or automate its current infrastructure. All efforts are taken by organisations to explore the possibilities of leveraging technological expertise in bolstering their compliance systems.

Historically, compliance and risk management functions operated in silos with very minimal overlap. It is only recently that companies have understood the importance of a collaborative approach to identifying and mitigating risks.

Technology in Compliance

Information Technology (IT) has been playing a pivotal role in supporting companies’ compliance systems for a long time now. A majority of companies continue to treat compliance, risk and governance in silos and use disparate legacy systems. Companies that are considering technology only to enhance their legacy systems, will always lag behind changing trends. This also results in multiple independent and disparate systems that cannot intelligently interact with one another. This also means that the compliance processes are not optimized.   Data Recording, Privacy Controls, System Security, Document management, reporting and MIS (Management Information Systems) are some of the touchpoints of traditional IT systems in compliance.

Today there are complex set of rules and regulations that govern the financial industry.  Moreover, there is more than one financial institution involved in the customer value chain. And in such a situation, manual compliance systems are not only obsolete but also dangerously inefficient and may not be able to safeguard the companies from the ever-evolving risks and threats. The ultimate goal of every financial services company is to have a more integrated but tried and tested platform in which they can effectively define, manage, and monitor various business environments. And thus came RegTech (Regulatory Technology).

Regtech in Compliance

RegTech will be the future of compliance technology and is expected to be different from conventional applications in terms of Agility, Speed, Integration and Analytics. On one side it will assist companies in complying with regulations and on the other side it will provide smart data for regulators.

What RegTech can do?

1. Have Centralised Access

A good RegTech system will encompass all areas of compliance across departments, functions across multiple geographical locations. Several RegTech systems have dashboard facilities (can be customised) that will have information and continuous check over the compliance processes.

2. Give “Up-to-date Information”

While globalisation is bringing us closer, it isn’t the case for compliance and regulations. Different jurisdictions follow different rules & the expectations of the regulators are dynamic. Even within a country, different states may have different laws and regulations. For a company that has operations in multiple sites, it is tedious to manually track every region’s regulations. A good RegTech system will have a closely connected communication protocol that ensures transparency. Such a system will be intelligent enough to notify the FIs every time the regulations are updated.

3. Generate bespoke reports - 24/7

Report generation is one of the major bottlenecks that compliance officers face today. To generate a consolidated periodical report, the average time taken is approximately one week. A good RegTech software resolves this issue by providing data organisation, mining and offer customised reports.

4. Do Efficient Audit Trails

An audit trail (also known as audit log) is a security-relevant chronological record that provides evidence of the activities that have affected any specific operation, procedure, or event. RegTech software allows easy and simple scrutinisation of data and reports which enables quick risk identification and problem resolution.

Business Benefits:

Perhaps, the biggest advantage of deploying a comprehensive RegTech software, is its intelligence and that it goes beyond just reporting. According to a report by Deloitte, “In the short-term RegTech will help firms to automate the more mundane compliance tasks and reduce operational risks associated with meeting compliance and reporting obligations. In the longer term, it will empower compliance functions to make informed risk choices based on data provided insight about the compliance risks it faces and how it mitigates and manages those risks”. With banks and financial institutions having branches across the world, RegTech can deftly operate across multiple-jurisdictions with role based access saving time and money.

Better Stakeholder Value: With effective governance risk and compliance management, a RegTech solution empowers the brand to earn the confidence of stakeholders.

Optimal Risk-Return Outcome: Greater transparency and visibility enables decision makers to undertake initiatives with the most optimal risk-reward outcomes.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership: Integrated corporate governance, risk and compliance management leads to significantly lower costs incurred in deploying such a technology.

Improved Business Performance: Robust compliance management and proactive identification, tracking of risk and resolution of issues lead to better operating performance.

At the pace in which technology is expediting globalisation, compliance functions in a financial company continuously face cyber and corruption risks. In such a demanding environment, a robust compliance/RegTech system will make an important contribution towards increasing profitability and efficiency of financial institutions.

The focus however, needs to shift to promoting a culture which will encourage all staff to take responsibility for doing the right thing all the time. This will reinforce accountability within the business.

This article was originally published on Éclat Q1 2017 edition. (https://www.uaeexchange.com/corporate-news-magazine/1424-eclat-corporate-news-magazine-quarter-1-2017)

Technology has always been an enabler in the financial world right from the era of traditional calculators. The financial industry has witnessed several path-breaking innovations in technology that has empowered companies to carry out faster transactions, reduce errors, transparent payments and more personalised services.

Below are five technology trends that will dictate the financial industry:

1. Internet of Things

IoT is set to disrupt the financial sector, and according to IDC (International Data Corporation) Financial Insights, a market intelligence service provider, retail banks will spend over USD 16 billion on digital transformation technology. So what exactly is IoT? And how will it affect the lives of consumers? Internet or otherwise “Internetworking” of things is basically networking of different physical smart devices such as your smartphones, computers, and electronic appliances at home viz. television, washing machines. In simple words, all things electronic that you own will interact with each other (and with external entities) to offer you more intelligent services and experience. How will this impact businesses? According to Gartner, Inc. (a technology research and advisory corporation), there will be nearly 20.8 billion devices on the Internet of things by 2020. And with such explosion of data and information, businesses can offer more personalised services at the right time to its customers.

2. Augmented & Virtual Reality

In 2016, the world went gaga over Pokémon Go, with people jay-walking on the streets. Today, tech-savvy millennials consist of the majority of consumers and staff. And according to the Millennial Disruption Index, 73% of surveyed millennials expect offerings and services from Google, PayPal or Apple rather than from their banks. In fact, 33% of them say they won’t even need a bank in the future! With such a fervour towards technologies and video games, they find it difficult to relate to conventional brick-and-mortar banking activities. Financial companies are investing heavily in R&D to leverage Augmented Reality and are coming up with technologies that offer immersive experience through visualization. For e.g. Citibank have been experimenting with Microsoft Hololens as a virtual workstation that combines 2D and 3D to complement some of the bank’s trading operations. These workstations have colourful bubble-maps and holistic patterns of the market empowering its traders. Cool huh?!

3. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

What if your financial planner Bob, is a Robot, who gives you extremely accurate advises within seconds on your next investment? Sounds unbelievable? Well, brace yourself since Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning could have a breakthrough influence in automation and personalization in customer service. AI tools are also expected to reduce errors, fraud and crime along with increase in speed of operations. In the next ten years, Robo-bankers are all set to take-over humans and automated banking could replace over 30% of employees in the financial sector!

Technology trends

4. Blockchain

Both Bitcoin (cryptocurrency) and Blockchain (technology behind Bitcoin) have become a disruptive force in the financial world. While the former is still elusive and a concept that has not been widely accepted, the latter has gained foothold as a technology that can transform the financial industry positively. So what is a blockchain? According to Financial Times, “A blockchain is a shared digital ledger that allows transactions to be recorded and verified electronically over a network of computers without a central ledger. Cryptography is used to protect the data from fraud or hackers.” So what’s all the hype about you ask? Well, if implemented smartly, there are numerous benefits of blockchain including, decentralisation, reliability, simplification, transparency, traceability, cost saving, reduced errors, faster transactions and improved data quality! And there’s more! Blockchain technology will simplify complex and cumbersome processes in the financial industry especially in Asset Management, Insurance Claims Processing, and Supply Chain Trade Finance etc., to name a few. It is also said to reduce bottlenecks in the International Payments sector and will enable banks and money transfer houses to provide real-time payments whilst reducing operational costs, human error and fraud thereby alleviating money laundering.

5. Mobile Payments & more

A new generation of mobile applications are making money transfers faster, less expensive, and reduce the hassle of visiting the ATM. According to Business Insider, the opportunity is huge and is worth more that USD 1 trillion. In fact, in Australia, Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have invested in technology that can store credit card information in their mobile phones. In fact companies are also exploring to extend this technology in wearables (watch, jackets) etc. The major game changes in mobile payments are inApp Social Payments (through Facebook etc.), Virtual Currencies, Peer to Peer Innovations and Mobile banking solutions.

With such innovations, be ready to receive a personalised car loan from your bank, the minute you walk in to a car showroom, tap your mobile phone on the store POS, make payments through the sensors on your jacket, and send money that will reach your loved ones through your mobile in just minutes! It’s a consumer’s world after all!

This article was originally published on Éclat Q4 2016 edition. (https://www.uaeexchange.com/corporate-news-magazine/1352-eclat-corporate-news-magazine-quarter-4-2016)

Imagine a hooded stranger stealing financial or personal information from your computer or mobile phone. And worse still, he demands an exorbitant amount as ransom to give you access to your own data. Such looting and extorting is exactly what WannaCry Ransomware virus does!

Several corporations, hospitals, schools and individuals have succumbed to this malware attack. They have paid money upto $ 40,000 to retrieve their files. But only 42% of them have partially recovered their stolen information.

So how do you protect yourself from this cryptoviral extortion attack?

Don’t open phishing emails

Statistics show that 97% of Ransomware are circulated and delivered by phishing emails, which are fraudulent emails appearing to come from legitimate sources. So refrain from clicking on any link you see. First hover your mouse, or tap and hold on each message link to view the actual URL. Check whether the hover-text link matches with the link you usually transact on. If no, then delete the message and never access it again. Also remember not to open any attachment with the extension ‘.exe’ or ‘.js’. Or you’ll have to risk downloading the Ransomware without your knowledge.

Back up your files

The biggest loss people succumb to during these attacks, is not having access to important pictures, files and documents that may be personal or professional. Create backups of critical financial, professional and personal data on separate hard drives and keep them away from any network connection. This way even when the virus infiltrates in, your data is not completely lost.

Ransomware

Update your operating system and antivirus software

Having the latest antivirus programme installed in your computer and other devices is very important to prevent these cyber attacks. Hackers usually prey on complacency. So keep updating your operating system and security programmes as often as possible. Remember to turn on the automatic windows update. These updates are usually filled with several security patches that can fix bugs and close loopholes.

Turn off drives, macros and plugins

One your done syncing data in Dropbox/Google Drive/One Drive/etc, ensure you turn off/ sign out immediately. Also turn off macros in the Microsoft Office tools such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. when you are not using them. Don’t leave them open on your computer or mobile devices, as its vulnerability increases. Remember to activate browser plugins such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java and Silverlight only when needed. Remove any outdated plugins and add-ons from your browser.

Never pay the ransom

Cyber criminals demand ransom in exchange for providing access to your lost files. The payment is usually demanded in bitcoins. This digital currency is widely used as it is decentralised, unregulated and practically impossible to trace. Even if the ransom seems affordable, never pay the same. The reason is, the payment of ransom amount will encourage the hackers to release more such Ransomware into the mainstream network.

So, wake up, follow the simple tips mentioned above to escape these virus attacks!

The internet can be a brilliant resource for your children. They can find material for their projects, keep themselves updated on the latest developments and also develop new skillsets. But like a coin, the internet has two sides to it. While it offers your child a world of entertainment and education, it is also a lurking place for predators and fraudsters.

As a parent how can you keep your children – no matter how old they are - safe online? How can you ensure they do not get involved with any predators or make mistakes which can put them in danger?

Internet Safety to Children

The following internet safety tips will help you with this.

        1. Make sure you spend time with them when they are on the computer.
        2. Set up parental controls and content filtering on computers, tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets.
        3. Teach your children never to give out their personal information like name, address, phone number, school/college name etc. without your permission.
        4. Password-protect all folders which contain personal and family pictures. This way you can be sure your children are not uploading these pictures without your                           permission.
        5. Ensure your children understand that they are not allowed to personally meet anyone, they met online, without your permission.
        6. Keep the computer/laptop in the common room and not in individual bedrooms, so you can monitor its use.
        7. As parents, monitor your credit card bills for unfamiliar charges. Children can be easily lured to make purchases online.
        8. Bookmark your children’s favourite sites, so they can get to it easily.
        9. Monitor the amount of time your child spends on the computer. Excessive time online, especially at night should be considered as a red flag.
      10. Do not allow your children to use the webcam when you are not around. Ensure they know it’s to be used only for family video calls.
      11. Make sure you always logout of all your websites, especially if you access money transferring websites frequently, to transfer money home. Keep changing the                         password frequently.
      12. Maintain a healthy and open relationship with your child, and establish an atmosphere of trust, so that they will come to you for help in uncomfortable situations.
      13. Take your child seriously if he/she reports any such incident.
      14. If you child has a ‘new’ friend online, then insist on being introduced to this friend.
      15. Make them understand that they should not bully anyone online nor respond to anyone who is bullying them. Bullying can be a criminal offense and strict actions will be            taken against anyone who participates in it.

Taking an active role in monitoring your kids' internet activities will help guarantee that they benefit from it without being exposed to any potential dangers.

Whether you were on a career break or a sabbatical, getting back to work after the hiatus is a huge challenge. Bouncing back with your dream job/ role is a true dare, which can be accomplished only with proper strategies in place.

Here are simple tips to get you back on the radar.

Update your resume

Like it or hate it, your two page resume will be your very first impression. While a career gap doesn’t look great on a resume, you need to update it with all the relevant things you did during your break. It could be new skill sets you acquired that could turn your weaker spots into your strengths.

Stay relevant on social media

Companies today rely heavily on social media portals like LinkedIn and Facebook for their recruitment. Hence make sure you have an updated account in these portals. There are dedicated recruitment websites in every country. So upload your resume on these websites to get noticed.

Network

Your ex-colleagues and ex-managers will always remember your professionalism and dedication to work. Leverage this to your advantage. Get in touch with them to increase your chances of finding the perfect job post the hiatus.

hiatus

 

Be flexible

A lot might have changed in the corporate world during your time off, the market value for your skill set might have dipped. There could be new technology in the market that is a must know for every professional. Consider these factors when applying for jobs and ensure that you acquire working knowledge of these new technology.

Being flexible will help you adjust quickly to the new reality of your career, the last thing you want when you’re trying to revive your career is to undersell or over sell yourself.

Seek help for international career opportunities

You might have been working in a different country before you took a break and gone back to your home country. In such scenarios it might be difficult to network or gauge the market potential abroad. Make sure you reach out to recruitment agencies who hire for foreign countries, so they can help you. The recruitment agencies will charge you a fee for their work, but with easy remittance channels available, to make payments online, you should consider this option.

Be patient

Last but not the least make sure you remain patient. With hard work and patience you can realise your true potential and get your career back on right track.

Motherhood (and indeed fatherhood too) is a life-changing experience. The first few weeks of being a new parent can be an emotional and anxious time. Thankfully, there exists a host of baby-related technologies that can make life easier for worried new mummies. Here, in alphabetical order, is our list of the top technologies for parents of small babies.

Breastfeeding app: There are lots of apps available which allow you to keep track of nursing sessions, the side you nursed on last, and alternate breast and bottle feedings. A popular app you can try is “Baby Tracker: Nursing”.

A new mom Technologies that can make your life better
Online forums: Online communities have come into their own, lending much needed advice and support. “British Mums Dubai” is an example. The website is aimed primarily at expat mums and offers baby advice, weaning tips, competitions and access to a community of mums who’ve already been there and are ready with helpful advice. It’s linked to their Facebook group, which you can request to join.

Digital Ear Thermometer: You will use it many times every day, to check whether that crying is because your baby is ill or just fussing! You can also use it at night without waking the baby up if he or she feels hot. It’s not glamorous, but is an essential piece of technological kit.

Itzbeen Pocket Nanny: This hand-held device helps you record and monitor your baby’s naps, feedings and diaper changes- essential for those sleep-deprived weeks where you can’t remember the last time you changed your baby!

White Noise Machine: There are many of these available, and all emit white noise similar to that heard in the womb, to help shush your baby to sleep. A popular option is the Baby Shusher, which emits a constant rhythmic shushing sound designed to mesmerise your baby into a calm sleep.

WiFi baby monitor: The days of the static “radio” baby monitor are long gone. Baby monitors have revolutionised in the digital age, and now use WiFi, 4G and smartphones so you can easily keep an eye on your sleeping baby from anywhere. The best ones offer high-security, password-protected streaming to keep you and your baby secure.

There are many technological advances to help make your parenting experience better. But perhaps the most essential piece of technology is a data-enabled smartphone, whether to google a strange rash, look up baby products, or simply while away the midnight feeds with some gentle browsing.

Happy parenting!

The world’s popular shopping apps

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Few pastimes are more satisfying than shopping and experiencing the thrill of sourcing that coveted little black dress, bagging the latest gadget, landing a bargain and redeeming a discount. Shopping now comes via mobile and tablets, which means you can shop straight from your living room couch and have your purchases delivered to your door. Here (in alphabetical order) is our list of some of the world’s most popular apps.

The worlds popular shopping apps

Amazon: No list of this type can be compiled without mentioning Amazon, the big daddy of online stores. With millions of users, there isn’t much you can’t find here, and every day there are deals where if you’re quick off the mark you can nab yourself a top bargain. Amazon is super-easy to use, so much so that you’ll be lost in retail paradise before you can say “Login”.

eBay: The online auction site has made bidders of us all, and if you’re obsessed with outbidding the competition, the app makes your life even easier. You can set up notifications and alerts straight to your phone so pesky real life doesn’t get in the way of that elusive deal.

Etsy: If you’re the arty, crafty type, this is your spiritual Internet home. Here you’ll be able to access items from almost a million sellers, frequently unique, handmade and limited editions. You can browse other people’s work, or have a go at starting your own cottage industry.

Google Shopper: This app recognises products via simple text search, but also by barcode, voice and sometimes photo. It offers price comparisons, reviews and information on millions of products to help you get the best deal on whatever you’re buying.

Groupon brings you deals close to your local area, on all sorts of products and services. You can buy and redeem deals without ever leaving your phone, and the customised local content opens up new experiences even within your own hometown.

LivingSocial: This app provides deals offering discounts of upto 90% on goods and services. You can buy directly from your phone, and there are nice rewards (like freebies) if you refer friends to get the same deal you do.

So in these modern days, when people can access any product they like from the comfort of their homes, the world really is your oyster when it comes to online shopping. And with Gocash the prepaid card available from UAE Exchange, you can make those purchases quickly and easily, while still keeping tabs on your budget and protecting your financial details.

The ability to transfer money, and pay through your mobile phone, has transformed the consumer experience. Whether it’s paying a parking fine, buying a birthday gift or sending a money transfer abroad, conducting financial transactions with the tap of a screen is the new norm. However, when transferring large sums of money, whether domestically or internationally, it’s always wise to take precautions. Here are our top tips for transferring money and paying for services securely through your mobile.

Update your device: Make sure the phone/mobile device itself is secure even before you start a transfer. Ensure that your operating system (iOS, Android, etc.) is up to date, because the latest versions also have the latest security protections. For Android phones, it may be a good idea to invest in an antivirus program to protect against malware.

Update your app: Ensure that you’re using the latest version of your money transfer or payment app. Each new version addresses vulnerabilities, potential exploits and other concerns that have been identified. Generally, apps that you haven’t updated in a while are more vulnerable to exploits than those kept current.

Choose reputable payment enablers: It’s always a good idea to use reputable payment and transfer apps that have been carefully designed for security and will keep your financial details safe.

How to transfer money

Use a strong password: If your mobile payment app requires a password, pick a strong one. The ideal password should contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. If your phone has biometric locking features, it’s best to enable those as well to guard against theft.

Use secure Wi-Fi: Try to make sure that the Wi-Fi connection is private and secure. Unsecured public Wi-Fi services can be vulnerable to breaches.

Use an extra level of verification: Use mobile sites with transaction guarantors such as 3D Secure or Verified-By-Visa, which require an extra level of authentication before transfers are approved. Where possible, enable two-step verification. It might be one more step before a transaction goes through, but it’s worth it for peace of mind.

Check your bank and credit card statements: It’s a good idea to keep a record of all transactions and compare them against your bank and credit card statements. This will make sure that fraudulent or accidental charges are instantly noted.

So, there you have it. With our checklist for safe mobile payments and transfers, you’re all set to turn your phone into a powerhouse of financial transactions.

Any sort of payment that is made without direct contact between seller and buyer can be considered a remote one. It’s easy to see how the ability to make remote payments has changed the consumer experience for the better. Online shopping, door to door delivery, and the ability to wave your phone at a checkout sensor when paying for goods, all rely on remote payments.

Why? Because these aren’t just good for the consumer but are also incredibly empowering for entrepreneurs and SMEs. Consider the new paradigm of transport created by Uber and Careem. These services won’t have been as possible without adopting a seamless remote payment system. E-commerce stores too rely on remote payments for their business model to work – though many in the UAE also offer cash on delivery.

So, remote payments unlock new business models by diversifying away from a cash-only model. They also enable a wealth of data gathering, upselling and cross-promotional activities.

For instance, mobile and remote payments can help businesses small and large integrate loyalty programmes into the payment system. Customer information can be stored in the payment gateway, which does away with needing additional tokens or customer codes to be punched in. Adding value directly to the customer experience increases brand loyalty and makes the customer want to return.

Remote payments are good for businesses too

Remote payment gateways are also an excellent way of upselling and cross-selling. Relevant offers, discounts and additional goods and services can be offered right at the point of payment, either through mobile or online. Customers are more receptive to these offers at the point of payment, which improves conversion rates and sales.

Remote payments, and those made through mobile, are also very helpful in tracking inventory and understanding customer behaviour. It helps businesses track the products and services they are selling, and gain insight into customer demand. Not only can they capture payment information but can also store purchasing patterns to learn more about their customers, and improve their service offering.

It’s not just remote payments that are helpful for businesses. Remote money transfers, such as those enabled by the UAE Exchange Money2Anywhere portal, make it exceptionally easy for customers to transfer money anywhere in the world, and support family and friends back home – creating disposable income. For local businesses back home, this higher disposable income translates into sales, which in turn unlocks job creation to add further prosperity to the community.

Remote payments have revolutionised the consumer experience. At the same time, they’ve helped businesses find new audiences and better serve existing ones. With a simple, secure effective remote payment provider, a good marketing plan and reliable shipping methods, a small business can widen its net of potential customers far beyond the geographical boundaries of its physical location - with obvious benefits to turnover and profit.

Mobile wallets and payment apps are a great way to extend financial inclusivity to unbanked audiences, and also to get users transacting, paying and transferring money through their mobile phones. Dedicated payment apps are turning smartphones into financial powerhouses – allowing consumers to access and pay for services on the fly. As the GCC moves towards a smart government experience to facilitate economic growth, here are some of the apps making payments on the go a whole lot easier:

e-Dirham: Included in Dubai Smart Government Innovation Annual Report 2016 as an award-winner in the e-commerce category, the app lets users make payments without needing their e-Dirham card, top up their mobile e-wallet and much more.

DubaiNow Smart Government App: With a perfect 5-star rating on the iOS App Store, this handy app puts access to government services in the palm of your hand. Pay most of your bills and fees, and track and plan your travel around the city.

Hotpay: With 4 stars on the Google Play store, this popular app lets users in Kuwait pay their mobile bills for all three Kuwaiti telcos, and buy e-vouchers for Google Play, CashU, Netflix, Amazon, PlayStation and other services.

Top mobile payment apps in the GCC

mPay: Dubai residents can use this popular app – with 4 stars on the Google Play store - to pay for telco and government services. Connected to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Etisalat, the Roads and Transport Authority and Dubai Police, mPay has been redesigned with a slick new interface to facilitate payments for mobile phone and broadband bills, DEWA bills, traffic fines, and Salik and Nol cards.

Payit Global: With a high 4.5-star rating on the Android Google Play store, this Kuwaiti app personalises your payment experience and unlocks a range of payment services for your phone. Use it to pay bills, top up phone lines, buy vouchers and access other services.

PayPal: The Top Ten Reviews site has included the PayPal app in its top ten roundup of 2016’s best mobile wallets. This easy and convenient app links your PayPal with your phone, and helps you make payments and transfer money around the globe.

RTA Dubai: Included in the Dubai Smart Government Innovation Annual Report 2016 short-list, the mobile app of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) brings a range of traffic and vehicle related services straight to the palm of your hand. Users can use the app to pay for services and clear fines.

Sadad: If you’re in Bahrain, use Sadad to pay through your mobile, anywhere and at any time. The app, available for both Android and iOS, has a solid 4-star rating on the Google Play store and enables access to over 30 services.

And that’s a wrap-up. Empower yourself by turning your phone into a powerful means of payment through our list of popular apps.

On the other hand if you are not a mobile payment person, you can always visit the nearest UAE Exchange branch for all your bill payment needs!

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