Smita Gupta describes the changes that COVID-19 has brought to Finastra and why its vision of improving the world through technology is undiminished...
If the pandemic has demonstrated anything, it’s that fintech can truly be a force for societal good and an anchor that provides surety during even the most uncertain times. Although this assessment is no surprise to industry leader Finastra, the potential for positive change has, in its view, reached a pivotal moment. Accelerated digital transformation around the world is widening the company’s scope to shape and be a part of the financial services industry’s new reality in every sense, from enabling broader financial inclusion to investing in the environment and developing its renowned FusionFabric.cloud platform.
Smita Gupta, Global Head of Platform Ecosystem, Developer and Marketplaces Marketing, returned to speak with us about how Finastra is helping to redefine the future of finance.
Having joined the company in 2016 - just as Open Banking started to gain momentum - Gupta relates that it was always evident that Finastra offered a very different proposition in the fintech world: “I saw a tremendous opportunity to build an entire APAC marketing organisation from scratch and bring together several innovative digital marketing technologies.” Starting out as the Chief Marketing Officer for Finastra in the APAC region (based in Singapore), she relocated to London in 2019 and developed her current role from there. Bringing a wealth of experience from some of the largest tech companies in the world, Gupta knows the enterprise value not only of Finastra’s solutions and software, but also its culture. “Finastra is a fintech that values diversity,” she states, “both in terms of its people and the experience we bring to the table. Everything we do encourages an open culture and an environment of innovation.”
Finastra’s belief that fintech can work “to redefine finance for good” was fully put to the test in 2020, and it has succeeded in validating this stance. In May, the company launched a solution to support the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, and created a virtual lending platform to help process loans for small businesses as part of the US Government’s Payment Protection Programme (PPP).). Elsewhere, Gupta adds, Finastra has been keenly exploring new ‘finance for good’ alternatives, many of which, because of pandemic-related digital transformation acceleration, have been brought forward a lot sooner. “What might have taken years has had to be completed in months. Businesses have seen a reduction in cash transactions in favour of contactless payment methods, and cloud technology has enabled businesses to keep running by allowing employees to work from home.” The latter development has applications not just relating to business continuity but also reduced carbon emissions through less staff commuting. During the peak of the pandemic, Finastra also operated remotely, with over 90% of its employees working at home, enabling it to roll out mission-critical tech for banks and financial institutions while also prioritising the wellbeing of its people.
If one attempted to summarise Finastra succinctly, then ‘unlocking new digital ecosystem opportunities, fuelling smart growth, and future-proofing organisations’ would be a good start. A critical pillar of its capability to fulfill these goals is FusionFabric.cloud, an open and synergistic developer platform and app marketplace for the finance industry. “We're encouraging collaboration and enabling banks to access innovation faster, such as via sprint programmes and 100-day jumpstart initiatives,” says Gupta. A champion of Open Banking, Finastra’s solutions can help accelerate innovation by utilising APIs that allow disparate products and modules to combine in refreshing new ways. With capabilities that extend from retail and corporate banking to payments, lending, and capital markets, FusionFabric.cloud can facilitate:
I saw a tremendous opportunity to shape the APAC marketing organisation and invest in digital technologies that enable us, with new insights and innovative services, to address customers’ increasingly-sophisticated desires and needs.
Job Title, Company
Global Head of Platform Ecosystem, Developer and Marketplaces Marketing, Finastra
Women's History Month throughout March 2021 drew a lot of attention both to the success and the struggles of women in modern business. Gupta remarks that, for Finastra, every month is an opportunity to celebrate diversity:
“We believe it is key to support people, whatever their background, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, to feel safe, have a voice and an opportunity to reach their full potential at work, at home, and in society.
“Finastra is careful to ensure that whatever we do is inclusive and empowering. Examples include our recent hackathon to tackle gender bias in artificial intelligence through FusionFabric.cloud. As a company we’re extremely vocal and supportive about equality and inclusion; innovation and creativity often result from the more diversity you bring to the table.”
The company isn’t just enabling change for others; things are evolving at Finastra, too. Placing increased emphasis on integrated digital marketing and leveraging data analytics to personalise products to customers’ needs, Finastra is also considering new ways of operating internally. “We’re reimagining the workplaces of the future based on our employees’ feedback,” says Gupta. “80% of our employees favour a ‘two-plus’ model for returning to the office, where they will work two days in the office, two days at home, and then decide with their managers where to spend the fifth day. Furthermore, we’ve invested heavily in collaboration tools, committed to 50% less travel in the future, and have galvanised staff by offering both flexible and uncapped holidays.” Keeping up morale, she reasons, is key, and utilising these modern working practices are invaluable for “supporting colleagues in the most abnormal of times.”
Alongside its own transformation, Finastra is helping to usher in a new vision for the world of finance. Dedicated to serving and making a difference to the communities within which it operates, the company insists on an equivalent level of commitment from its partners. “The future of finance is open: open technology, open platforms, open collaboration and open innovation,” states Gupta. “The fintechs and banks we work with embrace both this mantra and our platform. It’s truly open collaboration.” Throughout 2021 and beyond, she foresees renewed focus around issues such as financial inclusion in underserved areas, support for global trade, and the continued development of cloud’s industry applications. “I’m also passionate that marketing, as a function, can be at the forefront of this change. We are at an extremely pivotal moment: the pandemic has brought the future forward, and with it has come accelerated digitalisation. Finastra has a chance to truly redefine finance for good.” As a final plea to the industry, Gupta concludes by encouraging all organisations to embrace collaboration and inclusion, which fosters innovation and, in turn, creates new opportunities for everyone.”
Fintech innovators like Finastra are providing finance’s global community with the opportunity to change the world and help solve some of its biggest challenges. Not least of these is climate change. Finastra’s partnership with Climate First Bank(in organization) is a good example of how these values can align.
Climate First Bank (in organization) provides environmentally-focused investment programmes and solar loan options, as well as operating with complete carbon neutrality and working with local communities to provide ‘green infrastructure’.
Finastra is contributing cloud-based banking systems through its Fusion Phoenix product, and other tech-based solutions. “Through the digitisation of banking processes or the digitalisation of financial services, our solutions can aid the reduction of employee travel, paper consumption or energy, and we are committed to reducing emissions within our sector, in collaboration with our customers and partners,” said Chris Zingo, SVP and GM of Americas Field Operations, in a press release.
“I encourage everybody to look at this interesting case study to find out how cloudification and digital transformation are going to be the key to the future of finance,” added Gupta.