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8 - Finance Digest │ Financial Literacy │ Financial PlanningBy Ellison Anne Williams, CEO and Founder at Enveil

During this time of year, we frequently take time to contemplate what the world will look like in the year ahead. From a business perspective, insight into what the industry landscape will deliver can help determine where to invest time and resources — and give organizations the much-desired leg up on the competition. When considering the Financial Services arena in 2023, and the FinTech space, in particular, there is one organizational component that has the power to enable entities to both thrive and fail: Data. While calling out the importance of data may sound simple and obvious, acknowledging the important role it plays for functions across any financial entity can also lead to wide-scale efforts to solve the data challenges through an investment of time and resources. Ultimately, the organizations who are best positioned to securely and privately leverage data to drive decision making will win — in 2023 and beyond.

To explore the idea in more depth, let’s start with what makes data so critical. It’s not possession of the data itself — in fact, global businesses are beginning to understand that leveraging third-party data they don’t own or control has a powerful role to play — but rather an entity’s ability to meaningfully use that data to extract value. Organizations increasingly recognize that the ability to leverage the right data, at the right time, leads to better informed and more effective decision making. This is especially true in the FinTech sector where real-time access to the best data available can mean the difference between being able to identify (and prevent) financial crime and allowing criminal behavior to proceed unencumbered.

For example, data silos and privacy boundaries continue to cripple financial organizations’ ability to fight criminal activity such as fraud and money laundering. If a prospective customer wants to open a bank account and provides basic identifying information (name, address, occupation, etc.), the bank will use this information to search for existing account information and any red flags that might indicate the potential risks. However, current privacy regulations often limit the information the bank can actually search, despite having access to its own global information network. This inability to efficiently cross-reference information within other regions or privacy jurisdictions leaves the onboarding bank with incomplete information, and a customer risk rating that may not accurately represent the situation at hand. Criminals know this to be the case, and frequently work to exploit these information blind spots.

Understanding that secure and private data sharing and collaboration are key business enablers in situations like this, we are increasingly seeing financial institutions harness technology-powered solutions to overcoming data silos at scale. Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) are already being applied to a broad range of data usage challenges across industries and that usage will only increase in 2023. The category, which has been garnering attention from both regulators and industry analysts for some time, is proving its value, and staying power, in FinTech by allowing banks to securely collaborate across jurisdictions and organizational boundaries.

PETs-powered solutions facilitate secure and private data usage so organizations can more effectively evaluate customer risk. By enabling banks to securely and privately cross-match and search regulated data across silos in a business-relevant timeframe while ensuring sensitive assets remain protected during processing, PETs help eliminate communication gaps and enable better decision making. The ability to access and use a wider set of data in this secure and privacy-preserving manner improves outcomes by driving prioritization, reducing false positives, advancing the efficiency of financial crime investigations, improving enterprise data quality, and enabling greater operational efficiency. 

It’s clear the digital era is in full swing and data is king. However, organizations continue to struggle to find the balance between value extraction and risk management. The pace of change has left regulators and lawmakers scrambling to keep up, which means organizations are forced to determine their internal risk tolerance, a choice that often spans stakeholders in functions representing legal, security, privacy, and business enablement. In 2023, the solution to the secure data usage challenge will be delivered through technology. The timing is right market demand is high, the technology is proven — for Privacy Enhancing Technologies to have a breakout year.

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