Mr. Pfefferer, can you tell our readers more about yourself and your professional background?
I began my career with BMW in the global operations vertical. This exposure started me off on a long journey that has spanned several countries in the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
The areas I have pursued include:
- International business cooperation and tie ups
- Business strategy and globalization
- Market research
- Data analytics and AI
What was your first “win” that made you confident that you were doing the right thing?
I learnt fairly early on in my career, that most leaders (including some of my bosses) were totally focused on winning in the marketplace. They had a clear understanding of the goals that they would like to see accomplished or visions that they would like to pursue. However, they often seemed to forget that any achievement requires the full support of the team. It is vital that that a leader leads by example and carries his team along. Perhaps my greatest achievement to date has been working alongside my teams in several different countries, to achieve the organisational objectives.
What career mistake has given you the biggest lesson?
As a manager, being busy is a sign of importance and being in demand. You’re busy because you have a lot of work and are needed by the company in many ways. Long hours show dedication and ambition. Once you become CEO though, if you’re harried and overloaded you’ll fail to see the forest for the trees and it will leave your people without the guidance and clarity they need to have focus.
While there are lots of things to learn and new skills to develop when you move into the chief job, I believe you also have some unlearning to do as well – what got you to the top will help to keep you there. Besides nothing can be achieved without team support. My hardest lesson was to step back into the role of a mentor and coach, which meant enabling my team to get the work done, rather than trying to do everything myself.
In your opinion, how has the fintech industry changed in the past 5 years?
Fintech or financial technology, has become a common buzzword in the financial services industry. It has changed the entire scenario of the traditional financial ecosystem around the globe. The development of technologies acted as a catalyst for the growth of the fintech industry. Fintech companies have undergone relentless technological innovations, which have made them more ambitious, advanced, and creative. The most successful implications of fintech are witnessed in the banking systems.
For about three decades now, consumer behavior has been heavily influenced by the fintech disruption of the traditional banking systems. Even the local vegetable vendor and the pharmacist use QR scan codes to get the payments from the customers. The current regulatory fintech environment has opened unprecedented opportunities for businesses and customers. Gone are the days when the transactions included only cash and long queues in banks. With easy and affordable access to technology, financial services have become efficient and can cost-effectively move money and information in real-time.
Currently, the banking industry is abandoning the brick-and-mortar system and adopting a fully digital ecosystem. The latest digital banking trends provide banking services completely over mobile apps and websites, including the ability to pay for in-store purchases directly from the customers’ devices. Several banking applications also aid users in investing in crypto and stock and help manage their financial portfolios. Since relying heavily on technology can raise issues about cybersecurity, fintech has enabled banks to integrate blockchain technology into their systems to enhance security.
What is the biggest challenge for the fintech industry at the moment?
According to Accenture, 82% of US bankers and 79% of bankers globally believe that AI will revolutionize the way banks fetch data and interact with customers.
As we know, big data and AI have made their impact in every organization. Using big data, organizations can collect personal information about users social status to financial behavior, habits, and in-app activity.
This data is very important to banks, especially when it comes to credit ratings and offering other high-risk banking services. With the help of big data, AI automates the whole process to detect fraud, perform a risk analysis, and manage transactions effectively.
However, fintech organizations face various challenges to implement these technologies. They require expertise and constant maintenance.
If you are already in the banking industry, it will not be easy to integrate the latest technologies into your existing system. Implementing this will require not only technical adjustments but will reshape your business and require adaptation from you and your customers.
In your opinion, which current fintech (or digital banking) trend will be essential to the future of the industry?
More financial service institutions are deploying chatbots and artificial intelligence to improve customer experience and automate processes. While freeing up humans to provide better and more personalized services, the chatbots interact with customers in real time to give them the information that they need when they need it, leaving them with high customer satisfaction.
People can expect to see many improvements in the way chatbots work as artificial intelligence is making it easier for them to act more like humans. Chatbots will most likely be more able to improve their understanding of conversational language (slang) and improve upon their grammatical errors.
Improvements should also be seen in the way services will be provided, based on information gathered in 2019 through conversations between chatbots and customers.