Smart Speech/voice-Based Technology Market Will Reach $ 15.5 Billion by 2029 Forecasts IDTechEx Research

The recent global market report Voice, Speech, Conversation-Based User Interfaces 2019-2029: Technologies, Players, Markets from IDTechEx Research forecasts the market for smart speech/voice-based technology will reach $ 15.5 billion by 2029.

Natural human-machine interface is shaping our life

From punch cards, to keyboards, from mouse to touch screens, technologies have shaped the way how human interact with machines. “Human-machine interface” (HMI) began as “computer interface”. That is because early computers were not interactive and gradually “human-machine interface” became “human-machine interaction”. “Interaction” is the first revolution occurred in the development of human-machine interface. Now we are experiencing the transition to “natural user interface”, which is considered to be the second revolution of HMI. Machines/computers can interpret natural human communication and they communicate more like humans.

Compared with keyboards and mouses, touch is considered as a natural interaction. Apart from touch, audio and vision modalities can also provided new ways of interactions.

Speech/Voice-based interaction

Speech enables a convenient integration. It is hands-free, eyes-free and keyboard-free. As talking is natural for most of us and it does not require us to learn new skills, the learning curve is low. Human can speak 150 words on average per minute compared with 40 when typing. Speech interaction can be quickly mastered by young generations, old people, disabled people and illiterate people. It can also be applied in occasions and devices where common interactions are challenging such as while driving, without light, or in extremely small wearables. These advantages make speech an increasingly popular media for devices and applications.

Speech recognition (SR) is the “ear” of a machine, which is the basis for speech user interface as the input enables the whole interaction process. Speech recognition was first introduced in 1920s when a toy dog “Radio Rex” could come when his name was called. Speech user interface was also applied in vehicles in early times. However, the poor recognition accuracy and bad user experiences stopped it going further. Since 1993, the accuracy of speech recognition had been stagnated around 70% based on traditional model, which led to the poor user experiences as users could easily get frustrated and lose patience during the process. It was machine learning, or more specifically, deep learning, that significantly increased the accuracy of speech recognition in 2010s when they have been proved to be effective in improving the recognition accuracy. In 2016, Microsoft reported a speech recognition system reached human parity with a word error rate of 5.9% and in 2017, Google reported an accuracy of 95%. The technology improvement indicates that machines can be as good as human beings in terms of “hearing” and now speech recognition has become a commodity.

Giants such as Apple, Amazon, IBM, Google and Microsoft, all have efforts on smart speech. Besides the “ear”, it is also vital for the machines to have the “brain”, “mouth” and other organs to realize natural language speech interactions. In this process, emerging technologies and business models are established.

Speech is language-dependent, making the global market more complicated and segmented. However, the general focus of global market is English-centric interactions, with a few popular language systems developed by local players due to their strengths in language data.

Voice, Speech, Conversation-Based User Interfaces 2019-2029: Technologies, Players, Markets from IDTechEx Research provides an introduction of different technologies from both hardware and software point of view from the scratch. They are listed as following:

  • Voice-enabled smart speakers
  • Microphone arrays
  • MEMS speakers
  • Voice system on Chip
  • Machine learning
  • Front-end signal processing
  • Key word spotting
  • Automatic speech recognition
  • Natural language understanding
  • Speech synthesis
  • Voice recognition
  • Machine translation

Market landscape, business models and value chains are analysed in the report, with a ten-year market forecast in the angle of revenue model and applications for the following sectors:

  • Automotive
  • Banking, Financial and insurance
  • Healthcare
  • Travel, hotels
  • Retail/commerce
  • Home automation
  • Education
  • Game & Entertainment
  • Voice-enabled smart speakers

Open Banking 1st Anniversary today – already driving bank and FinTech innovation

Head of UK Banking at Simon-Kucher, Gianluca Corradi, explains how Open Banking is already benefitting customers and delivering innovation

January 14, 2019 marks the first anniversary of Open Banking, allowing banks, fintechs and ‘big techs’ to compete in a more fluid space.

Despite a “below the radar” start, Open Banking is truly shaping the future of finance. It is generating huge threats as well as tremendous opportunities to incumbent financial services players and new competitors, particularly through allowing more businesses to specialise in parts of the value chain where they can create a strong competitive advantage.

Initial impact

Gianluca Corradi, Head of UK Banking at pricing strategists Simon-Kucher (which works with numerous banks and fintechs in the UK and worldwide), says “The first year of Open Banking has already brought a significant change for the financial sector and indicated countless opportunities for future growth. I see this unfolding seismic shift started by the creation of Open Banking as largely benefiting customers through better services and better access to finance.

“So far it is early days and customers have not seen the true potential of Open Banking, but they are already starting to experience the benefits. For instance, being able to see all your financial wealth, investments and pensions seemed out of reach only a couple of years ago, but now it is happening.

“Fintechs are now taking it to the next level, allowing customers to monitor their financial wealth across all asset classes, from jewellery to real estate, and this is subsequently triggering new innovation by the high street banks. A good example of this is the app Asset Vault.

“After an initial period of panic, even large institutions are now taking a positive view on Open Banking, thinking about new ways to boost the current business. Open Banking has the potential to become a primary channel for distributing financial services – equal to branches and online.”

Arrival of tech giants

Gianluca adds: “Sooner or later, the financial services sector will lose most of its customer-facing roles to Big Tech technology giants, the way Amazon shook up the retail sector, Apple reshaped the music industry and Uber transportation, especially at nighttime, in cities.

“The reason for this is, essentially, customers don’t desire a financial product, their need instead is to fulfil other primary desires such as having income in retirement, owning a house or simply having a night out. For instance, when people ride an Uber car they are seeking transportation and may don’t even have to think of physically paying for the journey … it simply happens in the background without the need for cash or a credit card.

“Loss of brand recognition for many large and established financial sector firms is highly likely in the not-too-distant future, but this will not necessarily translate into less revenue for banks as being in the background allows players to focus on economies of scale and higher revenues from a higher volume.

“Banks with a relatively lower cost of funding and global reach might opt for this strategy. After all, no bank in the world that has as many customers as Amazon, and partnering with such a giant represents a huge opportunity for reaching clients and increasing market share.

Fintechs

“Fintechs are also adopting different strategies to win in this market. Some have been successful in gathering an extensive customer base and are now leveraging this position to cross-sell other financial products through a ‘marketplace approach’.

“Others have preferred to focus their effort on continuous innovation by white-labelling their solution to more established players with large customer bases.

“Finally, a third group of fintechs has opted for a radical change in the business model – the BaaS (Banking as a Service), essentially outsourcing the entire banking capabilities to third-party players.”

Consumer car finance market falls by 1% in November

New figures released today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show that the point of sale (POS) consumer car finance market fell by 1% in November, compared with the same month in 2017.

The percentage of private new car sales financed by FLA members through the POS was 91.2% in the twelve months to November.

The POS consumer used car finance market reported new business in November up 5% by value, while volumes remained at a similar level to the same month in 2017.

Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, said: “The POS consumer car finance market is on course for single-digit new business volumes growth in 2018 as a whole, despite the quieter performance of the market in November.”

Consumer finance new business up by 2% in November

New figures released today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show that consumer finance new business grew by 2% in November, compared with the same month in 2017.

Credit card and personal loan new business together grew by 1% compared with November 2017, while retail store and online credit new business increased by 2%. Second charge mortgage new business increased 21% by value and volume over the same period.

Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, said: “The consumer finance market reported modest growth in November reflecting subdued consumer confidence in the run up to Christmas.

“The latest figures suggest single-digit new business growth in 2018 as a whole.”

Paradigm announce Direct Authorisation transition workshop

Paradigm Mortgage Services, the mortgage services proposition, has announced its first free Direct Authorisation (DA) Transition workshop which will take place in London later this month.

The event is the first ever Paradigm workshop dedicated to helping firms either move from appointed representative (AR) to DA status, or supporting individuals new to the industry or within advisory practices who wish to go on their own and set up their own DA firms.

The workshop will take place in London on Thursday 24th January at the Grange Holborn Hotel with registration starting at 10am, and include a range of presentations from senior Paradigm staff providing an insight into what is involved in the process, what is required, and the support that can be provided with the FCA Application.

Presentations from Paradigm CEO, Bob Hunt; Head of Protection, Mike Allison; Mortgage Technical Director, Christine Newell; Head of Proposition, David Ryder; and Compliance Partner, Graeme Stewart, will help attendees achieve the following learning objectives:

· Increasing understanding of what to expect on becoming DA.
· Understanding what to consider when deciding whether it is the right time/move.
· Outlining the initial and ongoing costs involved in going DA.
· Detailing the support that Paradigm can offer.

Attendance at the half-day event will be completely confidential and no third-party lenders, providers, networks or support service firms will be at the workshop.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided and there will also be time for delegates to network with both Paradigm staff and fellow attendees.

Bob Hunt, Chief Executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services, commented: “Many advisers use the Christmas and New Year holiday period to ponder not just the year ahead but whether now might be the right time to change their regulatory status, to move away from a network arrangement, or to leave their firm and set out on their own. The pathway to DA for such individuals and firms can seem challenging but this free workshop is aimed at demystifying this journey, setting out the process, and very importantly showing the support that is available.

“We will have presentations on leaving a network and what to be aware of, on what to expect in terms of FCA fees and timescales, plus we’ll look at the compliance and business requirements that come with being a DA. It is sure to be a very informative morning and we believe will help those who wish to make the transition, to plan their move and to get the most of it. We’re looking forward to this first workshop in London and to potentially running more of these around the country during 2019.”

TransUnion launches Open Banking early adopter programme

TransUnion (formerly Callcredit), the global risk and information solutions provider, has launched an Open Banking early adopter programme after receiving permission to operate as an Account Information Services Provider (AISP) from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Following extensive testing and consultation with a range of clients across a number of industry sectors, TransUnion Open Banking offers an end-to-end Open Banking service, specifically designed to assess income and expenditure, affordability and creditworthiness. The new service combines all of the elements required for clients to access and utilise the UK’s new Open Banking initiative, and provides consumers with a trusted route to realise the power of their own financial data.

An easily-integrated solution
TransUnion Open Banking has been designed to enable greater engagement of consumers and more informed lending decisions. The API-driven, specially built categorisation and insight engine is a one-stop-shop Open Banking solution and includes:

Screen flow – End-to-end screen process that takes the consumer through the required consent notifications, authentication and authorisation process with their bank
API hub – Connection to the consumer’s bank to retrieve the transactional information that has been consented
Categorisation & Open Banking Report – Consented data is categorised and an Open Banking Report (OBR) with over 2,000 predictive credit and affordability characteristics generated
Data delivery – Data is sent back to the client via API or via TransUnion Decisioning Platforms. The data is then used to inform customer interactions

Will North, core credit director for TransUnion explains: “We’ve developed a service that can be easily deployed across any existing infrastructure, whereby clients can select the elements they require with minimal need for integration.

“There has been a lot of noise about Open Banking but many in the market have been left wondering what to do, either unable to make the necessary investment needed for an in-house solution or unsure of what benefits it can truly bring. One of these benefits for businesses is enhanced data and insight, so this is more relevant than ever in light of the FCA’s new rules on affordability assessments, which came into effect on 1st November 2018.

“We’ve already tested a number of use cases with multiple businesses, including leading financial services providers, and are now launching an early adopter programme which means clients and their customers can benefit almost immediately.

“In the property sector, for example, we’ve been working with businesses that are keen to use Open Banking for tenant vetting, by identifying income and expenditure, employer information and rent recognition, and helping ensure a smoother application process for prospective tenants. The visibility of rental payments can also assist lenders when assessing mortgage applications for first-time buyers that are keen to utilise their rental payment history to help demonstrate affordability.

Categorisation is the foundation, analytics is the key
TransUnion Open Banking uses specially built proprietary technology and enables data to be classified into 20 macro groups and more than 175 sub-categories through the categorisation engine. Categorised data is then processed through a number of analytical models which focus on salary, expenditure, affordability and creditworthiness. These models will be tailored for different sectors and requirements to help ensure relevance and accuracy, and are being developed to complement TransUnion’s existing affordability and credit products.

David Firth, head of product for TransUnion Open Banking, adds: “A smooth customer journey that fully informs consumers of their rights and what the data will be used for is essential. Equally, once the data has been provided it is imperative it is used for the benefit of the customer, and that starts with accurately categorising and analysing the information received.

“Open Banking isn’t just about gaining consent, it’s about helping both the client and consumer benefit from more informed decisions and tailored services and products. There’s a lot of anticipation, given the power of the data which Open Banking unlocks, and we’re confident we can deliver on this vision and help make it a success.”

‘Maximum borrowing’ most searched term as Knowledge Bank reveals brokers’ final criteria searches of 2018

Knowledge Bank’s Criteria Activity Tracker has revealed the top five, most searched criteria by brokers during December with maximum borrowing high on the agenda for four categories out of eight.

In the last month of 2018 broker activity remained high and although December is traditionally a slower business month, there was little or no let-up in brokers searching for a home for their clients’ mortgage requirements.

Knowledge Bank now contains over 80,000 pieces of criteria from more than 150 lenders and the index reveals the searches brokers perform prior to mortgage product sourcing. This enables brokers to whittle down the lenders that will actually consider their clients unique circumstances avoiding unnecessary effort and delays from failed applications.

Since making its first appearance in November, ‘Help to Buy’ remains in the top five residential searches for the second month running, however ‘capital raising – debt consolidation’ appeared for the first time, perhaps indicating that some borrowers already know that they were over-spending even ahead of Christmas happening and were already planning how they were going to pay for it. Making up the other places in the residential sector are the consistently searched ‘Maximum Loan to Age’ and ‘Self-employed borrowers with one years’ accounts’.

It was all change for the final month of the year for equity release searches. Brokers’ top search when interrogating the Knowledge Bank system was to find lenders who would lend to non-borrowing occupiers. The second most popular search was for lenders who would lend on Grade 2 listed buildings suggesting that there are a number of premium properties coming back onto the market.

Lenders who offer the highest LTV continue to be the top search in the second charge sector indicating that there are a good proportion of people still looking for maximum borrowing. The second most searched for criteria in December was for lenders who would consider applicants classed as all benefits with no earned income which shows the search for additional debt even from people with no earned income, again perhaps indicating that some people are overspending in the run up to Christmas, or perhaps that more people are looking to escape the rental market and buy property instead.

Within the self-build sector, maximum LTV remains the top search for a second month for those looking for self-build mortgages suggesting that borrowers are continuing to stretch their finances to make the self-build dream a reality.

December’s index reveals that regulated bridging was the top search within the bridging sector for the third time in four months. Regulated bridging is of course a loan secured against residential property and this, rather than the commercial sector seems to be driving growth in this market.

Nicola Firth, CEO of Knowledge Bank said, “The year ended largely as it had started with a huge number of searches across the different product areas. During 2018 new lenders entered the market but it was product innovation that really was the stand out change. With interest rates remaining low, lenders continue to compete on criteria in addition to rate which makes it increasingly difficult for a broker to know who will or won’t accept their client. This product growth was coupled over the year with borrowers having increasingly complex property and financial circumstances. On average brokers searched on five individual pieces of criteria for each borrower which shows how essential it is for a system to ensure that cases are not sent to lenders who will inevitably turn them down.”

Linedata promises to transform the lending experience with Loansquare’s digital platform

Linedata (Euronext Paris: LIN) announces the acquisition of French start-up Loansquare, whose portal digitalizes relationships between borrowers and lenders. By acquiring Loansquare, Linedata enhances the end-to-end capabilities of its platforms and services for lenders.

“I am delighted to start 2019 with the acquisition of Loansquare, says Anvaraly Jiva, Founder and CEO of Linedata. We are engaged in an ambitious process of enabling digital transformation and are thrilled to be able to integrate innovators from the start-up community.”

The Loansquare platform is a comprehensive solution for setting up and managing commercial loans and streamlining exchanges between borrowers and financial institutions:

  • A Borrower Portal lets institutions expose their financing needs to lenders and manage their loan portfolio.
  • A Servicing Portal lets lenders manage financial flows and commitments in a fully automated and secure manner.

The platform also offers innovative diary, messaging and document management features.

“Companies are constantly searching for digital solutions to manage their operations simply and efficiently. The complementarities between the Linedata and Loansquare platforms enables us to satisfy this need in a truly innovative way, connecting banks and borrowers with the same user experience and standards demanded by consumers in their dealings with institutions”, adds François Lévy, Loansquare CEO.

Loansquare now interoperates with Linedata Uniloan360, a servicing platform for commercial and syndicated loans, Linedata Capitalstream, a global commercial loans origination and risk management platform, and Linedata Ekip360, a global leasing, car finance and consumer loans solution.

“The Loansquare platform enables us to deliver innovative solutions in all our markets, in North America, Europe, Latin America and Africa, that support our clients in the transformation of their business models”, states Alain Mattei, Head of Lending and Leasing Europe at Linedata.

John Griffith-Jones to chair StepChange Debt Charity

StepChange Debt Charity is today pleased to announce that John Griffith-Jones will chair the charity from 7 January, following the resignation of Sir Hector Sants last October on his appointment as the Chair of the new Single Financial Guidance Body. Chris Stern has been acting as interim Chair of StepChange Debt Charity for the past three months.

John Griffith-Jones was Chair of the Financial Conduct Authority from 2013 to 2018, and of its subsidiary, the Payment Systems Regulator. During this period the FCA took on responsibility for regulating consumer credit and carried out significant policy and supervisory interventions in this and related areas. Before this, he worked at KPMG from 1975 to 2012, becoming CEO and subsequently Chairman and Senior Partner of KPMG in the UK. He is Vice Chairman of the National Numeracy Trust, and also holds a number of other voluntary roles.

Chris Stern, interim Chair of StepChange Debt Charity, said: “We are delighted to welcome John to the role of Chair, and we know StepChange will benefit hugely from his wealth of experience and develop further under his guidance. His insight will be invaluable as we navigate the forthcoming period of growth in the debt advice sector generally, and the charity specifically, with our goal to double the number of people we help in four years.”

John Griffith-Jones said: “Debt advice has matured into a fully established sector within the wider financial landscape, with its own regulatory framework and its own challenges – notably the increasing demand for services. StepChange Debt Charity is well-placed to bring both scale and innovation to deliver the high quality advice that is so desperately needed both now and in the future. I am greatly looking forward to helping shape and develop the charity’s vital role, and thank Sir Hector Sants and Chris Stern for their excellent work, on which I now hope to build with the support of a strong Trustee and Executive team.”

New Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB) gets down to work

A new body, the SFGB, is here to help people make the most of their money and pensions.

From 1 January 2019, the Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB) brings under one new organisation the free services delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

The SFGB is an Arms-Length-Body, sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, with a joint commitment to ensuring that people have access and guidance to the information they need to make effective financial decisions over their lifetime.

The SFGB, working hand-in-hand with industry, will ensure that money and pensions guidance is available to those that need it, adapting to people’s changing needs throughout their lives, offering services and appointments over the telephone, online and in person where appropriate.

The SFGB will offer:

· Pensions guidance – providing information to the public on matters relating to workplace and personal pensions.

· Money guidance – providing information designed to enhance people’s understanding and knowledge of financial matters and day-to-day money management skills.

· Debt advice – providing people in England with information and advice on debt.

· Consumer protection – enabling the body to work with Government and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in protecting consumers.

· Strategy – working with the financial services industry, devolved authorities and the public and voluntary sectors to develop a “National Strategy” across the UK to improve people’s financial capability, help them manage debt and provide financial education for children and young people.

SFGB Chair Sir Hector Sants, said: “Managing money is central to living a contented life. Throughout 2019 we will be talking to stakeholders throughout the UK to develop a national strategy for how we can work towards a society where everyone is able to make the most of their money and pensions.”

SFGB Chief Executive John Govett said: “I am delighted to be leading a new organisation that will offer easier access to the money and pensions information and guidance people need, throughout their lifetimes. As one organisation, we can deliver even more effective services and, through working in collaboration with our partners, can increase the scale and impact of everything we do. We will be listening to our key partners, stakeholders, staff and Government Departments and together build a new wider impact for our joint customers.”