The term ‘big data” is being thrown around a lot lately, even though most people have no idea what it means exactly. Every action we undertake in life tells a lot about us, even though that information is not always being utilized properly. Sending a money transfer, for example, tells so much more than just the amount of money we send and how we pay for it. 

Big data encompasses the whole story, including the sender’s identity, and where the money is transferred to. But there is much more information to discover, including why customers keep using this particular service to transfer money. Furthermore, companies need to look at when people are sending money, whether they use different recipients, and if the transaction amounts are often similar.

That is the primary use case for big data: identifying patterns that would otherwise go by unnoticed. Online service providers can collect a lot of valuable information through big data aggregation. Every browser session has a timestamp, device information, and may give insights as to which location the money transfer is initiated from. Is the sender at home, at work, or in a public place when sending money?

On the surface, not all of this information may seem relevant at first glance. Why would a company invest a lot of money in big data aggregation if their customers keep coming back anyway? Surely they will provide feedback if something needs to be improved? That is not always the case, and establishing a more personal relationship between service provider and customer is vital. That is why we need to look beyond big data, and venture into the world of smart data.

While big data presents a myriad of information, it is not difficult to get overwhelmed by all of these inputs. Not every business has a need to know at what time a customer accessed their platform, or how long it took them to confirm an action by clicking a link in the sent email. The vast amount of information obtained through big data aggregation needs to be turned into bit-sized points of focus.

This is what smart data does: it enables that personal connection between the consumer and the company they rely on. For the consumer, this is nothing but beneficial, as they can express their own needs and desires by doing things the same way as before. Businesses will use technology to gain a better insight into these trends, and act accordingly. 

Transferring money to anyone else in the world is not a privilege only remittance companies can execute. The average bank is capable of sending bank transfers around the world with little to no friction. That being said, bank transfers take a very long time and can be quite costly. But fees and time are not the only concerns, as it is not possible to send a wire transfer to the billions of unbanked people around the globe.

Since these individuals have limited or no access to financial services, opening a bank account is not always possible for them. Some of the remittance services let users send money around the world through other payment methods, such as cash or payment cards. Recipients can then pick up the funds through a local remittance office, and walk away with cash in hand.

With smart data, consumers can finally shed the feeling of only being a client number to the company in question. In fact, this technology will empower the user and leverage their position to create a better user experience. Smart data is the right way to go, as it will benefit consumers first and foremost. Companies who truly value their customers have no other option than to embrace smart data technology and establish that deeper connection with their users. 

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Growing a successful business can be a challenging and daunting labour of love. Managing cash-flow, controlling costs and keeping customers and suppliers happy – just some of the daily tasks faced by entrepreneurs. For businesses that work with overseas suppliers and international customers, there is the added factor of currency exchange to consider. Moving money across borders, quickly and at the best rate, should be a straightforward task for business owners.

Are you being upfront about your exchange rates? You need to ask yourself this question and look at
the answer from a customer’s point of view. Banks and other currency exchange providers are often quite coy about the exact margins they add to their exchange rates, and with good reason. When buying currency, you are offered a rate by your bank. Quite often this can differ from the “real”, pure exchange rate (typically what you see on Google) by as much as 5%. This exchange rate margin that you take is money out of pocket for your customers.

Yes, you need to make money if you’re in the currency exchange business and customers understand that. What customers don’t understand, most often, is how much is your margin and is it realistic. You might want to ask yourself whether you want to be always chasing new customers because you can’t maintain ‘loyalty’ from a lower and upfront margin, or do you want to create a solid customer base through building trust with recurring customers.

Businesses need to understand how their exchange rates are calculated, and how much margin is built into the rates. Often a service will claim to be “commission free”, while charging heavy mark- ups on their rates. Claiming to be commission-free is not exactly honest business if your commission is added to the exchange rate, sometimes at a large percentage.

Is your currency exchange business customer friendly? By offering services such as taking orders for trades at a rate that may appear in the future you can win over customers who could become your customers for life. Your customers also want their money transferred when you say it will be. Keeping on top of your exchanges and transfers is key to customer retention.

Using VinIT software will help you with all of your customer relations. We build software that is user- friendly and customizable so that you can set up your business to attract and maintain a sold customer base. 

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Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software delivery method that allows you to access software and its functions remotely as a Web-based service. Unless you are a large business with a full IT department that includes large servers and IT personnel, it makes sense to go the SaaS way. You’re basically ‘renting’ the software instead of purchasing it. 

We at VinIT develop world-class SaaS applications across a vast array of vertical markets and at the moment, we provide SaaS facility of our VinITMX –Money exchanger product. While we understand how to design, develop, implement and deploy world-class fail-safe SaaS architected application solutions, we also understand the requirement needed for helpful customer support. We provide you with easy installation, full support with maintenance, simplified administration and technical support whenever the need arises. We also understand that you might have a need for administrative capabilities in these solutions and thus include billing, accounting, reporting and more.

While the saying goes “time is money”, money and time is what you’ll save with SaaS. It eliminates the upfront cost of purchase/installation of the software and hardware needed to run it, as well on- going costs like maintenance and upgrades. Instead of spending large amounts of money on hardware installations, SaaS applications can be easily downloaded and maintained. SaaS can be especially advantageous for small businesses because it provides access to expensive, high-powered software that might have been  herwise unobtainable through conventional purchasing methods.

Since “time is money” you’ll be able to save both. For many SaaS applications, installation is as simple as having an internet connection and acquiring a log-in. Furthermore, maintenance responsibilities are shifted from your IT department to the vendor itself. This eliminates extra work hours and downtime that might have been necessary to upgrade conventional software. Finally, SaaS apps tend to have a smaller learning curve which means quicker adoption across your workforce.

Compatibility and accessibility are also a huge concern with businesses. With the conventional software installation method, updates can require enormous amounts of time and money. Even worse, version discrepancies between members of your workforce can lead to compatibility issues and wasted time. With SaaS however, subscribers can simply log-on to already upgraded services.

Software as a Service has a lot to offer. If it’s used properly, it can help your business save money, time and human resources. By eliminating problems like software maintenance and incompatibility, SaaS can provide streamlined focus and greater productivity. VinIT will work together with you to make sure that your move to the cloud is successful and the transition is a breeze. From our experience we know that the application architecture must be designed to allow easy implementation of future enhancements and be able to scale up for exponential growth of users without a degradation of performance. Talk to us about your needs and we’ll help you be successful.

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In less than one year the UK is slated to leave the European Union, following through on the results of the 2016 referendum. Current talk is about transition periods and deals to continue access to the single market, but the risk that we will leave the EU, including the free trade area and customs union, without any type of trade deal in place remains. What would it actually mean for the UK from a financial and economic perspective if this were to happen?

Currently, the UK’s membership is bundled with that of the EU, so re-joining as a single trading entity would require some negotiation with regard to terms of trade, but if the UK leaves the EU without any form of trade deal then it can choose to automatically revert to rules for international trade set by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), of which it is a member.

The other option at this stage would be to abandon tariffs completely and forge bi-lateral trade deals with countries around the world. WTO rules only exist as a ‘fall-back’ position for countries that have no trade agreements in place. At least initially, it appears likely that the UK will opt for the WTO rules approach.

The UK economy is approximately £2 trillion in size and just over 7% of this is made up of exports to the EU. Imports are somewhat larger, equalling £235bn, or 11.75% of GDP. These may be large figures, but imports and exports will continue regardless of the status between the UK and its trading partners; after all, British people are not going to stop buying BMWs any more than businesses in France and Spain are going to stop buying British plane parts and pharmaceuticals.

If the UK falls back into a WTO regime then we can expect to have to pay tariffs on anything we export to the EU. And given that the average trade-weighted WTO tariff levied by the EU is 2.3% this would equate to a large amount of money. Another thing to consider is that the UK imports a lot of food from the EU, and EU agricultural tariffs are high, so we could expect to see food price rises.

Given that the UK is largely a services economy, it’s arguably more important to focus on services rather than physical goods; so what impact would there be? The UK handles a great deal of non-physical business for clients in the EU, including services such as legal utilities, architectural reports and capital market operations. Luckily for the UK, these services are classified as ‘wholesale’ and are exempt from tariffs. So, the answer to the question of whether WTO tariffs would impact the services industry is that there would not likely be much economic impact.

One thing seems certain, however, and that’s the fact that we can expect to see more swings in the value of Sterling as the date of leaving the EU approaches and passes. Bearing this in mind, it makes sense to hedge your bets if you need to transfer sums of money around that time and use a specialised currency broker to limit your exposure to exchange rate volatility. Because whatever else happens you’ll want to make sure that you’re not caught out by the currency markets as they react to the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 14:18

Sterling and What to Watch For

Until some fundamental questions are answered, sterling is likely to remain static against the euro in particular. Sterling ended the first quarter lower than it had started against only 4 currencies: the Norwegian krone, the South African rand, the Japanese yen and the Mexican peso making it one of the best performing major currencies in the first quarter of 2018. But how is it likely to fare during the course of the second quarter?

Three things that will determine how the pound will fare over the next 3 months are the Bank of England meeting in May, inflation and job numbers growth, and the continuing Brexit deal.

Following the announcement of a transitional Brexit deal in March, most analysts seem confident that the Bank of England will raise interest rates at its meeting on May 10th. Currently, markets are pricing in a 77% chance of the base rate increasing to 0.75%; the highest since February 2009. While that level of expectations means that markets are unlikely to drive sterling much higher on the chances of a rate hike alone, the inflation report and minutes of the meeting will charge thoughts of additional increases in the Bank of England’s base rate later in the year. If the language coming out of this meeting point to a rate hike later in the year, sterling is likely to push higher.

The Bank of England believes that pay will start to outpace inflation through the coming year and real wage gains are the silver bullet for the UK economy at the moment. Real wage growth is significant because it relies on optimistic employers being happy with business conditions, it allows
consumers to re-balance spending figures from credit uptake and it promotes growth in generalised output with a central bank more comfortable to normalise monetary policy. Unemployment is higher in absolute terms but by not enough to drag the unemployment rate up; more people are
joining the labour market and inactivity is at the lowest level since 2012. Perhaps most significantly, a return to real wage growth would be a further fillip for sterling as investors would in all likelihood see this as boosting future growth and inflation prospects.

As for Brexit and its influences, we now have a transitional deal that allows for more time but actually does little to influence the outcome of the decisions that need to be made or what happens in the background while this is all going on. There are questions that need to be answered. Some of these include trade, the UK withdrawal bill, the ongoing political situation in the UK and Northern Ireland. Until some of these fundamental questions are answered sterling is likely to remain static against the euro in particular.


Published in Blog
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 14:12

The Currency Market and How it Works

Many news outlets report on currencies strengthening or weakening due to some factor or other. We’re told that Sterling has rocketed, or the Dollar has slumped, or the South African Rand is holding its ground, but it isn’t always clear whether this is good news or bad news.

Currency news articles also tend to talk about things like interest rates, inflation and monetary policy tightening outlooks. They might say that hawks are talking like doves or that bears have turned into bulls.

The question has to be asked: what on earth are they talking about?

If you find the whole thing a little bit baffling, here’s a quick guide to understanding currency markets news.

Exchange rates are simply the market value of one currency compared to another. So, for example, 1 Pound may be worth 1.4 Dollars. That means, in theory, the shiny Pound coin in your pocket would buy you 1 US Dollar and 40 cents. Exchange rates are expressed as a ratio between two currencies. Each currency is assigned a three-letter code, known as its ISO code. So, for example, the Pound (GBP) to South African Rand (ZAR) exchange rate would be expressed as GBP/ZAR. They change constantly, with the value of one currency relative to another changing in reaction to a host of factors – not all of them economic – including political stability, conflict, social issues and even the weather.

If an exchange rate is ‘strong’ it means that is has risen in comparison to recent or historic levels. Making a currency transfer at a stronger exchange rate means you’ll be able to buy more of the currency you want with the currency you have than you would have when the exchange rate was weaker.

The reason interest rates are so important to Forex traders is that they naturally want to invest their money in countries where it will earn the best rate of interest. So, signs that a country is about to raise its interest rates can cause an inflow of money from the currency markets, while indications that interest rates are about to be cut have the opposite effect.

Today’s Forex market is unregulated, with money free (more or less) to move anywhere around the world. There are no clearing houses or arbitration panels, so perhaps unsurprisingly it attracts speculative investors. Speculative investors have one aim: to make money by trading. Because of this, the vast majority of money whizzing around the world between foreign exchanges is speculative in nature.

Originally, all currency was backed by something of value like a precious metal. Sterling was, at one point, backed by silver while many other countries were backed by gold, a system known as the Gold Standard. In this way, a country’s currency was directly indexed to how much physical gold resided in their national coffers, and this system persisted until the Great Depression, when countries including Great Britain were forced to abandon it following speculative attacks.

Instead of being backed by precious metals, currencies around the world instead became known as ‘fiat’ currencies. The word ‘Fiat’ means ‘let it be done’ in Latin, and in practice this means the value of a currency is held simply in the fact that the issuing government says it has value. The effect that fiat currency has had on the foreign exchange markets has been dramatic, it effectively means that the value of a currency could be zero, or at the other end of the scale, a single unit of it could be worth a fortune!

A currency broker is a specialist company who buys and sells foreign currency on behalf of private or corporate clients. a good currency broker will know the Forex market inside out and will be able to provide expert guidance about current and future exchange rate movements.

This has only been a basic introduction to the complicated world of currency exchange but I hope it helps you to understand, a bit better, how it works.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 16:54

What Makes Vin IT Solutions Stand Out

One might say that a software developer is just as good as another. That’s not true. It takes determination, an eye for detail and a team that will work with you to deliver exactly what you need to make your business grow and be successful. Getting what you need and want out of a software developer means you must find one that will listen to you, truly listen. One that will take the time to understand your business and how they can help.

That’s what makes Vin IT Solutions stand out. We are very passionate about what we do. Our team is highly skilled and eager to work with you in order to deliver your project on time and on budget. Our staff and services are second to none in offering the highest quality in software development.

Vin IT Solutions know that when it comes to your needs, fitting our solutions to your preferences or established methodologies is a priority, and with our versatile and flexible approach we are well equipped to do so. Where we have a choice, we recommend an agile approach as this ensures the highest quality product is released. Based on a concept of shorter development cycles, each cycle ends with a fully tested release to our customer. After that, the release is reviewed and used to assign priorities for the next cycle of improvement.

We want our product to fit your business needs exactly, thus our development process consists of showing our releases to the users and having their feedback incorporated into subsequent cycles of development. Consequently, the final product suits your needs much better. Due to frequent testing throughout the project, our final products are of the highest quality.

Regular reviews tend to uncover new requirements and because of the continuous development phase, these needs can be incorporated then and there rather than once the final product has been released. Also,because we place priority on your most important needs first, this means that you don’t waste capital on building features that might not be needed as the final product comes into being.

As the main features are built, the latest release can go live as only a small amount of testing needs to be done due to the testing done in previous stages of development. This gives us greater budget control for you. As can be seen, agile perfectly complements the way we work. And working with our customers on board during the whole process, ensures that we build a successful solution that’s exactly what they’re looking for. We assign a dedicated project manager that takes on the whole project from requirement gathering to project closure.

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The remittance industry is not that difficult to enter into but, like any other business, you need to do your homework and have the right tools. This business might be easy to get into but also easy to get into trouble if you’re not following the laws. Having a good knowledge of these laws, especially antimoney laundering laws, is a must. Movement of money is highly regulated, and you want to be on the right side of those regulations and laws.

If you want to be successful in this competitive business you’ll need to truly learn about money transfers and how they work, from beginning to end. Start small and grow from your experiences, successes and even failures. Perhaps work for another to learn the ins and outs of the business. Take courses on money transfers and anti-money laundering. The more you know the better positioned you’ll be to start your own business.

You’ll also need working capital. Capital for advertising and marketing, software and staff, and to pre-fund money. That’s why starting small is sometimes the way to go. You’re not investing a lot of money into the business but enough so that you can get an idea of all the ins and outs of the money transfer business. There is a lot of competition in this business and you’ll want to get a good foot-hold and grow your business from there.

Building a good customer base is essential. To do that you need to be good – I mean really good. You want your reputation to precede you so that your loyal customers are referring their friends to you. As they say, a referral is the best form of a compliment.

You will also need good software. VinIt has just the software for your needs. Money Express is our finest product that has been exclusively designed for the money transfer business. This online Money Express solution for money transfer businesses makes the transfer of money easy and fast. Whether you are big scale or small scale in the money service business, we have the solution for you. The experience we gained in the remittance industry, in working with money service businesses throughout the United Kingdom and some parts of Europe, together with a highly skilled in house development team, brought the Money Express product into the market for effective and efficient money transfers. Money Express will connect everyone involved in a transaction. New technologies also helped us to implement lots of useful features into Money Express.

Our software allows you to know your customer by uploading their identification and the transaction’s supporting documents. There is a screening and risk assessment built in, as well as alerts for expired identification and other supporting documents. Our Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance is built in. Screen customer details against OFAC and the HM Treasury database, configure third-party screening databases, and run a full range of audit reports.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 16:37

Brexit and the Pound

The European Union appeared to reach broad agreement on a post-Brexit transition period and the Irish border, leading to a surge in the pound. Sterling pushed to its best level against the euro since Feb. 8, rising as much as 0.6 per cent to 87.55 pence per euro, as talk of an agreement filtered out of a meeting between Britain’s Brexit minister, David Davis, and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Barnier says the EU and Britain have agreed on a large part of the treaty that will govern the U.K.’s departure from the bloc next year. All movement forward toward a smooth exit will only help the pound. The transition period that was agreed upon to help ease Britian out of the EU also helped.

This is the first time since February 26 th that, against the dollar, sterling has breached the $1.40 mark, rising 0,6 per cent to $1.4048.

An analyst at ING said “people are expecting something positive and they have been positioning ahead of it.” He said that pound could rise as high as $1.43 if economic data also support sterling.

Sterling faces a pivotal week, with the Bank of England announcing an interest rate decision on Thursday after crucial inflation and wages data. Market analysts had mostly expected Britain to secure a transition agreement at Thursday’s EU summit. That would mean little change in trading between the UK and the EU bloc for around two years after Britain leaves next year.

“There is a lot of optimism about the transition deal. The market thinks it’s a done deal and the general expectation is that a deal is going to be contingent on the Irish border issue,” said Alvin Tan, an FX strategist at Societe Generale.

The Bank of England monetary policy meeting is expected to keep rates on hold but prepare the market for a possible increase in May, an increase it has signaled is contingent on a transition agreement.

Analysts do not expect the Bank of England to serve up any surprises, but will be looking at both consumer inflation data, due on Tuesday, and wages data due on Wednesday for any sign of inflationary pressures building in the economy.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 31 January 2018 18:06

Is Technology Changing the Way We Bank?

Is the way we bank changing? In a word, yes. Life and how we live it has been changing for years due to technology. When was the last time you hand-wrote a letter or, even visited your bank branch? With secure technology getting better every day, there’s rarely a time you need to go to a branch. You can do almost all of your banking online. What does this mean for the banks? Industry analysts forecast that in the next 10-20 years the majority of bank branches could close. Given that there are thousands of branches across the UK, a huge branch closure would change the banking landscape.

Some high street banks currently have anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 branches across the country. Keeping only 500 of those branches open is a real possibility. Just look at some of the banks. Santander has acquired over 200,000 customers with just 1,000 branches. RBS Group has seen online and mobile transactions rise 232% in the last 3 years and branch visits to their approximately 2,000 outlets decline by 30%.  

The ATM was the first technology that allowed customers to do simple transactions without stepping foot in the bank. Following that came telephone banking. That was an incredible technology that meant that not only did you not have to step foot in the bank, you didn’t need to leave the comfort of your home. That technology came to be in 1989 and only eight years later we were introduced to online banking. That’s a lot of innovation in a short period of time.

Banks have given us the ability to access our money any time of the day, every day. We can transfer money in real time and pay bills at a time that’s convenient to us. What’s missing from this equation is the customer experience that most of us care about. It was nice to go into our branch and be greeted by smiling faces that actually knew our name. Even better was the access to experts for advice on anything from investments to loans and mortgages. Where are those needs met in an online world? If banks close the majority of their branches, are you willing to travel a distance to be able to speak to someone at a branch, in person?

Closing branches saves the banks millions of dollars but those closings come with a different cost – customer loyalty. Brand experience needs to be thought out very carefully by banks transitioning away from bricks and mortar branches to online banking. It’s got to be about personal engagement and a human level of interaction. Banks have already fallen short of customer expectations with their telephone systems. How many times have you had to listen to a steady stream of ‘options’ to choose from when calling your bank, and when you finally reach an actual human they have to transfer you to someone else and then you reach their voicemail. Not a good experience and not a good way to garner brand loyalty.

In this globally-connect world of technology, there seems to be something that has to be given up to gain the autonomy that this technology allows us. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. We, after all, are customers of our banks and can and should dictate the level of customer service and experience we get from the banks. It’s easy not to think about this aspect when you’re just doing regular banking online but when you get into more sophisticated banking, such as needing a mortgage or advice on investments, you’ll want a bank that can deliver, in person, expert advice. 

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