50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2021
The Silicon Review
Founded in 2004, Strands is a FinTech software vendor, part of the CRIF Group. The firm develops AI-driven solutions for banks and financial institutions to help increase customer engagement and generate new revenue through digital channels. It creates highly customizable digital money management software for top-tier financial institutions worldwide and empowers people to be smarter with their money.
Headquartered in Barcelona, the company has a strong presence in Europe, North and Latin America, and Asia and has collaborated on delivering more than 700 digital banking implementations worldwide. Today, it continues to innovate and is one of the foremost fintech software companies.
Due to the current situation owing to the pandemic, Strands is on a mission to improve the bank-client relationship. The company is leveraging its more than fifteen years of experience in Artificial Intelligence to develop highly personalized digital money management solutions that empower people and businesses to better manage their finances, and to make smarter financial decisions in a more agile and transparent way.
We recently interviewed Erik Brieva, the CEO of Strands Labs, to know more about the company’s new developments. In the interview, he talked about the need of AI in the banking sector and much more. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q. What motivated you to venture into such an advanced yet complex field of technology?
At Strands, we are experts in Machine Learning, that’s our DNA. However, becoming a FinTech partner for banks wasn’t always among our plans. In 2004, we introduced a new generation of customization systems for the music industry, which were based on an algorithm able to process large volumes of data and transform them into recommendations. Specifically, the system suggested new music to users based on their preferences and playback history. In 2012, Apple acquired the algorithm’s patent and Strands began a transformation process.
After Apple’s acquisition, it was decided to invest all the company’s knowledge in big data and artificial intelligence in creating a technology that would allow people to improve their quality of life through intelligent management of their finances.
Q. What are the challenges that can be addressed by enterprises with your AI-based money management solutions?
Artificial intelligence is definitely one of the biggest drivers for change in the financial services industry. In a few years, AI has made tremendous progress and is helping banks around the globe save on costs while changing the way they interact with their customers. From enabling frictionless onboarding to preventing payment fraud, the uses of AI in banking are far-reaching.
However, the real game changer is its capacity to deliver a robust personalization strategy. By leveraging AI, banks can turn every interaction with their customers into a guided and meaningful conversation, transforming complex data into relevant customer insights in real time. This sort of interaction not only results in happy customers, but impacts directly on banks’ core business and boosts return on investment. To put it simply, AI helps banks know, help and monetize their customers from end to end, by providing smart product recommendations, targeted to those who need them most.
Q. COVID-19 is one of the first business-impacting global events that we’ve experienced in decades. How is Strands addressing the needs of customers with mission-critical applications during the current pandemic?
We are seeing how this pandemic is causing a cultural shift, globally. It has reshaped consumer behavior and it has accelerated the digital transformation of many companies, which has created new opportunities for fintech companies.
When it comes to banking and financial services companies, this crisis is radically changing consumer behavior, pushing many to take all their banking needs online. Strands has continued to work tirelessly to offer the banks cutting-edge AI to personalize their retail and business banking services. Also, we are delivering it on the cloud, helping banks to embrace this digital transformation, evolve their product offerings, and improve their customer experience.
Q. There are other major players in this segment. How is your company comparatively a better service provider?
We are the trusted partner of over 700 financial institutions worldwide. Strands’ innovative technologies are provided as a final customer approach for vertical SME and Retail banking segments.
Our FinTech offering is available in a cloud-based ‘as a Service’ model or for an ‘on-premise’ deployment. We adapt to our customer needs. We offer 360° support and unrivaled expertise in all phases of service. We also provide a shorter time-to-market: from kick-off to implementation in as little as four months.
Q. Do you provide tailor-made solutions? How flexible are your services for customization?
Strands white-label money management solutions are highly flexible. They provide a wide range of widgets for different devices (web, tablet, mobile, smart watch) that can be mixed and matched to build the digital banking solution that perfectly meets the bank’s customers’ financial needs. They allow users to make their very own personalized interface with the widgets that are most relevant to their profile, while gaining valuable data insights on which products and services work for them (and which don’t).
Our solutions support multi-language content to target a wider audience, they integrate a bespoke look and feel – adapted to the bank's branding, providing the user with a frictionless omni-channel experience. All these personalization capabilities positively influence user uptake and engagement.
Q. How do you market your services?
As a leading Fintech software company in the Financial management segment, and taking into account that our solutions are entirely digital, our go to market strategy is based on several pillars: on one hand reaching our target through Inbound strategies, focusing on how Strands Solutions meet the needs of our customers (banks and financial institutions), putting them at the center of the strategy, and providing personalized and relevant content for them. On the other hand, we have a strong presence in the main industry events at a global level, which helps us to consolidate our positioning as leaders while communicating the latest developments about our solutions.
Also, we have built some strategic partnerships to empower and provide better local and regional services.
Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?
We are launching the Strands Financial Suite on SaaS in the United States, a market we have been servicing on-premise until now. This launch follows the success of our Cloud / SaaS implementation in Europe.
Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers?
Strands, together with CRIF, has no rivalry in serving across the entire customer journey in digital and open banking: from onboarding with remote identification, to data enrichment and categorization; to customer evaluation, risk analysis and scoring; to customer engagement and actionable insights; to customer prospecting and development. This enables Strands customers to be situated at the forefront of open banking and gain competitiveness in their respective markets.
Erik Brieva, CEO: Cuban-born Erik Brieva is no stranger to success. A mathematics graduate and computer sciences expert, his professional life thus far has been dedicated to entrepreneurial ventures, enterprise software and internet-based business, having co-founded and managed several companies in Spain, the United Kingdom and United States before propelling Strands to a world FinTech stage.