Jane Foo,  the newly elected Chair of BIIA, opened the BIIA 2019 Biennial Conference by welcoming 152 conference delegates from 30 countries.  The following is the text of her welcome address:

On behalf of BIIA, I wish to extend a very warm welcome to all delegates to this BIIA 2019 Conference and would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you for making valuable time available for this event. We wish to thank especially those of you who have made long journeys to be here in the interest of enhancing the extension of credit and the value of information services.

We also wish to thank all our speakers, who are experts and rightful leaders in their respective fields, for their commitment to make this a fruitful and valuable event.

  • We wish to thank our sponsors for their contribution, without it would not have been possible to organize this event.
  • We thank our supporting organizations who provided speakers and logistics support.
  • We also need to mention the tireless efforts of the conference chair and committee members who have worked together to organize this sell out event.
  • We would also like to welcome representatives from our fellow trade associations including Luis Carmona Gisbert from  the European business  information association FEBIS.

As you will all have seen the theme for this conference is expressed in a formula:  AI + Analytics + Data = (equals) The Future of Risk Management.  For me as a compliance professional this theme expresses the shape of things to come and technology being the game changer.

The BIIA 2019 Biennial Conference is once again a sell-out with 152 delegates from 30 countries.  In 2017 we had 137 delegates from 27 countries.

15 years ago, the foundation was laid for BIIA when a number of information companies met for a first time to discuss the merits of launching an industry association in this region, which today is known as BIIA.   There are a number of people with us today who were involved in this founding process:  Jack Intanate, CEO of Business Online, William Lim then Director of Dun & Bradstreet Singapore and Malaysia and now CEO of Credit Bureau of Singapore,  Johnny Kiatnuntavimon also from Business Online and our own Joachim Bartels, Managing Director of BIIA.

On behalf of the members I would like to thank you for your initiative and loyalty and continued commitment to the development of our association

From the humble beginnings with 16 members, BIIA has grown to 75 members and its reach is now global.   Right from the start, BIIA set out on a mission to provide a neutral, open forum through which our members, business information users, regulators, and government and public information sectors can debate and resolve common issues.  The past two conferences and this one, in particular, are the evidence that BIIA provides a useful industry forum not just for members, but also for  information users and regulators present.

Furthermore, it is BIIA’s mission to promote the information content industry by demonstrating the value of information for businesses and national economies.  We  serve as a resource on industry standards, trends, technological developments, and policies.   We are doing this effectively through conferences like this one and our website BIIA.com, which has become a significant resource for members:

  • By the end of this year the information content on BIIA.com will have passed 11,000 articles.
  • During the last 12 months 57,250 unique users visited BIIA.com conducting 74,519 sessions (up 31% from prior year) resulting in 212,401 page views.

A very important part of BIIA’s mission is to advocate a legal regulatory environment beneficial to the industry.   The association provides industry advocacy support for its members by monitoring the regulatory environment and by participating in forums with regulators.  BIIA Members benefit from a wide range of expertise and best demonstrated practices.

The association’s industry advocacy effort is led by the BIIA regulatory committee under the stewardship of Neil Munroe, and assisted by Peter Sheerin.

Yesterday, we passed another milestone by conducting the first Regulatory Roundtable for regional regulators with Neil Munroe being the moderator. This event was organized following a request from a number of regulators in the region to provide a neutral forum for regulators to meet and discuss key regulatory issues affecting the information industry.  To assist members in understanding the regulatory environment and the changes that are likely to be forthcoming, BIIA continues to work with a number of key industry and regulatory organisations such as the International Committee on Credit Reporting, the IFC/World Bank and the SME Finance Forum.

Last, but not least, our mission is the desire to provide a valuable platform for networking.  There are ample opportunities to network during this conference.  The BIIA networking community is twofold:  We have issued passwords for 800 information professionals employed by our members to be able to access the password protected content on BIIA.com; and the BIIA Business Information Industry Association Network on LinkedIn is over 3,400 members strong.  This accounts for a combined total of over 4,000 network members, making us one of the largest networks in our industry.

This certainly is a great achievement for a relatively young association and for its supporting members.  For me, as a previous user of your information it raises an interesting question:  Where do we go from here????

As a compliance professional, I am still horrified by the occasional headlines like:  “The Compliance Conundrum:  Defusing the Ticking Time Bomb of Bad Data in AML Compliance”

…. Or ….

“63% of compliance professionals reported are lacking confidence in their data!”

As a user of information, I certainly had my share of frustrations with the lack of meaningful data, therefore I was pleased to note that the conference committee has added the topics of ‘compliance’ and ‘identification data’  to  the conference agenda.  I, personally, look forward to taking  an active part in  the discussions tomorrow when these subjects will be covered.

I now like to turn to the subject of market intelligence in terms of size and focus. As many of you know this is an area that our Association focuses on as part of the insight we seek to provide to members:

When I joined BIIA as a director, I became intrigued by the depth of information available about the business information industry, whether B2C or B2B.  While BIIA is not a market research company, one can glean a lot from company announcements either by extracting facts or if you know your business, by ‘reading between’ the lines.  It is like military intelligence:  A snippet here and a snippet there, soon you will get the full picture; …if you take the time.

Nevertheless,  I thought something was missing.  The availability of comprehensive market size data or definition of the business information industry.

In discussing this situation with BIIA’s leadership as to why there are no relevant and comparable statistics, I was quickly told that the business information industry is not transparent.  It teaches others to be transparent, but no one appears to disclose company segments in a uniform manner.  The majority of the industry is privately held and does not disclose any company results.

BIIA co-founder  Outsell Inc., a  leading research and advisory firm serving executives operating in the data, information and analytics economy, has just released its market report based on 2018 industry revenues.  Outsell estimates the size of the global information industry has reached US$ 1,8 trillion, with an average growth rate of 5%.

We have not had  the opportunity to analyze Outsell’s latest findings, but based on our assessment from previous years, 2/3 of the market is consumer entertainment, media and education.  The market size segments of interest to us, the business information industry has now reached $150 billion.

As to the Outsell’s growth projections of 5% they are based on the total pie of US$ 1.8 trillion.   Our observations are that the traditional commercial credit information has become a mature market.  Providers show hardly any growth or perhaps just low single digit growth rates.  Of course, there are exceptions.   Companies who have moved aggressively into new international markets or those who are acquisitive and invested in analytics are growing at high double digit rates.

Credit Bureau operators who are public companies have growth rates between low single digit to high double digit growth rates.  Those with high double digit growth rates have expanded into international markets or new information segments such as KYC Identification & Verification.  We have been given indications that the growth rate in the AML / KYC compliance services segment are above 20%.  Nevertheless, the key players in this market do not disclose any details.

So where is the growth and the growth drivers for our industry?

Fraud is still rampant and companies are searching for solutions:  This may lead to more business for those who are in analytics and fraud prevention services.  A recent study by Report Consultant indicated that the global fraud detection and prevention market size is expected to grow from US$ 19.5 billion in 2019 to US$ 63.5 billion by 2027, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of +27% during the forecast period.

Cyber Security has moved up to number one on the list of most burning technology issues of our industry: That will divert investment funds from product development to services spent to make systems secure.  Anyone who is providing such services is facing a bonanza, but skill shortages is restricting growth.  It has been reported that the guardians over cyber security in most companies are starting to face burn-out.

In regard to industry trends quite a lot has happened in the past three years:

Old ‘industry boundaries’ or ‘silos’, such as serving capital markets with rating services, or serving unsecured bank credit, trade credit, plus consumer credit and marketing services, have become blurred because they have been replaced by digital processes or information solutions delivered and integrated in automated fashion.

New players have arrived carving out niches with great promise:

  • Fraud solutions –  Governance, Risk & Compliance – AI / Analytics – Supply Chain Solutions  –  CRM to name a few.

As to AI and Analytics we have witnessed a move into such services at an accelerating rate.   In the past the route to accelerated growth was to buy competitors or companies with special databases.   However, three years ago we observed industry players were using acquisitions as a fast track route to acquire skills in analytics, mainly to gain or maintain their competitive advantage.   A year later we observed an uptick in partnerships between firms who had analytic skill with firms who had data, creating new services or access to new customer segments.  Last year we witnessed an uptick in internal product development of analytical solutions.  Thus, many industry participants are gearing up their internal product developments to catch up.

If you would like more information on these announcements and BIIAs analysis, just go to BIIA.com.

In essence we are at now at the juncture where AI + Analytics + Data = [equals] new ways of managing risk, is becoming the norm.

What troubles everyone about this development is the speed in which this is happening.  Also, it has been very difficult for market researchers to determine the true size of this solution based information segments because AI + Analytics + Data blurs the outcome:  For outsiders the mix has become invisible, because nobody discloses the extend of the mix in such equations.

The investment community has caught up with these new market realities.

Nowadays, if you are in the data business and seeking to sell your business you may get less than 1x your annual revenue.  If you are in the data + analytics business you may get 3x revenue.  However, if you are in AI + Analytics + Data business and firmly  imbedded in the financial services arena you are likely to get 6x revenue, if not more.

There is a new game in town called Fintech.  It is rapidly taking hold and disrupting traditional banking.  It is also upsetting the relationship between traditional banking and credit bureaus.  Established industry players have taken notice and are making strategic investments in fintech companies.  It has already made several strategic investments in this sector in different geographic markets.

Last, but not least, there is the threat of Blockchain, which may become the ultimate disrupter not only in financial services, but for our industry segments as well.  BIIA is closely monitoring the situation.  There are lots of announcements, but there is no real evidence of scalable and workable solutions at this point in time.  When you dig deep you will find that many applications are still in the embryonic stage or in small beta test.    Rest assured, BIIA is monitoring developments.

As you will have no doubt gathered from my remarks there is a lot going on within the industry and within BIIA itself.

As we move forward our activity will continue to be focused around three core themes:

  • Information – building the most comprehensive database of market developments
  • Insight – interpreting the information we find into knowledge that members can use
  • Vision – providing members with a view of the future helping them understand the factors that will affect their businesses going forward

On this note I would like to close my opening remarks by

  • Thanking everyone for attending
  • Thanking our sponsors, supporters and speakers, and
  • Wishing You all an informative, fruitful and enjoyable event

About:  Jane Foo is a highly experienced compliance professional. Her areas of expertise are in ethics & compliance, operational risk and audit working in the financial services industry, a major user of the information provided by BIIA’s members .

Jane has 20 years of experience in compliance, operational risk and audit across a broad spectrum of banking businesses, products and services. Her past roles include being in executive positions at major financial services companies in Singapore. Jane was also Chair of the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) operational risk management task force and a a member of their financial crime task force.  Now retired from the financial services industry, Jane remains active by making her expertise available as a freelance trainer on Monetary Authority of Singapore regulations. BIIA is extremely pleased and grateful that she has agreed to add being Chair of BIIA to her expanding list of activities. .

Jane’s appointment is aligned with BIIA’s mission to provide a neutral, open forum in which all stakeholders involved in the information ecosystem – information providers, users, regulators, government and public information sector.