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AI in SME Finance: Opportunities and Threats

07 February 2024
8 : 00
9 : 30
AI in SME Finance: Opportunities and Threats

Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) have been at the top of the strategic agenda for bank leaders for several years because they are reshaping the way we analyze data, integrate information, and make decisions.

According to McKinsey “generative AI will bring major financial benefits to the banking industry, with a potential annual profit of US$200 billion to US$340 billion". 

Generative AI has the potential to bring significant advancements and transform business functions. AI in finance can help in five general areas: 

  • Personalize services and products
  • Manage risk assessment and fraud
  • Enable transparency and compliance
  • Automate operations, scale and reduce costs

However, along with these benefits, AI also presents several challenges:

  • Embedding of bias into algorithms used for credit decisions
  • Sharing of inaccurate information by chatbots
  • Data privacy and security
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Job displacement

During this webinar, we will hear from an outstanding panel of experts comprising regulators, fintechs, commercial banks, e-commerce platforms and IFC senior leaders.
They will share their insights about the use of AI in their organization internally and with their SME clients. We will learn how they operationalize AI for maximum gain and how they overcome the risks inherent to its implementation.

This webinar will mark the launch of the SME Finance Forum new Community of Practice on Digital and Embedded Finance.

Webinar AI in SME Finance Opportunities and Threats-20240207 1223-1 from SME Finance Forum on Vimeo.



Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer - Monetary Authority of Singapore

Sopnendu is responsible for creating development strategies, public infrastructure, and policies around technology-driven innovation. Mohanty has over two decades of public and private sector experience in technology, operations, digital Finance, and investment strategies. Mohanty extensively engages with global technology and financial services ecosystems and has championed notable collaborative public goods like API Exchange (APIX), Singapore Fintech Festival, Payment Rails, Data exchange platforms, and experimental programs like UBIN.
In addition, Mohanty advises many international global advisory bodies on Fintech, Innovation and Inclusion. Within five years of his leadership, Singapore has become a leading global Fintech hub producing unicorns and home to many vibrant fintech companies. He has co-authored several patented works in the application of digital technology in Finance and won many industry recognitions.


Hans Koning, Global Chief Industry Specialist Digital Finance - International Finance Corporation

Hans is global Chief Industry Specialist Digital Finance at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. IFC is the largest global development institution and aims to grow the private sector in developing countries by providing lending facilities, equity investments and advisory services. IFC’s investment commitments were $32.8 billion last year. Hans and his team engage with digital banks, digitizing financial institutions, and digital ecosystem platforms in developing countries, with the purpose of supporting these digital financial services providers in their financial inclusion ambitions. Hans is a Dutch executive with 25 years of experience in banking, private equity, wealth management, international project finance and global strategy. He has a degree in Business Economics from the University of Groningen and attended Executive Programs at business schools INSEAD and IMD. He is based out of Washington, DC.  


Carmia Lureman-Norton, Head of Strategic Delivery & CX - JUMO

Carmia is a customer experience leader and impact management practitioner with a passion for devising and implementing customer-driven growth and impact strategies in fast-scaling tech environments. With over 15 years of experience, she specialises in building customer capabilities for scale and has played a pivotal role in some of South Africa's most successful scale-ups.In her current role as Head of Strategic Delivery: Customer & Partner Success at JUMO, Carmia is responsible for delivery on JUMO's B2B2C business model and roadmap.  Her focus is to achieve business objectives with increased speed and reduced cost, optimising for both partner and customer success. Her responsibilities include compiling a market-led business prioritisation plan, monitoring the impact of business decisions, and optimising the end-to-end partner experience.
Carmia is an expert in building customer-centered competencies and operations. She has developed the CRM programmes for leading brands across diverse industries including finance and retail. Brands that she has worked with include Capitec Bank and Dove. She also built the delivery logistics and customer support operations for South Africa’s largest fashion eCommerce retailer, Superbalist.Having experienced first-hand the ability of tech-enabled businesses to rapidly build and grow solutions to societal problems, she’s excited about the opportunity for JUMO to reimagine the delivery of financial services in challenging customer contexts.
Carmia is a co-founder of the Oxford Impact Collaborative, a global platform fostering conversations and collaboration at the intersection of Impact, ESG, and Investment. Her commitment to social impact is further evident through her completion of the Impact Measurement Programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Carmia believes that businesses leading with customer interest at heart drive social change and are more sustainable, outperforming in their sectors.
Carmia is a CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) and award winning digital marketer. She holds a BA in Media Studies, English Literature and Drama from the University of Cape Town. 

Kai Qiu, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer - ANEXT Bank

Kai is a member of the Bank’s Executive Committee. Being part of the leadership team of a young digital bank, Kai brings to the table a wealth of nearly 20 years of technology expertise that provides the business an edge given its inherent digital-first nature. Embodying the spirit of innovation in a fintech organization, he steers the Bank ahead of the curve with his strategic leadership and tech-led approach to drive business impact and deliver digital SME banking services according to regulatory requirements. As a seasoned IT professional and leader, Kai leads initiatives to explore new technologies, partnerships and business models. He also provides the right environment and support for the teams to collaborate and deliver innovative solutions within budget and timelines. Kai also oversees a team to develop, manage and maintain the overall security and technology infrastructure of ANEXT Bank as well as business continuity frameworks and measures. Prior to ANEXT Bank, Kai has served in various leading software companies and banks including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, to deliver core banking system implementations across Asia Pacific. In his most recent role at LaSalle Investment Management (“LaSalle”), Kai undertook the digital transformation roadmap, overall IT operations, cybersecurity, and business continuity management for Asian countries. He successfully established a technology risk management framework and delivered various digital initiatives for LaSalle. Kai holds a Bachelor of Computing from the National University of Singapore.


Luis Rodriguez, Product Evangelist - Strands

Luis’ journey is marked by a passion for innovation, a commitment to technological advancement, and a keen focus on the strategic application of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. His extensive experience in digital transformation projects at major international banks and his leadership roles at prominent companies underscore his dedication to driving positive change at the intersection of business and technology. In his current role as the Product Evangelist at Strands, Luis continues his journey of advocating for the strategic use of technology in business. He plays a crucial role in promoting Strands' products and technologies while emphasizing the integration of ML and AI in the financial services and digital marketing industries. For the last 20 years, Luis has worked within companies applying the latest technologies in ML/AI and software to create new products; he has led several research projects in this field all in SME companies with the focus of transferring academic research into company products. A couple of examples: i) PROFIT project (in 2020): Use of AI in Category management. Luis collaborated with Juan Antonio Rodriguez Aguilar, Tenured Scientist at IIIA-CSIC, in a project to transfer AI research on Category Management into one of the company’s products. ii) CDTI PID project (in 2020): Synthetic Generated Image and video for their use in marketing campaigns. Luis defined and ran a project on GenAI 2020-2022 before the explosion of this technology in 2023 with significant contribution to the company's product offerings, revenue and valuation. 


Pablo Zbinden, Head of Credit Business in Brazil - Mercado Libre

Pablo has over 15 years of experience in the financial sector, he is a seasoned actuary who has dedicated his career to the credit business and risk management. Pablo's journey led him to start the credit operation in Mercado Libre, where from 2016 to 2021, He spearheaded the credit risk team. In 2021, he embraced a new challenge by taking on a leadership role in shaping the digital wallet strategy. Finally, since 2023 Pablo is at the helm of the credit operations for Brazil, leveraging his expertise to drive impactful decisions that contribute not only to the financial success but also to fostering financial inclusion in the region.



Burcu Küçükünal, Digital Design and Innovation SVP - Akbank

Burcu joined Akbank in 2010 as Strategy Manager and was appointed as Vice President of Strategy in 2014, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation in 2019. She is currently in charge of Digital Design and Innovation as SVP. Prior to joining Akbank, she worked in a bank and two different international consulting and technology companies. She has a BSc degree in Mathematics from Yildiz Teknik University and an MSc degree in Financial Engineering from Bogaziçi University. She is in charge of Akbank LAB Innovation Center to support new technologies, entrepreneurship ecosystem and the activities promoting innovation culture in the bank. 

Hosted by:

Qamar Saleem, CEO - SME Finance Forum

Prior to this role, Qamar was the Manager Financial Institutions Group Advisory Services for Asia and Pacific driving leading a large team across 20 countries aimed at providing integrated investment/advisory client solutions across mainly MSME, Gender, Climate, Digital, Housing, Trade, and Supply Chain Finance. Qamar has been with IFC since 2012 and served in his previous roles as global technical lead for SME and Supply Chain Finance as well as regional SME Banking lead for EMENA.  Qamar has 30+ years of global financial services experience having worked across 60+ countries internationally managing large business lines while leading multi-cultural and cross-functional teams. He is a recognized thought leader, featured speaker, and an industry mentor in SME Finance. Prior to joining IFC, Qamar was associated with international organizations like HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank as well as large regional banks while serving in several emerging markets where he also led SME Banking and Commercial Banking Divisions.  Qamar holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and carries several certifications in the areas of Strategy, Climate Finance, Digital Banking, Business Transformation, Social Impact, MSME Banking, Team Leadership, Supply Chain Finance, Credit, Risk, Trade, Sales Effectiveness, Transaction Banking and Project Implementation. 


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