I first found myself needing an AI/ML solution when the business I was in was being systematically hit by fraudulent orders. Ecommerce is no stranger to fraud, but each business faces it in different and unique ways. We were being targeted from many locations, multiple payment types, every product and any delivery location. There was a pattern and behaviour that a human could spot after the event but we needed to be able to spot it before the order was shipped.

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We were a small engineering team without the enterprise budget to outsource this problem, as was common of the day, so we decided to build a solution. Importantly we had to do so before our next peak buying period when hundreds of thousands of pounds were at stake. …

Update [28/07/2020]: It’s been a year and change since I wrote this and I’ve been asked a few times how much has changed. Rather than re-write this article, I’ve added an addendum to the end as this is very much a story that we continue to evolve as we grow and learn as an organisation.

We follow a strict policy of shipping code into production regularly, it is not uncommon for us to release new code into production 15 times a day. Deploying code regularly is something that is considered best practice with other fintechs like us but it’s absolutely not a race, this is about maintaining code quality and avoiding legacy. For a long time, we have been able to shape our direction without inspection, but as we’ve begun working with partners and investors, we’ve had to describe the meaning of continuous deployment a few times and to that end, I thought I’d explain why we favor releasing code many times a day. …

Digital transformation is a story that has been re-enacted many times before. In the pension industry it is relatively new, but in banking, our sister industry we have seen it not just once, but twice. The first transformation started in the high street, money being a paper based transaction evolved into a digital one. It now seems a very long time ago that we had to go into a bank and fill out a CHAPS form to send someone money and pay a fee to have the transaction carried out.

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As the internet was introduced, those high street banks had to evolve into online banking and adapt to meet customer demands for an enhanced experience. We got our first digital statement and as the infrastructure to provide that information was created so too were the means to introduce operational efficiencies. Payments could be exchanged more efficiently removing the upfront fees. …

In the search for the perfect solution to the pensions dashboard conundrum, the term ‘open pensions’ has been coined and used, almost liberally, as if it is actionable. Let’s be clear, open pensions does not exist and whilst the concept has merit, we are a long way from being able to mint that particular coin.

The term is obviously born out of open banking. This is part of the revised Payment Services Directive or PSD2 adopted by the European Parliament back in 2015. The following year, the Competition and Markets Authority carried out a review of the UK banking industry and issued a ruling that required the nine largest banks to provide better interoperability via standardised APIs to allow their customers access to their data via third-party applications. The idea being to shake up the market through transparency, let the customer compare bank accounts based on their overdraft needs or utility providers based on their spending habits for example. …


Sam Barton

CTO at Smart Pension, fan of solving problems with technology, enjoy building teams and can’t let go of my past, photography.

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