Article

17.08.2017

Start preparing for GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation comes into force in 2018 and has major implications for companies' IT systems. Here are the best practices to be introduced.

GDPR: what is it?

The General Data Protection Regulation comes into force on 25 May 2018. It defines, strengthens and unifies the protection policy for personal data within the Member States of the European Union. Its preparation has not been easy: it has required four years of legislative negotiations.

What is in the new document?

The regulation adopted on 26 April 2016 can be consulted here. Overall, it defines a harmonised framework of data protection rules, with extra-territorial application. It also introduces the 'right to delete' personal data quickly. There is also the right of portability of personal data, notifications for cases of data breach and stronger financial penalties (up to 4% of a company's global annual turnover) in the event of non-compliance.

GDPR means significant changes to the IT systems of companies of all sizes, mainly in terms of data management and governance.

How to prepare for it

  • Capture and integrate: the extended consent requires data to be taken into account at all levels (internet, targeted offers, invoicing, marketing) in order to reconcile it transversally.
  • Classify and map: companies should define and categorise data and locate it within their systems (source, use).
  • Make data anonymous: companies should detect the presence of sensitive data (personal address, credit card) to avoid problems of data confidentiality before displaying this sensitive data.
  • Ensure portability: customers must be able to access their data for possible requests for changes or deletion. To achieve this, a data integration tool is essential.
  • Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO), an expert within the company whose job is to control data protection.

Like to know more?

The Privacy Commission has published a guide in 13 steps, available in French and in Dutch.

Article

23.08.2016

Capital Markets Union: It’s Not About Us, It’s About You

How to harmonize capital markets and regulation across Europe? Petra De Deyne, Regulatory Affairs Manager for Global Markets at BNP Paribas, presents the new initiative of the European Commission to build a single market for all 28 Member States of the Union.

After the crisis of 2007-2008, financial stability was the key priority for the European Commission. In order to restore that stability, the resilience of banks needed to be strengthened and systemic risk in the markets needed to be contained, which had Brussels produce that famous “tsunami” of regulation. Today, most of the work to make banks and markets stable again is done and the respective legislation has been or will soon be implemented.

Growth as a priority

The next item on the European Commission’s to-do list is now to create growth. Therefore, corporates need to grow their businesses, invest and expand. Historically, corporates have been very much dependent on bank lending if they want to expand. However, on the back of capital and liquidity requirements imposed by bank regulation, some banks have found it more difficult to fulfil their role of traditional lender. Seeing their bank funding channels drying up, larger corporates turned to capital markets, but did not always meet favourable borrowing conditions and interested investors. For some of the smaller corporates, getting funding had become as good as impossible. A survey done by the ECB and the European Commission in 2014 on the access to finance of enterprises (SAFE) showed that 35% of SMEs did not get the full financing they asked their banks for in 2013.

Looking at the US, we notice that corporates get about three quarters of their funding directly from the capital markets, and rely only to a small extent on bank lending. In Europe the situation is the other way round. So Europe wondered if they could create a funding landscape that would resemble more the US situation. That would mean that those in need of financing would meet directly with those that have money to invest. It would reduce the dependency of the real economy on banks, which would again contribute to financial stability. However, what is needed in that case is a harmonized, well integrated capital market in Europe. And this is where comes in the initiative of the European Commission: build a Capital Markets Union.

So in short, this is what CMU is about: it is a plan to create a single market for all 28 Member States of the European Union, where, on the one hand, funding choices for corporates will be diversified beyond bank lending and where, on the other hand, investment opportunities and the investor base will be broadened.

So what’s the plan?

“The Plan”, which the European Commission published in October 2015, sets 4 clear objectives:

  1. Support job creation and growth
  2. Connect financing effectively to investment projects across the EU
  3. Make the financial system more stable
  4. Deepen financial integration and increase competition

“The Plan” also defines 5 priority areas for action, with over 30 different initiatives for reviews, assessments, reports, initiatives and legislative proposals, all to be taken between now and sometime in 2018.

The first priority is to provide more funding choices for Europe’s corporates and SMEs. Here we will see initiatives to support venture capital and innovative forms of financing, such as crowdfunding. The EU is also thinking about ways to provide necessary data on SMEs to investors, so that they can make well informed investment decisions.

Second, long term investment has to be promoted. An initiative here is to make sure that capital requirements for insurers are reviewed so that they see their investment needs more efficiently met. Measures will also be taken to promote investment in infrastructure projects.

Third, the range of investment choices both for retail and institutional investors has to broaden. In this area, we will see, amongst others, incentives to promote pensions savings and private placements.

The fourth priority is to enhance the capacity of the banks to step up lending. This may sound contradictory, as the idea of the CMU is to move away from traditional lending. However, for a lot of SMEs, banks will still remain the prime source of financing. So Europe wants to make sure that banks can offload more assets from their balance sheet so that they have extra space to lend.

And lastly, the EU wants to dismantle barriers that would hamper cross-border investment across the Member States. This is quite an ambitious area, where certain tax issues will be tackled, and where we will see a certain harmonization as far as national insolvency laws and securities laws are concerned.

Immediate action

Simultaneously with the publication of “The Plan”, the European Commission issued a couple of legislative proposals and 3 consultations, as a matter of launching the short term actions right away and getting the train out of the station.

The European Commission takes immediate action in the field of securitization. This may seem quite controversial as some will still consider this as the root of all evil. However, it is a critical tool to finance the economy and it sits high on the Commission’s agenda. In order to kick start the securitizations market, the EU has come up with a legislative proposal, the purpose of which is twofold:

  • First, it aims at reinstalling confidence. Therefore, a quality label is introduced: “Simple, Transparent and Standardized” securitizations. That means that any “STS” securitisation will comply with over 20 different standards, thus helping investors to better understand these products and ensuring quality. Second, it incentivizes banks to restart the activity again by giving these STS securitizations a better capital treatment, compared to other forms of securitisation.
  • Next to that, the EU has issued a proposal to adjust Solvency II rules for insurers, so that they would have to deploy less capital when investing in long term infrastructure projects or in European Long Term Investment Funds (ELTIFs).

Also note that the European Commission is looking into covered bonds. Currently there are 26 different covered bond frameworks in the EU, an area which could possibly benefit from a certain level of harmonization. While the idea is not to create a single framework for Europe, the Commission would look to promote best practices, step up transparency and remove barriers that would hamper cross-border investments. We also saw a consultation venture capital and a call for evidence on the cumulative impact of financial legislation.

Reduce paperwork

In the medium term, a review of the Prospectus Directive is on the cards. This is a logical move, given that the EU would like to attract many more corporates directly onto the capital markets to issue debt. Making prospectuses cheaper and less burdensome for smaller issuers on the one hand and more user friendly for investors on the other hand, would be a welcome help in that respect.

Another initiative is a Green Paper (this is a first, general exchange of views between the EC and the industry to explore a certain topic) on Retail Financial Services. Here he European Commission is exploring ways to enhance competition and make sure that consumers have access to a broader range of services in order to get the best deal around, when it comes to mortgages, savings products, insurance, banks accounts etc.

In the long term, count 2017/2018, we can expect further steps to support SME growth markets and private placements, along with plans for a pan-European Pension Fund. As already mentioned earlier, matters regarding withholding tax and insolvency law will get attention as well.

Benefits for companies

All in all, CMU certainly has a fully packed and ambitious agenda. Now what’s in it for companies, really? Potentially a lot. However, we appreciate that the road to a real CMU may be a far longer one. 2019 seems awfully close for some of the changes to  happen. Rebalancing financial intermediation for example will most probably be a gradual, organic process that will go hand in hand with political interests, FinTech developments etc., rather than a major shift on a particular point in time.

Also, it will need a change in mind-set and behaviour by all stakeholders involved. The effects of a CMU may be more pronounced for the corporate sectors of certain countries with relatively small capital markets. For these countries, some of the initiatives could be particularly beneficial. Their domestic capital markets may currently not be able to cater for their large corporates, pushing them away to international markets. CMU could bring them back home and expand their markets.

The benefits of CMU will be different for the different types of companies:

  • Start-ups will get special attention, as their innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are key to Europe’s growth potential. At this moment start-ups can turn to crowdfunding, but this is only developing and there is already some investment by business angels. However, these funding channels remain small and local and will not always provide the necessary funding at critical moments in their expansion. The initiatives to step up venture capital for example may be particular beneficial in that respect.
  • Small companies that are struggling to get bank funding, especially in those countries that have been hit the hardest by the crisis, may unlock more funding via securitization. SMEs in particular could be positively impacted, as the intended side effect would be that securitisation allows banks to step up the lending capacity, knowing that bank lending for this type of corporates may remain a very important source of funding. Next to that, the European Commission also wants to work closely together with the SME growth markets, a new market sub-category created under MiFID II to facilitate access to capital for SMEs, to ensure that the regulatory environment for these markets delivers the expected results.
  • Medium and large-sized companies, which may already have access to capital markets, should also feel the effects as CMU will support investors who wish to place larger amounts of capital in the market. The initiative to promote private placements, building on successful experiences such as the one in Germany and through supporting market-led initiatives such as the one by ICMA on the use of standardized documentation could be quite helpful. Tackling tax issues could come in helpful as well.

What is important too is that the European Commission is also planning to review the functioning of the European corporate bond market and to see how market liquidity can be improved. A well-functioning secondary market will be crucial for the success of the primary debt markets.

So all in all, the Capital Markets Union is an ambitious, yet challenging plan of the European Commission. Ambitious because it intends to reengineer Europe’s traditional funding channels. Challenging because of the wide range of issues that need to be tackled to get there and the tight deadline. The outcome should be that corporates meet with investors in an efficient market place, thus broadening the scope of options for both parties to contribute to economic growth.

(Source: Focus Magazine CIB)

 

Article

24.10.2016

Indemnité km pour l'utilisation d'un vélo électrique : exonération fiscale sous condition

Les travailleurs qui se rendent au travail à bicyclette peuvent bénéficier d'une indemnité vélo de maximum 0,22 EUR/km. En principe, cette réglementation s'applique également aux vélos électriques, à l'exception toutefois de certains modèles, tels que le speed pedelec.

Le vélo électrique a le vent en poupe : plus d'un quart des bicyclettes vendues sont de type électrique. Dans le même temps, nous sommes de plus en plus nombreux à venir travailler à vélo. L'employeur a la possibilité d'octroyer à son personnel une indemnité vélo exonérée d'impôts à concurrence de 0,22 EUR/km, pour autant qu'il s'agisse d'un vélo électrique « classique » :

  • dont la vitesse maximale est de 25 km/h ;
  • dont la puissance du moteur n'excède pas 250 Watt ;
  • à assistance électrique, le cycliste doit donc pédaler pour avancer (il ne doit pas s'agir d'un moteur autonome).

Les speed pedelecs, exclus de l'exonération fiscale

Cette réglementation avantageuse ne s'applique pas aux speed pedelecs, lesquels constituent en quelque sorte des vélos électriques « de formule 1 ». Ils peuvent en effet atteindre une vitesse de 45 km/h et requièrent, depuis le 1er octobre, le port d'un casque, la détention d'un permis de conduire et la prise d'une assurance.

Précisons toutefois que les navetteurs roulant à speed pedelec peuvent bénéficier d'une indemnité kilométrique de leur employeur, mais celle-ci sera considérée comme un revenu imposable. Le travailleur devra donc payer des cotisations ONSS ainsi que le précompte professionnel. Cette règle connaît cependant une exception lorsque les collaborateurs optent pour une déduction forfaitaire de leurs frais professionnels. Ils ont alors droit à une exonération fiscale de maximum 380 EUR.

Quid des vélos mis à disposition par l'employeur ?

L'employeur peut également mettre des vélos à la disposition de son personnel. Tous les frais qui en découlent, comme les frais d'entretien, sont exonérés d'impôts, à condition que le collaborateur s'en serve réellement pour parcourir ses trajets domicile-lieu de travail (mais il est aussi autorisé à effectuer des déplacements strictement privés). Cette réglementation s'applique uniquement aux vélos électriques classiques. Les speed pedelecs ne permettent (à nouveau) pas de bénéficier de cette exonération fiscale.

(Source : Partena)
Article

14.12.2016

Tant qu’il y aura des data…

Le graal des big data? Créer une expérience client sans précédent. Mais pourquoi une start-up sans passé réussit à être affective là où ses ainées croulant sous les data rêvent de proximité ? Quelle est l’alchimie gagnante ?

Stocker et traiter ses données numériques, ce n’est pas nouveau. Le datamining non plus. Mais avec les objets connectés et les usages mobiles, les données déferlent littéralement. SMS, chats, photos, vidéos, requêtes à un moteur de recherche, clics sur le net, demandes d’itinéraires sur google maps ou autres, paiements en ligne, contacts client par chatbots ou messagerie, renouvellement automatique des commandes à partir d’un frigo intelligent… des données, nous en produisons sans cesse sans même nous en rendre compte ! Même lorsque nous acceptons la géolocalisation ou que nous nous connectons à une borne wifi...

En 2020, le volume des données devrait être multiplié par 50. Une voiture connectée, par exemple fournit, en une heure de temps, des millions de données utiles à l’automobile, mais aussi aux assureurs aussi ou à l’e-commerce. Et les enjeux ne sont pas moins prometteurs qu’ajuster sa stratégie, personnaliser un service, prendre de meilleures décisions, détecter des tendances, établir des prédictions… 

Il y a toujours eu des statisticiens pour interpréter les chiffres du passé afin d’améliorer le futur, mais aujourd’hui les ‘data scientists’ sont des geeks. Des cursus universitaires voient le jour et l’explosion des données adopte un rythme quasi insoutenable pour que nos connaissances puissent suivre. Seules des machines sont encore à même de gérer de tels flux de données. Les techniques d’apprentissages automatiques (‘machine learning’) permettent de faire mieux et plus rapidement. Un standard pour une utilisation correcte de l’intelligence artificielle serait en cours à l’initiative de noms comme Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM et Microsoft. Pour Nicolas Méric, fondateur et PDG de la start-up DreamQuark, acteur de deep learning appliqué à la santé et l'assurance, de telles technologies dopent les capacités humaines mais elles ne sont pas vouées à pouvoir s’en passer.

Qui est concerné ?

Aucun secteur n’échappe vraiment au besoin de récolter ses données afin de les faire fructifier en transformant son environnement. Mais disons que certains se montrent plus pressés – ou opportunistes - que d’autres. Les télécoms, le transport, les fournisseurs de gaz, eau, électricité, émergent : la SNCF mais aussi le fabricant de produits de beauté Nuxe épient tous les canaux en ligne en quête de verbatim client pour mieux le connaître. L’ascensoriste ThyssenKrupp, qui veut chouchouter ses cabines et surtout leurs utilisateurs, récolte moult paramètres sur celles-ci afin de parfaire la maintenance et d’anticiper les pannes désagréables.

Les responsables des Big Data en entreprise sont face à trois défis principaux, rassemblés sous la règle dite des ‘3V’: pouvoir gérer de gros Volumes, tenir compte de l’infinie Variété des informations, et parvenir à gérer la Vitesse à laquelle elles sont générées. Les banques n‘y échappent pas. Ces entreprises qui ont d’ailleurs beaucoup à y gagner puisqu’elles disposent de tonnes d’informations transactionnelles sur leur clientèle et créent des processus en tout genre, sont mises au défi : celui de se servir d’un tel trésor pour tester elles aussi de nouveaux services à valeur ajoutée dans un délai le plus court possible.

Momentum

Jean-François Vanderschrick est Head of Marketing Analytics & Research chez BNP Paribas Fortis : « Ce qui me fascine, c’est moins la multitude des données disponibles et des objets connectés que tout ce que la technologie permet désormais d’en tirer. Pas un jour ne se passe sans que je ne sois surpris par quelque chose de neuf. JP Morgan détecte des tendances en achetant les photos de l’occupation des parkings des supermarchés. La Chine développe la reconnaissance faciale pour adapter le lay-out de ses interfaces à l’expression de ses clients. Vous pouvez suivre à la trace votre paire de chaussettes made in USA de son expédition jusqu’au moment où elle franchit le seuil de votre domicile… Tout cela fait partie de notre quotidien au moment même où une banque manifeste ses intentions de s’adapter à la phase de vie que traverse son client – celui qu’elle suit depuis qu’il est actif – pour lui offrir juste ce qui lui est utile. »

Chez BNP Paribas Fortis, le management data franchit récemment un nouveau pas avec la nomination d’un Chief Data Officer membre du Comité Exécutif, Jo Couture. Ce qui signifie aussi des renforts humains, de nouveaux outils analytiques et de nouvelles capacités.

Jean-François Vanderschrick : « Les data analytics doivent nous permettre d’améliorer l’expérience client, ainsi que de garder les coûts sous contrôle et in fine, cela conduit généralement à une plus grande efficacité. »

Selon lui, la courbe d’adoption entame à peine sa phase exponentielle.

Le timing est aussi important que le service lui-même

Les données servent une multitude de domaines : excellence opérationnelle, marketing, détection des fraudes, risque crédit… Les entreprises comprennent désormais qu’elles doivent transformer leurs données en connaissances et en services et bon nombre d’entre elles ont tout pour y parvenir. Toutefois, il convient de ne pas se laisser noyer par la masse d’informations. Le plus compliqué - et source de frustration - est sans doute de pouvoir accéder aux données et de parvenir à les qualifier. Les aspects de compliance ont naturellement tendance à freiner les développements. Réduire le data to market reste cependant un défi majeur car souvent, le timing de la mise sur le marché s’avère bien trop long. Il s’agit aussi d’offrir un service en temps réel, comme c’est le cas chez Monoprix qui analyse le processus de traitement de 200 000 commandes quotidiennes de ses 800 magasins pour intervenir directement sur sa chaîne d’approvisionnement, un processus critique pour l’enseigne française.

« C’est une délicate alchimie à produire entre les tests (la maquette du service est souvent très chouette, mais encore faut-il réussir la généralisation), la mesure du risque et la ‘prioritarisation’ des objectifs », soutient Jean-François Vanderschrick.

Eduquer l’algorithme

Pour peu que l’on dispose des données et de la technologie, et qu’il y ait des enjeux financiers liés, l’imagination reste notre seule limite pour libérer la valeur des données. A côté de projets conséquents et complexes, des quick wins relativement simples sont ici aussi tout à fait possibles et souhaitables, notamment pour permettre aux directions opérationnelles de l’entreprise d’effectuer des analyses élémentaires à partir de grands volumes de données. « Aujourd’hui, une variété d’informations qui semblent peut-être anodines peuvent nous éclairer et servir de déclencheur d’actions : un client qui commence à travailler avec la concurrence, qui place des lignes de crédit ailleurs, ou emprunte un montant particulièrement important, traite avec un autre pays… autant d’informations qui commercialement parlant, méritent toute notre attention et qui sont jugées utiles dans 70 % des cas » ajoute le responsable de BNP Paribas Fortis. Analyser le modèle transactionnel d’un client permettrait de prendre de meilleures décisions de crédit. Il est possible d’améliorer de manière conséquente la pertinence des décisions, comparé à ce que nous pourrions faire sans modèle, prétend Jean-François Vanderschrick qui ajoute encore :

« Grâce au machine learning, nous éduquons l’algorithme à fournir des réponses de plus en plus pertinentes.» 

Si ‘Big is better’, est-ce accessible aux petites ?

Grâce au Cloud (espace en ligne), les PME disposent désormais des capacités de stockage - auxquelles s’associe la puissance de calcul nécessaire pour exploiter les données. C’est un des enjeux majeurs des Big Data. Le second est de savoir comment les traiter. Des logiciels de gestion d’entreprise usant de la technologie cloud, style CRM, outil de suivi des commandes ou des coûts de production, traçabilité des fournisseurs, rendent les big data accessibles aux petites et moyennes entreprises. Seule condition : rassembler toutes ses données au même endroit. La différence entre les corporates et les PME se jouera sur le long terme. Mais les PME pour qui un super statisticien serait impayable, peuvent toujours acquérir des études ciblées et enrichir leurs données par des bases externes…

(Sources : BNP Paribas Fortis, Les Echos, Transparency Market Research, IDC, Ernst & Young, CXP, Data Business)
Article

27.12.2016

These 4 giants from Silicon Valley want to seduce your IT management

Already champions in everyday life, Google, Facebook, Slack and LinkedIn are adopting innovative and complementary approaches to convert companies. What strategies are they implementing in order to convince you?

Google: the value of data intelligence

Google is adopting an approach which goes beyond communication tools and suites of productivity apps/services. The company has largely transformed its business divisions so that they can exploit cloud infrastructures, big data, analytics and machine learning as a matter of priority. Two competitors are blocking it along the way: Amazon and Microsoft, but for different reasons. Developers have been using Amazon Web Services for a long time, which gives it a history of trust. Microsoft (Cloud, Office) also has a historical presence in IT departments around the world. In this approach, linked to the processing of sensitive data, Google still needs to evangelise: a company is not as easily convinced as a consumer, particularly when it comes to strategic or confidential data. Its weapon: the power of its artificial intelligence tools to process data silos.

Facebook: introducing WorkPlace, naturally

After more than a year of development with partner companies such as Danone, Starbucks, Royal Bank of Scotland and Booking.com, Facebook officially launched WorkPlace last October. This Facebook spin-off enables organisations to create an internal social network - completely private and secure - within an interface familiar to all employees in their everyday life, introducing head-on competition for already widespread tools such as Chatter (Salesforce) or Yammer (Microsoft). Unlike free Facebook, WorkPlace is billed monthly depending on the number of users: $3 for the first 1,000, $2 for the next 9,000 $1 for over 10,000 users.

Slack: real-time collaboration becomes mainstream

Despite the introduction of Microsoft Teams on its turf, Slack remains confident in its strategy of creating tools that allow greater communication and productivity within companies.

"We find this offensive both flattering as well as intimidating, given Microsoft's means, but we think there is sufficient space in the market for several players", declared April Underwood, VP of Slack at the beginning of November.

A market that Slack has largely contributed to opening and driving, by introducing the concept of real-time collaboration. Its weapon? Agility, despite its still limited size and its proven and copied tools. Result: 4 million active users everyday and constant growth.

LinkedIn: from B2B marketing for... Microsoft

Microsoft Closes Acquisition of LinkedIn at the beginning of December. The transaction, which runs into billions of euros, has been followed closely by the European Commission. Despite a strong position in the business, mainly at a human resources level, LinkedIn needs 25 billion euros from Microsoft to pursue its offensive in the domain of professional tools, in a hugely competitive climate. For Microsoft, the acquisition will enable the company to reach B2B marketing targets such as recruitment agencies, head-hunters and businesses. To explain the synergy sought in simple terms, the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, gives the example of a meeting where everyone present sees their LinkedIn profile, linked to their invitation.

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