Banks

RBS share drop accelerates on stress test flop

Stressed. Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland have accelerated their losses this morning, falling over 4.5 per cent after the state-backed lender came in bottom of the heap in the Bank of England’s latest stress tests. RBS failed the toughest ever stress tests carried out by the BoE, with results this morning showing the lender’s […]

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Capital Markets, Financial

BGC Partners eyes new platform to trade US Treasuries

BGC Partners plans to launch a new platform to trade US Treasuries early next year, in a bid to return to a market in the middle of evolution, according to people familiar with the plans.  The company, spun out of Howard Lutnick’s Cantor Fitzgerald in 2004, sold eSpeed, the second-largest interdealer platform for trading Treasuries, […]

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Financial

Sales in Rocket Internet’s portfolio companies rise 30%

Revenues at Rocket Internet rose strongly at its portfolio companies in the first nine months of the year as the German tech group said it was making strides on the “path towards profitability”. Sales at its main companies increased 30.6 per cent to €1.58bn while losses narrowed. Rocket said the adjusted margin for earnings before […]

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Currencies

Renminbi strengthens further despite gains by dollar

The renminbi on track for a fourth day of firming against the dollar on Wednesday after China’s central bank once again pushed the currency’s trading band (marginally) stronger. The onshore exchange rate (CNY) for the reniminbi was 0.28 per cent stronger at Rmb6.8855 in afternoon trade, bringing it 0.53 per cent firmer since it last […]

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Currencies

Nomura rounds up markets’ biggest misses in 2016

Forecasting markets a year in advance is never easy, but with “year-ahead investment themes” season well underway, Nomura has provided a handy reminder of quite how difficult it is, with an overview of markets’ biggest hits and misses (OK, mostly misses) from the start of 2016. The biggest miss among analysts, according to Nomura’s Sam […]

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Categorized | Financial, Insurance

FCA drops plan to probe insurers’ use of big data


Posted on September 21, 2016

The FCA formerly the FSA prepare for their first day of operations as the Financial Conduct Authority at their head office in Canary Wharf. Credit: David Parry/ FT©FT

Insurers’ use of big data means certain consumers could miss out on cover, the UK’s financial watchdog has found, although it has shied away from launching a full inquiry into the activity.

The use of big data — where information on consumer behaviour is gleaned from sources such as social media, customer loyalty cards or aggregator sites — by general insurers is “broadly positive” but the Financial Conduct Authority said it means some customers will potentially find it harder to be accepted.

    The regulator added on Wednesday that it is also concerned that big data might push insurers to charge certain customers more.

    Big data is used across the financial sector but has become particularly important to insurers who use information about consumer behaviour to calculate premiums. Social media also enables insurers to verify whether claims are fraudulent.

    But there are mounting concerns that personal information is being used in ways not made clear to them when they sign up for social media or other platforms.

    The FCA is putting insurers on notice that they must comply with data protection and privacy rules when using big data.

    While the FCA shares concerns that big data could push insurers to withhold cover to high-risk customers, it said there was no evidence yet that this was happening. It added it would “remain alert” to this issue, known as risk segmentation, and would report to the government if its concerns grew.

    But the regulator declined to launch a full market study, which was one possible outcome when it called for more information around the issue in November. This decision will be a boon to the industry, which sees big data as a great hope for the future, investing millions of pounds in new systems to better understand customer behaviour. Insurers hope that by better analysing the risks that each policyholder faces, they cannot only price their products more accurately but also advise customers on how to avoid problems.

    “Some consumers are already seeing benefits but there are also some risks to consumer outcomes,” said Christopher Woolard, the director of strategy and competition at the FCA. “While we have decided not to launch a full market study, we are undertaking further work in this area and with the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure our rules and policies keep pace with developments in the market, but also do not prevent positive innovations.”

    The FCA is just one watchdog to have financial companies’ use of Big Data on its radar. The EU authorities have said that they will press on with their call for information on Big Data usage this year.

    The FCA’s findings come after the Chartered Institute of Insurers warned in July that big data could create an “underclass” of people who cannot afford insurance.

    An earlier study by the Association of British Insurers in 2013 found that 71 per cent of consumers would be unhappy with insurers pricing their products based on information gathered from social media.

    James Bridge, the head of conduct regulation at the ABI, said: “Insurers believe that Big Data can make insurance work better for customers, improving the claims experience and creating personalised and innovative products. It’s good to hear that the FCA’s findings are in line with this, with the call for input concluding there are ‘broadly positive consumer outcomes’. Insurers take their responsibilities regarding data very seriously and we will continue to work with the FCA and ICO to ensure that approaches to data work well for customers.”