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Dealflo’s CEO Abe Smith recently presented on the importance of data strategy at the International Auto Finance Network conference in London. The one-day event was attended by senior executives from the global auto finance sector.

In his speech, Smith described data as the “stock in trade” for lenders. He argued that as the industry becomes more and more virtualised, the fundamental activity financial services companies carry out – financial transactions – will shift from a physical paper-based process to an exchange of data. In a highly digital world, data is king.

Despite this, many financial services companies do not have a data strategy when it comes to financial transactions. Data is stored in bits and bytes across various locations, business units, servers and even with third parties.

“Financial firms stick it (data) into a variety of places. Some of it, they stick it into the CRM system, some of it will be in the database, some of it, frankly, is lost” he said.

This creates a huge problem. If the data relevant to a single transaction is not stored in a single ‘package’ then it is not only difficult to locate if needed, but it also loses its integrity and cannot be proven to be tamper-free.

“The vast majority of that data has zero integrity; nothing is proven that the data hasn’t changed or couldn’t have changed.”


Calling what the finance companies have built so far, a ‘system of reference’, he urged business leaders to set up a long-term strategic ‘system of record’ – by storing all relevant data in a single transaction packet that contains all evidence in a tamper-evident format.

“If data is your stock in trade, not to have a strategy around a system of record seems at the very least remiss,” Smith said.

Components of data strategy mentioned were integrity, security, as well as easy to store, find and use as key attributes of the data packet. He also underlined the importance of data independence, saying financial companies should be able to own the packet and not rely on any third party to access the data.

While Smith’s speech underscored the need of a data strategy in the financial institutions’ point of view, Dealflo’s Sales Vice President David Fletcher said the strategy is also beneficial to customers who expect seamless experiences.

“Other industries have seen revolutions – such as Netflix, Amazon, Uber, etc. We see the same happening within the motor and fleet organisations. Customers expect services on demand at any time wherever they may exist,” said Fletcher.

Abe also pointed out how the technology for such a customer experience already exists in consumer retail, citing Chinese online payment platform Alipay founded by Alibaba Group.

As an example of seamless customer experience, Smith mentioned: “You can walk into a Kentucky Fried Chicken in China and pay with your smile. Amazingly, the KFC is connected to Alibaba and the Alipay application, which recognises you and completes the transaction in the background. You smile and get the chicken.”

Though this might seem highly futuristic, Smith went on to describe how the technology that allows consumers to buy or finance items online, without the need of a manual or paper-based interaction, is already in place in Europe, citing Amazon and Fiat Chrysler’s strategy for selling cars online. Referencing a study by Accenture he highlighted that 44% of under-40s surveyed in 2017 would be prepared to buy a car online, an increase from 35% in 2016. “We are advancing into the digital economy perhaps more rapidly than we might think”, Smith concluded.


Dealflo attended the annual conference since 2016. Fletcher said the event is well-attended by market leaders to connect with. Speakers of the event for this year include representatives from Alphabet, AutoTrader, Lex Autolease, Mazda, PWC and more.

The global forum’s agendas this year included using technology to improve customer touch-points, delivering profitable growth from new mobility services, developing new business models for an autonomous future and overcoming the barriers to digitalisation.

The International Auto Finance Network conference focuses on how firms can stake their claim in the emerging digital auto finance ecosystem. Hosted by Asset Finance International, it brings auto finance industry experts and executives together and provides insight into the future and changes that financial businesses will have to embrace.

You can watch Abe’s full speech here: