Swiss Digital Solutions Innovator ti&m Eyes Opportunities and Vigorous Expansion in Asia
Thomas Wüst is CEO, President of the Board of Directors and Founder of Swiss digital technology company ti&m, which stands for technology, innovation & management. The firm promotes itself as the Swiss leader in projects and products for digitalisation, security and innovation, focusing on the major banks and financial institutions, with wealth management a key area of focus and of growth ahead. They are also on a journey to achieve the same sort of presence as they have in Switzerland in other leading financial and technology centres, with their Singapore office the platform for Asia and complementing their three offices in Switzerland and their two offices in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf. Thomas founded ti&m in 2005 and has overseen its growth to more than 600-strong, with the majority of those individuals being software engineers, designers and consultants. The firm is ranked amongst the top 10 largest owner-managed Swiss IT firms and has a deep clientele of leading-brand global, regional and also ‘boutique’ banks and institutions, especially in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Hubbis met with Thomas recently to learn more about the firm, its products and its mission in Asia, as well as about Thomas himself.
The 3 ti&m offerings
The ti&m business model currently boasts three core products, covering the ti&m onboarding suite incl. online identity verification and the ti&m banking suite, its comprehensive digital banking platform.
The ti&m onboarding suite delivers secure, fast and fully automated identity verification. “Our onboarding suite enables you to welcome new customers in seconds, completely online, fully automated and 24/7,” Thomas reports. “In combination with the integration of an electronic signature system, the onboarding suite enables the customer to complete the process fully online and start using the financial platform straightaway.”
He explains their simple and intuitive onboarding interface guides customers through the entire identity verification process and carries out all compliance and security checks, directly opening an account. Furthermore, the ti&m onboarding suite seamlessly integrates in your existing CRM and core banking software. The customer data is directly transmitted to the client’s systems, which automatically perform a duplication check before completing the account creation.
For those who prefer, the ti&m video identification solution offers the end-customer the benefit of talking to a real person to verify the documents and their identity, while enjoying the speed of an automated onboarding from the comfort of their home.
“The solution drives efficiency, it offers fast and flexible onboarding 24/7, and it positions our clients at the forefront of financial institution and banking innovation, as customers can complete the entire process on your website or mobile app, without needing to download software, interact with a call centre or switch between application,” Thomas reports.
Closely linked to the onboarding offering is the ti&m online identification product. The online identification service is a complete and sophisticated solution for confirming and verifying identity. It is seamlessly integrated into the client’s onboarding process or any other identification process. When identifying people, the AI-based ti&m online identification service uses an identification document to check whether the document used is authentic, that the data is consistent, and whether the individual named on the document is also the person making the request.
“The ti&m online identification service leaves nothing to be desired and meets all the necessary regulatory requirements,” Thomas elaborates. “Coupled with our long-standing and cross-industry expertise in software integration and hosting, ti&m offers you an all-round worry-free package.”
The digital banking platform
The flagship ti&m banking suite aims to maximize business efficiency while delivering a user-friendly and pleasant experience for end-customers of banks and other financial institutions.
“It is built on the latest technologies, scales to your growing needs and can be deployed within months for an unbeatable time to market,” Thomas explains. “Your customers can interact with the bank across all channels with no friction and intuitively. They obtain access to easy-to-use self-service functionalities and extensive reporting capabilities on all of their assets. It is an omni-channel platform that helps our clients provide their customers with a seamless digital banking experience. An open and modular architecture allows for extension of capabilities as well as core banking system integration.”
Mission in action
Thomas explains that when he created the firm back in 2005, the mission was to deliver innovation at a cost-effective price level using technology, and to offer clients easy use and implementation, including software as a service. “Those objectives are as core to our proposition today as when we set out on our journey,” he states.
“We sell solutions. We do not sell piecemeal offerings, and we ensure speedy delivery, rapid implementation and where clients prefer, we operate the systems for them. And we have built a formidable array of customers including global banks and smaller institutions.”
He elaborates on those comments, explaining that many of the ti&m clients do not buy the solutions from them, but rent them, with ti&m running the whole system for them. “For example,” he reports, “the online identification service is used by some 20-plus leading banks in Switzerland, and we provide the software as a service, using our products and our technology, with many of the customers employing a cloud-based service hosted privately in Switzerland and Singapore.”
Wealth management: a key market segment
Thomas explains that the wealth management market, including in the high-growth Asian arena, is a key sector for growth for the firm. He explains that whatever the actual growth rates ahead, there will be expansion and diversification, and there are several key areas of focus for the industry.
First is security, exchanging data and identity information securely, so that the end-customers feel secure, and so that they are not put off by clunky protocols and inefficient processes. Secondly, the industry is aiming to expand the array of investments to offer clients, as mainstream public markets both shrink in size and exhibit high levels of volatility. More broadly, he observes there is growing need for more and better advisory capabilities.
Pressing needs in uncertain times
Thomas also remarks that while some of the smaller or less established FinTechs might suffer or fall away during these more difficult times, the wealth industry itself is on need of more progress and innovations to help reduce costs, improve efficiencies and to enhance the experience of the end-clients. “You are future proofing your business by bringing down costs over time and retaining your customers, while building loyalty for the future,” he says.
As to Singapore, Thomas observes that it has some key similarities to Switzerland as a safe haven.
“When there is so much uncertainty and insecurity around you, those types of jurisdictions of certainty, calm and stability will fare especially well,” he states.
The ti&m advantage
He also highlights some of ti&m’s competitive advantages, and key areas of differentiation. He says they integrate all technologies and skills clients need in order to complete projects with innovation and speed, and with top-quality personnel involved. “Moreover, we usually offer a fixed price, so we are aligned with clients, and we commit to delivering as we have promised,” he elucidates.
Additionally, ti&m has a depth of clients and proven track record, working with some 65 banks across Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Singapore currently. All this adds up to us being acknowledged experts in banking and financial services, as simple as that.”
Key Priorities in Asia
Thomas reports that the firm opened in Singapore literally weeks before the pandemic struck. “Despite the headwinds of the pandemic, we have done remarkably well,” he reports. “We have leveraged our major relationships with Swiss and European banks operating in Singapore, as they already use our product licenses in Europe and we can bring our products and advisory solutions, to their Singapore branches, and then also to the local and Asian banks in Singapore and surrounding countries. The strategy is working, and we are well on track to expand in the wealth management markets in Singapore and further afield in Asia. That is really our key mission ahead.”
Investing for the future
He draws the discussion towards a close by focusing on what he considers an important element of the ti&m approach, which is around community engagement. He explains that in Singapore, for example, the firm reaches out to school children with a view to them presenting new technology innovation ideas, which ti&m engineers than realise as a project, and the children then present the finished idea and app to teachers and parents.
“We have worked with some 3000 children across our markets to date, and are building this out in Singapore, which is both exciting and very rewarding,” he reported. “The course is called Hack an App in One Week, and the idea is to engage more and more young people in innovation and technology. In Singapore, the first course will be in 2023.”
Thomas Wüst studied computer science at ETH Zurich and has more than 30 years of experience in IT-based innovation. He founded ti&m AG in 2005 and has led the company since then as its CEO. He was CEO of sd&m AG Switzerland, an IT subsidiary of Capgemini, from 2002 to early 2005. He had previously had P&L responsibility for the application development department of a Swiss consultancy firm for six years. Prior to moving into consultancy, he worked for a bank and an insurer for three years each.
He has successfully implemented numerous projects in the finance industry as a strategy consultant, architect and project manager, building up a rich store of experience covering a wide range of issues, architectures and solutions.
He has published several books and many journal articles during his career. Innovation and the associated strategies and solutions are still at the heart of what he does. As a member of the steering committee of digitalswitzerland and co-founder of professional groups and associations related to IT, he is a significant driving force in the Swiss IT scene.
Thomas was born in a pleasant suburb of Zurich in Switzerland and holds both the Swiss and Italian passports, the latter of which is courtesy of his Italian wife, who hails from Naples originally.
Still contently married, the couple have two children aged 25 and 22, who are both studying. “They are both interested in coming into the business later on,” he reported. “I certainly am not thinking about selling, put it that way.”
Spare time might be spent skiing, skating, or on warmer days, windsurfing and even surfing on lakes in Switzerland where artificial waves are created. On his travels, he also loves windsurfing or surfing in places such a Fuerteventura, one of Spain’s Canary islands, or perhaps in the Caribbean.
“I also do one hour of biking at 6am every day, come rain, shine or snow, and accompanied by our Labrador Retriever, Neve,” Thomas reports. “And in the evenings, I like to read quietly, these days with an e-reader mostly. I just finished Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson for the second time.”
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