Alumni Stories: Victoria Zagorsky, AI Opportunist looking to broaden up on Open Banking and Platforms

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Victoria Zagorskaya started her career in the financial services industry at Citibank in 2011, and has been driving digital transformation programs and innovating consumer experiences across the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Recognized among the top 50 FinTech influencers, she has been fortunate to have an opportunity to deliver consulting and training engagements to over 50 banks, insurance companies, and regulators, including the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE). In 2019, she joined 4SiGHT as an Insights Director, an organisation that brings a talented pool of senior insights and analytics professionals. The organisation established strong partnerships with leading clients across the Banking & Finance, Telecom, and Government sectors among others. In 2021, she joined the London Institute of Banking and Finance as the FinTech Trainer, and the Dubai Future Foundation’s community of the world-leading futurists and experts to guide policy-making and develop key initiatives.

As she was keen to develop a better understanding of the Open Banking, particularly in relation to the regulatory frameworks, risks, and challenges that arise as data becomes public, the Open Banking and Platforms in Finance Specialization at CFTE became the optimal course for her to learn how to apply platform ecosystem business model to the banking industry and to understand how Open Banking players strategize and execute their business models. In February 2021, she completed the specialization, which consisted of 5 individual courses, each delivered by the top industry leaders, experts, and entrepreneurs.

I greatly enjoyed the Open Banking and Platforms in Finance Specialization, and I’m excited to be a part of the CFTE community.

Victoria Zagorskaya, Research Contributor at Dubai Future Foundation

CFTE: As somebody who is already in the Fintech space, what motivated you to learn about Open Banking and Platforms? Was there anything particular that prompted you to learn more about this topic?

Victoria: A research conducted by Finastra revealed that 88% of the banks in the United Arab Emirates expected to enable open banking by the end of 2021. 6 out of 10 UAE banks stated better customer service and experience capabilities would motivate them to collaborate more with other financial institutions and developers.The report delivered by the MENA Fintech Association indicates that the key tool the UAE banks are interested in creating is a personal finance manager that aggregates customer accounts.

This interest has been accelerated further by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made consumers rely on banks more to help them manage their money better. In April 2020, Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) commenced the UAE’s involvement in the open banking sector by granting specific licenses. While these activities were initially constrained to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and were issued for Account Information Service Provider (AISP) and Payment Initiation Service Provider (PISP) activities, since then the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) and Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) have taken further steps to embrace Open Banking. 

The CFTE Open Banking and Platforms in Finance program was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about how open banking can be a catalyst for digital transformation, devise Open Banking strategies, apply Open Banking tools and frameworks to the value proposition and to monetize the API business model. I also wanted to gain more specific and actionable insights into how to implement the technology enabling open banking from understanding APIs, to integrating API resources into Open Banking solutions, and assessing Open Banking’s internet security management and authentication.

CFTE: What did you enjoy the most? What was the main thing you took away from this experience?

Victoria: The CFTE Open Banking and Platforms in Finance Specialization is a truly world-class program that provides comprehensive and actionable knowledge into commercial opportunities, implementation strategies, regulations and risk management. The course outline possible business models to monetize APIs, and discussed the success factors for banks to take advantage of Open Banking capabilities and trends. I had some specific questions about OB, and they were addressed very effectively by the program. Insights into security, identity management and access control in the new era of platform ecosystems to maintain the trust of customers and business partners were highly practical and relevant to my work.

The main learning is that Open Banking can be the key enabler for the digital transformation of large financial institutions, and the time for an incumbent FI to develop a strategy for Open Banking is now. I am confident that the UAE, being at the forefront of innovation in the MENA region and globally, will succeed in its efforts to implement an Open Banking system in the near future. 

CFTE: Thank you for your time! Before you go, could you describe yourself in 6 words? 

Victoria: Boss of the Robots at times.

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