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Scaling up suptech

17 November 2022

Modern technologies boost our supervisory effectiveness and efficiency. The European Central Bank (ECB) and many other supervisory authorities worldwide therefore started developing various supervisory technology tools. Based on advanced technologies – such as machine learning or natural language processing – these “suptech” tools now provide valuable support in different areas, such as advanced analytics, process automation and digital collaboration.

Innovation in banking supervision not only provides authorities new opportunities, but also poses new challenges to them: How can we encourage and empower staff to use suptech tools? How can we ensure these tools are still relevant and useful to supervisors in the future? These were just some of the questions discussed at the ECB’s third Supervision innovators conference on 14 and 15 September 2022. The conference featured leading global supervision innovators from academia, central banking and the private sector.

Keynote speaker Sunayna Tuteja, Chief Innovation Officer of the Federal Reserve System, encouraged participants to “take a leadership position” and to be “on the front line of driving change”. The ECB strives for this by endorsing innovation and promoting the development of suptech tools. Over a dozen tools which in 2020 were still in the conceptual phase, are in use today. At the conference, supervisory authorities from around the globe presented tools they have been working on to the participants.

One of the tools developed at the ECB is Agora, which offers a single data lake for European banking supervision. Agora gathers in a single place all the relevant information, such as statistical and commercial data, which would otherwise be scattered across different systems, hampering their meaningful relation. It allows supervisors to work efficiently across datasets, boosting analytical supervisory capabilities.

Another tool, Navi (short for “Network Analytics and Visualisation”), helps supervisors analyse complex networks through visuals. With an increasingly interconnected financial sector, it is essential that supervisors can comprehensively assess banks’ ownership structures and interdependencies.

A third example is Heimdall, a custom tool for fit and proper assessments. With thousands of assessments each year, supervisors need to process and analyse vast volumes of data. Heimdall streamlines this process by automatically analysing the relevant bank documents and delivering a first-round assessment. In use since June 2022, the tool reduces the manual workload and the possibility for human error.

However, as ECB Supervisory Board member Elizabeth McCaul noted in her speech, innovation in banking supervision not only needs the right tools, it also thrives by connecting stakeholders in a multidisciplinary environment. Business areas need to work closely together with IT and data science experts to ensure tools are functional, user-friendly, and well-integrated into the existing IT landscape.

National authorities use widely differing IT systems and tools, what makes it particularly important for European banking supervision to integrate new tools into existing IT landscapes. Through Project Olympus, the ECB and national supervisors are building the foundations for a shared IT landscape, and help to scale up local solutions to European level. After all, suptech solutions can only reach their full potential if they are used widely across European banking supervision. Other measures to drive innovation and increase the use of suptech include improving the accessibility and user-friendliness of tools, developing knowledge and skills through training, as well as sponsoring technological initiatives at management level.

Beyond suptech, the conference also included presentations on the latest developments in today’s digitally transforming world, such as crypto-assets and decentralised finance, cloud computing, establishing a digital culture, and many others.

Hosting this conference is just one of the ways in which the ECB contributes to global progress on supervisory technology. Strengthening and expanding the worldwide community is key to the ECB’s efforts to digitally transform European banking supervision.

The next Supervision innovators conference is scheduled for September 2023.


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