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Charting the RegTech Journey: Navigating Consolidation

RegTech, short for regulatory technology and often categorized as a subset of fintech, emerged in 2015. The RegTech industry was fragmented, with numerous small players targeting specific niches within the regulatory compliance landscape. However, the recent trend towards consolidation is reshaping the sector. Larger RegTech firms are increasingly acquiring smaller players to expand their offerings and solidify their market positions.

RegTech comprises powerful tools that leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automated machine learning (AML), and big data analytics. These technologies streamline regulatory compliance processes, addressing challenges from technology-driven economies, largely through automation. Automation plays a significant role in reassuring regulatory compliance professionals about the effectiveness and efficiency of RegTech solutions.

According to a 2023 report by Corlytics, a Dublin-based regulatory risk intelligence firm, regulatory penalties associated with legal and regulatory enforcement in the financial sector exceeded US$10.5 billion globally. This underscores the escalating pressure on financial institutions to comply with regulations, prompting them to turn to innovative technological solutions. RegTech has emerged as a promising avenue for organizations within the fintech ecosystem to efficiently navigate complex regulatory landscapes while reducing cost and time and improving compliance effectiveness.

Market landscape transformation through investments and strategic acquisitions

Investors increasingly recognize RegTech’s potential, and it remains a bright spot within the fintech ecosystem. Data from UK-based financial market platform Dealogic shows 116 global RegTech deals in 2023 with a total value of more than US$13.5 billion, demonstrating significant investment activity in the sector. Last year witnessed notable acquisitions across various markets, with larger financial services corporations and RegTech vendors acquiring smaller players to strengthen their market position through consolidation.

Key transactions, such as the acquisition of Adenza by Nasdaq for US$10.5 billion in 2023 and Finellix by Stellex Capital for US$176 million in 2022, underline the strategic importance of RegTech solutions for both financial and technology companies.

These developments reflect a broad strategic move to address the escalating compliance costs faced by banks and brokerages in the wake of regulatory reforms such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (simply known as the Dodd-Frank Act). The Dodd-Frank Act, introduced in the USA in 2010 following the 2007–2008 financial crisis, has had a profound impact on the global financial sector. The Act has prompted financial institutions globally to significantly improve their regulatory reporting systems and processes, leading to more extensive adoption of technology solutions. Dodd-Frank and other stringent regulatory measures have significantly increased compliance costs for financial institutions and companies operating in various sectors.

Larger financial services firms and RegTech companies are consolidating to integrate complementary financial solutions and expand their operations. In one such development, US-based automated RegTech player CUBE acquired UK-based counterpart The Hub Technology in 2023 to further boost their automated regulatory intelligence (ARI) abilities to reduce compliance risk and cost.

Consolidation within the RegTech sector aims to empower larger entities to effectively tackle challenges related to anti-financial crime measures, cross-selling opportunities, and regulatory compliance services, primarily among banking and brokerage clients. This strategy aims to diversify revenue streams, broaden market reach, and increase the serviceable market.

Simultaneously, M&A offers small and mid-size RegTech companies a strategic avenue to enhance capabilities, achieve accelerated growth, better competitive market positioning, and maximize value. While acquisitions often lead to integration within the larger corporate structure, there is still room for acquired smaller RegTech companies to maintain a level of independence.

In 2023, Corlytics acquired the UK-based RegTech firm Clausematch to integrate its capabilities into a comprehensive platform for managing the regulatory risk value chain for tier-1 clients. Despite the acquisition, Clausematch maintains its independence and is a strategic partner to Corlytics. It continues to serve existing clients while also extending its services to Corlytics tier-1 clients, including 14 of the top 50 global banks. This autonomy can be instrumental in fostering partnerships that are essential for scaling up and achieving sustainable growth in the ever-changing fintech regulatory ecosystem that demands agility and continuous innovation.

The appeal of RegTech’s one-stop-shop model

The concept of a one-stop shop model in the RegTech industry, facilitated by consolidation, appeals to businesses seeking streamlined and comprehensive compliance solutions. In the evolving financial market landscape, clients are increasingly preferring to consolidate their RegTech solutions under a single provider rather than engaging with multiple vendors. This demand stems from the desire for streamlined processes, reduced administrative burden, cost savings, and seamless integration of services.

RegTech companies can meet this demand and improve the overall customer experience by offering comprehensive end-to-end solutions and value-added services. In 2023, Muinmos, a Denmark-based RegTech company, saw substantial revenue growth as more clients flocked to the firm. This surge was attributed to Muinmos’ comprehensive platform, which manages the entire onboarding process, spanning from KYC/AML procedures to risk assessments and regulatory classification.

Through strategic acquisitions of smaller RegTech firms with specialized solutions, RegTech solution providers can further enhance their offerings, capitalizing on the trend for integrated solutions and establishing a competitive edge in the market.

Partnerships with smaller firms provide larger companies in the RegTech sector with advantages such as accelerated time-to-market and the opportunity to serve as a testing ground, paving the way for potential future acquisitions.

RegTech startups joining forces

Many RegTech startups are partnering to provide a broader range of regulatory solutions to their clients by enhancing their platforms and adding compatible services from other partners. This forms a robust entity with expanded capabilities to compete with established players.

In November 2023, Flagright, a German-based startup specializing in AML compliance and fraud prevention, formed a strategic alliance with Regtank Technology, a Singapore-based RegTech services provider. This partnership underscores their joint commitment to developing an advanced transaction monitoring solution for fintech companies using AI/ML algorithms. Additionally, these partnerships are likely to help startups reach more customers across various geographies, solving risk and compliance challenges for more businesses.

The double-edged sword of consolidation

For existing and emerging RegTech companies, consolidation presents a double-edged sword. As larger players consolidate and dominate the market, there may be fewer opportunities for investment in smaller, emerging RegTech startups. Investors may perceive greater risk in backing smaller players when larger, more established firms offer similar or more comprehensive solutions. This could lead to a concentration of investment in a few key players, potentially stifling innovation and diversity in the market.

Consolidation impact on the RegTech investment landscape

With fewer startups and a more prominent role for established players, the overall number of investment opportunities in RegTech may slow down in the short term. This could lead to a shift in focus from rapid innovation to the successful integration of acquired technologies as larger players seek to leverage their expanded capabilities and market presence.

Challenges faced by small firms and emerging startups

Consolidation within the RegTech sector could heighten entry barriers for new and smaller firms. Small companies are likely to face resource constraints compared to their larger counterparts. They may struggle to match the scale of investment, R&D capabilities, and market reach of consolidated firms, potentially limiting their ability to innovate and expand their market reach.

Opportunity for small vendors due to consolidation

Consolidation could create gaps in the market for specialized RegTech solutions catering to unaddressed regulatory needs within the RegTech industry. Consolidation efforts in the RegTech sector mainly target large tier-1 clients, including large banks and other financial institutions. However, there are potential gaps and opportunities in smaller businesses across non-financial verticals that require tailored regulatory solutions. This would likely prompt smaller companies to carve out niche areas of specialization within the evolving RegTech landscape.

Specializing in particular regulatory domains, industries, or technological niches allows smaller firms to distinguish themselves as providers of specialized solutions. This makes them appealing targets for acquisition or partnerships by larger players, driven by the ongoing consolidation trends in the RegTech sector.

EOS Perspective

Traditionally, many RegTech companies evolved as single-point solutions for specific regulations. The market is witnessing a shift away from multi-point solutions that address specific issues and moving towards modular solutions that offer flexibility and can be reconfigured to address diverse problems and industry verticals. This shift is likely to drive further consolidation as regulated entities seek mature, cost-effective solutions tailored to their needs.

Conventionally, RegTech solutions have primarily targeted large enterprises with significant budgets. However, we are witnessing a notable shift, as small RegTech companies are now offering affordable compliance solutions tailored to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well. This shift is driven by the recognition of unique regulatory challenges faced by different sectors, such as healthcare, insurance, and energy. This recognition prompts small RegTech players to tap into opportunities arising from the growing demand for industry-specific RegTech solutions. This trend reflects a broader movement within the RegTech industry towards democratizing access to compliance tools and addressing the specific needs of diverse business sectors.

With venture funding slowing down due to the economic downturn, a rise in M&A activities is anticipated in the coming years. Due to the time-consuming nature of decision-making around procuring RegTech solutions by regulated entities, major RegTech players are expected to focus on developing and offering sticky RegTech solutions to ensure stable and recurring revenue growth. Consequently, this trend is likely to drive further consolidation within the large RegTech sector, as evidenced by Corolytics’ acquisition of ING SparQ RegTech and Clausematch in 2023, followed by a substantial investment from Verdane, an investment firm, in April 2024. This investment is poised to accelerate Corlytics’ M&A activity, signaling a shift towards the emergence of technology partners that provide unified platforms by integrating solutions from multiple firms through consolidation.

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Denmark – A Trailblazer in Digital Health Innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the need to embrace new digital tools and technologies within the healthcare sector. There has been a significant increase in the use of technology to provide care, resulting in improved health outcomes. In Europe, Denmark has made significant progress and is at the forefront of the digital health transformation with a 99% digitalization rate. Over the last few years, Denmark has strived to digitalize further its healthcare infrastructure, testing and leveraging technologies such as AI and robotics to implement them at full scale across the country. In this transformation, the Danish digital health system can be a source of valuable lessons, uncovering various opportunities it presents for health tech companies.

Demark’s digital health: Harnessing power from a robust public infrastructure

Denmark’s healthcare system is among the most expensive worldwide, with 10% of GDP allotted for healthcare expenditures and 90% publicly funded through taxes. The health infrastructure is highly digitalized, with almost 99% of healthcare communication done electronically.

The national e-health portal, Sundhed.dk, launched in 2003, plays a key role in Denmark’s digitalization, offering a comprehensive platform catering to both healthcare professionals and citizens alike. Sundhed.dk provides safe and secure access to an individual’s personal health records (from hospitals), medication information, vaccinations, laboratory results, appointments, and referrals. The portal is user-friendly and is regarded as one of the superior models for public healthcare information exchange worldwide.

Over the last 20 years, the Danish government has supported and invested in various digital health initiatives, rolled out several IT services, and strengthened its digital healthcare infrastructure. In 2007, the country introduced E-record, through which individuals can access their medical information from EHR systems using the Sundhed.dk portal. The government also launched Shared Medication Record, which has records of patients’ prescriptions, details of the doctor who prescribed the medicines, and information pertaining to where the medications were picked from. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the “My Doctor” app was introduced to facilitate video consultations between GPs and patients. These digital initiatives contribute to improved care coordination and increase the patient’s trust in the system.

Denmark – A Trailblazer in Digital Health Innovation by EOS Intelligence

Denmark – A Trailblazer in Digital Health Innovation by EOS Intelligence

Unraveling the blueprint: Denmark’s digital health success story

Well-formulated digital health strategies address the needs of patients and healthcare workers

Many countries develop digital health strategies, which are frequently focused solely on technical aspects, steering away from addressing the actual needs of patients and healthcare professionals. Moreover, these policies often function as plain vision documents with no clear description of action plans or the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders.

In contrast, Denmark’s digital health strategy is well-formulated and primarily focused on addressing the needs of patients and healthcare workers. It provides a clear vision of how digital technology can help meet their needs. In addition, the strategies highlight the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration, detailing focus areas and specific initiatives that must be jointly executed. For instance, it clearly mentions how the health and education sectors should work together to promote digital health literacy.

Denmark’s well-crafted digital health policies are a cornerstone of its successful digital health transformation. Since 1999, the country has been updating these strategies every four years, ensuring ongoing review and modernization of its digital health infrastructure.

Governance models aid in the speedy integration and implementation of digital healthcare tools

Denmark follows a regional governance model instead of the top-down approach, controlled by the state (national) government. The states and municipalities are responsible for developing and implementing their own health IT solutions in alignment with the national strategy.

Further, the government has established several steering groups to aid in implementing and disseminating digital health initiatives for rapid digital uptake. For instance, Connected Digital Health in Denmark, a cross-governmental organization, manages, coordinates, and ensures the implementation of various action plans mentioned in the national digital health strategies.

In addition, the government also regularly engages in public-private partnerships to boost its digital capabilities. The country’s strong governance is considered one of the critical success factors for the digital health transition.

Common IT standards help in effective healthcare data exchange

Many countries have deployed digital health technologies; however, integration remains sparse, resulting in a fragmented digital landscape. Integrating patient information siloed across multiple healthcare segments is crucial for establishing a high-quality digital health infrastructure. The adoption of common IT standards helps facilitate this data exchange and integration.

Denmark has been using these standards since 1990 for electronic health data communication as well as improving workflows between public hospitals, general practitioners, private healthcare entities, specialists, laboratories, and home care services. The early development of these standards significantly increased electronic communication within the healthcare sector, contributing to the high level of digitalization of the Danish healthcare sector.

Strict testing protocols ensure digital health tools are user-friendly

The user-friendliness of digital technologies is considered one of the major factors for early e-health adoption. Denmark undertakes several initiatives to ensure that digital health tools and technologies are user-friendly and easy to use. For instance, the country collects feedback from healthcare stakeholders about their experience with various digital health solutions, checks if they are user-friendly, and uses the input received to develop new solutions.

The country has also implemented strict testing protocols for telehealth solutions by evaluating their performance on mobile devices and testing the products with a range of end users, including the elderly and people with disabilities.

Government’s focus on educating and training healthcare stakeholders helps them to use digital tools effectively

Denmark educates and trains healthcare workers to use digital tools appropriately. According to a 2020 Deloitte report, nearly 76.8 % of Danish clinicians mentioned that they are well-trained and supported in using digital health tools and solutions.

Local governments and hospitals in Denmark collaborate with tech professionals to provide support, education, and training on using digital solutions such as EMRs, telemedicine platforms, and shared IT standards for healthcare data exchange. Digital health literacy of front-line healthcare workers is one of the core objectives of the country’s digital health strategy.

Unlocking opportunities: Denmark’s digital health sector for health tech companies

According to Statistics Denmark, the percentage of the Danish population aged 75 or above is expected to double from 7.8% in 2017 to 14.4% in 2047. In addition, the country faces a severe labor shortage, with projections suggesting that by 2035, Denmark might have a shortage of 14,500 healthcare workers. These factors are expected to put increased pressure on the Danish healthcare system.

In order to tackle these challenges, Denmark’s government continues to invest in advanced innovative technologies and digitalization strategies. In 2018, the country launched a digital health strategy titled “A Coherent and Trustworthy Health Network for All: 2018-2024”, aiming to modernize the healthcare infrastructure further. Under this initiative, the country aims to expand telemedicine solutions, increase virtual care visits, and automate the administrative and clinical workflows within the Danish healthcare system. This initiative is creating opportunities for startups and companies offering health tech solutions in the areas of telemedicine, video consultations, remote patient monitoring, hospital automation, and diagnostics.

Danish government seeks to expand telemedicine solutions for various segments of the patient population

Denmark has been using telemedicine services since 2012, beginning with home monitoring solutions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients. The country seeks to further expand the rollout of telemedicine solutions for patients with COPD, chronic diseases, heart failure, comorbid conditions, and pregnant women facing complications. In December 2023, the government of Denmark invested about US$72 million to expand telemedicine solutions for these patients, offer digital rehabilitation courses, and increase the number of virtual consultations through GPs.

Various governmental organizations in Denmark have been looking to partner with companies providing innovative remote monitoring and virtual care solutions to facilitate home treatment.

For instance, in 2021, in collaboration with the local government, Trifork, a Denmark-based digital health company, developed a telemedicine solution called Telma for severe COPD patients. The solution provides COPD patients with medication, measuring tools, and devices to track pulse and oxygen levels at home. The Telma app transmits this data in real time and facilitates communication between healthcare professionals and patients through video consultations, thus lessening the need for frequent hospital visits.

Similarly, in 2022, two Denmark-based health tech companies, Copenhagen Center for Health Technology (CACHET) and Cortrium, forged a research collaboration to develop a novel technology to monitor a patient’s heart rhythm remotely. This allows heart failure patients to receive prompt medical care without visiting a hospital.

The Danish government is also looking to provide telerehabilitation services amidst the rising mental health issues across the country. In 2021, the government established the Centre for Digital Psychiatry to develop, test, and implement several nationwide digital services. In March 2023, the Center initiated a research project with Monsenso, a Danish mobile health company, to provide personalized digital treatment for patients with depression.

A rise in telemedicine programs catering to various segments of the patient population is expected in the forthcoming years. This surge in demand fuels the growth of companies offering telehealth solutions nationwide.

AI presents several opportunities for innovation and collaboration within the healthcare segment

Denmark actively seeks to integrate AI into its healthcare system, especially in diagnostics, presenting numerous opportunities for AI-based health companies to thrive. The country has established research and innovation centers across the country focusing on AI for uses such as identifying at-risk stroke patients, helping radiologists interpret scans, and assisting in other diagnostics.

In 2021, Denmark established the Radiology AI Test Center (RAIT) to accelerate the development and implementation of medical AI applications in the country. Through RAIT, private companies can test and validate their AI-based technologies in Denmark. For example, in 2021, through the RAIT program, several Danish hospitals in Copenhagen partnered with US-based imaging AI startup Enlitic to evaluate an AI-based algorithm to read chest X-rays. Similarly, in 2023, RAIT partnered with Cerebriu, a Denmark-based health tech company, to use AI to improve MRI imaging of the brain.

Investments in advanced digital technologies modernize healthcare infrastructure

As Denmark endeavors to digitalize its hospitals, ample opportunities arise for companies specializing in robotics and mobile health to improve hospital and clinical workflows, among other areas.

Some steps have been taken to digitalize hospitals. For instance, the Centre for Clinical Robotics (CCR), a research and innovation center for healthcare robotic technology in Denmark, aims to leverage robotic technology for various hospital processes, such as food service, cleaning, medication dispensing, clinical sample collection, etc.

Another interesting instance is the pilot project between Systematic, a Denmark-based software company, and physicians at the Aalborg University Hospital. Systematic has developed a communication platform called Columna Flow Clinical Tasking, which facilitates direct communication among the physicians at the Aalborg Hospital. The solution offers a real-time overview of the patients, including their medical conditions and the workload of hospital clinicians on duty. This empowers physicians to prioritize patients and efficiently allocate tasks during peak hospital hours.

EOS Perspective

The Danish health system is poised for an even more profound digital transformation in the coming years, aiming to improve patient accessibility and convenience. Denmark’s healthcare market is already highly digitalized, which provides a robust foundation for further digital transformation and innovation.

Home care and telemedicine, health data interoperability, AI-based diagnosis, healthcare automation, personalized medicine, and preventative health are likely the key focus areas for the next phase of digital health transformation.

Further, the country is looking to elevate patient care through its super hospital program, which involves consolidating smaller hospitals into larger, higher-capacity units. The aim is to provide superior medical care at lower costs. Technology will play a key role in improving healthcare delivery and patient outcomes in these hospitals, with applications across logistics, clinical decision support tools, diagnostic tools management, and patient engagement, among other areas.

These initiatives can be expected to make the Danish health system even more robust. The system is expected to move from a doctor-centric to a patient-centric care model, where patients would be actively involved in taking care of their own health. The country’s meticulously crafted digital health strategies, well-established digital infrastructure, and technology-proficient population lay a solid foundation to usher in the next wave of innovation.

As Denmark persists in its commitment to build a healthcare system fit for the future, there are abundant opportunities for health tech companies to thrive and drive innovation within the Danish healthcare industry.

by EOS Intelligence EOS Intelligence No Comments

FemTech: A Game-Changer in Women’s Healthcare

Women’s healthcare is one of the most neglected and understudied fields in the healthcare sector. Despite substantial advances in medical sciences in recent years, there still exists a huge gap in the treatment of diseases that are specific to women. FemTech focuses on addressing some of these gaps and offers the potential to help tackle the longstanding issues of women’s health.

FemTech developed as an answer to inadequate healthcare for women

According to a 2018 article published in Our World in Data, a UK-based online scientific publication, human life expectancy has increased tremendously from 30 to 73 years during the last two centuries (1800–2018). But this leap has not been reflected in women’s life quality. A 2024 report published by the World Economic Forum and the McKinsey Health Institute indicated that women live 25% longer in poor health than men, although they typically outlive males.

FemTech, a group of technology-enabled solutions such as diagnostic tools, wearables, products, software, and services, aims to tackle women’s health issues, such as maternal, reproductive, menstrual, and sexual health, as well as menopause. An example is the UK-based Flo Health app that tracks ovulation and the menstrual cycle, offers customized health insights and tips, and a closed community for sharing concerns and queries. US-based Natural Cycles is another example. This application provides personalized insights based on each user’s menstrual cycle patterns. This novel approach to improving women’s health and well-being has been gaining more importance in recent years.

Several challenges slow down progress and widespread acceptance

While FemTech offers promising solutions to help diagnose and manage many health issues affecting women that were previously overlooked, several challenges are awaiting interested players.

One major bottleneck players face is the scarcity of investments. Many investors still consider FemTech a niche sector and shy away from investing compared to other healthcare fields. This situation is slightly improving, as the industry has seen an increase in investment in recent years. Data from Dealroom, an Amsterdam-based provider of data and insights on start-ups and tech ecosystems, indicated that the venture capital (VC) funding into FemTech startups reached US$2.1 billion in 2021, an all-time high.

Despite this increase in investment in FemTech, the total funding for this sector still trails other sectors, especially if it is female-led. The CEO of a leading US-based fertility tracker Mira, said in an interview with Forbes that though 70% of FemTech startups are female-founded, male-owned businesses tend to raise more capital.

Investors and lenders often have unconscious biases against female entrepreneurs, affecting their willingness to invest in female-led businesses, according to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Financial Economics, a peer-reviewed financial journal. Also, women might only have restricted access to male-dominated fundraising sources, including crowdfunding websites, angel investors, and VC firms. Similarly, the traditional male dominance in some areas, such as technology and finance, can also lead to power imbalances in fundraising and limit the options available to women.

Insufficient R&D support is another major challenge faced by players in the FemTech sector. This can be seen from the fact that a significant proportion of the funding allocated to healthcare R&D is not focused on issues that directly impact women’s health and well-being, with a meager 4% dedicated to this area according to a 2018 article published in Forbes. This insufficient funding can cause innovation stagnation, set back product development, and reduce market opportunities.

The inadequate representation of women in clinical trials is another difficulty faced by FemTech companies. This lack of representation has created a knowledge gap in understanding important facets of women’s health, such as female anatomy, physiology, health issues, etc. A 2022 study published in Contemporary Clinical Trials, a peer-reviewed journal, showed that though women constitute 50.8% of the US population, just 41.2% of those involved in clinical trials were female. This creates a certain lack of awareness of how women’s bodies work, making it challenging for FemTech businesses to develop effective solutions.

Cybersecurity issues are also creating challenges in the development of FemTech. A joint study by Newcastle University, Royal Holloway, University of London, and ETH Zurich found serious privacy, security, and safety concerns that could put users at risk. The research indicated the danger of leaking sensitive information, such as fertility, medical data, etc., to third parties.

Cultural and social taboos are another bottleneck faced by FemTech companies. Female-specific issues such as postpartum depression and premenstrual syndrome are rarely openly discussed. This makes bringing societal focus to FemTech products a difficult task.

FemTech A Game-Changer in Women's Healthcare by EOS Intelligence

FemTech A Game-Changer in Women’s Healthcare by EOS Intelligence

FemTech industry is seeing significant development in some segments

Though confronting numerous challenges, FemTech remains a promising industry for interested players with its projected market growth. The FemTech market, estimated at US$40.2 billion in 2020, is expected to reach US$75.1 billion in 2025, according to a 2021 report by the US-based market research agency Arizton Advisory & Intelligence.

General health and wellness is the fastest-growing segment

FemTech offers several solutions for improving women’s health across various segments, with general health and wellness companies attracting the most VC investment, followed by reproductive health and contraception.

The general health and wellness segment combines digital health clinics, mental health services, and direct-to-consumer products. Since companies in this segment focus on broad-ranging solutions that address multiple issues, demand for them is expected to rise.

An example is Maven, a New York-based company offering a holistic solution encompassing pre- and post-pregnancy care. This virtual clinic provides 24/7 access to healthcare professionals, including mental health therapists, relationship consultants, and sleep coaches. In 2022, Maven attracted US$300 million in funding from prominent investors and individual strategic partners.

Another example is Stockholm-based Grace Health, acquired by Penda Health, a Kenyan medical care chain in 2023. It uses an automated health assistant called Grace to monitor and understand women’s sexual and reproductive well-being and receive timely reminders and notifications. The company is also expanding its local footprint in key African markets, including Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana, to solidify its position as a market leader in these regions.

Reproductive health segment is also seeing strong demand

The reproductive health segment and menstruation care are also expected to continue holding the interest of investors and customers alike. According to the NIH, in the USA, 20% of women are now having their first child after turning 35, owing to a greater emphasis on education and career. With increasing age, some women may experience difficulty before, during, or after pregnancy. Women will also need to effectively and accurately track their fertility to make informed reproductive choices. This is likely to greatly contribute to in increased demand for FemTech reproductive health solutions.

An example is the Clue App, a Germany-based fertility tracker that leverages user data to compute and predict individuals’ periods and PMS. In 2023, the company raised US$7.6 million in funding and partnered with global universities such as the University of Exeter to bridge the diagnosis gap for women’s health conditions. This collaboration is expected to create new trends in managing female health issues.

Oncology products are now aimed at individuals and medical professionals

Development is also underway in the oncology segment. An example is Nevada-based Cyrcadia Health developing a breast monitor that tracks changes in breast tissue temperature over time to aid in the detection and risk management of breast cancer. The monitor consists of two patches that track temperature changes and send the data anonymously to the Cyrcadia Health core lab. This data is analyzed using machine learning (ML) algorithms and predictive analytics software to identify and categorize abnormal circadian patterns in healthy breast tissue. The results are then delivered to healthcare providers. This solution, when it becomes available in the market, is expected to enable women to take more proactive control of their breast health.

Cancer continues to be a leading cause of women’s death both in middle-income and high-income countries, according to a 2017 article published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a peer-reviewed journal. Therefore, the focus on FemTech oriented at breast cancer and cancer in general is expected to gain momentum in the future.

Stigmatized conditions and marginalized subpopulations are increasingly addressed

Many FemTech companies are now exploring areas beyond menstrual and reproductive care and addressing stigmatized and unmet conditions such as preterm birth, endometriosis, pelvic care, and sexual health.

An example is London-based Elvie, a company that addresses pelvic floor dysfunction, a common and often overlooked health issue affecting many women. According to the NIH, 27% of women aged 40-59 and 37% of women aged 60-79 experience some form of pelvic floor dysfunction. Elvie has developed a Kegel trainer that uses biofeedback technology to improve pelvic and sexual health through five-minute workouts. The development of these solutions is expected to persuade more women to seek treatment and improve the diagnosis of these health conditions.

Similarly, apps are also being introduced for different sections of the population such as LGBTQ+, black women, and women from low and middle-income societies. US-based InovCares, an app designed to address the crisis of maternal mortality affecting Black women, is an example. This virtual OB-GYN platform connects users with culturally sensitive healthcare professionals who cater to various health needs, including fertility, childbirth, and breastfeeding.

Solutions are being developed in various geographies

While FemTech solutions development is concentrated in the USA and Europe, it is also visible in developing geographies such as Africa and Southeast Asia. An example is Indonesia’s BukuBumil which provides information on various aspects of pregnancy, including fertility, maternal health, baby immunizations, family planning, and post-pregnancy care in the Indonesian language. The platform also allows users to track a baby’s development and milestones.

Another one is Ethiopia-based YeneHealth, a multilingual and culturally responsive platform with AI-powered trackers for menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and medication management.

AI and ML are expected to shape the future of FemTech

Technological advancements are creating waves in the FemTech industry. Many companies are developing smart wearables and AI-powered solutions. Zurich-based Ava Women has developed a wearable, the Ava bracelet (available without prescription), to track hormonal changes. It allows users to monitor their ovulation and detect potential health issues. Ava’s technology uses big data and AI to provide accurate and personalized insights.

Similarly, Ovum, an Australia-based health management app, currently in its pilot phase, offers an AI health assistant designed for women to generate a dataset to improve treatments and diagnostics of various conditions. The app integrates and stores medical records, allowing users to track their health and receive personalized recommendations. This comprehensive data repository is crucial for complex or chronic conditions such as endometriosis, where a diagnosis can take years.

Experts believe the widespread use of AI and ML in FemTech apps will help players provide more accurate and data-driven solutions to users. AI can also analyze large datasets and use predictive analytics to anticipate health risks, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia.

EOS Perspective

The FemTech landscape, though still developing, is expected to expand more and grow quickly, especially with the increasing discussion around female health, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels commented at the 2023 AWS re:Invent conference, the largest conference in the cloud computing community. He has highlighted the significant potential of FemTech to transform the female healthcare system, specifically considering that women make up 50% of the population and account for 80% of consumer healthcare decisions.

FemTech has also the potential to significantly impact the healthcare sector and the global economy as a whole in the coming years. A 2024 report by the McKinsey Health Institute indicated that improving women’s health could boost the world economy by at least US$1 trillion annually.

The market is expected to see FemTech players widen their business scope, offer multiple services, and address a broader set of health issues. An example of this trend is UK-based Peppy, which initially helped organizations better support their women staff members after they had a baby, but now also deals with menopausal issues. This shift demonstrates a broader approach to women’s health under a single solution and reflects a development towards more comprehensive and inclusive offerings within FemTech.

Since FemTech is still developing, extensive R&D can be expected in the coming years. Experts believe health issues affecting older women also offer interested parties a research investment opportunity. Even now, in discussions and debates regarding FemTech, the diseases suffered by older women get overlooked. This makes it a promising area for future developments.

As the FemTech market expands, it is likely to attract collaborations from players operating outside the healthcare sector. One of the first examples of this was seen in August 2021, when the French cosmetic giant L’Oréal partnered with Clue to research the connection between the menstrual cycle and skin health to improve its skincare products. Such collaborations, whether just publicity stunts for cosmetic companies or not, can help put FemTech solutions on the map of legitimate tools close to women’s health. Considering that FemTech is still considered a niche sector, this can draw attention to the relevance of this market and its players and, consequently, stimulate investment.

Over the long term, women-led companies are expected to create more effective FemTech solutions that identify and cater to women’s unique healthcare requirements. The key factor behind it is that women are better placed to understand the health issues affecting women. A 2022 study published in Harvard Business School’s digital research publication Working Knowledge has also indicated that female-led research teams are more likely to study conditions that impact both genders than male-led ones. With more women stepping into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) roles and female-led FemTech start-ups emerging, there is a promise of a more comprehensive scope of FemTech solutions.

A 2023 article published in Harvard Business Review noted an important trend that may positively affect the FemTech market: female investors are more likely to invest in and support female entrepreneurs. This suggests the potential for more capital flowing into women-led businesses, including in FemTech. As more women take on senior leadership roles in both FemTech startups and VC firms, this could substantially propel the industry growth.

by EOS Intelligence EOS Intelligence No Comments

P2P Lending Needs More than Just an Appetite for Investment to Sustain Its Growth

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has emerged as a global financial phenomenon. It has revolutionized the way individuals access loans. The innovation of P2P lending has experienced varying degrees of success and turbulence in different regions, notably India, China, and the USA. Understanding the reasons behind the rise and fall of P2P lending across these major markets provides critical insights into the global dynamics of this industry.

P2P lending – good old loans with a modern take

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is giving loans through an online platform that connects lenders and borrowers to exchange goods, services, or money directly by eliminating traditional intermediaries such as banks. Financial technology facilitates P2P lending, directly connecting individuals or businesses with investors.

Lenders and borrowers need to register with a P2P platform before conducting any transactions. The registration entails an AI-based evaluation of the borrowers to assess their credit score, employment details, income, and credit history. It also monitors their social media activities, including usage patterns and interactions. Using these assessments, the borrowers’ creditworthiness is determined, categorizing them into various risk tiers and informing the interest rates offered.

Subsequently, lenders can make informed decisions about lending money based on borrowers’ assessed scores. This empowers them to select suitable borrowers and enables borrowers to choose appropriate lenders. The P2P platform charges fees from both parties for its services instead of deriving profit from monthly installments.

To mitigate fraudulent activities, certain regulatory bodies oversee these platforms to ensure compliance with regulations and maintain transparency. For example, P2P lending in the USA is regulated at the federal and state levels. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversees the investors of the P2P lending platforms, while the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau oversee the borrowers. In India, all P2P lending platforms must register as Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC)-P2P Lenders with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The global P2P lending market is expected to reach US$705.81 billion by 2030 up from US$83.79 billion in 2021, at a 26.7% CAGR during 2022-2030, according to Precedence Research.

In addition to the increasing demand for financial services, factors such as lower operating fees compared to traditional financial services, quicker loan approvals, and the adoption of digitization in the banking sector drive the growth of the P2P lending market.

P2P Lending Needs More than Just Appetite for Investment by EOS Intelligence

P2P Lending Needs More than Just Appetite for Investment by EOS Intelligence

China’s P2P lending – started strong but faced a downturn

China’s P2P lending industry witnessed speedy development since 2007. There were 3,383 P2P lending platforms running in China with around RMB 130 billion (~US$18.2 billion) in combined monthly transactions in January 2016, as per the Home of Online Lending, an organization that collects and assembles P2P data from various sources in China. Founded in August 2007, PPDai or Paipaidai, currently known as FinVolution Group, was the first online P2P lending platform in China. PPDai was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in November 2017.

However, this burgeoning growth of the P2P lending industry in China was unsustainable and short-lived. This was evident from the fact that out of 6,607 P2P lending platforms, 6,277 were closed and problematic, leaving only 330 P2P lending platforms in business in China as of August 2020, as per the Home of Online Lending. As of August 2020, the lenders of the collapsed P2P lending industry of China owed depositors US$115 billion.

There were several Ponzi schemes related to untrustworthy P2P lending platforms enticing potential investors with attractive bonuses for referring family and friends, as reported by the Chinese media by the end of 2015. For example, in early 2015, Ezubao, with 900,000 investors, went bust when it turned out to be a Ponzi scheme with US$9 billion. Some P2P platforms were found creating fictional information about the borrowers in order to create groups of assets, and these platforms utilized funds to fulfill their own business requirements.

Although until early 2016, no regulatory authorities were overseeing P2P platforms in the country, it was believed that the Chinese government was observing the industry closely. Three bodies (The China Banking Regulatory Commission regulating P2P lending business, the Central Ministry of Industry and Information Technology supervising the telecom business of P2P lending, and the Cyber Administration of China developing rules, managing administrative licenses, and control over internet regulation and censorship in China) together announced the Interim Measures on Administration of the Business Activities of Peer-to-Peer Lending Information Intermediaries (“Interim Measures”) in August 2016.

Interim Measures became China’s first regulatory framework for the P2P lending industry. According to the Measures, a P2P lending platform’s scope of business in China is limited to acting as lending information intermediaries. As per the new rules, P2P lending platforms were mandated to establish custodian accounts with registered financial institutions for investor and borrower funds previously held by them. This was done to decrease the risks associated with situations when P2P lending platform owners flee with the investors’ money.

Interim Measures also mandated that P2P lending platforms register with the local financial regulatory body. The Measures provided P2P lending platform owners with a twelve-month timeline for implementing all the mandates. However, there was a delay in the implementation, as the registration and rectification processes were scheduled to be completed by June 2018, but they were not complete as of August 2018.

The exponential growth of P2P lending platforms in China resulted in several crashes due to cash shortfalls, defaults, frauds, and closures, causing massive financial losses for lenders. Such market scandals made it difficult for investors and borrowers in China to survive. They presented difficulties in acquiring financial resources, and the platforms faced a situation where investors started withdrawing their investments, thus bringing about the ultimate crash of the P2P lending industry in China.

Indian P2P lending – bright future fueled by regulators

P2P lending started in early 2014 in India. However, it began gaining significance in September 2017 when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to regulate P2P lending in the country.

People in India started using online platforms to borrow and lend funds to various untapped markets characterized by less developed infrastructure and lower investment activity. The method of borrowing changed over time. Borrowers who found it difficult to access credit from financial institutions were borrowing money from relatives, friends, acquaintances, lenders, colleagues, and business partners. The revolution took place via the intervention of digital ways of funding the credit ecosystem.

In September 2017, RBI introduced regulatory guidelines that ensured P2P lending through non-banking financial companies (NBFCs). In October 2017, RBI published a different framework for the P2P lending platforms. RBI categorized these rules as NBFC-P2P. The regulatory norms have enabled P2P lending platforms to create adaptable lending and borrowing models, including the development of flexible loan tenures, interest rate structures, and more.

Later, in 2018, RBI published a list comprising names of the first five companies registered with NBFC-P2P lending. The registration list helped ensure a secure, regulated sector and protect the interests of lenders and borrowers. RBI, in one of its regulations, mentioned a cap of Rs.5,000,000 (~US$60,000), which means if lenders invest money above Rs.1,000,000 (~US$12,000) across P2P platforms, they are required to submit a certificate from a practicing Chartered Accountant certifying a minimum net worth of Rs.5,000,000. This also means that the borrower must certify the difference between their assets and liabilities to show their financial strength. The introduction of the cap discouraged many lenders from giving out big loans.

According to RBI, fund transfers between participants on the P2P lending platform should be made through the escrow account mechanism. This means that all transactions will be processed via bank accounts, and cash transactions are strictly prohibited.

RBI mandated that P2P lending platforms be members of the Credit Information Companies, entities that maintain credit-related information about businesses and individuals. This regulation by RBI was welcomed by P2P platforms but separated less powerful players from the P2P market. The inclusion of rules has brought higher transparency, credibility, and stability to P2P lending. However, they have also increased the operation cost for P2P lending platforms and decreased the activities of lenders and borrowers.

All these changes have helped borrowers obtain loans more easily and protected lenders from fraudulent activities. According to IndustryARC, India’s P2P lending market is predicted to reach US$10.5 billion with a CAGR of 21.6% between 2021 and 2026. Market transparency in P2P lending, facilitated by technologies such as blockchain and smart contracts, has contributed to the growth of the P2P lending market.

Government promotion of cashless technology in P2P lending has reshaped the financial sector, gaining significant momentum over the past years. The introduction of AI and machine learning, along with RBI norms, has created a more secure marketplace for investors and borrowers. Innovations and new players in the P2P market are expected to impact the growth of P2P lending in the future.

P2P lending in the USA – star performer driven by technologies

The P2P lending market shows significant growth in the North American market with a larger size, higher revenue, and rapid growth. Several platforms, such as Lending Club (founded in 2006) and Prosper (founded in 2005), supported the growth of the P2P lending market in the USA by making P2P lending easy and secure. These platforms helped in attracting a large number of borrowers and investors. In the USA, the adoption of mobile and digital technologies such as Venmo, which was acquired by PayPal in 2013, and Squash Cash increased customer interest in digital transfer capabilities.

The USA has achieved remarkable success in P2P lending compared to other countries, partially due to the implementation of various payment technologies, including the EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa) smart payment card protocol used as an electronic payment method. This success can be attributed to the presence of adequate legal frameworks and well-defined strategies for generating revenue.

One contributing factor to the rise of P2P lending in the USA has been the emergence and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs actively involved in P2P lending activities). These platforms helped reduce the cost of office setups, maintenance, staffing, etc., and thus helped boost the growth of P2P lending.

One of the reasons behind the increase in the P2P lending market was the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. At a time when major businesses and organizations were facing difficulties regarding finance and operations, P2P lending platforms helped them to raise funds for their operations through online lending platforms such as i2iFunding, Faircent, Lendbox, etc., allowing a direct lending process without the involvement of third-party participants, such as banks.

Technological advancements, such as blockchain, are another reason behind the increase in the P2P lending market in the USA. They eliminated the need for physical branches and reduced operational costs. They reached global audiences such as individuals and businesses in underserved or remote areas. They also helped in reducing the risk of fraud and improve financial transactions. Undoubtedly, the P2P lending market is growing largely thanks to the adoption of new technologies.

EOS Perspective

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has shown distinct trends in India, China, and the USA. India and China witnessed a decline in their P2P lending markets due to regulatory hurdles aimed at addressing issues such as fraud and investor protection. Conversely, the USA experienced a surge in P2P lending activities. This uptick can be attributed to a well-established regulatory framework and a sustained appetite for alternative lending solutions. P2P lending platforms in the USA have been able to offer borrowers access to credit while providing appealing investment opportunities to lenders, all while adhering to regulatory standards.

Many new developments in P2P lending are helping the platforms become successful. One such development is the integration of decentralized finance (DeFi), a financial technology that works on a secure distributed ledger. The DeFi technology, born in 2018, aims to create a transparent, open, and permissionless financial system operating on blockchain networks such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

DeFi in the USA empowers individuals with P2P digital exchange by challenging the centralized financial system by eliminating banks’ fees and other charges. DeFi allows a P2P lending platform to access a global pool of liquidity (which means a collection of digital assets to enable trading on DeFi), reduces costs and risks, and offers more flexible and customized products.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will continue to be the solutions that transform P2P lending with better data analysis, credit scoring, risk assessments, and fraud detection capabilities. AI will also allow for efficient and more personalized services to both lenders and borrowers.

Regulatory authorities, with their frameworks, have saved several platforms from data breaches, tax compliance issues, consumer protection concerns, and cyberattacks. These authorities, together with industrial associations, will continue to create innovative and adaptive solutions such as sandbox programs (a time-bound, controlled, and live testing environment involving parameters within which the firm must operate).

Looking at the history of some of the key P2P lending markets, it is evident that creating a more robust, secure, and dependable P2P lending ecosystem necessitates technological innovations and establishing a practical regulatory framework to ensure the safety of financial activities.

by EOS Intelligence EOS Intelligence No Comments

Europe AI Regulation Deal – Beginning of a New Technological Era?

The proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) applications in recent years has highlighted the importance of regulatory frameworks to ensure AI’s responsible use. Recognizing this, the EU has become the first global power to pass AI-related legislation. The EU AI Act, considered a watershed moment in today’s digital era, is expected to create ripples worldwide and prompt leaders to take initiatives to control the use of AI.

The AI industry, valued at US$454.1 billion in 2022, is predicted to reach US$2.6 trillion by 2032, according to a 2023 report by Canada/India-based market research company Precedence Research. Although this impressive increase in the use of AI offers immense potential, it has raised numerous concerns about its misuse. Many industry experts have voiced concern about how significantly AI impacts important industries such as education and health, and may eventually alter human lives.

Regulatory bodies and governments worldwide are also now aware of the risks of bias, discrimination, and privacy breaches that come with the unrestricted use of AI. A 2020 study published in Sustainable Development, an interdisciplinary journal, found that unchecked AI poses a threat to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the UN.

The EU took its first step in addressing concerns related to AI in April 2021 when it released the first draft of EU AI regulation. However, this draft was revised after the 2022 release of ChatGPT to include the newer technological advances with a future-proof approach that will enable the law to evolve as technology does.

The EU AI rule uses a risk-based strategy to divide AI systems into categories, namely unacceptable, high, limited, and minimal risk. Systems categorized in the unacceptable risk group will be banned, and those with high risk will undergo a rigorous assessment to understand their effect on fundamental rights and be given a CE mark before their market release.

The limited risk category that fulfills specific transparency requirements should follow EU copyright laws, prepare technical documentation, and release a synopsis of the training materials so the users can make an informed decision. Companies can release minimal-risk systems, such as spam filters and AI-powered video games, without restrictions.

The AI Act has also introduced certain transparency requirements for general-purpose AI (GPAI) models such as Gemini and ChatGPT. For powerful and highly effective models, there are additional risk management requirements, such as maintaining cybersecurity standards, conducting evaluations, assessing and mitigating risks, and reporting serious events.

The EU AI Act has several implications for business across the continent

Many industry experts consider the EU AI Act a significant regulatory tool for overseeing the advancement and utilization of AI technologies throughout the continent. The enforcement of this act is expected to influence significantly the operations, approaches, and competitive environment across several sectors in the EU, as well as intercontinental business with products traded in the European market.

Achieving compliance is one of the main challenges businesses will face with the introduction of the new EU AI law. The law comes with a hefty penalty for non-compliance, with most violations costing businesses €15 million, or 3% of their annual global turnover. Non-compliance concerning banned AI systems can result in fines of up to €35 million, or 7% of the company’s annual turnover. Furthermore, providing false, deceptive, or incomplete information may result in fines of up to €7.5 million, or 1.5% of the total turnover.

Any organization aiming for compliance needs to perform a gap analysis to identify disparities and enhance company processes, policies, and metrics. They must also provide the regulators with accurate, efficient, and timely answers. All these place a substantial organizational and economic burden on the companies.

Another challenge businesses can face is implementing all the changes needed to fill the compliance gap while being consistent with their internal structure. This will require the company to identify the metrics it needs to track to achieve compliance and design new organizational procedures to fulfill this. This should also be done in such a way that it does not hinder other strategic goals, such as innovation, budgetary constraints, etc., placing additional strain on the leadership.

Companies offering multiple AI solutions can face several complicated roadblocks with the implementation of the EU AI Act. Such organizations will be subject to a different set of regulations depending on the risk category of their AI products. This can lead to internal policy confusion.

Slower product development cycles and delays in product releases are other bottlenecks that companies will need to address with the act’s implementation. New AI-powered products, especially high-risk ones, now need to undergo more rigorous evaluation to ensure compliance, which can slow the entire process.

Players can also face challenges in M&A activities with the new regulations. Businesses will now need to spend more time and resources assessing the compliance of their merging partner before proceeding.

There are several opportunities for determined businesses

While the implementation of the EU AI Act does spell several challenges for businesses, it also offers opportunities for interested players. With the new act in place, customers will be able to place more trust in AI solutions. This will enhance the adoption of new AI-based systems.

Determined players can also improve innovation and gain investment with the help of Article 53 of the Act. This section states the possibility of establishing “regulatory sandboxes” that can be set up by one or more member states. These sandboxes offer controlled environments for developing, testing, and validating new AI technologies for a short time under the guidance of a competent authority. This will also ensure that the AI solutions fulfill regulatory compliance.

The EU AI Act offers special support measures to start-ups and SMEs. The compliance requirements for high-risk AI have been modified to make them less burdensome and technically feasible. Start-ups and SMEs also get a proportional cap on compliance infringement fines. This will make it easier for budding businesses in the AI sector to make leaps in innovation and product development.

Interested EU-based players can also receive support for product development through programs such as Testing and Experimentation Facilities, Data and Robotics Hubs, Digital Innovation Hubs, etc. The AI Office, set up by the EU AI Act to oversee the rules and regulations related to GPAI models, has established forums where stakeholders can exchange best practices and contribute to rules of conduct and practice. This can improve participation across industries and enhance inclusiveness.

EOS Perspective

The EU AI Act can be considered a landmark development in the regulation of AI technologies in Europe. It has extensive implications for businesses, society, and the economy on the continent and worldwide. Many industry leaders consider this act a starting point in AI regulation. Other countries are expected to follow in the EU’s footsteps soon and make similar laws curbing the effects of unregulated AI.

The EU AI Act is expected to make AI-based solutions safe and bias-free, with better transparency into their developmental processes. It is also expected to enhance accountability and create a more responsible approach to AI development and deployment.

Businesses, especially SMEs and start-ups, can expect several benefits from this act. Experts predict that with the renewed focus on safety and ethical issues, there will be large-scale development of far more trustworthy and robust AI-based solutions in the future.

by EOS Intelligence EOS Intelligence No Comments

eNaira: Is It Here to Stay or Are Nigerians Going to Say ‘Nay’?

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Although Nigeria boasts about its digital currency launch, there are contradictory opinions about eNaira’s subsequent adoption. The eNaira has the potential to impact Nigeria’s economy positively, however, it is not possible without its widespread acceptance.

CBDC – A global picture

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is virtual currency or money issued and controlled by a country’s central bank. According to the Atlantic Council, a leading US-based think tank, 130 countries were considering a CBDC as of September 2023, while only 35 countries were exploring a CBDC as of May 2020. This steep rise in the number of countries considering CBDC in a span of just over three years shows an increasing interest in CBDC across the globe. Even more so, some 64 countries are already in an advanced phase of exploration of the currency (development, pilot, or launch phase).

Among the G20 countries, 19 are in the advanced stage of developing CBDC, and 9 out of these 19 G20 countries are in the pilot phase. There are some 11 countries that have launched a CBDC. China’s CBDC is in the pilot stage and is presently reaching 260 million people taking part in this pilot while being tested in more than 200 scenarios, including e-commerce, public transit, and stimulus payments. In Europe, the European Central Bank is currently on course to start its pilot for CBDC, the digital euro.

More than 20 other countries are stepping towards piloting their digital currency in 2023. Countries such as Australia, Thailand, and Russia plan on continuing pilot testing. Brazil and India intend to launch their CBDC in 2024.

eNaira – A choice or compulsion?

eNaira is Nigeria’s digital currency, issued and regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for retail use. It is a liability of the CBN, similar to coins and cash.

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are similar to eNaira in terms of the underlying Bitcoin technology. Apart from this, both cryptocurrencies and eNaira are stored in digital wallets and can be used for payments and digital transfers across the globe to anyone with an eNaira account at no cost.

However, what makes eNaira different from Bitcoin or Ethereum is that the CBN has access rights controls over the Nigerian digital currency. Secondly, the eNaira is not a financial asset but rather a digital form of the physical naira, to which it is pegged at parity.

With the release of eNaira in October 2021, Nigeria became the first country in the African continent and second in the world after the Bahamas to launch a CBDC. Major motivations behind launching CBDC in Nigeria included encouraging financial inclusion, improving cross-border transactions, complementing the current payment systems, and enabling diaspora remittances. However, the adoption of eNaira has been low, with only 0.5% of the Nigerian population using CBDC within a year of its launch.

In a rather desperate move to compel its people to adopt eNaira, the government caused cash shortages in the country. This resulted in protests, riots, and unrest among Nigerians. As a result of the currency shortages in early 2022, Nigeria witnessed a 12-fold increase in the number of e-Naira wallets to 13 million since October 2021.

As of July 2023, the value of transactions had also seen a 63% rise to N22 billion (US$48 million) since its launch in October 2021. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 98.5% of the eNaira wallets were inactive one year after the launch of the CBDC, meaning 98.5% of eNaira wallets have not been used even once during any given week. These low levels of activity mirror the low public adoption of eNaira.

eNaira Is It Here to Stay or Are Nigerians Going to Say ‘Nay’ by EOS Intelligence

eNaira Is It Here to Stay or Are Nigerians Going to Say ‘Nay’ by EOS Intelligence

Motivations to launch eNaira: Strong enough to sustain adoption?

CBN conceived multiple advantages of adopting eNaira, such as fostering financial inclusion, facilitating remittances, and minimizing informality in the economy. These serve as motivations for launching eNaira and are expected to take shape with the eNaira becoming more widespread along with strong support of the regulatory system.

Fostering financial inclusion

Currently, eNaira can be used by people with bank accounts, but the idea is to expand the coverage to anyone with a mobile phone, even if they do not have a bank account. Around 38% of the adult population in Nigeria do not have bank accounts. If this section of the adult population could be provided with access to eNaira through mobile phones, Nigeria could potentially achieve 90% financial inclusion.

Facilitating remittances

Nigeria is one of the Sub-Saharan African countries that receives considerable remittances. In 2019, Nigeria received US$24 billion in remittances, which are usually made through international money transfer operators. These operators charge around 1-5% of the value of the transaction as their fee. One of the motivations for launching eNaira is to reduce the costs associated with remittance transfers.

Minimizing informality in the economy

With more than half of the economy being informal, it becomes imperative for the Nigerian government to introduce a digital currency across the country to reduce the informality in the economy and increase the country’s tax revenues. Therefore, eNaira was launched in Nigeria to strengthen the tax base along with obtaining higher transparency in informal payments.

Can Nigeria overcome implementation challenges to spur eNaira adoption?

It comes as no surprise that Nigeria is facing a range of adoption barriers on its journey to eNaira’s widespread implementation. Apart from perceptual barriers such as considering eNaira wallets as deposits at the central bank, which might decrease the demand for deposits in commercial banks, there are cybersecurity risks and operational barriers linked to eNaira. These adoption barriers to Nigeria’s CBDC include a combination of factors such as lack of required tech infrastructure, lack of training of bank personnel managing the process, trust issues, and electricity and internet issues.

Lack of tech infrastructure

The CBN is looking to revamp the technological platform used for eNaira and was in talks for that with a company called R3 in early 2023. CBN is contemplating having complete control over the platform, while eNaira was initially developed in collaboration with a fintech multinational called Bitt. The change of technology platform vendor in less than two years might suggest a lack of vision of CBN regarding the technological infrastructure necessary for the seamless adoption of eNaira.

Lack of training

The CBN is expected to oversee the ledger and manage the system, while other financial institutions, such as banks, are to provide users with access to CBDC wallets. The bank staff is required to onboard users to the eNaira platform. However, it is observed that the bank staff is not sufficiently trained to be able to seamlessly bring users on board. This, in turn, negatively impacts the adoption of CBDC.

Trust issues

Nigeria has been considered a country with high money laundering and terrorist organizations funding risk (ML/TF). In February 2023, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering and terrorism funding inspection organization, put Nigeria on its grey list owing to Nigeria not having adequate measures to curb such activities. Similarly, Basel Institute of Governance, a non-profit organization focused on improving governance and preventing corruption and other financial crimes, in its 2022 global ranking on ML/TF risks, placed Nigeria 17th out of 128 countries, a high spot indicating a significant risk of ML/TF.

In the current design of CBDC in Nigeria, the CBN is equipped to monitor all users’ transactions using eNaira, potentially allowing it to detect and curb ML/TF activities and improve Nigeria’s standing in the risk rankings. However, this has turned out to be a double-edged sword in implementing eNaira. The high level of supervision of all transactions has brought apprehension amongst potential users in Nigeria, most of whom believe that eNaira was developed by the government to monitor the monetary transactions, breaching their right to privacy and potentially giving the government a tool to control them. This lack of trust significantly hampers the adoption of the CBDC in Nigeria.

Electricity and internet issues

With around 92 million people not having access to power in a population of 200 million, Nigeria has one of the lowest electricity access rates globally, as per the Energy Progress Report 2022 published by Tracking SDG 7. At the same time, the internet penetration in Nigeria stands at 55.4% in 2023. Seamless internet connectivity and power access are some of the critical prerequisites for the smooth implementation of the eNaira in Nigeria.

What would give eNaira adoption a much-needed push?

As the challenges to widespread adoption of the eNaira are multipronged, finding solutions to overcome the implementation challenges is not easy or quick.

One of the main infrastructural challenges, inadequate power and internet access, should be among the first to be addressed. One way to approach it is to create offline access to the eNaira platform. To achieve this, the CBN launched the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code for eNaira, meaning that Nigerians without internet-enabled phones can perform transactions with eNaira.

To facilitate rapid and seamless adoption of the eNaira, the CBN must make the CBDC available to everyone with a mobile phone. More and more people should be encouraged to use eNaira by incentivizing them through rebates while paying income tax. Another incentive example dates back to October 2022 when CBN offered discounts if people used eNaira to pay for cabs.

EOS Perspective

The eNaira has the potential to have a significant impact on the Nigerian economy. As transactions using eNaira are fully traceable, more widespread adoption of eNaira is expected to expand the country’s tax base by bringing higher transparency in payments, especially in informal markets. It will undoubtedly result in higher tax revenue, a development welcomed by the government.

With US$24 billion in remittance receipts in 2019, Nigeria is considered one of the key remittance destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa. As remittances are currently burdened with a 1-5% charge of the transaction value, removing these costs through the adoption of eNaira would bring more remittance income to the population and, indirectly, more capital to the Nigerian economy.

With the expanded tax base, cheaper and higher inflows of remittances, facilitated retail payments, welfare transfers, etc., the impact of the eNaira on the Nigerian economy is likely to be quite considerable. Indeed, at the time of launch, the CBN estimated that the eNaira should increase Nigeria’s GDP by US$29 billion over the first 10 years, contributing to the country’s economic growth and development. With the implementation challenges encountered so far, it is clear that these estimations were overly optimistic. Still, how well the CBN can do its homework and undertake well-directed steps to navigate the challenges remains to be seen.

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Future of Animal Medicine Will Be 3D-printed

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Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, attracted the attention of various healthcare sectors, as it has wide applications and provides beneficial results due to its extensive flexibility and customization. 3D printing is becoming more popular in veterinary medicine owing to its revolutionary ability to build a 3D model of many objects using computer-aided design (CAD) software and successfully utilizing it in animal health ranging from implants to prostheses to tissue replacements. The 3D printing market in animal medicine is therefore projected to witness considerable growth, predicted at 15.24% CAGR during the forecast period of 2023-2031. Like almost all technologies, 3D printing in veterinary medicine has its advantages and a few challenges that need consideration.

3D printing technology is rapidly growing, including in veterinary medicine, as it continues to improve and become more accessible. Veterinarians are largely utilizing 3D printing technology because of the transformative approach it offers, while the decreasing cost of printers makes it feasible to develop the most desired model easily within a relatively short period of time.

3D printing finds application in a range of animal care areas

3D printing is a promising technology used to improve animal health and life span by treating disabilities developed due to events such as accidents or other medical conditions. Given its versatility, 3D printing in veterinary medicine is used for a broad range of applications.

Animal prosthetics and orthotics

In veterinary prosthetics and orthotics, 3D printing is used mainly for the development of bone structures, complex implants, and surgical guides. One of the first cases of 3D-printed prosthetics used in an animal was noted in the USA, where Derby, the dog, was born with short forelegs and no front paws, making him unable to walk. In December 2014, with the use of 3D scanning software, Derby was equipped with 3D-printed prosthetics, allowing him to start running and walking freely. Other notable cases of successful 3D-printed prosthetics applications in animals include Romina, a whippet who lost her leg in an accident in 2016. Her leg was fitted with a 3D-printed limb by specialists at Mexico City’s Veterinary Hospital, allowing the dog to walk again.

3D printing in surgical models planning

3D printing technology is ideal for surgical model planning since it allows surgeons to examine and determine bone structures based on a visual examination as the initial stage in surgical planning. Vets can directly quantify the deformity by doing preoperative assessments, however, sometimes, visual inspection of complex bone conformation might be challenging. Furthermore, 3D printing technology in surgical planning is a useful resource to help pet owners better understand their animals’ health issues and planned treatment options.

Future of Animal Medicine Will Be 3D-printed by EOS Intelligence

Future of Animal Medicine Will Be 3D-printed by EOS Intelligence

Education and training

3D printing is one of the most practical and efficient methods for the production of exact anatomic models needed at learning and training facilities across all levels of the veterinary education system. Students can examine and practice on realistic models, gaining a better understanding of complex anatomical structures and surgical techniques. This technology enhances the learning experience and prepares future veterinarians for various scenarios. The list of universities that use 3D printing in their veterinary medicine program is long and expanding and currently includes US-based institutions such as Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University, North Carolina State, University of Tennessee, as well as University of Nottingham and University of Derby in the UK, Satbayev University in Kazakhstan, Indian Veterinary Research Institute and Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in India, University of Ghent in Belgium, Utrecht University in the Netherlands, University of Bern in Switzerland, University of Glasgow in Scotland, and University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna in Austria, to name a few.

3D printing implants

Implants developed using 3D printing technology are customized to enhance the quality of an animal’s life and are particularly useful in oncological cases, where massive excision requires implant structures to replace removed tissues and restore their functions. A wide range of implants has been created utilizing common biocompatible materials such as titanium and nylon, which have demonstrated a considerable success rate in a variety of complex procedures ranging from skull flap and limb replacement to tibial tuberosity advancement implants. To create medical implants, veterinarians employ powder bed fusion, a metal 3D printing method, which allows them to create implants in a variety of desirable shapes and structures.

3D-printed masks

3D-printed masks are useful and essential to cure wounds from surgery and help to recover from fractures and bone destruction. The 3D-printed mask helps animals recover from injuries without the risk of reopening a wound or dislocating their bones. In August 2017, a female black-breasted leaf turtle in Tennessee suffered a wound on one of her nostrils and was having difficulty eating. To permanently repair the damage, a 3D-printed face mask was created to cover the whole wound region without blocking eyesight or limiting her ability to move her head.

Dynamic drivers power global 3D printing market growth in animal medicine

The global 3D printing in veterinary medicine market size is expected to increase from USD 2.8 billion to USD 11 billion and is estimated to grow by 15.24% CAGR during the forecast period of 2023-2031.

The North American market is expected to be the leading market due to high animal adoption rates, increased pet expenditures, and the abundance of veterinary facilities and clinics in the region. The European market is expected to be the second most prominent, with an increase in the number of experienced veterinarians and R&D investment, particularly in animal health, factors that are likely to drive market expansion. The Asia Pacific market is experiencing a moderate growth rate and is expected to continue showing promising growth in the coming years. This can be attributed to the increasing trend of pet adoption, particularly in countries such as Japan and Australia, where owning a pet is viewed as a symbol of social status. Australia has the highest pet ownership rate in the world, with 63% of the population owning a pet.

The major growth factors that are globally boosting 3D printing in veterinary medicine include wide applications in animal care as the technology enables the creation of patient-specific solutions and a cost-effective approach that varies from a few hundred to around a thousand dollars, which is less than traditional manufacturing methods for veterinary implants. Rapid prototyping is another major growth driver for 3D printing since it allows veterinarians and researchers to quickly prototype and test ideas, resulting in more efficient development procedures. 3D printing also improves patient outcomes by providing personalized solutions that result in better-fitting prosthetics, implants, and devices, which can improve an animal’s quality of life and overall health.

Extensive R&D efforts contribute to the market players’ growth

The global 3D printing market in veterinary medicine is competitive and includes a diverse range of established and startup companies that are actively contributing to advancements in veterinary care. Among the companies providing 3D printing solutions in animal medicine, some of the few leading players include Formlabs, Materialise, Med Dimensions, VET 3D, BTech Innovation, M3D ILAB, DeiveDesign, and Cabiomede. Given the relatively early stage of development that the market is currently at, it is not surprising that R&D plays a vital role in most players’ operations and growth. Many players work toward offering more comprehensive solutions to end-user entities through strategic agreements, partnerships, and acquisitions.

3D Systems Corporation, headquartered in the USA, is considered the leading manufacturing company in this market. It provides medical and dental solutions, as well as veterinary applications. 3D Systems provides a diverse array of products and services that have been used to produce anatomical models, implants, prosthetics, and surgical guides for animals. The company uses various 3D printing technologies such as film-transfer imaging, SLA, SLS, and direct metal printing. It outsources certain printer assembly, printer production, and refurbishment activities to selected organizations and suppliers. With the advancing technological changes in 3D printing, the company claims to have been focusing on ongoing R&D programs to develop new and enhance existing printers and printing materials.

Another market leader is Stratasys, an American-Israeli manufacturer with a global presence in the 3D printing industry for animal medicine. The company offers a range of 3D printing solutions, including 3D printers, materials, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), and PolyJet technologies. These technologies have been effectively utilized in veterinary medicine to create patient-specific models and surgical guidance for preoperative planning. Stratasys is another player that claims to put investment in R&D to the forefront, to broaden its capabilities and offerings in the veterinary field. The company collaborates with hospitals and universities, such as Colorado State University’s veterinary hospital and AniCura, a European network of animal hospitals and clinics, to advance the use of 3D printing in animal care and creating patient-specific implants. They have been actively integrating this technology into their veterinary practices.

Materialise is a provider of 3D printing software solutions and complex 3D plastic printing services for animal medicine. It employs technologies such as FDM, Multi-Jet Modeling (MJM), and vacuum casting. The company provides custom implants, 3D visualization, and orthotics surgical solutions. Materialize supplies to veterinary research institutes, hospitals, and major medical device manufacturing companies. The company’s software section offers software-based applications and related technology, such as CAD packages and 3D scanners. It has a strong presence in the Americas and offers worldwide coverage to its clients.

Another two companies worth mentioning are VetCT and Wimba. VetCT, a US-based company, specializes in veterinary imaging and has developed expertise in producing 3D reconstructions from a variety of imaging modalities. The company provides 3D modeling and printing services to veterinarians to improve treatment knowledge and planning. Wimba, headquartered in Poland, provides a variety of personalized animal 3D and 4D printed orthopedics items by applying unique measuring techniques and specialized software, resulting in products that are more durable and lightweight.

All these players in the 3D printing market for animal care continue to develop and advance in their specialized product offerings. It can be expected that this specialization will continue and deepen, with the companies trying to carve a unique niche for themselves, especially as the competitiveness in the market is likely to intensify.

A range of challenges continues to put a brake on 3D printing’s mainstream use

3D printing technology has made remarkable advancements in animal medicine, offering immense potential to transform veterinary practices. However, several challenges must be overcome before 3D printing may successfully become main stream in animal treatment.

One of the significant barriers to the adoption of 3D printing technology in clinical practice is its time-consuming nature. The process of creating a replica model and the printing itself are all complicated procedures that can take anywhere from three days to several weeks. This can be a significant challenge for veterinarians who need to provide prompt and effective treatment for their patients.

Creating precise 3D models for printing often relies on medical imaging techniques such as CT scans or MRIs. However, generating high-quality images of animals, especially exotic and small species, can be challenging. Movement during scanning, anesthesia risks, and imaging artifacts can affect the quality of the 3D model. This can lead to inaccuracies in the printed model, leading to ineffective treatment and potential harm to the animal.

The integration of 3D printing into the existing veterinary medicine process presents a significant challenge. The use of 3D printing technology involves a multi-step process, including imaging, model generation, and printing to create anatomical models. Coordination between veterinarians, radiologists, and 3D printing experts is essential to ensure that the process runs smoothly.

The selection of appropriate materials, such as plastics, living cells, titanium, resins, glass, nylon, and metals, is critical for 3D printing in animal medicine, as the availability of materials that offer the required properties, such as biocompatibility and durability for model development is limited and not all materials can be temperature controlled enough to allow 3D printing. Furthermore, many of these printing materials cannot be recycled and are quite unsafe.

The field of animal medicine has greatly benefited from the advancements in 3D printing technology, particularly in the development of personalized implants and prosthetics. However, the diverse anatomies of animals present unique challenges in designing and printing these specialized products. Animals vary greatly in size, shape, and structure, which makes it more complex to create products that fit well and function optimally. This requires specialized skills and software tools such as CAD, as well as a deep understanding of animal anatomy.

In addition to the design and implementation challenges, regulatory authorization is required for the use of 3D-printed products and implants in animal medicine, which includes approval or clearance process, clinical data, post-market surveillance, international harmonization, labeling, and instructions. The safety and efficacy of these products must be thoroughly tested and verified before they can be used in clinical settings.

Furthermore, ethical concerns about the use of animals in medical research must be addressed. It is important to ensure that the use of 3D-printed products and implants does not cause harm or unnecessary suffering to animals. Ensuring the long-term biocompatibility of 3D-printed implants and prosthetics in animals also requires thorough testing and monitoring. Animals have distinct physiological reactions and potential differences in healing processes that must be considered. The use of 3D-printed products must be carefully evaluated to ensure that they do not cause adverse effects or complications

EOS Perspective

3D printing technology has emerged as a promising area in veterinary medicine, providing customized solutions for a wide range of animal health issues. Despite facing some challenges, the technology’s ongoing advancements and increased accessibility are expected to drive significant growth in the market in the future.

With its ability to fabricate precise, patient-specific implants, prostheses, and tissue replacements, 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize veterinary medicine, enhancing outcomes and improving the quality of life for animals. Incorporating 3D printing into animal medicine requires collaboration among veterinary doctors, imaging specialists, 3D printing experts, regulatory authorities, and ethicists.

Nevertheless, there is still a significant amount of work to be done, and addressing these challenges will require substantial effort, innovative solutions, and thoughtful consideration. This is a dynamic and promising field that beckons thorough exploration, continued innovation, and the unwavering commitment of professionals to enhance the global standard of animal care. While the full extent of 3D printing’s impact on veterinary medicine remains to be seen as research and development continue, the initial outcomes are undoubtedly encouraging.

by EOS Intelligence EOS Intelligence No Comments

Commentary: EU Push the Maritime Operators to Boost Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity in the maritime sector is of critical importance as sea routes accounted for about three-fourths of the EU’s imports and exports in 2022. The new Network and Information Systems Security Directive (“NIS2 Directive”) aiming to strengthen cybersecurity is expected to enter into force from October 2024 and will impact maritime companies with more than 50 employees or an annual revenue of over €10 million. The NIS2 directive, which will replace and repeal the NIS directive, expands the scope to cover a larger number of companies in the sector as it includes both medium and large-size companies.

Companies may feel burdened by strict NIS2 requirements

To comply with the new requirements, the companies would need to make cyber risk management a focal point for every business strategy and make cybersecurity measures a part of day-to-day operations. NIS2 adoption will not only demand additional investment but also change the way the business is done.

  • Increase in cybersecurity investments

A total of 156 entities in the water transport sector were subject to the NIS directive in July 2016, as it focused mainly on large enterprises. Under NIS2, this number is likely to increase to 380. In particular, the number of port and terminal operators covered in NIS2 will increase significantly. A senior IT executive from Port of Rotterdam indicated that while NIS covered only a few port stakeholders (~5 companies), more than a hundred companies would need to comply with NIS2.

European Commission indicated that the companies already covered under the NIS directive would need to increase their IT security spending by 12%, while for the companies that were not covered previously but would be covered under the NIS2 framework, the IT security spending would need to be increased by up to 22%.

Frontier Economics, a consultancy firm based in Europe, estimated that the costs of implementing the NIS2 regulation in medium and large enterprises across the water transport sector would be about 0.5% of the total annual revenue across the medium and large water transport companies, which amounts to more than €225 million per year.

  • Enhancement of OT security

The advent of digitization has resulted in rapid convergence of operational technology (OT) with IT systems, leaving critical OT infrastructure vulnerable to cyberattacks. OT helps monitor and control mechanical processes, making them particularly important for the safe operation of ports and other aspects of the maritime sector.

ENISA, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity, indicated that from January 2021 to October 2022, ransomware attacks on IT systems were the most prominent cyber threat facing the transport sector and warned that ransomware groups are likely to target OT systems in the near future. NIS2 imposes stringent requirements for critical infrastructure entities, including maritime companies, to beef up cybersecurity from the perspective of both IT and OT.

Traditionally, maritime companies have considered cyber security primarily in the context of IT systems, but now there is a higher focus on OT cybersecurity, and the NIS2 is going to ensure investment momentum in this space. For instance, the Maritime Cyber Priority 2023 report indicated that over three-fourths of the respondents suggested that OT cyber security is a significantly higher priority compared to two years ago.

While NIS2 adoption may seem taxing, benefits are likely to follow

Like any new regulation, the adoption of NIS2 comes with additional costs and implementation hurdles, however, the consequent benefits are likely to outweigh the challenges.

  • Harmonization of cybersecurity requirements

In August 2023, a senior executive from Mission Secure, an OT cyber security solutions provider, indicated that maritime operators would welcome stringent cybersecurity standards. The maritime industry operates on thin profit margins, making it difficult for companies to invest more in cybersecurity than competitors. Implementation of NIS2 would set cybersecurity standards harmonized across the EU and thus level the playing field in terms of spending on cybersecurity while reducing the risks and losses associated with cyberattacks.

  • Improved competitiveness

A 2020 study by ENISA suggested that the EU organizations’ cybersecurity spending is, on average, 41% lower than of their US counterparts. NIS2 is expected to drive the necessary investments in cybersecurity.

Moreover, given the international nature of the maritime industry, the adoption of the NIS2 directive will help the operators keep up with similar cybersecurity regulations around the world. For instance, Australia reformed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act in 2022 to address the evolving cyber threat landscape. The UK, while no longer part of the EU, is in the process of revising the cybersecurity regulation for critical infrastructure operators in line with NIS2.

EOS Perspective

Upon implementation of NIS2, maritime operators will need to invest in more effective cybersecurity requirements, potentially increasing costs in the short term. Despite this, the increased investment will result in a more secure and resilient industry in the long run, and companies that are able to invest heavily in security are going to gain a competitive advantage over those that are not able to do so.

Digitization and connected technology in the maritime sector are evolving faster than its ability to regulate it. Hence, the maritime sector should view NIS2 as just another measure to elevate the cybersecurity framework. Companies need to be agile and flexible to adapt to the evolving cyber threat landscape.

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