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BW Businessworld

Wisdom Of The Crowd Unleashed

Sentifi treads on ground that classical analysts have never walked on, generating real-time, actionable crowd intelligence from over three million financial sources that investors and traders may use to strategise investment

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In 2011 when the nuclear power station in Fukushima exploded, it took fund managers an exhaustive three weeks to figure out its implication on the stock market, leading to a humongous loss of time, human resources and money. Anders Bally set out on a mission then to connect the world and resolve the problem, using crowd intelligence and the power of social media.

‘Democratising the wisdom of the crowd’, he founded Sentifi in 2012. In 2016 Sentifi won the Swiss Fintech award. As a financial analyst and fund manager in Zurich in the 1990s, Bally had identified the key obstacles in using and assimilating financial news and had found a cutting edge solution to it. Years later, he brought his vision to life with his innovation, Sentifi.

“Two billion people today use mobile phones, capturing everything they see, writing about it, and talking about it,” Bally says, pointing out that there was an “enormous amount of intelligence out there which can be used for the financial market”. Sentifi generates real-time, actionable crowd intelligence from over three million financial sources, not yet available via traditional news outlets.

It scans millions of messages every day to enable users to read only what they need to, so they may quickly glean the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ about their investments and related financial issues. The financial technology company is now among the most recognised names in crowd-based artificial intelligence for financial information in key markets, including those in Europe and Asia.

“We are building the world’s largest ecosystem in crowd intelligence and our objective is to identify 250 million people and organisations communication, which is relevant for the markets,” says Bally. “People with voices and intelligence can now be heard without having a desk or an analyst in an office,” he says.

The availability of information on social media is huge globally, but dealing with the information and extracting relevance out of it, was a challenge, says Bally. “The problem is that not only is there a lot of information available out there, but that one has to deal with all that information in a way that makes sense to investors. That is where Sentify comes in, capturing what the market says on social media and using an algorithm to understand what they are talking about and answering questions which make sense to the investors.”

He says investors could tap into crowd-intelligence and extract unlimited information that could be turned into financial insights for superior investment strategies. Where market news plays an important role in decision making, investors and traders face a mammoth task in gathering news from myriad websites. Sentifi comes to their aid by curating the relevant content.

Sentifi only listens to identified publishers relevant to the financial market. These publishers and their messages are ranked and the content is segregated country-wise, exchange-wise and stock-wise to avoid duplication. Sentifi then presents the ‘top five’ news, blogs and tweets of interest to the financial market. People are scored based on the intelligence they share.

“A star financial analyst need not necessarily decide what is good to invest,” says Bally, adding, “All that is about to change as the crowd based intelligence system comes into play.” The Sentifi system of garnering crowd intelligence is not limited to stocks, but also extends to commodities, currencies and active discussion on social media about the financial markets.

Sentifi could, for instance, provide important insights into companies impacted by Donald Trump’s win in the US Presidential election, or the impact Brexit will have on Bitcoin. This information requires data that is not easily available, but accessible via social media, as people voice their opinion on these subjects. Sentifi is able to provide important insights not given by classical analysis.

“During the spread of the Ebola Virus, a fund manager with substantial investments in the region was anxious about its impact on his business,” Bally recalls. “We took all his securities and used the power of the crowd and found how his major exposure was to his future investments in copper as most of the people affected were in the copper mines area, due to the disease.”

Bally explains that building patterns and joining the cues becomes essential, as analysts face a data crunch in many sectors. A social media picture of a burning factory, for instance, could be accessed using deep learning algorithms to analyse, translate and cater to the value chain of the company and the people associated with it, or likely to be affected by it. Bally describes social media as the ‘Human Satellites’ of the 21st Century.

Sentifi is based in four locations. Sentifi analysis is available free of charge on sentifi.com and leading online news portals in five countries, round the clock, for millions of readers. It also provides sophisticated detailed analysis to banks, investment and asset managers and governments, to help them discover risks, add predictive analysis and link them with the stock market.

Bally says he sees a huge opportunity for his company in India too, in the light of the emerging power of the financial market in the country. “India is extremely important to us. We have many voices in the world stating how India is one of the fastest moving markets in the world in terms of social media, especially in the finance market, which serves as a huge opportunity for us and the Indian people. We want to give the audience here access to our system where they could contribute and share their Knowledge,” he says.

India is not among the locations Sentifi operates out of, but Bally believes that the location of the expert did not matter, the intelligence did. What matters even more, he says, is bringing that intelligence to a platform that benefits the entire ecosystem.

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