Cloud Computing Tailored for Banks
We are living during times when adoption of technological solutions is skyrocketing. Emergency situations, such as living and working during the COVID pandemic, require increasing the efficiency of systems to enable remote work on a much larger scale. Migration to the cloud, as part of the overall adoption of tech in various industries, is a global trend that is getting stronger every year.
Banks are also taking part in this trend. For banks, the cloud yields not only tangible financial benefits, but also an opportunity for technological development and practical use of opportunities offered by the market in the form of blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, or chatbots. Thanks to the availability of cloud solutions, banks are able to adapt to trends that can be observed in the booming fintech area. Thanks to the virtually unlimited possibilities of building partner ecosystems and extending the portfolio of services provided, banks have become more flexible and respond better to market needs.
The Cloud in the Banking Sector
The report was prepared based on surveys from directors of 35 banks – European, American, African, and Asian. The vast majority of representatives of the banking sector admitted that there is no developed strategy for cloud applications. Nearly half of the respondents confirmed that such a strategy is to be prepared within the next year. 31% of the respondents had a strategy for cloud adoption already. This shows that the market opportunity for the banking sector is only starting to grow.
A minority of banks could boast a mature strategy for implementing cloud solutions. This was indicated by 1/4 of the respondents. In the vast majority of cases though, these strategies were still at an early stage of development. 40% of bankers admitted that basic practices had been agreed upon and appropriate tools had started to be implemented.
Challenges and Benefits – a Local Perspective from Poland
Accenture, in cooperation with the Polish Bank Association, conducted a survey among the largest banks on the Polish market. (The full report in Polish can be accessed here.) These banks were familiar with the subject of the cloud, but enterprises are still at a relatively early stage of cloud advancement and face many challenges.
For banks, the biggest unknowns are issues related to regulations that banks have to comply with, as well as the lack of appropriate experience in processes related to the implementation of cloud solutions. There seems to be no standard, go-to approach when migrating banks to the cloud. Banks indicate unclear or incomplete legal provisions, as well as regulations that do not facilitate or even limit the implementation of the cloud.
Another problem that banks face is the little to no experience possessed by their IT teams in implementing advanced solutions. Rebuilding or migrating applications to run in the cloud – (i.e., big data set migrations) requires significant effort. Adjusting to the cloud transition as part of investment cycles in the IT department for a given company can also pose certain challenges.
With the advent of cloud technology in the banking sector, risk and security management are becoming another important element of cloud implementation strategy. In this area, the analysis of large data sets (in terms of risk identification and fraud detection) becomes extremely crucial. Sharing sensitive data also falls under regulatory compliance, which poses a significant burden if done manually.
The entire banking sector today faces the challenge of processing, analytical support, and monetization of huge data resources. Such datasets can be inferred upon to discover patterns of customer engagement among other operations. Thanks to technologies available in the cloud, what in “analog” mode would take several days is possible to achieve in a few minutes.
The available advanced analytical functions enable the analysis of structured and unstructured data and can provide a specific inference engine/subsystem from many vendors – be it AI cognitive services or natural language processing.
When used only for the duration of data processing, these inference engines reduce the need for very expensive and complex analytical solutions in banks, limited to systems processing extracts from data processed in the cloud. This leads to transparent cost models because it enables fast and efficient provisioning of services. The implementation of IT infrastructure and services is faster, the application development cycle is shortened, and, most importantly, it allows for the introduction of new, more innovative products and services to the market based on a proven vendor.
Cloud Banking and Security – Facts and Myths
In practice, the cloud for customers turns out to be a safer solution, while taking away the pain of setting up everything by the organization. Companies using this type of solution are only a part of the entire ecosystem, which also includes many other enterprises. Thus, a potential attack on a specific company or data collection is difficult.
Implementing Cloud Technology for a Bank
Many banks are still using cloud solutions opportunistically, mainly to improve or supplement their current systems and services. Primarily, this is due to the fear of launching a major change program that will impact virtually every element of the bank’s organization, thus incurring large expenditures on transformation projects and generating the associated risk of failure.
One of the relatively simplest methods is to purchase SaaS packages from vendors. The choice of such services is so large that banks are free to choose a product tailored to their needs. The migration process is relatively simple, focusing mainly on data migration and integration with the bank’s other systems. The process of cloud implementation in a bank may also require the migration of existing systems.
This can be done by moving applications to the target cloud platform, without major changes in their configuration. In this process, it is possible to use traditional migration methods, just as is done during data center migration. Of course, applications can also be customized and updated to be platform-compatible and cloud-ready (standardizing operating systems to versions supported by the cloud operator).
The most difficult method, but with the most potential benefits, is migration using PaaS technologies. This method consists of adapting the application architecture to the cloud-native model, which enables the use of advanced cloud services, e.g. automation, scaling, containers, serverless functions, API mechanisms, and others. Regardless of the choice of cloud migration method, the goal is common – gain a business advantage through the use of modern technologies.
Such an implementation model is convenient for banks because it grants them the freedom to choose which resources are used. This is possible thanks to the implementation of Cloud Content Management Platforms in banks, integrating private public resources, and in the case of integration with more than one public provider, the implementation of a multi-cloud strategy. Additionally, this model allows for easier management of regulatory requirements, such as user anonymization or data requests.
Major companies and cloud providers are committing more and more resources to streamline, develop, and create new services. As demand continues to grow, enterprises are recognizing new trends, significant opportunities, and economic benefits. By migrating to the cloud, they are replacing traditional IT usage models in an as-a-service direction.
The ongoing changes are also affecting the banking sector, though the integration of cloud technology is on the more conservative side. This is due to the characteristics of this heavily regulated sector, to which the highest security standards have always been applied. The new reality for the banking sector becomes not only a challenge but also an exciting opportunity to benefit banks in many different ways.
Article written by Piotr Slupski