BankingBanks pressing forward with cloud migration projects during the pandemic

Banks pressing forward with cloud migration projects during the pandemic

Standard Chartered, Opel Bank and HSBC are among those undergoing cloud projects as coronavirus puts existing systems to the test

The pandemic has shifted banks’ priorities regarding digital redevelopment projects, with several banks undergoing cloud-first transformations in recent months.

Until recently, the size and cost of huge digital redevelopment projects has meant that digital transformation isn’t always an easy sell at the C-level. That’s all starting to change thanks to the global coronavirus pandemic.

In August, Standard Chartered announced it was teaming up with Microsoft to become a cloud-first bank. That means all of its core banking and trading systems will be 100 percent cloud-powered by 2025 – and by leveraging Microsoft Azure and implementing new application programming interfaces (APIs), Standard Chartered says corporate customers will benefit from seamless cross-border transactions that will reduce friction across the board.

According to Standard Chartered’s chief technology officer of cloud transformation, Bhupendra Warathe, the mass disruption caused by this year’s pandemic has proven exactly why cloud migration is so critical for banks.

“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the need for businesses and banks to be resilient from a risk mitigation, cost and security perspective,” he said in a statement.

“With the increasing trend of an always-on digital economy, commercial and consumer clients are looking for applications and services that empower them to do online banking from anywhere, flexibly and efficiently. The speed and scale of continuous innovation offered by Azure allows us to innovate with the latest [artificial intelligence] (AI) services to meet evolving client needs.”

Standard Chartered is hardly the first bank to press ahead with a new cloud-first strategy.

As the pandemic began to worsen at the start of 2020, Germany’s Opel Bank became the first European bank to announce it was migrating to the cloud-native FIS Modern Banking Platform. Meanwhile, US-based fintech vendor CSI announced in August it had already completed 15 virtual banking core conversions since the start of the pandemic.

But at 84,000 employees across 60 markets, Standard Chartered is without doubt one of the biggest financial institutions (FIs) to proceed with a cloud-first digital transformation in a coronavirus environment.

Adopting a multi-cloud approach, Standard Chartered is planning to migrate its trading systems, virtual banking, banking-as-a-service and other core systems to the cloud within the next five years.

The bank also announced it would be using Microsoft’s AI and data analytics capabilities to streamline and automate banking processes, as well as deliver hyper personalisation for clients.

But more important still, Standard Chartered has made clear it will be adopting a cloud-first approach for all new software developments and products moving forward.

“Using cloud services improves our ability to be agile and innovative, while increasing our operational efficiency and resilience,” Group Chief Information Officer Michael Gorriz said in the statement introducing Standard Chartered’s new partnership with Microsoft.

“As disruption in the financial industry continues, we can focus on client benefits by deploying our solutions quicker and allowing for faster integration of new business models and partners.”

Several other multinational FIs are on now on the cusp of similar journeys despite the pandemic.

In July, HSBC announced it was signing a multi-year deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) that will enable the bank to leverage the company’s cloud portfolio and start migrating customer-facing apps onto the cloud. HSBC’s plans were unveiled just days after Deutsche Bank made a similar statement confirming the bank had signed a letter of intent to kickstart a multiyear contract with Google Cloud by signing a contract later this year.

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