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Across the globe, the pandemic massively accelerated the shift towards digitalisation across all sectors. Banks are no exception. The migration of banks’ IT systems onto cloud-native platforms promises to rapidly transform customer experience delivery, business continuity, operational efficiencies and resilience.

by Jerry Mulle, UK Managing Director, Ohpen

However, at what point do the benefits outweigh the status quo – and what are the motivations behind this pivotal transition in the industry? Legacy banking IT systems are increasingly unattractive to financial institutions in the modern world, compared with benefits offered by cloud-native banking, and are making digitalisation more appealing to them. Institutions are looking to evolve and modernise their services to deliver greater customer experiences. What’s more, implementing these new cloud systems can now be done faster, in a modular way and with minimal disruption.

Cut costs, save energy

Jerry Mulle, UK Managing Director, Ohpen discusses the attractions of cloud-native solutions
Jerry Mulle, UK Managing Director, Ohpen

Some financial institutions are still working with outdated legacy systems, relying on slow, bulky on-site local servers – and even excel datasheets in some cases – to run their processes. These institutions are now realising that they are losing out in doing so. The cost of maintaining such systems or enhancing them to meet new regulations can be immense. Decommissioning old IT systems and switching to a cloud-native platform can enable significant cost reductions – some of our clients, for example, have experienced cost reductions of up to 40% by doing so. Data, server storage and performance power suddenly become on-demand which enables the ability to scale up and down as needed.

Running legacy systems also has another long-term disadvantage: a larger carbon footprint. The pressure on financial institutions to move towards more sustainable models hasn’t increased from society and protests alone, but also from their own internal stakeholders. What’s more, with Europe’s top 25 banks still failing to meet their sustainability pledges, according to research by ShareAction, it’s clearly more important than ever for financial institutions to take tangible steps to reduce their environmental impact. Cloud-native banking can play a key role in achieving this.

Institutions can reduce the carbon emissions emitted by their systems by 80% when they switch to cloud-based IT alternatives, according to AWS, moving them further towards meeting their net-zero targets. What’s more, basing systems on the cloud replaces the use of heavily airconditioned server rooms for more efficient software applications and direct integrations with third parties, reducing unnecessary waste.

Unlocking agility and driving innovation

The reasons behind large financial institutions’ incumbency often comes down to the legacy systems they have in place. Sometimes dating back to the early 1990s, these bulky systems greatly reduce banks’ flexibility and capacity for innovation. Deeply ingrained into their overall strategy and ways of working, institutions often fear potential technical issues caused by replacing such systems with cloud alternatives. However, the transformation process is becoming increasingly less disruptive to everyday operations – delivering almost 100% system uptime.

Cloud systems also open doors to significantly more flexibility when it comes to creating new products and offerings. Cloud-native systems are based on an API first strategy allowing institutions to curate their own partner ecosystem as well as inherit best of breed integrations as part of the solution. As a result, banks are empowered with endless levers and combinations to create new propositions.

In addition to this, banking on cloud-native platforms is more accommodative to emerging AI capabilities, which empower banks to increase the efficiency and tailoring of the services they offer to their customers. For example, in areas such as mortgages and loans. Documents such as IDs and payslips, which are considered unstructured data, can be interpreted using AI, while connections into other data outlets like credit rating agencies can enrich application information. This ability to organise unstructured data means that we are nearing the times of one-click mortgages, improving the customer experience like never before.

Cloud-native systems therefore form an appealing prospect for large incumbents: not only do they provide a disruption-free entry point to use more efficient technology, but also offer an enhanced ability to adapt to the unpredictable ways in which financial technology will evolve. Cloud technologies will allow institutions to cement their place in the market by empowering them to tackle unknown challenges in the future – challenges that legacy systems will struggle to solve quickly – while simultaneously putting the customer’s needs first.

A future in the clouds

The solutions that cloud banking offers have both potential and clout, enabling banks to cut costs and empowering them to reduce their energy consumption, deploy AI in more efficient ways and prepare for future technologies. For customers, this means that innovative developments in financial services are becoming more directly available for their use. Customers will benefit from instant services, such as loans and mortgages that are automatically tailored to their personal requirements, all powered by AI. As a result, these elements compelling banks to move towards cloud-native systems, and captivating their customers, are set to keep unleashing innovation across the wider financial services landscape at speed.

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