09:30 AM
Bob Olson
Bob Olson
Commentary

4 Banking Trends That Became Clear in 2014

Four trends in banking technology that crystallized over the last year.



You hear a lot about “settled science” these days. In banking, as in science, sometimes trends that appeared murky or uncertain suddenly become crystal clear. There are at least four that took place in banking over the past 12 months.

Granular security: Banking has long been making strides in the most visible security challenge:  how to protect their information and transactions from unauthorized access.  Now they are aggressively tackling the second:  how to make sure that security measures do not prevent the right users from getting swift access to the right data.  One-size-fits-all security measures can drive up costs, frustrate employees and customers by slowing down their access, and prevent users from choosing their own risk variables. They are solving this challenge with granular security -- ideally at the data-level -- that enables full control over what data is available to which users.

[For more from Unisys' Bob Olson, check out: 'In-Memory' Enables Big Data -- Cheaper, Faster, Easier]

Cloud inevitability: Not to gainsay most bankers’ mistrust of public cloud (a recent survey says 52% use no cloud at all because of security concerns), but there’s a difference between this year and last. The debate is not if but how they will eventually embrace cloud – if not public cloud, then private cloud or hybrid cloud -- and which version for which function. And there is a powerful side benefit of the debate: crystal clarity about what really qualifies as an asset that requires top-level protection and what does not and is therefore a cloud candidate. “No cloud” is being replaced by nuanced cloud strategies that address security, speed, and savings in incremental ways.

Payments revolution: Thanks to well-publicized retail security breaches, faster payments, and Apple Pay, we seem to have reached the tipping point that will finally revolutionize US payments. Apply Pay is evidently delivering that most elusive of mobile payment requirements -- a delightful customer experience. The progress of faster payment schemes in other countries (combined with Federal Reserve pressure) is fueling US efforts for near-instant payments. And hacking headlines have pushed retailers into long-awaited chip and PIN, NFC, and wireless POS device rollouts. This is the kind of high-pressure environment in which exciting innovation -- long-awaited in US payments -- often flourishes.

Guilt-free outsourcing: Just a decade or so ago, the public face of many bank outsourcing initiatives often wore an apologetic look, as though a decision to hire specialists in this or that function represented a bank management failure. Today banking, like most industries, forthrightly engages in almost constant assessment of potential outsourcing of non-core activities -- business processes, IT, technology support, maintenance, and more. As outsourcing providers improve the quality of their services and reporting, this trend will continue and serve its intended purposes: lowering bank costs, improving the functions involved, and permitting bank management to concentrate on banking.

As we prepare to move into a new year, it will be interesting to see not only how these trends continue to evolve, but also how they are further refined, defined, and ultimately embraced by the industry.

Bob Olson is a Vice President at Unisys where he manages the Global Financial Services Practice.He works with clients by providing a portfolio of IT services, software, and technology to help them solve their mission-critical problems. Prior to Unisys, Bob was ... View Full Bio

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