To disrupt the disruptors, financial firms must look to securing their digital transformation
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.
When was the last time you visited a bank? All my local branches have closed, and yet, in the last three months, I’ve managed to get myself an overdraft, set up an investment fund, and open a new savings account – all from my mobile phone.
Personal banking is changing. I can’t tell you the name of my bank manager. I have accounts with three different banks and I’ve never stepped into a branch of two of those (partly because of their digital-only presence, partly because I just don’t need to). But, with apps at my fingertips, improved communication channels, and (potentially artificially) intelligent interactions, I’ve never felt closer to my bank.
The banking world has become undeniably digital. I recently went to see one of the UK’s top banks which has over a million log-ons to its app every minute. Suffice to say, digital transformation in the banking world is big business. Had you heard the word ‘fintech’ five year ago? I doubt it!
In recent years, smartphones have taken off and fintech start-ups have really taken advantage of emergent technologies – such as the cloud and AI – meaning that companies like Plum, which automatically saves and invests money for users based on their predicted spending habits, and Monzo, which lets you set budgets and provides real-time spend reporting, have been able to see huge success in the consumer market.
It shouldn’t need saying that traditional banks need to keep up with the new kids on the block. While these fintech disruptors aren’t offering mortgages or serious loans (yet), they’re still doing a good job of sweeping up day-to-day transactions and the low-limit overdraft market; they’re giving the traditional financial institutions healthy competition for sure.
Digital transformation, therefore, is key for any organisation wanting to stay in the race. As well as GDPR and regulators stipulating systems need to be updated and patched to stay compliant, banks are having to dive head-first into new technologies – like artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain – all while making the inevitable move to the cloud to support mobile-first working practices.
So how does security factor in? Well a digital transformation project is incomplete without its sister, security transformation, by its side. In an industry that is so heavily regulated, and that deals with such sensitive information, infosec is king. What’s more, in this mobile-first world, focusing solely on network security is no longer enough. Instead, security is about securing your entire IT estate, from identity to infrastructure, applications to all the data on offer.
A good start is to invest in integrated security tooling, such as M365 E5, which covers identity protection, information protection/DLP, mobile device management, advanced threat protection and cloud app security. This gives you wide coverage against a number of attack vectors and can be augmented with additional tools and services for things like penetration testing, end-point threat protection and breach simulations, providing you with a truly holistic security estate.
The way we bank is changing, and so the banks are changing too. With disruptors providing new and innovative ways for us to access and understand our money, the big institutions are having to become more agile and disruptive themselves. While fintech businesses are providing the traditional banks with little room for complacency, this can only be a good thing for consumers. But all these companies – from Monzo to Metro, Starling to Santander – should remember that, no matter what, security is key to success.
Amy Stokes-Waters is new business sales executive at Identity Experts