It’s a time of reflection and anticipation at The Fintech Times throughout December, as we look back at developments and trends over the last 12 months and forward to the year ahead.
We’re excited to share the thoughts of fintech CEOs and industry leaders from across the globe to 2023’s key takeaways and what we should expect to be top of the agenda in 2024.
Today we delve into cloud technology, its integration with AI, the ‘buy vs build’ debate, cloud adoption in banking, managed services for IT complexity, adoption of cloud technology in tax, and the necessity of digital transformation in financial services.
Cloud security should be a paramount concern for any organisation in 2024, warns Monica Tigleanu, divisional director of cyber strategy at global insurance group BMS.
“As businesses increasingly migrate to cloud-based platforms or are cloud native, they face a new frontier of cyber threats in the cloud by opening up avenues for potential cyber attacks that can exploit weaknesses in off-premises service platforms.
“Key among these vulnerabilities is the challenge of managing identity credentials and encryption keys. The management plane of a cloud platform – offering an efficient interface for overseeing identities and infrastructure – is often the primary focus for threat actors due to its significance.
“As the bedrock of cloud security, any lapse in these areas can enable unauthorised access and movement within cloud environments, a phenomenon known as lateral movement and has been observed by incident response firms in recent attacks. This is compounded by the risks presented by insecure interfaces and application programming interfaces.
“There are also threats associated with an inadequate cloud incident response. This could stem from a lack of cloud expertise, outdated traditional incident response methods, or the difficulty of collecting and the complexity of accessing data stored by third-party cloud providers.
“Adding to the complexity of cloud security is the prevalent issue of misconfiguration and inadequate change control. The dynamic nature of the cloud requires robust change management processes to prevent configuration drifts that could lead to unanticipated security gaps.”
Pressure on cloud demands
Roger Brulotte, CEO of cloud hosting provider Leaseweb Canada, explores how cloud computing will be a game-changer for the fintech industry with the integration of AI.
“In 2023, the tech world experienced a significant shift with the emergence of artificial intelligence,” he says. “This development sparked widespread interest across all industries, particularly in fintech, where it created a need for faster, more accurate, and personalised solutions.
“Meeting these new customer demands requires immediate delivery of financial services, which can only be possible through cloud offerings that are specifically designed to power AI applications and be able to handle the volume.
In 2024, I predict that fintech will continue to rely on AI-powered companies and applications to meet these growing expectations. However, integrating AI into their systems will require a significant amount of cloud computing, which in turn will lead to a financial breaking point.
“To avoid this, fintech companies need to be strategic in their use of AI and find hosting providers that offer scalability and cost efficiency. They should look for providers that have a wide range of servers, from the cloud to individual devices, to effectively distribute workloads and reduce pressure on their cloud computing demands.”
Buy vs build
In 2023, capital markets firms embraced cloud technology and, while this trend is expected to continue, firms will need expert guidance to navigate the evolving landscape effectively, comments Matt Barrett, CEO at financial services company Adaptive.
“2023 saw capital markets firms begin to fully embrace the operational move to the cloud, as past technological challenges hindering the shift are being addressed with the emergence of low-latency, high-throughput and fault-tolerant trading technology, available 24/7 in the cloud,” Barrett says.
“The increased cloud adoption also prompted a turning point in the ‘buy vs build’ debate by blurring the lines of the previous choices firms were restricted to. There is now a more nuanced option: the multi-dimensional hybrid model, where firms acquire pre-built, non-core technologies, thereby freeing up resources to concentrate on developing custom solutions that differentiate them.
“For the first time in the electronic trading space, the cloud can be used to provision what used to be procured from telco, co-lo and hardware providers. The new model empowers firms to accelerate innovation at a reduced cost whilst gaining a more steadfast competitive edge.
“As the race to the cloud accelerates, the year ahead will see this trend unfold at a greater scale. Firms realise that striking the right balance with this hybrid model whilst still adjusting to the digital realm poses a challenge. Expert guidance will prove to be invaluable in navigating this fast-evolving landscape and unlocking the cloud’s full capabilities.”
Hop it to the cloud
In 2024, the use of cloud-based technology will rapidly accelerate as more banks seek modern solutions to doing business, suggests Joman Kwong, strategic solutions manager at Laserfiche, a SaaS provider of enterprise content management.
“This marks a significant transition in the industry as financial institutions have historically resisted moving sensitive data to the cloud.
“Creating a digital ecosystem with cloud adoption will support new product development and innovation, boost resiliency and business continuity, and optimise overall cost-effectiveness.
“In 2024, to maximise investments, businesses will leverage API integration to enhance business intelligence, foster innovation, eliminate information silos, and reduce the burden on IT teams.”
Managed services will become key
According to Giorgio Regni, CTO at Scality, the sustainable data storage software, ongoing demands to decrease IT complexity with secure, efficient solutions will dominate IT budgets into the new year.
In addition, perennial data storage management challenges — growing data volumes, tight budgets, skills shortages, complicated IT installations, and increasing cyber threats — will persist.
“Multi-cloud is a reality today for most enterprises, in their use of multiple SaaS and IaaS offerings from different vendors. However, the use of on-premises and public cloud in a single application or workload has become mired in the complexities of different application deployment models and multiple vendor APIs and orchestration frameworks.
“While this has inhibited the powerful agility and cost-reduction promises of the hybrid-cloud model, throughout the coming year, organisations will increasingly leverage the experience and skills of managed service providers (MSPs) to solve these complexity issues and help them achieve business value and ROI.”
For Andrew Burman, principal, tax technology at Ryan, a global tax services and software provider, the accelerated adoption of cloud technology is expected to be a prominent trend in 2024.
“With benefits including real-time updates, advanced security measures protecting sensitive information, and a reduction of manual tasks, tax teams are already at a tipping point,” he says. “The efficiencies, reduction of risk, and opportunities for more real-time data-processing offered are already ‘must-haves’ not ‘nice-to-haves,’ and this trend will continue.
“Process and control automation is another interesting development that has rapidly gained traction over the past few years, but which I see accelerating during 2024. The number and nature on tax is continuing to increase exponentially, and many tax functions are already unable to cope without the additional capacity these technologies offer.
“We will see more manual, repetitive processes and controls moving to these technologies, to be carried out more in ‘real-time’ and less at period-end, enabling teams to focus on more strategic tasks. Increasingly, this will include real-time testing and ‘tagging’ of data for a variety of tax purposes, replacing traditional retrospective reviews.
“Tax teams stand at a crossroads, with the power to embrace and leverage these technological advancements or risk falling behind. Embracing innovation will not only enhance operational efficiencies but pave the way for staying competitive, and ahead of the tax authorities, in a rapidly transforming industry.”
Transitioning to cloud
Over the past 12 months, the financial services industry has learned vital lessons about the necessity of digital transformation, according to Bruno Sousa, head of fintech at software engineering company Mindera.
“Legacy systems, once the backbone of banking operations, have increasingly become obstacles to innovation and efficiency,” he says. “The key takeaway is the urgent need for banks to modernise their technological infrastructure. This transformation involves transitioning from traditional systems to cloud-based platforms and integrating into a broader financial services ecosystem. Such a shift not only streamlines operations but also significantly enhances the customer experience by introducing innovative, data-driven solutions swiftly.
“Looking ahead to the next 12 months, we can predict further acceleration in the adoption of cloud technologies and a deeper commitment to digital ecosystems in banking. Banks are likely to focus more on collaborations with fintechs and other financial institutions, leveraging their complementary strengths to offer unified, seamless services.
“Additionally, the integration of AI and blockchain technology will likely become more pronounced, driving efficiency and enabling more personalised financial services. The emphasis will be on agility and adaptability, with financial institutions aiming to quickly respond to evolving market demands and customer expectations.”