Cloud computing is the future of the digital economy and banks are getting in on the action as Covid-19 lockdown measures accelerate the process of digital transformation. 

Yet as firms increasingly migrate onto the cloud, C-suite executives in regulated industries like banking are quickly becoming stewards of critical enterprise and customer information. Maintaining the security of this information on cloud computing networks is now a key pillar of trust for financial institutions, with lapses placing the reputation of these firms at risk. 

As one of the world’s foremost cloud computing providers, tech giant IBM has inked exciting new partnerships with the world’s best financial and technology firms to develop new and secure cloud computing solutions to support their growth into the future economy. 

On July 22, IBM announced it has teamed up with Bank of America (BoA) to develop the IBM Cloud Policy Framework for Financial Services, establishing a new generation of cloud for financial institutions  with common operational criteria and streamlined compliance controls that will allow users to transact with confidence. 

Developed alongside IBM’s subsidiary Promontory, a global leader in financial services regulatory compliance consulting, the framework is a set of cloud security and compliance control requirements as the basis  that will allow financial institutions to confidently host key applications and workloads. 

It aims to deliver the industry-informed IBM public cloud controls required to operate securely with bank-sensitive data in the public cloud, which tends to be more open to cybersecurity threats than private networks - in line with IBM’s view that given the complexity of the operating environment, cloud computing can’t be fully private, nor public. Rather, a hybrid cloud is the way  to better serve the needs of most customers - including those in the financial services industry.

“We have been looking to identify a financial services-ready solution that offers the same level of security and economics as our private cloud with enhanced scalability,” says David Reilly, Bank of America's Global Banking & Markets, Enterprise Risk & Finance Technology and Core Technology Infrastructure executive. 

“That's why we're partnering with IBM to create an industry-first, third party cloud that puts data resiliency, privacy and customer information safety needs at the forefront of decision making," he adds.

To support and guide the advancement of the IBM Cloud Policy Framework for Financial Services, IBM has also established the Financial Services Cloud Advisory Council. This council will bring in major financial institutions together to develop new ideas that will drive the strategic evolution of cloud security in this regulated industry. 

IBM is planning to launch the IBM Research Cloud Innovation Lab, from where clients and partners can test drive IBM’s newest innovations and exchange ideas that will contribute to more effective cloud solutions in future. 

IBM is also seeking to ensure that its cloud solutions provide a seamless user experience for users. Together with Adobe Systems, a like-minded partner, and Red Hat, which IBM acquired  in July 2019, IBM plans to deliver more personalized experiences across the customer journey to greater customer engagement, profitability and loyalty. Drawing on the latter’s proprietary technology, IBM hopes to develop a more flexible and bespoke user experience for users that is tailored to their specific compliance and security needs. 

Slated for launch in August 2020, IBM’s newly-formed Cloud Security and Compliance Center will also provide users with bespoke compliance solutions for their cloud networks. By defining their personal compliance profiles and managing controls, clients will be able to continuously monitor and enforce their security and compliance posture across their workloads throughout their organisations while collecting an accurate and extensive data trail for audit. 

With this secure and efficient cloud network system coming online, it is no surprise that the world’s top financial institutions are starting to come on board. BNP Paribas -- the eighth largest bank in the world -- has already signed on as the anchor client in Europe.

On the other hand, MUFG Bank -- the largest in Japan -- is looking to adopt IBM Cloud for Financial Services in Japan as part of its digital transformation. BNP Paribas in particular will help ensure that IBM’s first dedicated cloud in Europe is GDPR compliant and onboard additional European banking partners in future. 

"IBM Cloud for Financial Services helps us to further our transformation journey to the cloud and migrate mission critical workloads with confidence knowing that we can meet the regulatory standards established for the industry," says Bernard Gavgani, CIO, BNP Paribas.

"With major financial institutions and technology partners joining our financial services cloud, IBM is establishing confidence within the industry and around the globe that the IBM public cloud...is the enterprise cloud for all highly regulated industries," says Howard Boville, Senior Vice President, IBM Cloud. 

"IBM is creating a platform with the goal that financial services institutions can address their regulatory requirements, while creating a collaborative ecosystem that helps enable banks and their providers to confidently transact," he adds.