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Top 10 financial services stories of 2020

Banks spend billions of pounds on technology and are always in the tech spotlight. They are currently in a race to become digital, with new tech-driven competitors eating, or more accurately nibbling, into their market share.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the intensity of the focus on banks as customer demands have changed overnight. The digital transformations that banks were going through have accelerated as a result. Customers expect more from banks than ever before because they see what the new tech-led banks can offer, and know the big banks can do the same.

This year saw Starling Bank, one of the pioneering challenger banks, become profitable. This was an important inflection point for the neo bank sector as Starling is the first of the UK’s cohort to turn a profit.

One thing is for certain – the big traditional banks need to be on their guard, and they are accelerating their digital transformations.

The move to the public cloud is perhaps the most obvious sign that banks are undertaking root-and-branch changes. IT suppliers such as Google and Amazon, recently talked about as potential competitors to banks, are today running the banks’ engines on their public clouds.

As a result of the fast pace of change and the need for a new skillset, banks are increasingly relying on suppliers to support them. Close relationships are developing, with the combination of the expertise of tech suppliers and banks key to success.

Traditional IT operations at banks are therefore changing. As a result, despite digital transformations, finance firms are actually selling off their IT departments to cut costs. Why have an expensive team keeping the lights on when a supplier can do that for less cost, leaving you to spend time to take part in more profitable IT pursuits.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 financial services IT stories of 2020:

1. Nationwide’s human expertise used to quickly build smart agent amid pandemic

Nationwide Building Society is the latest financial services company to quickly automate customer services related to Covid-19. 

2. Can banks solve money laundering puzzle through technology?

Banks face a huge challenge in identifying and stopping money laundering without interfering with police investigations.

3. Deutsche Bank commits to multi-year Google Cloud deal to accelerate move off-premise

In support of its multicloud ambitions, Deutsche Bank commits to in-house digital transformation with Google Cloud

4. Mastercard: Looks like a tech firm, acts like a tech firm, is a tech firm

Financial services giant finds itself in a prominent position as the volume of digital transactions increases.

5. What next for the now-profitable app-based Starling Bank?

Starling Bank is the first of the new breed of UK digital banks to make a profit, so where next? 

6. COO interview: Suresh Viswanathan, TSB

TSB’s chief operating officer is overseeing the bank’s operations as it strives to build the right kind of IT reputation.

7. Deutsche Bank to sell retail banking IT unit to TCS for €1

Deutsche Bank has agreed to sell its retail banking IT operation to one of its main IT suppliers for a token €1.

8. CIO interview: Simon Bateman, Allica Bank

Challenger bank has built its entire core banking system from scratch using the Azure public cloud and an API ecosystem.

9. Standard Chartered embarks on five-year personalised banking push with AWS

Financial services giant is forging even deeper ties with AWS as part of its push to roll out more personalised banking experiences to customers in 60 countries.

10. SB mobile banking problems a reminder of risk of reliance on digital

TSB customers have had problems accessing the mobile banking app just days after the bank announced it was closing 164 branches.

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