The rapidly evolving financial services technology landscape is difficult to follow for large commercial banks, smaller regional banks, and credit unions alike. No financial services organization is immune to the ever-changing regulations and fast-paced innovations happening with technology. In addition to maintaining security and compliance, you also must navigate the expectations of consumers and customers to have the latest technology, with the tightest security. It’s a lot to balance.
That’s why, instead of adding to the overwhelm, we’ve created a list of the new technologies that you should consider in 2024. Take a look and consider which of these innovations may benefit your organization and your customers. Not everything will be a good fit for you, but some of it might help improve your systems, customer experience, or both.
Let’s dive in.
[ This article is part of our Guide to Proactive IT Strategy. ]
Understanding the Latest Technology Trends
First, let’s align on some definitions.
Account-to-Account or A2A payments may also be referred to as Me-to-Me banking. This is most commonly when a customer is transferring funds in real time from one of their accounts to another. This can also apply to a direct debit to pay a utility bill, for example, and to transfer funds to and from a digital wallet.
Whether this is a push or pull payment, the advantage of using an A2A payment is that an intermediary or card isn’t required for processing. Funds are instantly available in another account or a brokerage account.
Digital currencies include cryptocurrencies as well as any other money that’s stored, managed or exchanged on a computer system, especially over the internet. We’ve seen a broadening adoption of digital currencies by major financial institutions in 2023.
Digital identities serve as a way to prove your identity much like a passport or ID card. Financial institutions use a combination of personal attributes, biometric data, and other unique markers to verify an individual’s identity.
Biometric Payments enable customers to complete in-store transactions – phone-free, private, secure, fast, and simple – by scanning their palm or face. J.P. Morgan piloted their biometric payment process in 2023 with plans for a wider rollout to US merchants in 2024.
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) for businesses is a flexible payment system, allowing customers to choose an initial payment and then complete the remainder of their purchase at interest-free intervals over a fixed period.
Now, the implications of these trends for credit unions and small regional banks are varied and nuanced. While each of these have a list of customer experience advantages including ease of use, faster payment processing, innovative technology, and more, there is serious potential for security risks if these new approaches are implemented without a robust security posture. The risks to individual and corporation’s financial data and personal data should be seriously evaluated and protected against.
Technology Evaluation Checklist
When going through the selection process of these new technologies, you and your organization must carefully consider the implications of these decisions. Here is a simple checklist that you can incorporate into your process.
- Identify and map all current technology in use.
- Assess the current status of each tool, noting number of licenses and users.
- Audit network devices.
- Identify latest security awareness training.
Once you’ve determined that your organization’s foundation is ready to incorporate new technology, you’ll want to consider the following about the new tools:
- Identify use cases and potential need for multiple licences across multiple departments.
- Understand the scalability of this tool – can it grow as your business grows?
- Understand the security requirements of the tool and what network, hardware, and software security you need to have in place before integrating.
- Understand the compliance requirements and implications. Does this new software bring in new data sets that require adherence to new regulatory requirements?
Whenever you are considering new technologies, you must weigh and prioritize the business requirements with customer and user expectations. Sometimes an internal team is advocating for a new software application to help with one of their processes, but the risk to customer data is too great and you may choose to go a different direction to achieve the same goal but with a slightly different approach.
The Software Purchasing Process
When purchasing new software solutions, it’s important to take a systematic approach.
Step 1: Complete your due diligence, weighing all alternatives in an Analysis of Alternatives (AOA)
- Can this outcome be achieved by your existing technology?
- Can this outcome be achieved by developing new operational processes?
- Do you need to create your own technology or is buying software “off the shelf” an option?
- Does your “off the shelf” solution need a Value Added Reseller (VAR) to help make the most out of your implementation?
Step 2: Evaluate your vendors, carefully considering their benefits and costs, as well as their own security posture. If they require compromises in areas that you are not comfortable compromising in, that’s a very easy way to remove them from your consideration process.
- Is this organization working with any of your competitors? Is that a problem or can their experience be leveraged for your benefit?
- Does this company prioritize security in a way that aligns to your priorities? Might they submit to a 3rd party vendor security assessment?
- Are there past clients that you can verify their credentials and experience with?
Step 3: Weigh the costs and benefits. Your purchasing team will likely not let you get away with skipping this step.
- What are the upfront costs?
- How much down-time will you experience during implementation and go live?
- How much training do your employees need to undergo?
- What is the opportunity cost of the implementation downtime and training?
Balancing Security with Innovation
You will likely experience tension when considering adopting cutting-edge technology and how to balance security. While some of these are problems to solve, there may be elements that are simply tensions to manage. Here is a list of best practices that we recommend to our clients:
- Make sure you and your team are aligned on the risks you’re willing to take and that you don’t compromise on those.
- Prioritize employee training. This is not a one-time event. This should be an ongoing, continuous process of learning and refining.
- Carefully evaluate the new technology and ensure it benefits your team, your customers, and your bottom line. Ask yourself if you are potentially jumping on a trend bandwagon.
Migrating to New Technology
After you’ve selected your new technology and mapped out all of the security requirements, your next step is migrating to the new platform. To help everyone involved remain as productive and as sane as possible, a phased approach is best.
Consider the busy times of your month and don’t plan your migration for that time. Make sure that the impact of the transition will be as minimal as possible, disrupting the fewest team members and processes at any given time.
Prioritize staff training and if you’re not leveraging a VAR, consider appointing a few technology advocates to receive additional training so they can serve as the in-house experts.
And don’t forget to plan for contingencies. There will always be hiccups in any migration, so give your team margin in the schedule and any other areas that you could foresee some speed bumps.
Proactive IT Solutions for a Smooth Transition
A credit union or regional bank in a technology transition would be wise to take a proactive approach to their IT solutions. Much like we outlined in the sections above, starting with the outcomes and non-negotiables will help you make the best decision for your organization.
That’s why InfoSystems doesn’t compromise – we believe that technology that is not managed proactively is a bigger threat to harm a business than a toolset to help it. Without a proactive approach, your new technology is likely to be a massive risk to your entire organization with the potential to negatively impact your customers and even their client’s data.
When you work with InfoSystems, we’ll help you with:
- Network monitoring
- Permissions/access control
- Multi-factor authentication
- Anti-virus & malware protection
- Data backups & protection
- Email defense
- Password policies
- Immutable copies
- Cloud replication
- Inventory management
- Privileged account management
- Cloud security
- Log auditing and alerts
- End user training
- And more…
Making informed decisions about leveraging new technology doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Following the best practices and processes shared above will help you take the time and consideration needed for a great purchase decision that benefits your business for the long term. And if you don’t have someone on your team to help proactively manage your technology – both existing and transitioning to new technology, it’s time to call InfoSystems.
[ This article is part of our Guide to Proactive IT Strategy. ]
InfoSystems is an IBM Platinum Partner
Meet with one of our IBM specialists to ask questions and talk about IBM Storage, IBM Security, IBM Watson, and other premier solutions from IBM.