Looking back to 30 years ago, it is strange to think apps and websites for banks didn't exist. How, then, did millions of banking customers gain access to their accounts? How did people transfer funds? How long did it take people to send friends and family money?
Most of this was either through telephone banking, in-branch, or in cash. But as we increasingly move towards a cashless society -- when was the last time you paid for something in a supermarket with cash? -- the way we spend and manage our money is changing.
The cloud has enabled a whole generation of online banking. Helping you access your money on the go and fast. And now with more and more banks becoming exclusively online it's no wonder we have a thirst for more technology to help us.
This tech sector even has a name: "Fintech," a portmanteau of "financial" and "technology." It's an area the UK, and especially London, is particularly strong in, because of the talent and the services available here that allows fintech to thrive and grow at a pace faster than almost any other tech sector in tech hubs around the world. (See Why is London a Global Leader in Fintech?.)
A short history lesson
In 1995, the Internet became the first technology to impact banks in a huge way by making it so customers could access their accounts through online banking, instead of by telephone or in-branch. Subsequently, 2003 marked the first time online transactions exceeded in-branch transactions.
Fast forward to today and there's a plethora of ways to bank, whether it's through dedicated apps from any number of banks, or through third-party companies such as PayPal or Stripe. With the entrance of digital banks such as Monzo or Starling, the next wave of banking is now upon us as customers use apps to manage money.
Benefits of the cloud to financial services
Monzo is a 'digital-only' bank, with no branches or customer support over the phone. (Image: Monzo)
Businesses use many pieces of software to pay suppliers and deal with payroll. These are key functions of running a business, and keeping this data is no easy task. Theoretically, the cloud provides a safe environment for your data to be stored, although without the proper security and encryption, it's still possible for attackers to make off with this data. On the whole, though, it's clear that more and more traditional businesses, both in finance and in other industries, have accepted that their data is probably safer in a cloud facility, than on-site and on servers.
Hackers move fast, so it's important security researchers and developers make improvements to cloud systems as quickly as they can, providing peace of mind to the millions of customers worldwide who use cloud services from companies such as Amazon and Google. This is especially important in fintech, where customers' money and savings are at stake, as well as personal data. Therefore, deploying and upgrading changes fast is key to keeping the finance industry afloat.
Banking technology has not only improved the services that we receive from banks, but it has created a channel for businesses to scale their services globally.
Today in banking and finance
The cloud is used to store all the information that we use on a day-to-day basis, whether we're paying for a coffee or we're buying a part for our cars, everything we spend on our card is data sent to our accounts. Whilst we're accessing this information within a matter of seconds, there's servers somewhere updating, uploading and securing our data, and behind those is the power of the cloud.
With phones that can scan fingerprints, we can access our money and pay others in seconds. Chatbots such as Cleo or Plum let us check in on our money or help us save for the future. What will be the next big thing in this financial services revolution?
Maria McSorley, digital content marketer, Cloud & DevOps World