How Microsoft is putting data and AI at the center of financial services industry transformation

By Alysa Taylor – Corporate Vice President, Business Applications & Industry

The financial services industry is at an inflection point. Fintechs and challengers are entering rapidly as regulatory requirements are increasing. Consumers are expecting highly personalized experiences while security threats are evolving. The challenges for banks, insurers, payments tech providers and others are mounting high.

Transforming these challenges into business opportunities is an imperative for financial services firms and central to success. Many ambitious digital leaders are already discussing their transformation journey, or are well on the way. As a result, our teams are having new conversations, from ‘how can new cloud-enabled business models keep me competitive?’ to ‘help me optimize my data estate’ to ‘prove to me you’re a trusted partner who won’t undercut my business’.

At Microsoft, we’re at the intersection of these conversations in the financial services industry. We are laser-focused on building the best cloud for business, helping financial firms big and small enable intelligent industry transformation with data and artificial intelligence (AI). We’re doing so knowing that security, resiliency and regulatory compliance are vital, and we’re constantly thinking about how we can help institutions make the transition to modern innovations while still taking advantage of legacy investments.

With this in mind, I’d like to share Microsoft technology, partner solutions and industry contributions designed to help financial services businesses compete, innovate and succeed in the future. Here at Sibos 2018 in Sydney, Australia, and at the upcoming Money2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada, we will be on the ground showcasing this work and discussing how putting data and AI at the center of transformation is a formula for success.

New partnerships with the industry’s digital leaders

Building the leading cloud for financial services does not happen in a vacuum. We are proud to work side-by-side with transformational industry leaders who tell us the Microsoft business model aligns to their future. We are in the business of partnership and empowerment, not in the business of disintermediating financial services firms from their customers. This type of partnership is cleanly aligned to our company mission and something we stand by firmly.

Microsoft has announced a collaboration with SWIFT, the leader in secure financial messaging services. Together, we’re proving out a Microsoft Azure cloud-based solution for payments transfers conducted on the SWIFT network. Our intent is to enable the deployment of familiar SWIFT messaging solutions in the cloud, enabling faster, more cost effective, efficient and secure operations for banks, corporates and ecosystem technology providers.

Microsoft is also working with Interswitch, an impressive payments and fintech innovator in Africa.Interswitch is working with banks like GT, UBA and Zenith to bridge the supply chain financing gap between an existing corporate-focused infrastructure and a small entrepreneurial economy emerging in the region. Partnering with large banks and corporates in Nigeria, Interswitch has built a bank guarantee service on Azure that extends the reach of the banking system to non-traditional players, empowering bank lenders, corporate suppliers, and borrowers of all sizes to manage their supply-chain financing under objective terms and complete transparency.

New innovations for a data- and AI-powered future

The Microsoft Cloud – including Dynamics 365, Azure and Microsoft 365 – is already home to modern technology that industry-leading firms use to power their business today, including real-time payments infrastructure, seamless customer experience apps, risk management grids and fraud prevention tech. With more than $1 billion invested per year in security, a growing industry-leading data center footprint and an unmatched cloud regulatory compliance portfolio, we are fully vested in the financial services industry’s future.

Underscored by these investments, recent innovation across the Microsoft Cloud portfolio aims to make our platforms even more secure, efficient and intelligent, so together we unlock the power of data and AI for success.

  • Customer Lockbox for Microsoft Azure: Customer Lockbox for Microsoft Azure helps customers control and audit a Microsoft support engineer’s access to compute workloads on Azure that may contain customer data while resolving a support issue. Microsoft support does not have standing access to service operations. In some rare scenarios, to resolve a support issue, just-in-time access with limited and time bound authorization can be provided to Microsoft support engineers. Customer Lockbox helps ensure that Microsoft support engineers do not access customers’ content in the Azure portal without the customer’s explicit approval. It also helps improve the existing support ticket workflow by expediting the customer’s approval process. This capability enables customers to have more granular control, better visibility and enhanced audit over Microsoft’s support process.
  • Azure Confidential Computing: Azure Confidential Computing offers the possibility to keep data safe by isolating it while it is processed – a common method of data theft. Azure is the first cloud service to provide a secure platform for protecting the confidentiality and integrity of data in use using trusted execution environments (TEEs), and we’re rolling out a new family of virtual machines to ensure confidential computing is available to all Azure customers.
  • Microsoft Compliance Manager: Compliance Manager is a workflow-based risk assessment tool designed to help manage regulatory compliance within the shared responsibility model of the cloud. Compliance Manager provides a dashboard view of standards and regulations and assessments that enables organizations to track, assign and verify regulatory compliance activities related to Microsoft Professional Services and Microsoft cloud services, such as Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Azure.
  • Microsoft Proposal Manager: Proposal Manager is a solution built on top of the Microsoft 365 platform that takes advantage of its advanced features and functions, together with custom apps, to deliver a streamlined corporate lending loan origination process. With Proposal Manager, corporate banks can easily streamline and automate the corporate lending process, create more effective proposals, and collaborate across the enterprise confidentially – all while taking advantage of the familiar, connected, accessible and intelligent experience in Microsoft 365.
  • AI in Excel: Excel is a powerful tool used by business leaders today. New AI-powered improvements in data handling and performance are making Excel even more valuable. New capabilities like Ideas, new data types, Insert Data from Picture and dynamics arrays are examples of how Microsoft is bringing AI into the tools business leaders use every day.

Bringing the leading ecosystem solutions to Microsoft platforms

The financial services technology landscape is an ecosystem of innovative players. Solution providers that are core to many financial institutions today are also enabling intelligent industry transformation with data and AI, and they’re choosing Microsoft platforms to power their technologies. These solutions are helping firms do things like grow retail banking business with next-best-action software, spot and fight financial crime with regtech, and improve customer relationships with multichannel customer experience solutions.

Today, our breadth of intelligent partner solutions is growing with new real-time payments infrastructure and blockchain-based trade finance tools, among existing tools for security, productivity and process optimization.

  • Volante: Volante’s well established VolPay Suite of payments processing products, today launched VolPay-as-a-Service on Azure with its first customer bank. The service provides banks with a managed service for end-to-end processing payments in the cloud, from capture through clearing. FIMBank Malta will be the first bank worldwide to deploy Volante’s Volpay-as-a-Service, an important step forward for cloud-based payments infrastructure.
  • TradeIX: TradeIX and R3 are working with 11 global banks to automate trade finance products under the Marco Polo initiative, which focuses on receivables discounting and payment commitments supported by blockchain-based software, Corda. For corporates looking to collateralize receivables, the process of submitting and financing invoices requires tremendous manual effort and reconciliation across counterparties. With Marco Polo and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, corporates can automate and attest receivables in real time and banks can apply their rules and eligibility logic, providing all parties with an accurate view of present and future cash flow.
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