Last year, and the early weeks of 2021, have brought a multitude of new challenges for small businesses. They responded by demonstrating their versatility, creativity and tenacity—as a result we saw inspirational innovation, collaboration and empathy that continues to benefit society as a whole.
To see the community of IT innovators rise to the Covid-induced challenges, in the face of lockdown and isolation was extremely exciting. From the mass move to home working and schooling, to the connected communities of carers for those facing isolation, the agility of information technologists has been fundamental—and heart-warming.
Now, as we make our way out of crisis mode and tentatively begin to get back to ‘normal’ ways of working and living, we will see whether the lessons of 2020 will truly create lasting change for the better. In this context, how the global financial ecosystem has and will continue to respond to challenges created by the pandemic will be pivotal.
A pandemic of challenges
For financial services providers, the impact of the pandemic has been doubly challenging. Indirectly, as guarantors of the economic system, the last 12 months have tested financial resilience. And directly, as providers to businesses and individuals, going forward financial institutions will need to remain strong in the face of a potentially slow recovery, all while addressing the challenge of the transformation of the industry and the wider economy.
The challenges of 2020 have undoubtedly accelerated the pace of digital transformation—across many sectors. But the difference it has inspired in financial services has been phenomenal. It is now the responsibility of all those working in the sector to ensure that the positive changes made so far are not temporary. The rise of the digital corporate bank—mirroring the digitalisation already delivered to personal customers—is certain to be a big focus in 2021, and that is long overdue.
Having been able to provide a stable and trusted foundation during an unstable and uncertain period, banks and financial institutions have given businesses and individuals confidence and support when and where they need it. Now, as a new digital economy evolves, these same organisations can influence the shape of further change, building on the efficiencies identified in 2020 as well as tackling some of the previously unresolved issues such as data security.
The 2021 recovery
The continuing challenge is too great for one organisation to resolve. It requires a fundamental change that is only possible in partnership. Collaboration and transformation are already underway across a multitude of organisations within the industry. This will come into its own in 2021, but collaboration will be most effective where it is backed up by technology that enables agility.
Therefore, Banking Circle, moving to a fully clouded platform this year, is perfectly placed to support the financial institutions that have come to depend on us to underpin their services.
Collaboration will also see partners working together more closely for best-in-class solutions and outcomes. For example, think about artificial intelligence (AI). Data-driven decision making has already been proven to deliver efficient and effective results. In 2021, the application of AI is likely to extend across a wider range of business processes. Indeed, Banking Circle’s own use of AI as part of its anti-money laundering (AML) processes has strengthened the rigour delivered to banks and payments businesses.
There is no question that there is much that is still unclear about 2021; but what is crystal clear is that nothing is certain and, therefore, flexibility and agility underpinned by proven technology will be crucial.