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The pandemic cemented the value of digitization and digital channels in the financial services industry—and created new expectations with customers and employees. In talking with our customers every day, financial services organizations have increased focus on how to accelerate their digital agendas to better serve their clients and empower employees, while at the same time continuing to reduce the costs of running their businesses.

This has put a strong emphasis on the use of cloud technologies and services, time to value, and cost reduction all in parallel. And when it comes to digital tools and the cloud, our customers have been clear that they need cloud services tailored to their specific needs and challenges.

That’s why I’m thrilled to share that Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services will be generally available beginning November 1, 2021. This industry-specific cloud introduces new capabilities that add to our existing public cloud offerings and in combination truly unlock the power and value of the Microsoft Cloud to help innovate for responsible and sustainable growth Our industry cloud has a foundation of privacy, security, and regulatory compliance across Microsoft and our partner ecosystem, and it is built on an industry data model that enables interoperability and innovation. In addition, we are releasing new capabilities to help enable retail banks to enhance customer and employee experiences as well as drive loyalty and customer growth.

We are proud to share that Navy Federal Credit Union and Virgin Money UK are among the first to explore the new capabilities to help their customers and employees achieve what is important to them. Navy Federal Credit Union and Virgin Money UK are part of a group of institutions partnering with us in preview to help shape future capabilities to come.

“At Virgin Money UK we are always looking at ways to innovate and deliver a world class, digital customer experience. We see Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services accelerating that journey of digitizing our customer experience, while enabling us to scale and grow. Microsoft’s technologies have a broad range of applications and meaningful insights; whether it is to help advise customers on their financial plans or servicing their needs under their existing portfolio of products. This transformation will also support our efforts to enhance our employee experience, empowering our frontline colleagues to deliver the best heartfelt service for our customers, working together to make money simpler and easier. ” — Fraser Ingram, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Virgin Money UK.

A launchpad for innovation and growth

We want to ensure that every organization has the digital capability required to succeed going forward and are committed to helping our financial services customers improve time to value, reduce costs, increase agility, and accelerate innovation for sustainable growth.

Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services integrates cloud services across the depth of our offerings—Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Power Platform—underpinned by an industry data model, with new capabilities and customization unique to the financial services industry. It was also designed for even the most complex control frameworks and regulatory requirements facing the industry, with our multi-layered security, comprehensive compliance, and trust commitments built-in.

All this helps enable financial institutions and our industry partners to unlock unprecedented value. Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services helps optimize business processes through integrated collaboration and omnichannel communications capabilities and enhances the customer experience through comprehensive customer insights and personalized customer interactions. Additionally, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services helps accelerate products to market, removes data silos to turn insights into action, and defends against fraud. It offers the flexibility to adopt the capabilities in a modularized fashion.

Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services’ industry data model also enables Microsoft’s partners and customers to extend the value of the platform with additional solutions. These capabilities help organizations align to business and operational needs and deploy quickly to accelerate time to value.

Now, let me share a closer look at the capabilities for retail banking that will be available on November 1, 2021, and more on how our ecosystem of partners is key to our Cloud’s value equation.

Enhancing customer and employee experiences

Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services is designed to address critical needs of retail banking by creating differentiated customer experiences consumers now expect and empowering employees through teamwork.

Eighty-one percent of consumers said easy access and flexible banking will motivate them to switch to a new-age financial provider, according to Capgemini’s World Retail Banking Report 2021. As customers continue to engage digitally, continued focus to ensure data connectivity, interoperability of ecosystems, and actionable insights are key to retaining customers and winning over new ones.

Additionally, employees need to have the right tools as well as change management in processes to adapt to the current environment to service customers and support each other and their respected departments. Armed with customer insights and processes that offer automation, collaboration, and communications, employees can excel in their roles and are given a better opportunity to accomplish their goals. Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services’ capabilities in this area include:

  • Unified customer profile: Helps financial services organizations tailor customer experiences through a 360-degree view of the customer by bringing together financial, behavioral, and demographic data.
  • Customer onboarding: Provides customers with easy access loan apps and self-service tools, helping streamline the loan process to enhance customer experience and loyalty while increasing organizational and employee productivity.
  • Banking customer engagement: Helps personalize customer interaction with financial understanding to engage with customers on their preferred channel in a meaningful way, while intelligently managing their journeys across channels, to reduce churn and time to resolution.
  • Collaboration manager: Enables automation and collaboration across front and back office. Helps improve business-to-consumer communications to accelerate lending processes, minimize errors, and enhance customer experience.

Combatting financial crime

While total combined fraud losses climbed to $56 billion in 2020, identity fraud scams accounted for $43 billion of that cost, per Javelin Strategy & Research. With a vast number of transactions and more customers online than ever, there is a need to analyze data and implement the unique nature of an organization’s business. Addressing fraud not only protects customers but also safeguards an organization’s reputation and protects from regulatory risk. Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services’ capabilities in this area include:

  • Account protection: Helps financial institutions protect their reputation at the digital identity account layer by helping to identify and prevent fraud at account creation and login. This helps protect against bot attacks, fake account creation, account takeover, and fraudulent account access.
  • Purchase protection: Helps protect the merchant services arms of financial institutions and merchants from online purchase fraud using advanced adaptive AI, reducing false positives and optimizing acceptance rates.

Managing security and compliance

Global and regional regulatory compliance requirements continue to expand, and most organizations are facing difficulties to keep up with increasing requirements and higher levels of scrutiny being applied by financial services regulators. Cybercrime has also increased dramatically during the pandemic—in the United States, for example, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center found cybercrime complaints hiked by 100 percent over a 14-month period—with attacks becoming more sophisticated. Financial services organizations that use the latest technologies to manage their overall security and compliance posture will find themselves in a stronger position to address these risk management and compliance challenges in a rapidly changing world. Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services’ capabilities in this area include:

  • Risk assurance and support: A premium white-glove service provided by a dedicated team of engineering subject matter experts that support internal and external risk, audit, and compliance teams in addressing financial services regulatory compliance, cybersecurity, and privacy.
  • Regulatory compliance assessments: Helps organizations manage compliance requirements with greater ease and convenience from taking inventory of data protection risks to managing the complexities of implementing controls, staying current with regulations and certifications, and reporting to auditors.

These new capabilities coupled with our existing foundational capabilities—such as our zero-standing access, our global data center footprint with over 60 announced regions, and our commitment to SSAE SOC 2 certifications—will help organizations address security and compliance challenges more effectively.

Integrating the power of partnership

The power of Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services doesn’t stop with our first-party technologies and solutions. Our partners are instrumental to its success and scalability. We’re very pleased to welcome services partners Accenture, Avanade, Avtex, Capgemini, EY, Publicis Sapient, KPMG, PwC, and ISV partners Backbase, BaseCap, Finastra, Mortgage365, VeriPark, and Zafin, who are joining us for Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services’ November 1, 2021, launch.

Microsoft’s growing ecosystem of partners extends the robust capabilities of Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services. Our partners are dedicated to better serving customers by helping provide more integrated solutions that reduce risk across the ecosystem, identify new opportunities for innovation, and decrease time to market.

Microsoft’s industry data model further allows partners to extend and connect to our solutions by amplifying cloud capabilities and enabling a frictionless ecosystem for shared customers. Zafin is one of our first partners to join us on this journey to build an industry data model to accelerate innovation. Zafin CEO Al Karim Somji shares his perspective:

“To remain competitive in a rapidly evolving banking landscape, financial institutions are focused on core modernization and digital transformation. Our award-winning SaaS product and pricing platform, together with Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, simplifies the core by externalizing product and pricing, enabling the delivery of more personalized banking experiences for customers. Together, Zafin and Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services are empowering bank employees with actionable insights by enabling the unified customer profile to deliver product and package recommendations driven by the industry data model, helping ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, and accelerating their digital transformation strategies.”

I would like to thank the financial services organizations, Microsoft partners, and other industry leaders who helped provide impactful guidance on how we can best help the industry in its digital path forward. We believe Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services has the foundation needed to help financial institutions accelerate innovation for responsible growth, and it offers the right set of capabilities for retail banking to meet their most pressing needs for enhancing customer and employee experiences, combatting financial crime, and managing security and compliance.

We would love to learn more from you about where we can partner to continue to navigate the present and future. Please join us at the Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services Digital Forum, October 26, 2021, where we will share additional details and show you the capabilities in action.

To learn more about Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, visit our website.