Microsoft launches Cloud for Financial Services
The public preview of the new service will be available on 31 March 2021, featuring specific capabilities for retail banking as well as broader industry services. These will be housed on an integrated platform that includes Microsoft 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Power Platform.
Transforming finance with technology
Microsoft’s Cloud for Financial Services draws a definitive line in the sand for the industry: the last 12 months have thrown out old operating paradigms and shown the value of agile digital solutions.
Bill Borden, Corporate VP of Worldwide Financial Services, explained the holistic benefits of doing so:
“First and foremost, we meet you where you are with trust, multi-layered security, comprehensive compliance coverage, and scalability across the globe to deliver differentiated customer experiences, improve employee collaboration and productivity, manage risk, and modernise core systems.
“Applying cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI), Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services turns insight into action. Powered by a common data model and tools for professional developers and citizen developers alike, this cloud enables Microsoft’s partners and customers to easily add new value with extensions and additional solutions.”
The added value that the company’s new product can bring is apparently justified by its diversity; Microsoft lists the following as its core capability enhancements:
Companies struggling to survive in the post-COVID world are sure to find Microsoft’s optimised package an important lifeline. Indeed, as we found out in our article ‘’, even leading fintechs and digital natives have experienced a ‘wake up call’.
“Customers have also accelerated their adoption of digital technology, and the pace of this transformation will continue long after COVID-19,” noted Edgardo Savoy, Chief Technology Officer at TransferGo, who also expressed the sentiment that changes taking place now are likely irreversible.
“Can you imagine going back to the same manual processes, like queuing in banks to send money abroad, when the technology exists to do all of that without leaving your home?”
AI and the future of global trade
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming entrenched in our daily lives, but the technology is still surrounded by misconceptions and skepticism. Ask the public and they may jump to dystopian scenarios where robots have taken over the world.
While this makes for a good sci-fi blockbuster plot, the reality is different and more benign. Those products that Amazon suggested you buy? AI. That TV series you were recommended to watch on Netflix? AI. That self-driving Tesla car you crave to take for a spin? You guessed it: AI.
There is no single industry that is not being re-shaped by technology. Until recently, however, there was one noteworthy exception: global trade. Fortunately, that is slowly changing.
The mechanism that underpins global trade – trade finance – is an industry that remains largely paper-based and reliant on manual processes. This US$18tn a year industry is now being influenced by a new wave of technological innovation, including AI.
Exploring the potential of AI in Trade Finance
AI refers to the use of computer-aided systems to help people make decisions or make decisions for them. It relies on large volumes of data and models to make sense of information and draw intelligence.
In trade finance, AI is helpful in analysing quantitative data, and the repetitive nature of trade finance means that there is a lot of non-traditional data at our disposal.
This means that when trade finance providers need to assess the risks of funding a transaction, AI models can be a very efficient tool for data analysis and reveal intelligence and risks relating to small companies.
AI helps the industry move beyond traditional credit scoring processes, which are often outdated and remain reliant on historical accounting entries – a barrier that prevents small companies from accessing trade finance and has resulted in a $1.5tn global shortfall.
Overcoming the barriers
AI can tackle this shortfall by creating accurate credit scoring models. This can include a company’s payment history, measure the risks of funding a transaction, identify supply chain risks, and benchmark them against their peer group.
Trade finance providers can use this information to communicate effectively with their SME clients, ultimately helping establish better business relationships.
Towards a technological utopia?
The adoption of AI has the potential to do a lot of good in the industry, and the industry is in the early stages of radical transformation.
Advances are driven by fintechs as well as a willingness to change. The industry is working together to create new infrastructure for distributing trade finance assets to other investors in a transparent, standardised format.
The creation of infrastructure is possible due to improvements in technology and integrated across the trade ecosystem in cooperation with banks, insurers, and other industry participants.
It’s collaboration at its best: together, the industry is using technology to re-shape global trade as we know it.