Customer experience is a major market driver and competitive advantage in the banking industry, and new customer-centric initiatives must provide a differentiated and seamless experience for fast, easy, and full access from anywhere, at anytime, and on their own device. Bfsinxt.com spoke with Vishak Raman, Vice President of Sales, India, SAARC and Southeast Asia at Fortinet on how security operations and strategies are a true enabler and driver of innovation and business initiatives for banks. Edited Excerpts:
How can banks capitalize on trust when driving customer-first strategies, and make it a true competitive differentiator?
A customer-centric banking world with seamless experiences is built on trust. Banks are custodians not only of customers’ investments and savings, but also of critical assets like their personal identifiable information (PII). As such, security plays a crucial role in maintaining trust by protecting banks’ customer-first strategies. The core priorities for financial institutions are: Trust, Security, and Resilience.
Customer trust in banking is difficult to earn and easy to lose, making customer acquisition and retention no easy feat. Digital natives such as financial technology (fintech) organizations, challenger banks, and Big Tech claim to simplify the customer experience and offer innovative services to lure customers.
Banks that demonstrate resiliency by investing in effective technologies and processes inspire trust. Trust in banking comes down to a combination of culture, process, and technology. Banks that are resilient in these three areas can improve their brand and reputation, which in turn cultivates trust.
How important is Security in Empowering Trust?
Technology plays a big role in trust because when it doesn’t work or is not innovative enough, the customer experience is affected. For example, if a bank website goes down or the organization is the target of a cyberattack, customers are affected and trust is lost. Good technology is technology you don’t notice because it just works. When banks invest in technology to modernize infrastructure or processes, remove friction from the customer experience, and provide the tailored services customers want, trust increases.
Cultivating trust and building a successful customer-centric banking strategy requires a secure foundation. In the current marketplace, a security-by-design approach is a strategic investment that brings the most bang for the buck, and which can ensure that banks remain competitive. This involves integrating security at the beginning of the decision-making process of every business initiative.
What can financial organizations do about cybersecurity?
To start, security needs to be woven into transformation efforts to ensure that innovation and transformation are conducted securely. For this to work, security must be included from a project and inception, not as a bolt-on after a project and its services are launched.
55% of European financial organizations already use some form of zero-trust strategy for their authorization and authentication. Zero-trust shifts the traditional paradigm from implicit trust for users and resources inside a static, network-based perimeter to an authentication model that focuses on users, assets, and resources. Zero-trust requires authentication and authorization to be performed every time access is granted to a specific resource.
While people are an organization’s most critical asset, they are also the primary source for data breaches and network compromise. Organizations must be prepared for a loss of control if their workforce is not educated on cyber awareness. Some large financial organizations have created partnerships with e-learning portals and vendors to provide tailored courses using nudges and financial instruments to reskill the workforce into new technologies. Similarly, financial organizations must plan to mitigate the rampant cybersecurity skills shortage, which will impact 90% of organizations by 2025, resulting in delays to the transformational journey.
What kind of solutions can provide innovative security capabilities that reduce the banks
Security is a key element that underpins trust because banks need to protect the data and applications that make good customer experiences possible. Effective security helps ensure that the technology will deliver as expected and protect the integrity of critical data. Converging security and the network is more than just a marketing catchphrase. A Security- driven Networking strategy places security in front and center of every network decision, ensuring that nothing in the network ever changes without appropriate protections in place.
But that’s just the start. True convergence also means that security and the network teams work together to address critical issues they couldn’t solve independently. Automatically segmenting and monitoring IoT devices, maintaining zero trust policies for accessing the network or applications, or consistently enforcing policies for applications and workflows that flow across and between multiple clouds and physical network environments require network and security to work together as a unified solution.
No discussion about convergence would be complete without addressing the issue of consolidation. Banks need to understand the challenges of—and limitations imposed by—having too many disparate point security products. Today’s cybercriminals have become experts at locating and exploiting security gaps that arise when IT teams cannot quickly and easily correlate threat intelligence to detect malicious activity or, worse, fail to launch a timely, coordinated response simply because there are too many consoles to monitor.