The term “Cloud Computing” refers to Internet-based computing that provides on-demand shared computer processing resources and data to other computers and devices. It enables institutions to focus on their core businesses while accessing computing resources from a service provider over their corporate internet connection. Though many businesses are harnessing the use of Cloud resources, financial institutions have been rather slower at this as a result of concerns about the security of customers’ information and assurance of compliance and performance standards. However, though the process might be slower for sensitive data, Core Banking Systems are mostly modular and offer a variety of services hence allowing the institutions to migrate their less critical data, and take time to monitor Cloud performance before migrating more critical data. By leveraging the Cloud, financial institutions are able to transform their business processes and grow in new sectors and regions without incurring huge costs for establishing a physical presence; new markets and services for the customers can easily be created with opportunities to develop new business models and hence increase profitability and growth of the institution. The image below shows a simple illustration of how little invested will be needed in the corporate network since all services will run in the Cloud.
Microfinance Institutions can consume hosted resources over the internet instead of incurring the cost of setting up and managing in-house software, platforms, and infrastructure, but rather opt to utilize Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Regardless of the choice, they are able to get their systems up and running much faster, with improved manageability and regular maintenance from a team of experts, and ability to demand as much as they need, with little or no effort required for scaling their services.
The concept of public, private and hybrid Cloud computing can be used to decide which approach best suits the institution at a particular point in the migration cycle. Public Clouds are owned and operated by companies that offer access to Cloud resources over a public network hence the institutions that choose this option do not need to purchase any hardware, software, or supporting infrastructure, but simply utilize what is owned and managed by the Cloud service provider; a private Cloud is infrastructure operated solely for a single institution and may be managed internally or by a third party, thus can also be hosted either internally at the institution or externally at the service provider’s location. Private Clouds are able to take advantage of the efficiency of the Cloud while allowing the institutions to have more control over the resources they utilize; a hybrid Cloud thus utilizes resources from a private Cloud in combination with resources from public Cloud services.
The entire Core Banking System Software can be offered as-a-Service and implemented without much investment from the MFIs, this implies that financial investment can be directed to other areas where they are most needed for the primary operations of the microfinance institution. The ability to innovate becomes much easier as the MFIs will not need to worry about the required systems, all they need to do is decide requirements that will add value to the already existing services for their customers. MFIs in the industry may want to consider migrating to the Cloud to boost business opportunities; they are also likely to get more than what they asked for since the service provider already has a collection of resources to serve the vast customer base that demands these services. All the three modules provided by finance (banking, Business Intelligence and Mobile Banking) can be deployed in the cloud.