When the UK entered lockdown, many businesses took advantage of technologies such as cloud-based business applications and hi-quality video conferencing software in order to retain some form of continuity during the crisis. For a number of reasons, this was not the case in the financial services industry.
For one, financial data, insurance claims and business accounts are simply too sensitive for employees within the industry to access and/or manage from consumer-grade home broadband. These networks not only lack the inherent security parameters of centralised enterprise networks, but a model based on multiple users accessing the same systems from a variety of network paths causes the potential number of security vulnerabilities to skyrocket.
The reliability of home broadband has been another major barrier to remote working in the financial services industry. With users now more reliant on online experiences or mobile apps to monitor their accounts, shop for products and services or enact financial transactions, financial institutions must ensure that IT systems have the resilience and high availability to aspire to zero-downtime models. This is not something which can currently be guaranteed over a consumer-grade broadband network, especially in households with multiple adults working from home or children out of school using high-demand streaming or gaming services.
It is for these reasons that most financial institutions have needed to keep branches open during this time. But with social distancing likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, how can financial institutions widen their connectivity footprint without compromising reliability, security or regulatory compliance? The answer lies in a fundamental shift in the ways in which financial institutions think about branch connectivity; one which is not bound by the restrictions of physical wireline connections, and instead leverages the flexibility and manageability of rapidly deployable gigabit-speed LTE networks.
Enterprise-grade branch wireless networks enable a number of use cases which will be transformative for financial services during the ongoing crisis:
- Footprint increase through temporary/pop-up sites: offices, banks and public agencies can easily expand their footprint (and therefore observe all-important social distancing guidelines) by launching temporary or ‘pop-up’ sites. The speed and bandwidth of LTE connectivity is now comparable to the fastest wired connections, while cloud-based management platforms enable rapid, zero-touch deployment and centralized management that eliminates the need for physical intervention from IT teams.
- Empowering more workers to work remotely: while regulation precludes many in the financial services sector from working from home, the security, reliability and manageability of cloud-provisioned LTE modems helps to overcome many of these barriers. By providing out-of-the-box connectivity, wireless SD-WAN functionality for link redundancy and traffic load balancing, and unified edge security with VPN, firewall, IPS/IDS and internet content filtering, LTE modems empower remote workers with plug-in-and-play enterprise-grade connectivity at home.
- Providing the agility to adapt to the challenges of the future: The operational and economic disruption caused by COVID-19 will have a huge impact on which products and services will be in high-demand from business and consumer clients alike. The agility and scalability of wireless WAN/LAN modems will empower financial services institutions to experiment with new technologies, such as 5G, IoT and AI, which will be key to opening new sources of revenue and delivering new value-added services as we move forward through the crisis.