The software giant parses the latest tech trends and delivers its prescription for the financial services industry.
Banks and financial services firms will be spending more in IT this year, according to Marcelo Marquez de la Garza, director of Worldwide Financial Services at Microsoft. Some investments will deliver a bigger bang for the buck, however.
Big data will loom large over IT spending decisions this year as banks seek to attract new customers and keep their current ones, according Marquez de la Garza.
"The mantra of 'predict and understand the customer' will be core to technology investments in 2015," he said in a Microsoft Business Matters blog post
. "A good portion of this trend is to enable banks the ability to find innovative ways to better use customer spending data for specialized promotions and services through the use of Big Data analytics and cloud computing."
He went on to predict that this year, big data solutions will go mainstream and "businesses will begin to fully make use of big data services in the cloud" in a bid to improve the bottom line by leveraging new predictive analytics tools.
In the wake of 2014's massive security breaches, Microsoft expects that banks and other financial institutions will learn their lessons and go on the offensive this year.
"Driving the need for the finance and banking sector to respond to cyber-attacks quickly is an abnormally high customer churn rate and cost per beach rate within the finance sector," said Microsoft's banking executive. This year's transition to the Europay MasterCard and Visa (EMV)
payment card standard, otherwise known as "chip and PIN," will help turn the tide against widespread financial fraud.
"Coming in October 2015, merchants using non-EMV compliant devices that choose to accept transactions made with EMV-compliant cards assume liability for transactions that are found to be fraudulent," he said. The shift to EMV will "drive a massive move to modern card technology and modern points-of-sale devices," opening up opportunities for providers of EMV-compliant solutions.
Naturally, Microsoft is already laying the groundwork.
Last month, the company joined its partners to show off secure point-of-sale (POS) products
at the National Retail Federation's Big Show conference in New York City. Solutions included the Azure-backed, EMV-compliant FreedomPay Commerce Platform, HP's ElitePad Retail Case and Panasonic's Toughpad FZ-R1, a ruggedized Windows tablet with a built-in PIN pad and near-field communication (NFC). Microsoft's own Surface tablet is getting in on the act
with an assortment of card readers and POS peripherals.
Finally, Microsoft sees opportunities to capitalize on customer-facing IT, beyond just mobile banking.
"Although digital banking is closely tied to mobile banking, the digital aspect of banking encompasses much more," wrote Marquez de la Garza. "The development of interactive interfaces that improve user-experiences and better merge the real and the virtual aspects of banking are an area of potential further development in 2015." In addition, he sees room for more social media and collaboration technologies, as a means to enhance customer and employee interactions.