From the September 2011 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

The Cloud Invasion

As software as a service proliferates, the fortress mentality succumbs to the drive for efficiency despite security breaches.

The corporate firewall isn’t what it used to be. The drive for efficiency and the influence of social media are trumping security concerns as financial transactions and communications move to the Internet and mobile devices. The cloud is replacing the fortress, in spite of ongoing security breaches that are embarrassing and sometimes expensive. Treasury technology is becoming convenient. The swell of software as a service (SaaS), now often associated with cloud computing, has become a tidal wave.

“Over 95% of our new business is SaaS,” says Orazio Pater, COO of GTreasury, a Chicago-based treasury workstation provider. “For a while, the largest companies still wanted installed software, but we don’t see much of that any more. The only on-site installations now are at companies that have legal or regulatory reasons for needing total control. It’s hard to justify the cost of an installed system.”

According to Bullock, Styron now has available FX hedging that includes barrier and average rate options and non-deliverable forwards. The system will support fixed, floating, index-linked and zero-coupon-rate loans and deposits, as well as interest-rate swaps. Styron will use the IT2 Smart Cash Modeler for forecasting as well as multilateral netting, cash concentration and integrated bank account administration. Front office risk-management activity will include hedge accounting, credit risk management, scenario analysis and value at risk (VaR). Styron subs can use the IT2 NET Web option for remote operations.

If Styron’s current technology is conveniently accessible, highly automated and firewall-porous, tomorrow’s tech will be even more so if a group of innovators at Deutsche Bank have it right. They fervently believe treasury is ready to embrace the technology that has swept through the consumer world of social media and mobile devices. Bank thought leaders recruited a stable of software designers from leading companies and created a software development hub in Research Triangle Park, N.C., led by Kristopher Tyra, head of user experience development for group technology, who considers himself a software entrepreneur, not a banker.

“Banks tend to cluster around a leader in a field, in this case Trusteer,” says Maggie Scarborough, managing director of FinServ Strategies in Baltimore. “When cybercriminals, who are now organized, see a leader, they attack.” The weak spot is the use of commercial, off-the-shelf browsers for sensitive financial applications, Scarborough says. Countermeasures include as much straight-through processing as possible to minimize browser use and adopting hardened browsers, which are starting to appear, for vulnerable financial applications, she says.

Bob Blair, executive director of J.P. Morgan Treasury Services, says the bank will continue to use commercial browsers as one form of communication.

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