Financial Services

Business continuity planning and resilience in financial services during COVID-19 and beyond

As COVID-19 continues to affect our world, financial services organizations are working hard to ensure their services are available to all who need them. In many countries, financial services are “essential” and must remain available throughout COVID-19 for important reasons, including national economic security. Moreover, in the U.S. and many other countries, governments are leaning on financial services institutions to deliver additional citizen services, like disbursement of stimulus funds.

At the same time, security is as important as ever, especially as we see increased targeting of organizations with COVID-related scams. There are many more people using mobile devices and remote access to perform critical functions, and it’s important that security teams maintain defenses and focus on protecting remote workforces.

As the global financial services industry responds to COVID-19, many organizations will rely more readily on remote capabilities to meet rapidly changing government, consumer and security demands. Access to secure, reliable and flexible systems and applications will become increasingly essential for the foreseeable future.

Below are a few ways Google Cloud is supporting our financial services industry customers to ensure business continuity and reliability.

Helping financial services organizations disperse loans and other funds faster to people who need them

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aims to help numerous businesses facing unprecedented challenges keep their workers employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But lenders, servicers and processors are struggling to handle current intake volumes of PPP loan requests. 

To help lenders accelerate and automate processing loan applications, Google Cloud developed the PPP Lending AI Solution to help integrate Google’s AI-based document ingestion tools as part of lenders’ existing underwriting components and lending systems. 

The PPP Lending AI Solution has three components, each of which can be used individually or in combination with each other:

  • The Loan Processing Portal is a web-based application that lets lending agents and/or loan applicants create, submit, and view the status of their PPP loan application. 

  • The Document AI PPP Parser API enables lenders to use AI to extract structured information from PPP loan documents submitted by applicants. This component is available at no cost through June 30, 2020. 

  • Loan Analytics enables lenders to quickly onboard historical loan data, assist with the de-identification and anonymization of sensitive information, store information securely, and perform data analytics on this historical loan data. 

Leveraging artificial intelligence, we’ve created an end-to-end solution that speeds up the time-to-decision on loans and helps inform lenders’ liquidity analysis—from the initial application submission to the underwriting process and SBA validation. The solution is also equipped with Google’s security capabilities, enabling lenders to meet policy requirements and protect critical assets. 

Providing immediate burst capacity for banks, trading organizations, and insurers

Providing remote work capabilities and workstations for employees is increasingly necessary for many financial institutions. Extending secure and reliable access to applications and systems without incurring significant capital investments has become a key priority. 

Our Burst Capacity Solution provides additional compute and analytics capabilities that can handle some of the most compute-intensive workloads. Our solution can help financial institutions quickly glean more from data, virtualize productivity tools and scale up and out hundreds of cores and terabytes of memory. It leverages core AI components that can hear, see, and understand various forms of structured and unstructured data without requiring data science expertise. Just as importantly, it includes multiple layers of physical and logical protection, encrypts data at rest by default and has a dedicated team of Site Reliability Engineers (SRE) providing continuous monitoring 24x7x365.

Our goal is to ensure your infrastructure can handle significant traffic spikes and support the most demanding workloads, securely, efficiently and at scale. Here are some ways we have provided burst capacity for financial services firms:

  • Banks: As banks see increased demand in mobile and online banking applications, our Burst Capacity solution can help them predict credit and loan defaults and margin calls that are timely and accurate. Banks can also comply with liquidity stress testing and capital planning requirements, such as Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR).

  • Institutional and wholesale trading organizations: The Burst Capacity solution lets institutional and wholesale trading organizations calculate and simulate increased risks—such as market, value, counterparty, credit, liquidity and redemption—in order to identify market opportunities and mitigate losses.

  • Life and casualty insurers: The Burst Capacity solution can support an increased demand for online support, video brokerage and advisory services for policies and claims such as life insurance. It can also help insurers conduct more comprehensive actuarial modeling.

Burst Capacity solution provisioning takes approximately one week and is available to scale up when necessary. The solution’s pay-for-used-compute-seconds structure adds a level of flexibility.

Helping financial services organizations modernize their infrastructure

As financial services organizations adjust to new realities, modernizing IT structures will become more critical than ever. Cloud-based infrastructures offer more flexible computational capacity, and offloading certain workloads from the mainframe to new cloud architectures may support flexible traffic and access patterns, suggesting a new way of thinking about network design. Data and AI tools will be integral to the new model, too, as they can improve insights, risk management and cybersecurity. And finally, reliance on hosted data centers may diminish, suggesting more collaboration between firms and technology partners for business continuity. 

One way we’re helping financial institutions modernize their infrastructure is assisting with migrating mainframe workloads to the cloud as quickly as possible through mainframe app automation. While many mission-critical workloads run on mainframe architecture, moving to the cloud offers access to new technologies that foster faster innovation. Through Google Cloud’s acquisition of Cornerstone earlier this year, we’re now helping customers like Boa Vista by offering migration roadmap development, conversion flexibility and automated data migration. Cornerstone can help solve immediate mainframe modernization needs by offering automated migration tools to applications, without requiring COBOL and PL4 expertise. Although, firms will still need a more holistic mainframe modernization strategy in the post-COVID-19 world.

Another way we’re facilitating infrastructure modernization is through our managed, cloud-native platform Anthos. This application platform lets enterprises modernize how they develop, secure and operate hybrid cloud environments. By providing an agnostic, Kubernetes-based environment, customers can build once, and run anywhere, across clouds and on-premises. It’s already leveraged by leading financial institutions including DenizBank and KeyBank.

For “essential” industries such as financial services, having a reliable, resilient infrastructure has never been more important than now. 

Helping financial services firms make value connections in real time

Online platforms are key in supporting remote workers. For example, AI-based agents and video conferencing can be used to assist customers and deliver financial advice, in real time. AI and robotic process automation (RPA) can also bring efficiency to tasks such as loan modifications, mortgage refinancing, ratings actions and credit extensions, freeing valuable staff to focus more on complex tasks and ensuring timely customer support.

Meeting face-to-face is an important way financial services organizations serve their customers, now made more challenging as a result of COVID-19. To help support remote interactions, Google Meet enables effortless video conferencing with enterprise-grade security and reliability built on Google’s secure and reliable global infrastructure. Firms can safely cultivate client relationships through virtual advisory services, such as financial planning, and engage in video brokerage for policies such as life insurance. 

Finally, as financial services firms are handling extraordinary spikes in customer inquiries over digital channels, we developed the Contact Center AI Rapid Response Virtual Agent program to help automate simple customer service interactions so call center agents can focus on more complex cases. The program provides contact center customers with immediate self-service to address general questions and concerns about COVID-19, letting employees focus on providing higher value-added, more personalized responses to customers who need it.

Continuing to support financial services organizations in this uncertain time and beyond

We are committed to maintaining the health of the systems that power the financial services industry, and will do everything we can to empower our customers’ business continuity planning and resilience. We’ll continue to look for ways to leverage the latest technologies to improve and enhance the current situation.