Minor confession: At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, where I ran a panel on the promise of digital payment systems, I found my thoughts drifting to a staple of my playlist: Bart Howard's classic, "Fly Me to the Moon." But instead of "Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars," I devised my own lyric in deference to the day's agenda:
"Fly me to the cloud and let me pay my auto loan!"
I have mobile money on the brain. That's because much of my work focuses on helping wealth managers and financial advisors market to Millennials and the millennially-minded: the many millions of consumers who live mobile lives including myself, and whose penchant for jumping ship keeps the stewards of wealth brands up at night.
What's more, we now know that consumer choice in banking is no longer about proximity to the local branch; it's a matter of which banks offer the strongest online capabilities and mobile applications. This trend will only grow as more and more consumers opt for mobile banking - technology expected to touch more than 1.75 billion users (32% of the global adult population) by 2019.
In Herbert Hoover's day, progress meant "a chicken in every pot." Today, it means a bank in every pocket - an advancement that is not just about empowering customers but also about ensuring the viability of bank branches, whose economics rise dramatically when activities better suited to digital channels are redirected to the Web.
So, how should financial-service institutions approach the work of putting a bank in every pocket? Among the companies addressing this question is Kaazing, whose web socket technology equips financial enterprises to create secure "pocket banks." I met them on the conference circuit, where they shared their technology for meeting the challenge of protecting mobile banking; a problem I know all too well.
Kaazing tells me that banks must pursue mobility by reconciling two requirements typically in conflict: scale and security. Scale requires opening hundreds of millions of connections to the hybrid cloud - an environment that uses a mix of on-premise, private-cloud, and public-cloud services to accommodate millions of customers and cut computing's cost.
The problem is security: Opening millions of connections in this hybrid environment leaves the corporate firewall looking like Swiss cheese, dotted by open incoming ports that expose the enterprise to crippling security threats. Consider the recent spate of thefts: Since the 2014 attack on JP Morgan Chase that breached the accounts of 76 million U.S. households, banks too numerous to list have been hacked. And there's no end in sight: Two months ago, hackers stole $81 million from the New York Federal Reserve account of Bangladesh. Two weeks ago, Qatar National Bank was hit. And just yesterday we learned of an attack in which thieves hacked another commercial bank (unidentified as of this writing) through Swift, the messaging system used by thousands of banks to move money around the world.
And so today's big question in banking is this: How to combine scalability with security? It starts, says Kaazing CEO Bob Miller, by upending common practice: Why connect whole networks and make entire enterprises vulnerable, to mention nothing of exposing customer data, when all we need to do is connect individual banking apps? After all, the latest heist occurred not because Swift's core messaging system was breached, but because hackers attacked the banks' connections to Swift's network.
The solution, says Miller, lies in technology that keeps open what should be open - all connections - and keeps closed what should be closed: all inbound ports across the network.
Where to shop for this enabling technology? Fittingly, on the Web itself - at what has become a new shopping destination for banks and their thousands of software developers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), where Kaazing has launched KWIC - Kaazing WebSocket Intercloud Connect. It's on AWS where more and more financial services companies - Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Capital One among them - are deploying apps in a move that will earn new agilities and competitive advantages for banks, wealth-management firms, and their customers.
Forget the moon. Fly me to the cloud, secure my data, and I will pay my auto loan.