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Finance & related services

Cloud computing in Polish Financial Institutions

By Dr Agnieszka Serzysko, attorney-at-law, partner, head of Financial Services Sector, Kochański & Partners
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In recent years, cloud computing has become a significant technological enabler for innovative service development.

The cloud allows industries to tap into new service models, utilising its technological advancement for new and better service to clients, improving productivity, cost, efficiency and the flexibility of internal business processes. Ultimately, cloud computing provides a foundation for the digital transformation of the industry and financial sector.

The financial sector is in the process of adopting cloud computing to take advantage of these benefits. New opportunities for service delivery to clients, serving their needs and expectations, are as relevant as improving security, reducing costs and improving flexibility in the conduct of business. Cloud computing can also open new markets and help financial institutions find new ways of competing with FinTech market entities.

During the adaptation of cloud computing by the financial institutions, it was necessary to consider the highly regulated nature of the sector while paying special attention to sector stability and the security of data.

The Polish legal system lacks a framework that covers cloud computing. The banking sector in Poland has for years been moving towards embracing dispersed laws and recommendations to regulate the financial sector. The first legal document in this area was Recommendation D on the management of information technology areas and security of the ICT environment in banks, issued by KNF, (Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego, the Polish financial supervision authority) in January 2013. This was followed by the communique of the Office of the Polish Financial Supervision Authority regarding the use of processing services by supervised cloud computing data entities issued on 23 October 2017. This year, on 25 February, the European Banking Authority issued guidelines on outsourcing arrangements, with the applicable law being the provisions of Banking Law (especially art. 6 and others).

To meet the expectations of the Polish financial market in terms of implementing cloud-based solutions in financial institutions, a working group dedicated to this topic was established in 2019 at the ZBP (Polish Bank Association, the union of Polish banks) and the FTB (Banking Technology Forum). Legal support and ISO norm services were provided by Kochański & Partners law firm. Adapting the latest technological solutions in banking in the context of these regulations is not easy. The current interest of the sector combined with relative inexperience of the financial institutions prompted them to create a joint initiative to create an implementation standard based on cloud computing in accordance with applicable regulations, the so-called WhiteBook. The aim of this document is to allow anyone to progress easily through the process of adapting to the cloud of the organisation itself and to solutions offered by suppliers.

WhiteBook is an analysis setting out which tasks, procedures, processes, and analyses should be carried out and documented in terms of cloud implementation in relation to the individual provisions of the regulations in force.

WhiteBook will also refer to guidelines for the classification and assessment of information, including their compliance with legal requirements. Specific to the financial sector and/or to an entity supervised by its provisions and contractual obligations, WhiteBook will also set out

  • the scope of classified information

  • its type and validity

  • the value of information for a supervised entity (with respect to legally protected information processed)

  • the minimum technical and organisational requirements for information processing in the cloud, (ensuring competence for information processing activities, including the use of specific cloud-environment architecture, rules for its configuration, division of responsibility for security of processed information)

  • provisions of a formalised contract with cloud computing service providers, an information processing plan in cloud computing, monitoring the information processing environment in cloud computing services, and documenting the operations of a supervised entity.

Banks require the intensive use of technology for operations. Traditionally this has been solved by on-premises systems, deployed locally via the company’s own computer infrastructure. However, technological progress has accelerated dramatically, requiring banks to embrace this development.

Cloud has become a key technology to develop new financial services and to innovate, to collaborate with third parties and to compete in the digital context. Opinions of cloud computing by regulators, technologists and service users differ and although not conflicting, these should be balanced to enable the most effective use of cloud technology in financial services.

Cloud computing can help to control costs in a more efficient way, improve flexibility of the business model, allow operational specialisation and improve resilience. With cloud computing’s further evolution, more advantages are expected to become apparent in the future. Cloud computing is a key enabler for a successful data economy and service delivery, as it can seamlessly connect banks with other financial institutions, clients and FinTech innovators.

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