Deka calls for more protection against hackers in the cloud

The Sparkassen fund company does not want to outsource customer data to American cloud providers. But the network partner FITS has to retrofit, demands IT director Daniel Kapffer in an interview.

Daniel Kapffer is the Board Member for IT at Deka

Daniel Kapffer doesn’t believe in just observing the progress of digitization. Deka’s Finance and IT Board Member only briefly reflects on the fact that one can wait and see which technologies and applications turn out to be relevant for the Sparkasse’s securities house and then “jump on them”. But Kapffer, who had been with Deka for seven years and previously worked for the management consultant Accenture for 17 years, quickly rejected this option in an interview with the FAZ. “As a bank, you have to have the strength to be part of promising technologies from the very beginning, otherwise the leap in development will be too big later.”

In other words, he explains what Kapffer means: “Banks must quickly become more innovative and efficient, because digitalization is currently gaining enormous momentum.” In fact, bank customers, especially the young ones, are used to simple and user-friendly products and processes from other industries. “We banks are also expected to be more user-friendly. Standard software helps to become more innovative here. Because it allows the use of modern technology and less complex solutions than in the past, ”says Kapffer.

A lot of standard software in use

Many banks still use a core banking system that was developed in the 1970s and is structured like a monolithic block. New sub-systems and in-house applications were constantly being “put in” so that the whole thing got out of hand. “In contrast, the Deka fortunately has a very lean IT infrastructure. 80 percent of our IT consists of standard software, mainly from FIS for the capital market business and from SAP for many operational functions, ”says Kapffer. There is no point in getting bogged down with a lot of in-house IT developments that hardly distinguish yourself from the competition and are of little use to customers. Kapffer’s credo is: “A beautiful technology does not have any value in itself.”

Using standard software wherever possible lays the foundation for Deka to focus on a few new technologies and selected proprietary applications. “We never develop in the laboratory, but rather immediately on real cases in order to be able to prove customer benefits,” says Kapffer.

The benefits of the cloud

Many banks are currently seeing new value in cloud technology, i.e. the outsourcing of large amounts of data to decentralized data centers. It has the advantage that, for example, customer advisors can view and process a customer’s securities order not only centrally in a branch, but also from anywhere with internet access, whether at home or in a call center. “The cloud is very efficient because you no longer have to keep computing power available, you just rent it. When the load is high, we can add almost as much computing power as we want, but we only pay for what we need, ”says Kapffer, summarizing the advantage of the cloud.

The American market power

But the crucial question is: Which cloud provider does a bank outsource its sensitive customer data to? Deutsche Bank works mainly with Google, Commerzbank deliberately relies on Google and Microsoft in order not to become too dependent on one provider. Commerzbank board member Marcus Chromik has even set up an alliance of several European banks to counter the market power of Amazon Software Service, Microsoft Azure and Google. The public-law Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, to which Deka belongs, is particularly reluctant to use data centers from American providers, even if they have to be at the urging of the banking supervisory authorities in Europe. “Deka is currently not relocating any customer data to a public cloud,” says Kapffer. Although the fund company accesses cloud services from Microsoft Azure when evaluating financial products, for example, customer data is only outsourced to FITS, which is part of financial information technology, i.e. to a joint venture between the savings banks.