Internet Fragility – The financial industry’s need for Internet performance tools

By: Martin Ryan, VP & Managing Director Asia Pacific at Dyn

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The Government of India’s ambition to bring India’s unbanked population into the banking fold has added a new dimension to India’s financial sector with traditional and unconventional channels of banking being added to the existing banking infrastructure in the country.

Right from Financial institutions expanding their physical presence to grow their foothold across locations, to the introduction of unconventional channels of banking delivered through the mobile platform, the Financial Industry is fast transforming, bringing with it several opportunities as well as challenges that need to be understood.

What’s interesting to note is that in a country where the PC generation lagged, the smartphone economy has taken off in an unprecedented manner to make India the third largest smartphone economy in the world! What’s even more interesting is the fact that fueled by the smartphone boom, India is also racing ahead to become one of the world’s largest e-commerce markets!

No wonder then that the digital payments medium is fast picking up steam and all eyes are set on the competition heating up among start-ups and established entities to offer the most secure, efficient and easy to use solutions to patrons willing and hungry to explore.

And while all energies are directed towards offering customers a seamless experience while transacting on the digital platform, the most essential ingredient for success is often lost in the transition – that of Internet Performance!

So what is Internet Performance?

Internet Performance is simply meeting customer — or consumer — demands and expectations through secure, reliable, efficient, fast and scalable assets delivered via the web. Think about traffic. Traffic spikes to digital properties have a notorious history for filling up bandwidth, slowing and, potentially crashing websites or access to data. This issue resides outside of a company’s own network, but it is still their problem to deal with. This result is unacceptable, especially in the financial sector, where data security can be compromised in this scenario. This includes mobile apps, which need to reliably connect to online assets in order to deliver information to end-users.

Internet Performance tools give a measure of reliance and intelligence despite the fact that the Internet is an external entity that is quite fragile. Data can be hijacked and delivered incorrectly when misrouted through the improper Domain Name System (DNS). Thousands of outages occur every day. Bandwidth becomes an issue, causing delays, known as latencies, on a regular basis. Especially in the financial industry, avoiding these scenarios is a baseline security measure. But it does happen, and it directly impacts customer satisfaction. 

Areas where Internet Performance Can Help in the Banking sector

Security is the primary concern for any technology in the financial industry. When executing billions of dollars worth of transactions per day, organizations, at a minimum, need to ensure that data — and money — reaches its end destination without being hijacked. Hijacks are intentional or unintentional occurrences when data is redirected. This increases the chance that sensitive information — like a customer account number –can be viewed by thieves. Financial institutions need to monitor how information is routed through the Internet to limit the exposure times of private data, and when problems do occur, pinpoint the source through rapid mitigation. In addition to hijacks, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are also a security concern. DDoS attacks flood and occupy servers, taking up bandwidth and often creating outages. In order to identify and avoid these attacks, banks can use Internet Performance tools and routing data to locate the source of an attack and mitigate damage.

Delivering a consistent and fast user experience is essential to satisfying customers. Whether a customer connects to online financial services through a web browser or mobile app, few care that the content displayed and transmitted is from multiple locations, including data centers and the Cloud, which can physically be placed around the world. They expect a predictable and simple user experience; just the way high definition video streams are expected to begin immediately when a laptop fires up. If customers cannot depend on consistency across their experience, not only will they abandon an app, they’ll also likely question security. Internet Performance is the method for controlling content delivery so customers never raise these red flags.

Internet Performance is also an important piece when banks and financial institutions are considering scale and cloud migration. Partially driven by innovations like mobile payments, financial institutions are currently weighing their options to enter and serve emerging markets. This requires a great deal of research and an ability to judge ISPs, cloud service providers and data centers. Vendors can be difficult to evaluate, because they aren’t all created the same. Services may vary in speed, access to routing tables and even the ability to securely deliver data to its intended target on time. Some cutting edge Internet intelligence tools can objectively analyze this data so companies can make the best decision for their customers. Once operational, scale causes Internet Performance issues that companies simply need to deal with. For example, when traffic spikes occur tools such as load balancing give companies the ability to distribute these surges across their multiple data centers before a site slows or crashes. It’s a way to ensure the delivery of consistent and quality service that is simultaneous with even worldwide market expansion.

The Future of Banking & Internet Performance

Banks and their digital suppliers rely on Internet Performance to underpin the entire digital supply chain ensuring that all transactions and updates working properly, regardless of demand, geography or time. As we continue to move toward a cashless economy, the risk of digital banking suffering downtime or delays needs to be completely eliminated, since there will be fewer alternative payment methods to use as fallbacks. If merchants and banks don’t make Internet Performance a priority, they risk losing valuable customers due to reliability, reputation and trust.  

Five areas companies in the banking and financial industry should look immediately are:

  1. Security: Internet Performance tools like DNS monitoring can greatly improve security by understanding the routes data takes to move point-to-point through the Internet. Knowing when data is routed through indirect pathways is the first step to detecting a hijack
  2. Intelligence: Financial institutions and banks need to objectively assess vendors like ISPs, cloud service providers and data centers. Some Internet intelligence tools can help companies ensure vendors are doing their jobs correctly, by continuously monitoring and auditing Internet-based services. These tools can also be used to survey the landscape and decide on the best providers when considering the move to an emerging market, or entering a contract with an additional data center
  3. Load Balancing: Load balancing helps companies optimize their resources and minimize response time when a single server faces an overload. Rather than having a server fail, causing an outage or prolonged latency, load balancing tools can automatically employ other servers during traffic spikes so customers never know there is an issue
  4. Active Failover: When outages occur, active failover tools automatically redirect traffic to predetermined sites or services that can help customers. For example, if a customer-facing page goes down, a bank can redirect traffic to its Twitter or Facebook page, where customer service representatives can actively help customers with concerns
  5. Speed/Latency: Online and mobile customers have little patience for delays. At a minimum, Internet Performance tools help companies address this by ensuring data is delivered to customers through the most efficient routes available

In order to ensure their solutions are consistently available, efficient, secure, reliable and fast, banks and financial service companies need to get serious about Internet Performance. Although our economies increasingly depend on the Internet for business, it is a system that does not “just go” on its own. Truth be told, the Internet if full of complexities that cause issues on a daily basis, but businesses that understand the system’s shortfalls will also be the ones who can hedge those issues to create the best possible customer experience, consistently. To the Financial Industry, Internet Performance tools provide the monitoring, control and optimization necessary to give customers the quality they demand.

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