Before money lived more or less digitally, manually processing and clearing financial transactions took lots of time and paperwork. That’s why, once upon a time, banking only occurred during “banker’s hours.” Keeping shorter hours gave banks time to process the day’s transactions before the next business day, maintain accurate accounting, and reduce risk by managing cash flow.

Viewed from the lens of the 21st-century financial world, of course, the concept of “banker’s hours” is a quaint anachronism. While financial markets still close every evening, and most bank branches aren’t open all night, the internet never sleeps. Mobile banking allows businesses and consumers to do their banking wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them, without ever setting foot inside a branch, and transactions process digitally, without human intervention in most cases.

This increased access and convenience is great news for a bank’s customers. But any financial transactions that take place in the digital realm draw bad actors like moths to a flame, which creates risk for banks in the form of cybersecurity attacks, fraud and malware. Banks need a secure network that can protect customers’ financial data while supporting cloud-based mobile banking apps and digital payments apps linked to bank accounts.

Traditionally, banks have relied on Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connectivity to securely interlink branches, headquarters, ATMs, disaster recovery sites and data centers. But MPLS was not designed for the cloud era. In many cases, when an MPLS network has to access cloud apps, traffic from branches has to be backhauled to the cloud from a headquarters or data center. This slows network speeds and strains bandwidth and upgrading or retrofitting an MPLS to handle the cloud would be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming.

Why SD-WAN is Ideal for Banks

A modernized alternative to MPLS, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) uses software to route network traffic over the fastest path across multiple connections and can segment traffic flow to prioritize business-critical data. It’s efficient, yet highly reliable, even when the same network has to support multiple high-bandwidth cloud-based applications.

What’s more, it can securely connect branches to any application (whether hosted in the data center or the cloud) across any wide-area network (WAN) connectivity. Because SD-WAN uses IPsec tunneling, the connectivity layer (MPLS, broadband, LTE, etc.) is only for transport; data on the network travels from site-to-site, or from device-to-device, fully encrypted.

A solution like TNS Secure SD-WAN, a managed service powered by Fortinet, offers banks multiple benefits:

  • Reliable, real-time, secure connectivity between multiple branches and sites, including ATMs
  • Global reach and geographic redundancy through global network operating centers (NOCs)
  • Reduced operating costs compared with legacy infrastructure and MPLS
  • Network resilience and high uptime
  • Secure cloud access using IPsec tunneling; anti-virus protection with anti-malware and spyware; URL filtering and TLS packet inspection; dynamic policy management; regular firmware updates
  • “Zero-touch” routers, allowing for simple scalability and quick provisioning of new branches

SD-WAN is a networking solution that gives banks the best of both worlds: security that protects sensitive data, and high uptime and bandwidth to support the cloud-based mobile banking consumers desire — because today, banker’s hours are 24/7.

John Tait is Global Managing Director of TNS’ Payments Market business. He is responsible for identifying and driving growth across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific regions, and is focused on meeting the unique requirements of TNS’ customers.