For example, over the COVID lockdowns, business lending in the EU increased by an average of 5.3%, with banks struggling to keep pace with the steep increase in demand. With a recession looming, we can expect another increase in business loan applications and financial institutions need to be prepared. Over the coming months, lenders will need to move fast to process these increasing loan applications. But not all will have learned the lessons of the pandemic and invested in the digital infrastructure that allows them to scale and pivot at pace. The laggards need to move now, employing up-to-date technology and automation solutions so they can work faster and more efficiently. Otherwise, customers will vote with their wallets and look elsewhere for their banking needs. The cloud’s silver lining The first step for banks looking to boost digital innovation is a shift to the cloud. Today’s customers expect banking processes to be as easy and efficient as online shopping. This can only be achieved through the scale and agility provided by cloud technology. Cloud computing provides lenders with secure andagile infrastructure on which they can more easily streamline business processes, deploy new solutions and enable innovation to meet the speed at which customer expectations evolve. For banks looking to ready themselves for an increase in loan applications, cloud infrastructure will let them automate many parts of the customer journey, from application and KYC, through to approval and account management. For example, Cynergy Bank’s use of identity verification automation through its cloud-based platform cut onboarding time from three days to 54 seconds. Another benefit of using cloudbased systems is the ability to “Customercentricity should be the ultimate priority for any bank, whatever the economic climate. It is no longer enough to be able to access banking amenities from your sofa, they need to be available 24/7 and easier to navigate than ever before.” Bank i ng & F i nanc i a l Se r v i ce s 30 Finance Monthly.