Standard Chartered Bank plans to become a cloud-first business, adopting a multicloud strategy - but with Microsoft Azure at the top of the list.

The two companies entered into a three-year strategic partnership, as part of a plan for the bank to have all its core banking and trading systems in the cloud by 2025.

While Standard Chartered is nominally a British firm, its largest shareholder is the Government of Singapore-owned Temasek Holdings, itself a major data center investor.

Standard Cloud Bank

Microsoft Azure
– Sebastian Moss

“Cloud is a cornerstone of Standard Chartered’s strategy to meet the present and future banking needs of our clients," Michael Gorriz, Standard Chartered's group CIO, said.

"Cloud providers have invested massively in the reliability and automation of infrastructure and platforms. Using cloud services improves our ability to be agile and innovative, while increasing our operational efficiency and resilience. As disruption in the financial industry continues, we can focus on client benefits by deploying our solutions quicker and allowing for faster integration of new business models and partners.”

The first Standard Chartered product to move to Microsoft Azure will be its trade finance systems, while the company's 84,000 employees will gain access to Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams.

The bank also plans to use Azure's artificial intelligence and data analytics capabilities to help automate banking processes, and deliver 'hyper-personalization' for customers. The company said it would help co-develop open banking application programming interfaces. and explore Internet-of-Things-based, real-time payments.

Cloud computing is an enabler for financial institutions to modernize their infrastructure and systems, to gain the agility they need to respond to competitive pressures, regulatory environments and customer demand," Bill Borden, corporate VP of worldwide financial services at Microsoft, said.

"We are committed to helping Standard Chartered Bank in its ongoing digital transformation journey as it strives to address evolving customer needs and build the next generation of banking experiences.”

This year, the company has signed several notable cloud deals, including one with New Zealand's largest company, and fracking giant Halliburton.