Brexit, GDPR and the future of financial services all have one concern at their core: data.
Information, they say, is power. However, without the connectivity and the strategically located data centres, financial services will struggle in the face of challenges such as GDPR and Brexit.
That’s the conviction of Interxion vice-president of enterprise, William Fenick, who, from his vantage point in London, has a good overview of such matters.
Interxion is a leading provider of colocation data centre services across Europe, supporting more than 1,600 customers in more than 40 data centres. Interxion last year opened its third Dublin data centre, called DUB3, which represents a capital investment of €28m.
Fenick has more than 20 years of financial services industry experience in a variety of strategy, sales and marketing roles at Tibco Inc and Thomson Reuters.
Before taking up his current position in September 2013 at Interxion, he drove business development for Elektron Managed Services at Thomson Reuters, where he drew on his successful track record in developing and marketing services for data distribution technology, managed services, colocation and hosting in the global marketplace.
Prior to starting in the financial services industry, Fenick was a lecturer at the University of Vienna and held a postdoctoral post at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Powering the next generation of financial services
“Interxion has quite a prominent role in financial services in Europe. If you deconstruct a bit of what financial services need, it’s an industry run essentially on information, and information is picked up by connectivity to trading partners or exchanges or to data vendors.
“So, it is all about information and connecting to it and, of course, the corollary to that is connecting to their data centres and their customers, and ensure that their customers have connectivity.
“There are different levels of financial services, clearly, in Europe. Some are at the very tip of the iceberg – the low-latency, high-frequency players which you see aggregating in some of the bigger cities in Europe, particularly London, Frankfurt, Stockholm.
“Other sectors include connecting onwards to customers, be it in the insurance realm, be it in the payments realm and, more and more recently, connecting to the cloud.
“Cloud plays a big role in a lot of the infrastructure that financial services have.”
The likelihood of Brexit, he explains, is causing financial services players to be strategic around where they place their data resources.
“What we are keeping an eye on in London is the effect of Brexit and some of the uncertainty it is introducing into the market, and where some of our customers are hedging their bets, so to speak, by putting infrastructure in Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.
“I can’t say that is having a strong impact but it is definitely a strong topic of conversation we’ve been discussing for the last 12 months, to say the least, among clientele.”
Opening the door to open banking
Fenick said that the advent of a whole new generation of fintech players, ranging from payments firms to blockchain and cryptocurrency companies, is adding to Interxion’s considerable tapestry of financial services players.
“Interxion plays a strong role in the advent of open banking, in particular, and a lot of the new entrants into the market are cloud application and cloud firms born in the cloud. They need easy access to cross-connect into the big players like AWS, Microsoft, Google, to really facilitate this type of market.”
Fenick concluded that the advent of GDPR will impact financial services firms in a gradual fashion. Though regulators pushed the practice of enforcement from day one (25 May), Fenick feels it will continue as a “slow implementation”.
He added: “That said, regulators will be looking to see if firms are activating the right tools and measures for this, and Interxion has a very good security tool called Key Guardian.
“GDPR will get a lot of focus and a lot of attention, but I think financial services firms in general should be prepared for it.”