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How to Modernize Banking Legacy Systems via Cloud Migration?

How to Modernize Banking Legacy Systems via Cloud Migration?
Alex Malyshev
Modernizing legacy banking systems

Most banks, especially the traditional ones, rely on legacy infrastructure for managing their daily operations. A report by Quentelli showed that banks process over a collective $3 trillion with the help of COBOL, a programming language developed in the 1950s. This reliance on legacy systems often stems from not wanting to disrupt operations by making large-scale changes.

However, using outdated software infrastructure for handling banking processes could lead to extensive outages and vulnerabilities. The abovementioned Quentelli report also states that banks need to modernize their infrastructure, even though only 43% are keen on embracing modernization soon.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to modernize legacy systems in banking, the benefits of upgrading your core infrastructure, as well as why you need cloud banking. 

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What is banking legacy systems migration?

As the name suggests, legacy system modernization is the process of transforming your outdated, clunky banking architecture into a modern and robust system. 

In the broad sense, you can modernize legacy systems in banking by migrating core dependencies to the cloud, refactoring the codebase, or building a new system from scratch. So, banking legacy systems migration refers to the process of transitioning from outdated or obsolete banking software systems to modern, more efficient and scalable technology platforms. 

Modernizable areas in banking include DevOps(SecOps), data governance, cloud computing (hybrid, public, or private), and core architecture. You can focus on one area at a time, addressing each one as a touchpoint based on urgency and impact on banking operations.

How to Modernize Banking Legacy Systems via Cloud Migration?

Why modernize legacy systems for banks? 

Banks and managers are conflicted about updating legacy code; they try to weigh the financial costs of this decision. But if you are committed to embracing banking legacy systems migration, here are the potential benefits of modernizing legacy systems:

Increased flexibility

Modernizing your legacy banking systems give you more flexibility by providing access to more robust tools, APIs, and cloud technology. As a result, your bank can scale operations without straining available resources.

Increased productivity

When you upgrade your legacy system correctly, you can significantly increase productivity and business efficiency. Modern tools are optimized to fine-tune robotic processes and improve the delivery speed of operations and deployments.

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Tighter security

Using legacy infrastructure keeps your bank vulnerable to security threats. Since these systems run on outdated technologies, hackers find it easier to break into them to steal sensitive information or cause chaos. 

But with a modern banking platform, you can access advanced tools for managing security threats and reacting to data breaches in record time. And most importantly, you’ll get access to the progressive legacy systems that factors in compliance regulations through its hybrid cloud delivery model.

Optimized costs

According to McKinsey, mid-cap banks save $100 million by opting for progressive modernization or migrating to more beneficial digital banking alternatives.

On the surface, switching your banking codebase to a modern alternative sounds expensive. But when you consider the benefits, you’ll realize it’s worth every dime. Besides, you often spend more on maintaining and patching faulty legacy software. Therefore, banking legacy systems migration can help your payment company optimise costs.

Better customer experience 

Legacy core banking systems often have outdated user interfaces that are not responsive or optimized for modern devices and browsers. This can result in a poor user experience, especially for customers accessing banking services through digital channels such as mobile devices or web browsers.

Adopting a progressive banking platform in place of your legacy codebase allows you to improve the customer experience. Since you have a modernized banking infrastructure, you’ll be able to deliver seamless banking services and avoid downtimes. As a result, banking legacy systems migration provides better user experience, increasing user retention. 

Data-driven approach

Advanced banking platforms also come with data analytics tools because data is the lifeblood of every modern organization. You can also create data management and governance models to increase transparency and collaboration while avoiding the formation of silos.

Improve ROI

Modernized banking systems can improve your income by delivering a better experience to customers and improving your bank’s online reputation. Stakeholders and investors will also willingly provide financial backing for your digital transformation.

According to Bain, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia was able to increase operating income after undergoing a modernization process that spanned a decade. As a result, the bank was able to achieve 3-hour release cycles, compared to three months previously. 

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Challenges to legacy code modernization for banks

Updating your banking platform is a step toward digital fintech transformation, but can you replace legacy code without disrupting internal processes? Short answer: no. 

Here are the key challenges in modernizing legacy code.

Inadequate planning

With digital transformation becoming a buzzword, banks and fintech companies are riding the wave without considering the impact on their business. As a result, stakeholders embrace legacy code modernization without establishing clear action plans and contingencies. 

Lack of skill

Establishing a modernization plan for your legacy banking code involves having the right DevOps engineers, QA specialists, data analysts, and UX researchers with the required experience. 

Supposing you want to move your COBOL-based banking software, you’ll need someone who understands the language to make sense of your architecture; otherwise, your team might break the system.

As legacy banking systems age, it becomes increasingly difficult to find skilled resources with expertise in maintaining and supporting outdated technologies.

Compatibility issues

Compatibility issues are a common challenge with legacy banking systems, particularly when integrating them with newer technologies, platforms, or third-party systems.

Most legacy infrastructures are outdated and incompatible with modern APIs and cloud computing tools. This makes the process of refurbishing the codebase difficult, if not unattainable.

Data migration

Data migration is also part of legacy system modernization. You don’t just replace legacy code; you must also make plans for moving the data. Without proper data governance to guide the migration and establish standards, you could introduce security risks into the new architecture of the legacy core systems.

Cost of modernization

Sometimes, moving your banking platform from a legacy codebase costs more than maintaining the existing architecture. In some cases, the embedded systems might be too intertwined with the legacy code that uncoupling or dismantling it will disrupt operations, reducing your revenue. That’s why it important to consider not just technology features, but also cost of the digital transformation for core systems. 

Snail-paced bureaucracy

Financial institutions with a lot of bureaucracy can struggle to maintain a fast modernization strategy. This long decision-making process adds to the overall time it takes to start refurbishing your legacy code.

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Cloud migration — a way to modernize legacy systems

Providing banking legacy systems migration to the cloud is an excellent digital transformation approach because it helps you eliminate downtimes, reduce maintenance costs, and minimize compatibility issues. Also, cloud tools provide top-notch data security and threat detection to protect your legacy infrastructure from breaking down.

Embracing automation for legacy banks

Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are integral to the success of legacy system modernization for banks. AI/ML tools allow banks to automate processes, gather actionable intel on users and markets, and optimize the customer experience.

You can also rely on Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to improve the efficiency of business processes by eliminating bottlenecks and digitizing redundant administrative tasks.

How APIs can modernize legacy systems

Banks can use APIs to refurbish their infrastructure and improve productivity as a digital transformation approach. APIs increase visibility by making it possible for financial institutions to enable governed access and integrate new tools into their platforms.

In the current era of mobile-first online banking, banks can use APIs to implement cloud-based digital wallets for customers.

How to update legacy code in the banking sector

Now that you know what to consider when modernizing core systems, let’s explore the steps you should follow to guarantee success of the digital transformation.

Step 1: Evaluate your legacy infrastructure 

Before implementing legacy code updates, thoroughly assess the current legacy system to see if now is the right time to migrate and what migration strategy works for your financial institution. Some key considerations include business fit, value, agility, cost, complexity, and risk. 

Step 2: Develop a modernization plan

This involves choosing the application to move or leave, as well as outlining the requirements and success parameters for business processes. You also need to design your architecture in line with recommendations from Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud. 

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Step 3: Implement the plan

During this stage, you get to move your entire architecture to a different platform. The success of this process depends on your team’s capability. You can decide to use microservices and containerized applications — or opt for a monolith architecture.

Here are the digital transformation options to consider:

  • Replace the legacy system with a more robust and advanced one.
  • Encapsulate core dependencies and functions with APIs.
  • Redeploy the application to a different infrastructure without changing its functionalities.
  • Migrate to a new platform with minimal changes to the codebase.
  • Refactor and optimize existing code.
  • Shift the system to new application architecture.
  • Redesign the application component from scratch.

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Step 4: Choose the right solution

Use advanced, reliable solutions to ensure you are on the right track with your modernization efforts. Your bank can smoothly migrate to a modern infrastructure if you use a technology stack that allows you to meet your business goal and scale with minimal growing pains.

With a hybrid cloud solution like the core FinTech Platform, your bank or financial institution can modernize your outdated legacy system. This Platform features API-driven architecture and runs on the future-ready tech stack. You can opt for the cloud-based version by subscription or the on-premise one with the source code license.

Check this article to get more information about a payment stack for the financial industry.

Step 5: Test and re-evaluate 

Since you have established success parameters, you should test key endpoints in the system, even during migration. This will help you spot vulnerabilities faster before they can cause irreparable damage. 

After moving to the cloud, double back to see if your bank’s modernization meets the initial stipulations and benchmarks. You should also adopt progressive engineering practices by maintaining a comprehensive component architecture and documentation. This will help your team maintain and upgrade the system in the future. 

Digital ledger software for payment products

A robust transaction accounting solution

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Banking legacy systems migration is a complicated process that leads to rewards for your business. Knowing when to get rid of your outdated software can make a significant difference in the competitive world of digital banking. Also, the advanced legacy banking systems come with security features that meet compliance standards.

So why modernize legacy systems for banking operations? The answer is that modernization allows your business to grow and make money faster while delivering a better experience to your users.


  • A Snapshot on Digital Transformation in Banking 2022 | Qentelli 
  • How Legacy Banking Systems Pose a Threat to Digital Transformation and Stunt Growth 
  • The Two Things Banks Get Wrong About Cloud Migration
  • The tipping point for core migration – Celent report 
  • Legacy Application Modernization and Cloud Migration | Logicata 
  • Revamping Legacy Banking Software: Step-by-step Guide 
  • For Banks, Modernizing Technology Has Become a Perpetual Challenge | Bain & Company 
  • Financial Services and sector insights: PwC 
  • Modernizing Legacy Systems in Banking: Best Practices and Benefits 
  • How Apis Can Modernize Legacy Systems 
  • Why API Matters for Enterprise Development Whitepaper 
  • Modernizing core technology, without breaking the bank | McKinsey & Company
  • Legacy Application Modernization In The Banking Sector 
How to Modernize Banking Legacy Systems via Cloud Migration?


Why modernize legacy systems for banks?

Here are the potential benefits of modernizing legacy systems:

-Increased flexibility
-Increased productivity
-Tighter security
-Optimized costs
-Better customer experience
-Data-driven approach
Improve ROI

What is legacy systems modernization?

Legacy system modernization is the process of transforming your outdated, clunky banking architecture into a modern and robust system.

In a broad sense, you can modernize legacy systems in banking by migrating core dependencies to the cloud, refactoring the codebase, or building a new system from scratch.

What are the key challenges in modernizing legacy code?

Inadequate planning
Lack of skill
Compatibility issues
Data migration
Cost of modernization
Snail-paced bureaucracy

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