Barclays selects Microsoft Teams for internal communication

Teams will replace Barclays' multiple legacy platform with a unified communication tool

by | August 9, 2022 | bobsguide

Barclays Bank PLC (Barclays) has entered into a multi-year service agreement with technology giant Microsoft to use its communication platform Microsoft Teams as the bank’s preferred collaboration tool.

Teams will replace Barclays’ several existing legacy platforms across the business, consolidating those means for a more efficient approach and consistent experience across the bank.

“Modern technology is essential to enabling our employees to deliver the highest level of service to our customers in a way that is resilient and sustainable,” said Craig Bright, global chief information officer at Barclays.

“Microsoft Teams gives us an end-to-end collaboration platform that helps us connect our colleagues and enhance our business capabilities.”

As part of the deployment plan, Microsoft will also provide the bank with enhanced data retention, search, and retrieval capabilities available within Microsoft Purview.

This is an expansion of an existing relationship, with Barclays having previously deployed Teams globally within months, resulting in greater collaboration and better communication between Barclays teams while reducing email traffic to boost efficiency.

Barclays declined to comment on the partnership.

Regulators probe firms’ communication compliance

The UK bank’s adoption of Microsoft Teams as its primary communication channel among employees comes amid the ongoing difficulties surrounding the compliance of the messaging platforms in the financial industry.

Regulators have been clamping down on the use of non-compliant messaging services, like WhatsApp, due to the firms’ failure to record the communication of regulated employees.

The lack of surveillance of unauthorised messaging apps has cost firms millions in fines.

Barclays itself was ordered to pay $125 million and $75 million to the SEC and CFTC, respectively, following the investigation by the SEC and CFTC on the bank’s actions against compliance with record-keeping obligations related to business-related communications sent over the unapproved electronic messaging platform.

The regulators also fined JP Morgan an equivalent amount late last year for a similar offence, with the likes of Citi, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America receiving the same treatment.

Non-compliant communication platforms like WhatsApp gained popularity among the regulated industry workers during the pandemic, with the bankers and clients looking to communicate efficiently mostly at the latter’s preferred choice of communication platform.

The use of private messaging platforms, however, has been a cause for concern for the regulators as it fails to comply with the record-keeping needs that could be exploited to exchange trade secrets.

Last year, Citadel Securities and GSA Capital Partners settled outside of court after Citadel accused the latter of inducing a Citadel employee to provide trade strategy secrets using WhatsApp and text messaging services.

Firms invest in communication surveillance solutions

The ongoing fines spree has pushed the financial firms to revamp their communication channels to make them compliant by ensuring record-keeping and surveillance.

According to a survey of 170 senior compliance professionals in the financial services industry published in July by regtech company, Steel Eye, 41% of firms view communications surveillance as a key investment priority for the next 12 months.

In June, cloud-based mobile communications software, Movius, revealed an increase in its popularity for its ability to capture all communications on the mobile business line, including calls, texts, and WhatsApp messages.

The company onboarded more than 15,000 advisors, traders, managers, and other front-line workers in the finance industry over six weeks.

Employees from firms including JP Morgan, UBS, and Jefferies were among the financial firms that turned to Movius to ensure compliant communication among its employees.

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