Corporate Banking Research Outlook 2021

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Playing the Long Game: 2021 Research Themes

In 2020, for the corporate banking segment, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the importance of enhancing client engagement and customer experience, with banks in the vanguard increasing technology budgets and accelerating projects. These banks continue to play the long-game, with multi-year, well-defined strategies for 2021 and beyond.

Going into 2021, we highlighted four themes dominating our 2021 Corporate Banking research, with analysts focusing on enabling treasury digital transformation, disrupting technologies, growing the banking ecosystem, and preparing for the new normal in payments, and these remain in focus. In March, we published the case studies from our flagship Model Bank Awards, which cover topics across all five themes.

As always, we strive to be nimble and respond to fast-moving developments. If you have a hot topic in mind, where our research could add value to your organization, please let us know, and we’ll endeavor to incorporate it into our research agenda for the rest of 2021.

Enabling Digital Transformation in Treasury

The pandemic is driving corporate treasuries to accelerate digitalization, and banks are in a race to keep their solutions relevant alongside nimble fintechs. Banks’ ability to aggregate, analyze, and exchange data with corporate clients is fundamental for achieving visibility, managing liquidity, and optimizing cash.

In Q2, we published a case study detailing how a leading bank reimagined the customer and employee experience by leveraging composable buidling blocks. In Q3, look for a flagship report on benchmarking global corporate digital banking platforms.

Disrupting Technologies on the Innovation Horizon

As the technology arms race continues between the largest global banks, competitors can leverage emerging technologies (e.g. artificial intelligence/machine learning, blockchain, and Internet of Things) and fintech partners to stay in the innovation battle. Long a laggard in the legacy transformation race, banks are turning to progressive renovation, leveraging microservices architecture, public cloud, and low-code/no-code approaches.

Extending our coverage of AI in Corporate Banking, in Q2 we published an update on the cognitive corporate bank as well as a report on how AI is driving game-changing competitive differentiation. In the upcoming quarter, we'll explore the transaction banking crypto universe.

Growing the Corporate Banking Ecosystem

Taking an ecosystem approach, combining bank products, vendor solutions, and client co-creation will shape the future of corporate banking technology. With growing client engagement top of mind, corporate banks that successfully grow their third-party ecosystem to offer bold new products while reshaping their cost structure will excel.

In Q3 we will publish our inaugural corporate digital banking platforms vendor analysis and awards, along with a report on breakout innovation in cash flow forecasting.

Preparing for the New Normal in Payments

Banks and providers face the impending migration to ISO 20022, increasing payments fraud, managing new real-time payment schemes, and accelerating payments digitization. The rapidly changing payments ecosystem demands banks have a robust payments strategy and technology road map to keep up while payment volumes continue to grow.

Innovation continues apace across the payments ecosystem. In Q2 we published reports on expectation veruss reality for payments data monetization as well as the P27 Nordic payments revolution. In Q3 we will publish reports on the adoption of US instant payments as well as winning use cases, blockchain-based initiatives in payments, and the road to SEPA Inst payments.

Model Bank Awards and Case Studies

We announced our Model Bank winners on March 10th, as part of our annual Innovation and Insight event. From almost 170 nominations of exceptionally high quality, we recognized 21 initiatives. The case studies of each initiative are available to download for Celent Retail or Corporate Banking research clients, depending on the initiative’s focus.

About Celent

Celent is committed to helping our clients assess the technology implications of external factors across the financial system, from changes in customer behavior to new strategies and technologies required to respond to an uncertain economic future. We’re in touch with financial institutions and their technology partners around the world and are developing a host of new perspectives, updated regularly, to help you make the right strategic technology choices in the medium- and longer term. Our clients have access to our insights through traditional ways – reports, blogs, analyst access – and new media, like interactive virtual roundtables and snap polls.

Because Celent is part of a larger organization, Oliver Wyman and Marsh McClennan (MMC), you have access to our collective thought leadership in areas ranging from epidemiology (Oliver Wyman), to economic modelling (Oliver Wyman), to risk/ crisis management (Marsh), and human resource implications (Mercer). For further information, please see:

Oliver Wyman

One thing is certain: none of us can go it alone. As you face strategic decisions in the areas of technology and partnerships, Celent is here to support you. We can help you vet partners and technologies as you look at shifting priorities, competitive threats, and growing cost pressures.


We show a high level view of 2021’s outlook categorized by type of deliverable. We will continue to deliver different types of insights, from analysis of technology trends shaping the banking industry to vendor analysis. Note that we’ll be publishing Solution Briefs throughout the year, but there’s no way to predict what those topics will be.


  • Model Bank case studies from around the world
  • IT spending
  • Corporate digital banking trends
  • Blockchain/digital assets in action
  • Payment trends and technology
  • Open Banking and APIs
  • Various Solution Briefs


  • IT spending priorities
  • AI use cases (including RPA)
  • Liquidity management primers: cash forecasting


  • Corporate digital banking platforms
  • Various solution briefs

VendorMatch, Celent’s new vendor discovery tool, is playing an increasingly important role in our vendor analysis. See more at

Contact us for more information about what we have planned in Q3.

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