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 are playing the long-game, with multi-year, well-defined strategies for 2021 and beyond.

Five areas will dominate our 2021 Corporate Banking research, with analysts focusing on enabling treasury digital transformation, disrupting technologies, growing the banking ecosystem, preparing for the new normal, and of course, our flagship Model Bank Awards (to be published in March). As always, we’ll respond to fast-moving developments, especially on the lasting impact of the pandemic and recovery strategies.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Model Bank Awards and Case Studies

With Covid-19 wreaking havoc across the globe throughout 2020, we feared banks would not participate in our annual Celent Model Bank awards, now in its 14th year. Instead, we received a near record number of nominations from all over the world detailing courageous stories of customer advocacy, organizational pivots at breakneck speed, and celebrations of jobs well-done. Innovation in banking didn’t slow during the pandemic, it accelerated!

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 Companies (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
  • Remote cash capture
  • Various Briefing Notes


  • Corporate digital banking platforms
  • Small business digital banking platforms
  • Payment engines/hubs
  • 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 Q2.

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