The future of payments lies in the cloud. Prior to the pandemic, the widespread adoption of cloud computing was already prevalent, with industries like healthcare, marketing, retail, and finance all embracing the technology to supercharge their operations. In healthcare, the cloud is used for securing and storing electronic health records, while the marketing sector uses it to automate routine tasks and track trends. Retail businesses utilise cloud technology to market to their customers more effectively, and the finance industry leverage it to make expense management and digital payments much more efficient. While the situation is not ideal, the outbreak has become the turning point for the payments industry. Enterprises that had invested heavily in cloud solutions have been able to continue with less interference compared to those who didn’t. Since March, cloud-based services for remote workers were responsible for keeping the world working, due to many businesses being forced to shut down and transition to a work-from-home setup. Those previously opposed to the concept are also starting to realise its benefits, and if the prediction by Global Data proves to be correct, the cloud services market will blow up to a whopping $661 billion (£528 billion) by 2024. That clocks into a 19% annual growth rate between 2019 and 2024. In the coming months and years, the biggest tech companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Alibaba, and IBM, are likely to position themselves as the superior cloud-based collaboration and application providers. 

Google is already at the forefront of this movement, with Google Cloud announcing that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UK Crown Commercial Service (CCS) in an effort to make it easier and more affordable for public sector agencies across the UK to take advantage of Google Cloud's full range of services. This project will aid them in providing a seamless digital transformation for the British public. Simon Tse, Chief Executive of CCS, highlights how the MoU will also lead to large-scale business benefits for customers and emphasises the CCS' role in helping the public sector serve the nation in more novel and innovative ways. Organisations will get the chance to leverage a range of technologies available in the cloud, including, but not limited to infrastructure, analytics, artificial intelligence, application modernisation and development, workflow management, and collaboration solutions. This initiative is likely to push the adoption of cloud computing even further forward, leading to an even more widespread adoption of digital payments. 

A report by The Business Research Company noted that the decline of cash payments in-store was due to the advice of government bodies and health institutions, resulting in the rise of contactless payment methods. Businesses struggling to stay afloat will definitely benefit from using a cloud-based payment system, given how it's more convenient and safer for customers due to reduced physical contact and its enhanced data security. Indeed, popular payment provider FIS Global details how cloud-based solutions can integrate seamlessly with a variety of payment channels and platforms, enabling large enterprises to access the same network from around the world. This helps ensure that retail transactions stay securely encrypted due to real-time updates being carried out across all systems. Sensitive data is also tokenised, a process in which a unique identifier is assigned the secure information, allowing businesses to safely conduct payment transactions. This applies to almost all digital payments available, whether it's recurring bills, subscriptions, or one-time fees. There's no doubt that organisations and businesses will benefit from transitioning to the cloud should they decide to do so. However, it should not be done in haste.

CIO underscores how transitioning from on-premises infrastructure to multi-cloud or hybrid cloud is no easy feat, and one must consider making a cloud-first commitment. This means taking a deep dive into cloud computing and gaining an in-depth understanding of its economics, as well as planning for continuous compliance. Any mistakes will be very costly to rectify. But what is clear is it that from here on out cloud computing is no longer a novel phenomenon. It's here to stay, and, in fact, it's only just getting started.