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European Banks Store Their Sensitive Data on American Clouds

Despite the Continent’s skepticism of U.S. tech giants, much of its key financial information is on their servers

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Illustration: Andrea Chronopoulos for Bloomberg Businessweek

Europeans grumble that they haven’t had a truly global tech giant since Nokia Oyj’s heyday. But for Europe’s banks, the most pressing digital need isn’t for a homegrown phone that can compete with Apple Inc.’s or Google’s. The banks are looking for cloud computing providers with higher security standards than they can find in the U.S. Their search is far from over.

In a recent Bloomberg survey of Europe’s top banks, 22 of 22 respondents said their primary cloud services are American. The three leading U.S. cloud providers—Amazon, Microsoft, and Google—are at the top, though unlike in the broader market, Microsoft Corp. beats out Amazon.com Inc. for No. 1. Rounding out the list are IBM, Salesforce.com, and NetApp. While some lenders say they also work with European cloud companies, it’s usually in a secondary role. The U.S. companies’ servers support the sophisticated numbers crunching for tasks like risk management and increasingly house such sensitive data as borrowers’ personal information.