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Financial services and COBOL are powering critical business systems today and into the future

In recent times, the long-standing programming language COBOL was in the news as businesses rushed to satisfy the growing demand for programmers with the expertise to keep up-to-date and modernize systems that run vital services. Although this attention to COBOL could be an innovation from a media perspective however, for large companies that operate in the insurance and finance industries it has been around for a long time.

Although it is more than sixty years old COBOL is still the foundation of system’s code used by the finance (FS) business. It was created in accordance with the evolution of mainframes throughout between 1950 and the 60s in order to adapt to changing business requirements. In the past, mainframes were developed to be used in commercial applications to handle huge amounts of data, and they had a lot of processing power. In the year 2020, a lot of insurance and banking institutions operate on mainframes and to a lesser extent, COBOL.

It is no doubt that COBOL remains to play an important function within the FS sector, serving as the backbone of many of the world’s significant organizations. While COBOL has been continually developed over the course of its 60 years, and millions have been invested each year, the language’s longevity is due to its original form that makes it unalterable as the language of crucial computing in business. Here are the main advantages.


A variety of programming languages exist in the present. They range from C as well as C++, to Python, Java and Visual Basic and Visual Basic, each one is different from the other in terms of function and complexity. Even though it’s been around for a while (or decades) in comparison to various other programming languages COBOL remains in its place in the index of programming languages by TIOBE which has established its position among the top used programming languages in the world over the course of.

The main reason for COBOL’s popular status is the fact the fact that COBOL was first developed with the goal to be as easy as it could be. At a time when IT barely existed and only a handful of people knew about data processing, it was created to establish a way for non-computer-literate professionals to communicate with computers. The original specification also demanded that the language be flexible that allowed for changes and modifications, and use’simple as possible or faux English and avoid using symbols in as much as is possible.

The characteristics of readability in COBOL is one of its major advantages of today that it is able to be recognized quickly and comprehended by everyone. Furthermore, because it is simple to comprehend, it’s also simple to master which is crucial in overcoming the technology shortage of skills.


Alongside its simplicity, the main purpose of the original COBOL specification was portability. COBOL’s great portability allows developers to analyze, troubleshoot create, test, and deploy applications on various platforms.

Additionally, it’s easy to rebuild COBOL applications and run them on containers, cloud environments, .NET and JVM, and in traditional environments like mainframes Linux, Unix and Windows.

To meet business needs, COBOL provides speed, accessibility, reliability and a robust data manipulation as well as offering greater accuracy than other programming languages , as a due to its 38 decimal number.

Modernisation = openness

Another important factor that has contributed to COBOL’s popularity is the versatility that the language technology offers. This allows it to constantly modernize COBOL, meaning that companies do not need to replace or rip out essential functions. Indeed the latest micro Focus survey found the fact that 70 per cent of companies prefer to upgrade their technology rather than completely revamp their technology.

To facilitate modernisation, COBOL’s architecture allows customization maintenance, enhancement and maintenance through contemporary IDE frameworks. It can also be revised and modified to accommodate APIs, microservices, and other modernisation programs based on services. Additionally, new software is available to simplify and automate a large portion of the procedure.

With the current global pandemic COBOL’s flexibility also means that it is able to support the new norm of people who are required to work remotely or collaborate, or be attached to the mainframe according to the circumstances. This makes it adaptable to today’s workplace and business.

In addition since it was first created, the continuous advancement of COBOL is a goal of large corporations to ensure that the that its systems meet current standards.

COBOL’s role within the FS industry

These benefits are essential to the FS sector, where there is no room for error. In banking, for example IT systems running on COBOL offer an enormous amount of value that cannot be repaired.

FS sector facilities are able to handle an enormous volume of users and transactions at the same time. Like when they were first built sixty years ago they require to be secure and durable as well as feature scalable data processing capabilities. They must be able to meet the capabilities of COBOL to access, process and reporting on enormous amounts of data, extensive computation and operating with speed.

COBOL allows for continuous modernisation of these fundamental systems, but they are dangerous to fully convert. If the past has taught us something, it’s that adding new functions into an IT system isn’t always an unintentionally flawless process. For instance, in the case of banking, any errors or delays could place the information and data that is essential to transactions and trading in securities at risk.

In this regard, COBOL is key to aiding IT departments to avoid the possibility of system failure and to ensure the security of customers’ personal information is secure.

Continuously evolving to meet business requirements

COBOL has been the foundation in the FS industry since its beginnings and will likely hold this position into the next decade as COBOL continues to develop.

Collaborations between business and academia such as the COBOL Academic Program along with the 16,000-strong COBOL programmers Facebook community, and a growing array of forums for users, training groups, and other organizations bring COBOL to the future generation of IT tech talent.

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