German financial giant Deutsche Bank has confirmed plans to ban text messages and online-based messaging applications including WhatsApp on company issued-devices, claiming communications sent using the services – unlike email – cannot be properly stored or archived.
All company smartphones will lose access to texting capabilities "this quarter", according to chief regulatory officer Sylvie Matherat and chief operating officer Kim Hammonds. The news was uncovered by Bloomberg who obtained an internal memo detailing the changes.
"We fully understand that the deactivation will change your day-to-day work and we regret any inconvenience this may cause," the memo said. "However, this step is necessary to ensure Deutsche Bank continues to comply with regulatory and legal requirements."
The compliance is believed to be linked to regulation enforced by the UK Financial Services Authority (FCA), which ruled in 2008 that banks and financial institutions must keep a copy of staffers' mobile phone communications for at least six months to "deter, detect and prevent market abuse."
The policy changes will also cover personal phones used by personnel for work purposes, Bloomberg reported. Free chat applications such as Apple's iMessage and Google Hangouts are included in the rules, Deutsche Bank spokesman Tim-Oliver Ambrosius also confirmed.
Despite the staff-focused changes, John Cryan, chief executive of the Deutsche Bank, told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week: "We are placing our bets on technology."
He said: "We're not sure that the fundamental nature of products will change much, although regulation tends to impact that. We don't think the demands of our clients and counterparts will change much, it's the delivery mechanism.
"We can use technology to improve our own controls. We can use technology to improve our efficiency and then we can use technology to improve the customer service."
Cryan has been on a mission to change the perception of the bank after a somewhat turbulent 2016. At the tail-end of last year, the bank announced it had agreed a $7.2bn settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) over the sale of toxic mortgage securities.
This week (Monday 16 January) the New York Post reported the bank may be forced to withhold up to 90% of bonuses for its bankers and traders. Citing an inside source, the publication said only the "top 10%" are now expected to receive a bonus for 2016.