Published on 20-Aug-2011
"Our competitiveness—our ability to retain our global customers—depends on our ability to adapt just as fast as the largest megabanks to our customers’ demands." - Bernt Eklindh, Global Owner, SWIFT payments systems, SEB
Business-to-Business, Business-to-Consumer, Business Performance Transformation, Enabling Business Flexibility, Industry Framework , Information Governance, Information Integration, Cloud & Service Management, Openness, Optimizing IT
In Europe, the biggest driver of change is the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), an initiative supported by the European Central Bank and the European Commission designed to standardize cross-border electronic payments within 32 European countries. In place of the patchwork of systems and standards that have traditionally governed euro payments, SEPA—when fully implemented—will “level the playing field” by effectively creating a single zone with common payment practices and standards.
SEB resolved to replace its payments infrastructure, capable of consolidating all of its payments traffic onto a single hub, offering faster payments with transparency, monitoring and alerts.
As a part of its future payment infrastructure, SEB singled out IBM’s Enterprise Payment Platform (EPP) as a potential candidate for a single hub for payments, and selected the product as the solution for routing SWIFT messages.
Expected 50 percent reduction in time to market for new payments services and capabilities; Lower IT support costs resulting from simplified integration; Improved ability to incorporate BI and AML capabilities by virtue of SEB’s new messaging hub architecture; Ability to develop intelligent payments-related services such as advanced liquidity management and least-cost routing, thus strengthening competitive differentiation; Maintenance of high levels of local retention for its global banking customers
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|Enabling value-added services in the wake of SEPA, which was causing payments processing to become something of a commodity|
|The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is expected to change the competitive landscape for European banks by redefining the advantage of one payments processing system over another.|
Recognizing the growing importance of speed and agility to its competitiveness, SEB resolved to replace its payments infrastructure a strategic payments platform, capable of consolidating all of its payments traffic onto a single hub, offering faster payments with transparency, monitoring and alerts.
|Smarter Banking:||SEB leverages intelligence to make payments smarter|
|Instrumented||SEB’s payment system can monitor messaging events in real-time to detect predefined patterns, such as indicators of potential money laundering.|
|Interconnected||SEB’s hub-based payments solution provides the bank with a single point of control for developing and testing new services.|
|Intelligent||By detecting payment events and account information, SEB can trigger the execution of business processes, such as automatically notifying customers if liquidity balances go outside of a targeted range.|
The expression “yesterday's luxuries become today's necessities” describes how standards change over time. That general metaphor can also be applied to what it takes to succeed in highly competitive markets. Take banking, for example. Traditionally, banks have been able to differentiate themselves in the marketplace based on the kinds of payments services they’re able to provide to customers, services which have provided a significant source of revenue and profit. While payments will no doubt continue to be a significant part of banks’ service portfolio, market and regulatory dynamics are “raising the bar”—redefining what it takes to compete in the global market for payment services.
In Europe, the biggest driver of change is the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), an initiative supported by the European Central Bank and the European Commission designed to standardize cross-border electronic payments within 32 European countries. In place of the patchwork of systems and standards that have traditionally governed euro payments, SEPA—when fully implemented—will “level the playing field” by effectively creating a single zone with common payment practices and standards. The main driver behind the SEPA initiative is the desire to increase cross-border economic activity within member nations by making payments processing faster, cheaper and more efficient.
A new payments landscape
Notwithstanding these benefits, SEPA is also expected to change the competitive landscape for European banks by redefining the nature of advantage in the payments processing space. While SEPA may not make core payments processing a true commodity services, it is clearly pushing them in that direction. The most progressive European banks aren’t sitting still in the face of this potential threat. Exemplified by banks such as Stockholm-based SEB—one of the largest in Northern Europe—these banks see the changes induced by SEPA creating a new tier of opportunities in the area of advanced, value-added payments services. As this story shows, they’ve begun to adapt, assembling the capabilities—in the form of frameworks, processes and technologies—they will needed to meet these emerging opportunities.
While SEB is a bank with strong local roots, its strategy is built around the importance of meeting the most demanding requirements of its corporate customers—wherever they are in the world. As Bernt Eklindh, global owner of SEB’s SWIFT payments systems, points out, this means having the ability to match what the largest banks have to offer. “Our competitiveness—our ability to retain our global customers—depends on our ability to adapt just as fast as the largest mega-banks to our customers’ demands,” says Eklindh. “We’ve built a reputation of being at the forefront of payments and are willing to do whatever is necessary to back that up.”
Building for agility
Recognizing the growing importance of speed and agility to its competitiveness, SEB resolved to over time replace its payments infrastructure—which had become an increasingly complex array of point-to-point connections between the bank’s legacy systems and external payment interfaces—with a strategic payments platform, capable of consolidating all of its payments traffic onto a single hub. As such, flexibility was seen as both a key solution criteria as well as an operational benefit. In the near-term, SEB saw the deployment of new SWIFT-based payments services—a pressing priority for the bank—as one of the first opportunities to put a new payment platform to work. Beyond that, SEB saw the ability to reuse existing service components (an outgrowth of the hub’s reliance on SOA principles and technology) as promising even more control, efficiency and flexibility down the road as it developed new payments services.
Just as important to SEB was the need for a level of transparency—an ability to track and trace payment messages at any point in time—that had not been feasible under its siloed, point-to-point payments infrastructure. The growing importance of transparency reflected the changes wrought by SEPA on two levels. The first was SEPA’s requirement that banks put in place the means to detect (and ultimately prevent) electronic payments associated with money laundering, terrorism funding or other illicit activities. The second—and more strategic—factor was the need to enable the value-added services that SEB expected to become increasingly important in the wake of SEPA. Since the majority of these services would leverage intelligence from within the bank’s payments system, transparency was essential.
|The inside story: Getting there|
|SEB’s decision to upgrade its payment system wasn’t a painful one. Its key decision-makers—driven primarily from IT and operations within its merchant banking unit, but supported all the way up to the top—realized that the demands of the marketplace made the change essential. But SEB’s vision wasn’t formulated overnight. It took a circumspect approach, looking at a range of options.|
|A strategic decision SEB made at the outset of the project was to go with a two-vendor solution. A key impact of this decision was an increase in demand for project management resources. While SEB personnel played an active role in managing the project, the bank also relied heavily on outside consultants (with whom it had existing relationships).|
|Realizing the magnitude and far-reaching ramifications of its decision, SEB needed to see for itself that the solution under consideration could deliver the level of payments transparency that was so critical to its future plans. To that end, the company ordered a detailed proof-of-concept solution be developed to prove its technical viability before going forward with final approval.|
|As a part of its future payment infrastructure, SEB singled out IBM’s Enterprise Payment Platform (EPP) as a potential candidate for a single hub for payments, and selected the product as the solution for routing SWIFT messages. Within the EPP solution IBM WebSphere® Message Broker performs the routing and transformation of messages between SEB’s applications and the SWIFTNet platform, while IBM WebSphere MQ provides the messaging backbone for SOA to deliver transactional messages between SWIFT and SEB’s multiple backend systems. The fact that payment information is captured and stored centrally (in a payments database built on IBM DB2) enables SEB to monitor, track and analyze it.|
|Moving forward and executing on their payment strategy SEB also sees a potential to develop services that take advantage of EPP’s ability to “listen in” on messaging events and trigger the execution of business processes based on predefined events or payment patterns. Practical examples range from an enhanced ability to detect money laundering activity to liquidity management applications that automatically notify customers if account balances go outside of a targeted range. Developing and deploying new services on the EPP are made easy by the using IBM Rational Software Modeler to define business process which are then simply automated on the EPP. Another accelerator is the possibility to reuse existing business processes and simply recombine them as components into the new desired process.|
A giant step toward speed and agility
SEB’s adoption of an open, hub-based messaging platform is a major step forward in its ongoing efforts to maximize its agility and to provide its customers with the advanced payments capabilities that they demand. These include intelligence-based services like least cost routing and payments tracking that EPP’s real-time transparency makes possible—services that are neither practical nor cost-effective in a siloed, point-to-point payments environment. The other important quality SEB gains with its SOA-based payments solution is speed in the development and delivery of new capabilities. The fact that EPP facilitates the reuse of existing components not only simplifies the development of new services, but also dramatically reduces the time required to make them available to customers. Based on the experience of other banks, SEB expects to cut time-to-market for new services in half.
SEB’s decision to deploy EPP to route SWIFT traffic as a part of its effort to transform its payments capability reinforces its track record as a leading-edge provider of payment services. With the global banking market continuing to evolve and the expectations of banking customers continually rising, Eklindh believes SEB is not only better positioned to adapt to this more demanding environment—but to also capitalize on the opportunities these changes will create. “We’re making quantum gains in the types of payments services we can offer our customers, as well as the efficiency and speed with which can deliver them,” explains Eklindh. “We’re more ready than ever to adapt to the changing demands of the global banking market and IBM is big part of that success.”
|Expected 50 percent reduction in time to market for new payments services and capabilities|
|Lower IT support costs resulting from simplified integration|
|Improved ability to incorporate BI and AML capabilities by virtue of SEB’s new messaging hub architecture|
|Ability to develop intelligent payments-related services such as advanced liquidity management and least-cost routing, thus strengthening competitive differentiation|
|Maintenance of high levels of local retention for its global banking customers|
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