Federal Bank drives “Digital India” vision with Intellect Transaction Banking

Intellect’s integrated Digital Transaction Banking (DTB) platform will help Federal Bank provide new, enhanced transaction banking services to its clients, and will help grow its business by enabling operational efficiency, quicker product launches & client onboarding

London (UK) & Chennai, November 13, 2017. Federal Bank, one of India’s most progressive and innovative banks has selected Intellect Design Arena Ltd, to implement its Digital Transaction Banking (DTB) platform from iGTB – powered by an integrated frontend omni-channel Corporate Banking eXchange (CBX) portal with backend processors for Collections & Receivables, Payables, Account Services and Supply Chain Finance and also augmenting the front end portal of their existing Trade Finance

Federal Bank, a pioneer in digital banking has launched numerous digital initiatives in recent years, including FedBook, India’s first mobile app for account opening, and the innovative online portals, FedNet and FedMobile. Through the implementation of DTB, the bank is looking to significantly grow its transaction banking business and take leadership in driving the Indian Government’s “Digital India” vision.

Shalini Warrier, Chief Operating Officer, Federal Bank, says: “This deal underlines our commitment to digital innovation as a way of adding value for our clients, and will help unlock the huge potential in the Indian transaction banking market. Though it is a system level value-add, there will be plenty of downstream benefits for our clientele in the form of quicker and better specialised services. Our motto is “Digital at the Fore, Human at the Core” and this implementation echoes that message – a full digital refresh, with the final aim of making life as easy as possible for our SMEs to large corporate clients.”

DTB will help deliver a cutting-edge experience to the bank’s clients – providing highly relevant products that are accessed through a single, intuitive omni-channel front-end portal. For the bank, centralised functions with optimized infrastructure will lead to reduced costs and increased automation, STP and efficiency. It will also improve customer convenience, time to market innovative products and accelerate client onboarding.

K Srinivasan, President & Head, Growth Markets, adds: “We are delighted to be the chosen partner for Federal Bank who is at the forefront of technology-driven banking transformation in India. This deal is a real vindication of our expertise, track-record and strength in the market. The DTB solution is our flagship product for digital transformation, specifically designed to help a transaction banking franchise grow, and we’re confident that it will take Federal Bank to new heights in the future, strategically positioning them for lasting success.”

About Intellect Design Arena Ltd:
Intellect Design Arena Ltd, a specialist in applying true digital technologies, is the world’s first full spectrum Banking and Insurance technology products company, across Global Consumer Banking (iGCB), Central Banking, Global Transaction Banking (iGTB), Risk, Treasury and Markets (iRTM), and Insurance (Intellect SEEC). With over 25 years of deep domain expertise, Intellect is the brand that progressive financial institutions rely on for digital transformation initiatives.

Intellect pioneered Design Thinking for cutting-edge products and solutions for Banking and Insurance, with design being the company’s key differentiator in enabling digital transformation. FinTech 8012, the world’s first design centre for Financial Technology, reflects Intellect’s commitment to continuous and impactful innovation to address the growing need for digital transformation. Intellect generates annual revenues of more than USD 124 million, serving more than 200 customers through offices in 40+ countries and with a diverse workforce of more than 4,000 solution architects, domain and technology experts in major global financial hubs around the world. For further information on the organization and its solutions, please visit intellectdesign.com. For information on the solutions for global transaction banking, please visit igtb.com.

About Federal Bank:
Federal Bank is a leading Private Sector Bank with a branch network of 1,252 branches and 1,678 ATMs spread across the country. The Bank’s total business mix (deposits + advances) stands at Rs 1.77 Lakh Crore as at September 30, 2017 and it has earned a net profit of Rs 473.85 Crore for the half year ended 30 September 2017. Bank’s Capital to Risk weighted Ratio (CRAR) stood at 14.63% at the end of 30th September, 2017. Federal Bank has its Representative Offices at Dubai and Abu Dhabi that serve as a nerve centre for NRI customers in the UAE. The Bank also has an IFSC Banking Unit (IBU) in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City). Federal Bank is transforming itself, keeping its principles intact, into an organization that offers services beyond par. It has a well defined vision for the future as a guidepost to its progress. During FY 17 the bank handled around 15 % of the total personal inward remittance to India.

Fintech Disruptors

Biren Parekh, VP, Intellect design arena, was invited to the prestigious Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, located in the IIT Bombay campus to deliver a speech on fintech disruptors:

  1. API Banking – As per the latest trends, API Banking will literally disrupt the banking concepts. There will not be branches anymore and all transactions will be done through API, which will be offered by different non-banking
    portals or anyone who wants to offer banking transactions through their portal.
  2. Crypto Currency – Crypto currency has already disrupted banking deposits. There are lot of portals and apps who are offering more returns on deposits compared to banks. Many smart guys have already started investing money
    in Bitcoin. They get the double advantage i.e. increase in price of bitcoin as well higher returns on investment. Isn’t interesting? Do contact me.
  3. Peer to Peer lending– Similar to Crypto currency, this offers significantly higher returns than bank deposits e.g. faircent.com.
  4. Robo Advisor – Robo advisors are not new, but they still have to catch up with youngsters. It will hopefully pick up in the coming years, since youngsters are tech-savvy and have less time. One can do financial management
    on the go without human interaction, based on factual information.
  5. Biometric Payments – Voice based payments or retina based payments are going to be new norms in coming years.
  6. IoT based insurance pricing – Are you a rash driver? Be ready to pay more insurance premium for your vehicle! And if you are a good and patient driver, be ready to benefit from the same by paying less premium. With IoT sensors
    on your vehicle, insurance companies will be able to judge how prone you are to making accidents. Are you looking for insurance companies offering these solutions? Search only if you are in US.
  7. Social Media Banks– The topic sounds interesting, isn’t it? Yes, so are the banks. There are banks in Europe, like the Fidor bank, which offer higher interest rates depending on how many likes they receive on different options
    of interest rate on social media!

Anonymous’s blog

Life of (A)PI

The new big thing is APIs! Ironic, since when I did my computer science degree back in the seventies I was taught that everything as about programming interfaces (what we now call application programming interfaces): firewalls against the evil bugs seeking to infect and bring down more and more of the system. My copy of Glenford J Myers’ seminal work “Reliable Software through Composite Design” – which introduced the measures of cohesion (a Good Thing: the degree to which the code behind an API stands on its own two feet) and coupling (a Bad Thing: the degree to which two pieces of API-supporting code depend on each others’ insides).i I was writing operating systems. When you are writing operating systems, your main job is to protect the computer (then it was a mainframe) from whatever the programs could throw at it. The program might fail: the whole computer must not. The pinnacle, it seemed to me, of safety in operating systems, was ICL’s VME (which I did, myself, ahem, work on) which not only had paging to allow multiprocessing but also segmentation which helped keep processes unable to infect each other. I won’t go into details (you’ll be grateful for that) but it helped. And that was where APIs were the be-all and end-all of what we did: everything had to come through published APIs. Divide and conquer, you see.

This is a rare thing: a Sibos blog that is not from Sibos. Oh I had big plans this year: I did a few blogs just to whet our appetite beforehand, in the lead up to Sibos. I had my themes all worked out for the daily blogs – from our Saturday night party (guest speaker, Dr Leila Fourie, CEO< Australian Payments and Clearing Association), from our Sunday morning round table business session (guest speaker, Kristy Duncan, CEO, Women in Payments), from our Sibos Booth (booth L51), from our Open Theater session (contextual banking) and from our lead sponsorship of the phenomenal Sibos-to-Money 20/20 currency race: the Great American Bank-Off – which, by the way, our racer, Ameélie Arras, won. Yeay!! And then… And then, the Sunday before I was set to travel, I ended up in hospital. Nothing threatening (though I didn’t know that at first). But no food, no drink, and certainly no travel, no Toronto, no Sibos. Instead, tubes, needles, tapes, drips, drapes, sips. Sips, actually, was a major step forward. So to my regular readers: apologies. I wasn’t able even to blog from my hospital bed (the doctors told me off for trying to type!) As consolation, one blog this year, post-Sibos, post-AFP, post-Money 20/20, post-EuroFinance, post-hospital, post-haste, post-free.

If I may get technical for a moment (don’t worry, bankers, I’ll return to banking in a bit), it all led to objects. One thing about low coupling and high cohesion is that you want the-code-behind-APIs (let’s just call them APIs) to be re-entrant. That means different processes can run the same code and it doesn’t get confused. For example, if a piece of code writes temporarily an important number to a named file and then reads it back later it isn’t re-entrant, because if two processes do it at the same time the one named file will get overwritten. More than this, there were often times when an API needed to store some information between different calls of the API: for example to assign a unique number different for each invocation. Objects arose first, then, as a way to preserve state across multiple calls of an API – without compromising coupling and cohesion. Nowadays, processes needs not only to be stateless but also need to survive being abandoned (just like what happens when use Expedia to find out the price of a ticket but don’t bother booking it). Abandonment causes all sorts of technical problems that are generally called garbage collection: thankfully, we bankers don’t need to worry about that.

Interestingly, the Big Leap Forward in usability came intricately intertwined with this object orientation. Alan Kay wanted a computer children could use as a learning tool and he needed to create simple graphics and keep them in their own places. So he came up with WIMPs: Windows, Icons, Mouse and Pointers. Before then (and anybody millennial or later won’t know this) to interact with computers you typed what was called a command – when the computer was ready (it usually said to you, “>”) – most of which elicited a response along the lines of “Error.” To build this, he needed lots of things to happen to lots of other things – eg windows, icons, mouse (clicks) pointers etc – but they all needed to be kept separate. So his colleague Adele Goldberg created a pure object oriented programming language called Smalltalk (beautiful but slow) from which by way of C came C++ (ugly and obtuse but fast) and then Java (much more interesting name).

Why, I hear you cry, oh why, does this matter to me?

APIs are the new FTEs. So says an article by Gaurav Jain in 2015i though I think I heard it before. But, as many commentators have noted, they are the way to open doors between enterprises. Once again, standards can make amazing things happen. Just look what they did for shipping – containerisation arguably destroyed the profitability of the ports of New York and Liverpool and fuelled the growth of Port Elizabeth and Rotterdam. See the box.ii APIs are the new FTEs because they do work for you. I can already get “computers” to do so many things for me – tell me where I am (GPS), what time it is (clock/alarm), what the weather is like, what the traffic is like as well as actions – submit my tax return, book a restaurant table, buy well, almost anything, gamble, advertise a job, get a job, etc. Anything you can do on the internet you can program a system (aka a product) to do.

Well, many of us know that and have done so, for a while. For me, the interesting thing is not just that it means if we can export services as APIs we can make money/invoke others’ services as APIs also make money. It is how it impact the sort of information that needs to pass along the API. So here’s a concrete example. Last weekend with some lifetime savings I opened two ISAs (a UK tax-efficient savings vehicle), closed two regular savings accounts (whose interest rates had dropped from 5% to 0.05%), open two replacements and moved several thousand pounds through enough accounts in this process using Faster Payments to make it like they do in the movies when they are hiding money. All in around half an hour on one day, plus another half hour to make sure the new accounts had the best rates. The APIs behind this do not just allow it to happen, they are full of associated information. For this, and extending to some other common scenarios you will recognise:

  • What is the interest rate?
  • What are the early withdrawal terms?
  • Can I complete this to fulfilment online?
  • (for a hotel room) how many rooms are still available?
  • (an aircraft seat) how long before the price goes up?

So, phew, banking. Contextual banking – that thing about understanding what a business is actually trying to achieve – and maybe even anticipating it – means lots of need for this sort of information. At Sibos our contextual banking platform went down a storm (and not just because everybody loved hearing Alexa on the Echo Dot). For example, when it helps you choose a method of payment by showing graphical ratings of speed, cost, safety etc, these are just what people want.

But – here’s the crunch – to get this it’s not just a front end from a channel system vendor. You have to have a payments system that can – through the APIs – tell the front end what each rail costs, how long it takes, how safe it is. That’s true contextual banking.

Want to see it? Go to igtb.com and watch the video at the bottom of the scroll.

And one thing I leanred: the human body is far more complex and fragile than you realise. Yes, I knew that. But from my hospital experience, I now truly know it.

  1. “Reliable Software through Composite Design,” Glenford J Myers, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975
  2. https://techcrunch.com/2015/09/06/apis-are-the-new-ftes/
  3. The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger,” Marc Levinson, Princeton University Press, 2006.
  4. Or click here: https://youtu.be/CAQSqmNhDEA

iGTB at Sibos Open theater 1

Don’t miss iGTB at the Sibos open theater.

Herber De Ruijter. Head of Digital, and Phil Cantor, CMO, iGTB present on the future ready Contextual Banking.

Session Title: Contextual Banking knows what’s Best-Next: A Digital Omnichannel Platform that supports best-next-action and best-next-offer for upselling.

Date:Tuesday 17 Oct | Time: 5.00 pm to 5.30 pm

In the future of digital transaction banking, the interaction itself – triggered through an API or a ‘Situational User Interface’ – will be just the starting point. The bank’s role will not focus on execution but instead on contextualisation.
By understanding the intent and context of every interaction, banks can make payments ‘business aware’ to determine best next action or offer. Channel interactions will no longer focus on the execution of the transaction, but instead
on understanding the reasoning behind it in order to determine an in-the-moment Best Next Offer or Best Next Action. Discover new profit moments through a sneak peek of iGTB’s contextual and API-led banking products by attending
our Sibos open theatre session hosted by Herber De Ruijter, Head of Digital, and Phil Cantor, CMO, iGTB.
Register to attend

About the author(s)

Herber De Ruijter
Head of Digital Strategy, iGTB

Herber brings more than two decades experience in product strategy, business development and product development to the role. Prior to joining Backbase, Herber previously worked for experience management vendor SDL Tridion,
where he was Head of Operations of North America. Herber joins iGTB from solutions provider Backbase, where he was responsible for product development as well as leading the company’s American business and operations.

Phil trained as a computer scientist and mathematician and wrote operating systems until 1984 when he co-founded a business selling accounting systems to SMEs. 15 years in TSB (where he worked on the merger with Lloyds) and Barclays
(where he launched corporate banking products) followed, covering first technology and then pure business roles launching business banking products and a private bank’s first web site.

Another 15 years followed running banking software products in best poacher-turned-gamekeeper tradition, especially in cash and liquidity in Raft, Misys and Smartstream.

Phil is a maths and computer science graduate from York University. He is a Fellow of the BCS.

Global Transaction Banking Advisory Event 14 – 15 October | Toronto

14 & 15 October, 2017 | Toronto

Make sure you arrive on Saturday and don’t miss this signature event.

Kick off Sibos with a bang! Network privately with the heads of transaction banking, cash management, payments, channels and other elite members of the Global Transaction Banking industry.
Why you should attend

iGTB in conjunction with Women In Payments are delighted to invite senior Transaction Banking experts (Male gender no bar!) to the annual pre-Sibos GTB Advisory event happening at two stunning locations. Reserve your seat now!

Saturday, 14 October Fairmont Royal York 6.30 pm onwards Cocktail Reception followed by Dinner
Wine, dine and network at the hotel that is the residence of choice for members of the Canadian Royal Family and indeed Queen Elizabeth II herself.

Keynote Address
Dr Leila Fourie
Chief Executive Officer, APCA

Sunday, 15 October
Art Gallery of Ontario
9.30 am to 12.00 noon (optional breakfast from 8.30 am and lunch after)

A stimulating session warrants a stimulating environment. With a collection of more than 90,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario, is among the most distinguished art museums in North America.

9:30 am–11:30 am Business Round Table Sessions
11:30 am–12:00 pm Feedback & Wrap up
12:00 pm Networking Lunch

Keynote Address
Kristy Duncan
Founder & CEO, Women In Payments

Business Round Table Sessions

With a mantra of “no death by powerpoint” the business round tables are working sessions that enable you to shape the future strategy and set direction for customer experience, processing payments, cash management, liquidity, trade and supply chain finance
and other Transaction Banking products. Join a table and agree or disagree on

  • Real time payments: a desirable, feasible but not-viable tax? – or can banks profit by delivering valuable new services?
  • Customer digital experience: made irrelevant by APIs? – or an opportunity to add smart routing, analytics and artificial intelligence to the customer’s journeys?
  • Corporate liquidity solutions: protecting a golden goose? – or creating new value for clients?
  • Supply chain finance: a distraction being seduced by blockchain? – or a real way to make more money for banks?

Attendees will receive the full output of all the round tables, which will serve as a useful guide to setting the strategy at your bank.

12.45 pm to 1.30 pm Private, guided, expert tour of the Art Gallery of Ontario

Sibos 2017 Booth # L5116 – 19 October | Metro Toronto Convention Center, Toronto

Booth # L51. 16 – 19 October | Metro Toronto Convention Centre | Toronto, Canada

17 October, 5.00 pm – 5,30 pm | Open Theater One

RUN THE BANK. CHANGE THE BANK. DESIGN THE BANK. Find out how with iGTB at booth # L51.
Schedule an appointment with our experts

iGTB is all set to participate at Sibos 2017 to be held in Toronto from 16-19 October.

At iGTB, everything we do is designed to help banks make more money. With the world’s first integrated transaction banking platform, we have experience with 100+ live installations across 85 countries. We are the authority that progressive
transaction banks rely on to realize their global transition banking ambitions.

Stop by stand #L51 while at Sibos and speak with the experts

  • Digital
  • Payments & Cash Management
  • Liquidity
  • Commercial Risk
  • Supply Chain & Trade Finance

Contextual Banking knows whats Best-Next: A Digital Omnichannel Platform that supports best-next-action and best-next-offer for upselling. Live walk-through on 17 October, 5.00 pm – 5,30 pm at Open Theater One.

iGTB’s Algorithmic Liquidity Solution

Chennai (India) and London (UK), 19th October 2016: Intellect, the organisation behind the world’s first comprehensive Global Transaction Banking (iGTB) product and Platinum level member of Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), achieves 10 times faster benchmarks on Liquidity Platform running on SPARC T7 servers for processing transactions covering the key functions of corporate Algorithmic Liquidity Management (ALM). The iGTB solution can process over one million complex sweep structures at 7,516 instructions per second. It is also capable of processing over 200,000 transactions with up-to-three-months backdated sweeps in a little over three minutes; and over a million with full intercompany loan processing in nine minutes (1,692 per second).

Algorithmic Liquidity Processing automatically moves money held by corporations and banks around the world into investments to maximise its value, avoiding overdrafts, and to minimise risk of losing money. This huge daily activity is even more vital in a world of negative interest rates and real time payments. iGTB processes liquidity for a large number of corporations in the world through their banks using its Algorithmic Liquidity Solution. The solution automates cross border, cross currency and cross bank liquidity management with no manual intervention. The resultant advantages of Algorithmic Liquidity Solution include best returns on idle balances and increased transparency for regulatory compliance.

“It is a highly complex, rule-driven, automated process that has to cater for regulatory restrictions in any of over 160 countries,” says Manish Maakan, CEO, iGTB. “It demands tax calculations (including an especially computer-intensive issue reworking earlier calculations where payments are backdated and need reworking daily up to three months backwards), automatic initiation and execution, complex rules for automating treasury decisions on money movement and investment, fair interest deduction, repayment and audit of intercompany loans and even more complex interest or margin allocation across ‘notional pools,’ which treat multiple accounts as a single holding for interest purposes.”

This represents volumes higher than the current requirements of iGTB’s largest customers (who include banks in the global top-ten list), leaving headroom for growth. Maakan adds “What is especially impressive about these tests is that they are using volumes that are above some of the largest banks in the world, showing that all banks – and therefore all corporations worldwide – should be able to benefit from the most suitable sweeping and pooling, no matter what complexities the regulators and corporate treasurers demand.”

“Oracle’s SPARC T7 servers with their breakthrough Software in Silicon technology provide Security in Silicon and Analytics Accelerators that prove to be extremely powerful for financial services applications. Intellect’s latest iGBT Liquidity results on SPARC T7 demonstrate the unprecedented efficiency, security and performance capabilities of these servers with Oracle Database 12c and WebLogic Server 12c for critical banking functions.”Ganesh Ramamurthy, Senior Vice President, Product Development, Oracle

About the Tests

Performance benchmarking was conducted and reviewed jointly by iGTB and Oracle Systems engineering teams. The tests were conducted across a mix of 11 business-critical batch processes. The solution was tested on SPARC T7 servers with Oracle Database 12c and Oracle Solaris 11 to determine their performance and scalability parameters. 

About Oracle PartnerNetwork:

Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) is Oracle’s partner program that provides partners with a differentiated advantage to develop, sell and implement Oracle solutions. OPN offers resources to train and support specialized knowledge of Oracle’s products and solutions and has evolved to recognize Oracle’s growing product portfolio, partner base and business opportunity. Key to the latest enhancements to OPN is the ability for partners to be recognized and rewarded for their investment in Oracle Cloud. Partners engaging with Oracle will be able to differentiate their Oracle Cloud expertise and success with customers through the OPN Cloud program – an innovative program that complements existing OPN program levels with tiers of recognition and progressive benefits for partners working with Oracle Cloud. To find out more visit: http://www.oracle.com/partners.

Sibos Diaries 2017: 8 minutes

I look down. Water.

I can see just water. A few small clouds below. But water, as far as the eye can see. I wonder where I am, I must have dozed off watching one of those films I never got to see in the cinema when they came out – briefly, like a whoosh, here, it’s here,
then gone, suddenly gone, never to be seen of again. I don’t understand the film distribution industry but something is rotten in it. Religiously, I listen to Mark Kermode telling me all about the films I should watch (and more
importantly, the films I shouldn’t) but of course many of the films he recommends, though he’s not flawless, not a bit of it, what exactly was going on in Free Fire? – but half the time the films don’t even make it to my local
cinema in deepest darkest north Essex, 100 k’s East of London. Oh yes, they might be on (for a day or two) at an arts cinema, maybe in Cambridge (an hour away) or somewhere, but blink and it’s gone. Moonlight – that got a distribution,
we saw that, but need to see it again. Gone. The Handmaiden? (not to be confused with The Handmaiden’s Tale, of course, a completely different thing, no this is a Japanese rendering of a Sarah Waters book and rave reviews it got)
– missed it – actually, I don’t think it ever came. I heard of one showing on a Sunday night in Aldeburgh but that’s over an hour away on the Suffolk coast, lovely place, but it was just not possible to get there and back.

Lion. That’s what I was trying to watch. Lion, the film people talked about, my wife saw it (I was away in Canada, preparing for Sibos.Of. Course.) With Dev Patel, from Skins, and another “True Story”. All the films these days seem to be “true stories”
– or at least “based on”. Got to be a bit cautious though, Fargo always says it’s a true story and we don’t believe that, do we, Messrs Coen…?

I get a bit annoyed. Hidden Figures – great film, loved it, and as a mathematician it really spoke to me. I even Googled Euler’s rather rough and ready Method (I did it at school but had forgotten it). The idea that clever black women helped the maths
for the NASA moonshot is a fascinating one and the racism they experienced according to the film was a complete and sad revelation. Except, when you read Katherine Johnson’s account from real life, she said “I didn’t feel the segregation
at NASA, because everybody there was doing research. You had a mission and you worked on it, and it was important to you to do your job…and play bridge at lunch. I didn’t feel any segregation.” Ohhh… As if they aren’t enough
racist situations, real ones, to make films about, why make one up? Sully was another. Great film, and one more inevitable step in Tom Hanks’s transmogrification into Jimmy Stewart. But he gets a real grilling from the Air Transport
Investigation court, who don’t seem to realize he was a hero, and it seems nasty, really nasty and personal. Oh, except. Except it wasn’t actually like that. “In real life, this process was far more drawn out and largely benign,
as most such questions were routine”. Sure you wouldn’t have a film without changing truth, but both times I felt really let down. “True story” films, loved watching them, captivated, then came home, Googled and found out the truth.
Not right.

Maybe it was better before Google. Maybe I should Google the von Trapp family or Douglas Bader or The Great Train Robbery or Laurence of Arabia or The Bridge Over the River Kwai or Colditz (TV)…the real truth behind so many much earlier films whose narrative
I had taken, ingénu as I was, as gospel. Best not. Anyway, I fell asleep during Lion. No doubt I have been working too hard (just saying that, in case my boss is reading this).

So, I wondered where I was. I turned on the “interactive map”. Black Sea! Never realized it was so big. I had been to its front door, so to speak, in the ’60s, when my parents took me to Istanbul. And of course the Black Sea is where Colchis lies, the
home of the original Golden Fleece. My middle name is “Jason” so I always felt some affinity for the Argonauts and their trip to relieve Aeëtes of his prize possession (though the books never really portray them as common thieves).
I’m on the plane, on my way to India, for 8 minutes.

I will be there longer than that, of course. But the main purpose of the visit (though I have managed to cram in a client meeting on the Saturday afternoon) is an 8-minute stage performance. I’m quite excited.

We have a great new product – now hold your horses, I’m not going to go into selling mode, although I have to say it’s rather special and could turn business e-banking on its head but, that’s for another day, visit our web site, come to Sibos, wait for
the launch.

Before we launch it, our wonderful Chairman suggested we should do a pre-launch at our own annual company event, great idea, and that’s what I am doing. “8 minutes” I was told.

Now it’s interesting how people react. I saw one email from someone else doing one who wept “8 minutes! Only 8 minutes?” but my reaction was “8 minutes? Wow, that’s long!” After all, 30 seconds is a long TV ad. Well, you have to make a statement, don’t
you. So I have burned 25 seconds of those precious 8 minutes with an AV-style intro, a mélange of pictures about our clients’ clients, with a fantastic, stirring soundtrack, and some stunning visuals effects that will raise the
roof and create a super emotional bond. I hope. Originally I had each image on the montage taking 4 bars of the frenetic, overblown flute music, but that was just taking too looooooong. So I chopped the FX down ruthlessly and the
images, 2 bars each: 1.2 seconds for the complex effect and only 0.4 to see each amazingly rich image. That’s shorter than you should but hey, what’s the point of rules if you can’t break them? And, I have TWO screens! What a joy
that is! So we’ve got mayhem happening on each of two screens at the same time. The audience won’t be able to keep up.[‡] Actually, I know that they will keep up. With the whole idea. Just maybe not each picture. Which is just
fine. If it doesn’t get applause I will resign.

I’ll create even more emotion when I introduce our Digital Head – who has not only come up with this stunning product but also, before even the launch, got three large banks on board – so that he can show it off. And a finale, of a final 16 seconds. But
it’s worth it. The “meat” is around 7 of the 8 minutes but it won’t have the impact without the wrapper.

Or so I choose to believe.

You can do a lot in 8 minutes. 20 TV ads or more. 8.9 times Chris Froome’s winning (smallest ever) margin. 220.8 kilometres the Earth will travel. 8 rounds of “Just a Minute”. 50 Usain Bolt 9.58 second World Records. 17,280,000,000,000,000 alpha particles
emitted by one kilo of radon-226 (more or less). Fly across the Black Sea at 610mph and still not see land. And 1/12,933 of the time left before SIbos begins.

HistoryVSHollywood.com

ibid

But, like Hill Street Blues showed, the first TV drama really not to wait for the audience. Don’t underestimate the audience. You don’t have to see every little element to get the big picture.

[§] It will. If only because I will plant someone to start the applause. I’m 100% confident it will be spontaneous, though. You know that feeling, when you’ve created something you just KNOW people will love? But just in case…it’s a funny thing but,
with a crowd, if one person claps, everybody almost always will join in! I learnt this 17 years ago, at Risk 2000, where my then company was sponsoring the lunch. I was giving a 2-minute overview of the company and we had given
everybody mints in a little tin box as a gift. Now, these mints were tricky to open: the trick was to press down on the lid in the middle and they would pop open with a little “clack”. As I explained this, half the audience (about
100 people) picked up their tin of mints and dutifully pressed them in the middle. 100 “clacks”. Well, 100 clacks sound like applause. At this, the whole audience of 200 started clapping furiously. I smiled, gratefully took in
the applause, abandoned the rest of my speech, shouted “Come see us at our booth!” and sat down, a hero, learning a valuable lesson.

Relative to a notionally static Sun. Don’t go all Einstein on me.

At time of writing. You’ll be able to see the 8 minutes – well a slightly longer one – at Sibos, Open Theatre One, Tuesday, 5.00.

Sibos Diaries 2017: Let’s abolish accounts!

As we build up to Sibos in Toronto, it’s time to bring some fundamental banking concepts to, ahem, account.

We all assume accounts exist for a good reason. Got to be some place to keep your money, right? But accounts are flawed, in many ways and I’ll hope to convince you of this. Let’s start with a retail example.

Last year my wife had around £25,000 in her current account. Yes, I know she’s a lawyer but she’s not rich, honestly, I married her for love (and, by the way, nearly 40 years ago), she does family law which is more like social work really and paid about
the same… Anyway, we had had some builders in and they wanted paying and, being builders, had screwed up and so no way we were going to pay them yet.

Well, all credit to our bank. They rang her up, and said, “We notice you have £25,000 in your current account. Now, the current account only pays interest up to the first £5,000. I can get you interest on the remaining £20,000, if you’d like.” Not much
interest, these days, but even 1.9% on 20k is several meals out. “Ok,” she said, “give me the money.” “Great,” he replied, “I’ll open up a savings account for you then.” “No,” she said, “just give me the money. You’ve got my £25,000
and you tell me you can get me interest on the unused 20k, so just give me the interest.” “No, it doesn’t work like that,” he said, “you have to open another account. It won’t take more than around 10 minutes.” “No,” she said,
“I don’t want to open another account. Just do what you have to do to get me the interest from my money, which you already have.” He was struggling. Eventually he shamefacedly admitted he didn’t get his commission unless she opened
a savings account.

What is wrong with that, true, story? Where to begin? Firstly, the commission structure, clearly cock-eyed. Secondly, the silo’d nature of the bank. Thirdly, the “sales” technique. But fourthly, a crucial complete misunderstanding of the client’s real
need.

Banks assume we want accounts. If we want to get by day to day, open a current account. For a loan, open a loan account. Unless it’s a mortgage, in which case open a separate, mortgage, account. For savings, a savings account. But it’s not true. All we
want is for the bank to look after our money, not lose any of it, not charge us the earth for the privilege, not milk us for interest if we need some funds and give us reasonable rate of interest on the money we do have. Banks
experimented for a bit around 10 years ago with “All in One” accounts – basically a notional pool across a still-underlying set of accounts, which should have been attractive because a fluctuating positive current account balance
could help reduce interest payments on a mortgage. They should have been all the rage, but they didn’t really catch on, mainly because they turned out often not to be cheaper.

But, you say, people like keeping things separate. Yes, it’s true, consumers do. It’s called “jam jar accounting” and goes back to when people used to keep one jam-jar on the mantelpiece to hold the gas money, one for the rent, one for the electric, and
so on. But having a current account, a loan account, a savings account and a mortgage account are different jam-jars. Everybody has his or her own jam-jar strategy.

I asked the COO of a noted UK Challenger bank why he was offering accounts. “How are you being disruptive?” He said, “Yes! Yes!! That’s what I wanted to do! The regulator wouldn’t let us. In fact, the regulator couldn’t even understand the concept!”

What about for the big boys, though? What about transaction banking?

Well, now it gets even more interesting. Of course, separate legal entities have to have their money held separately (unless you want to get into creating additional legal entities with client money and comingling with all the complex regulation and reporting
that involves). Furthermore, for tax and legal reasons, countries have to be separated.

The problem with accounts in commercial banking is the way they are used for payments.

The old fashioned way of making payments was barter, then cash, then IOUs/cheques (where America is at, by the way), then direct bank transfer. Look at any invoice.[2] What do you see? “Please remit to IBAN GBXX123456789XX.” “Here’s my private bank details,
please put the money in there.” It’s like, in a shop, the teller opening the till and letting you put the money in. (Hope you don’t help yourself, while you’re there).

Maybe I’m a purist but I don’t really like giving this information away to a third party. Yes, I know in theory people can only put money in (yippee!) and not take money out (ouch) but – well, even then it’s worrying. What if somebody put some money in
by mistake, a large enough amount to matter but not be obvious, and I spend it (and all my real, own money) and then someone comes knocking wanting it back? (And yes, banks will just give it back…) But it just feels wrong.

More importantly, we have misunderstood the true nature of a payment. A payment is from A to B for C. Quite apart from completely forgetting about C (a “clean payment” – ha! doesn’t exist!)[3] we conflate the act of paying (A) and the act of receiving
(B). All A wants (maybe reluctantly, but never mind) is to lose the right sum of money, and to lose it in the right way, whether using spare money, dipping into money set aside from something else or funding this payment partially
or fully somehow. Meanwhile, all B wants is to know payment has been made and the money received has been used to best effect. A may want to lose money in GBP while B might best want the money in JPY. A might need the money for
a bit before paying or might be flush and happy to pay early. B might need the money urgently – or not. So whether a wire, FX, a loan, an investment or some combination (yeah! supply chain finance!) the principles are all the same.
So why not just have one product?

What banks may not realize though is that this is really hurting their sales efforts. We know that principal banks make 3.2 more income than others – basically being the principal bank is being the profitable bank. So how to acquire a new client?

Well, the great thing is, the sales person goes into the company, shows all the advantages of coverage, of expertise, of better liquidity management etc etc. Just change your main banking to us!

What does the corporation do? Changes his accounts over to this new bank. Finance write to all the company’s customers advising them of the new payment account. “Please, from date X, ensure all remittances are now paid to NEWBANK at
this IBAN.” Now picture what happens. All the customers are rubbing their hands with glee. Six months later, with the corporation on its knees for lack of cash, business booming but actual balances fallen off a cliff, the sound
can be heard of the plaintive collections clerk phoning round the customers one last time “Where is out money?” “Oh, sorry, haven’t you got it yet? We paid it, into the OLDBANK account, as usual.” “Grr…” Stickiness, that’s what
this creates, and good banks don’t want artificial stickiness, only bad ones do. And Governments certainly don’t want it.

Again, there’s a remedy: virtual accounts, and they are beginning to take hold. But that’s why we constantly need to challenge fundamental, historical, always-one-it-this-way assumptions, like the usage of accounts.

One last story. Twenty years ago, I was working at Group level in a large UK bank and joined a “let’s innovate” session at head office. We asked ourselves the question: what are our unwritten, unknown assumptions, that might be wrong?” A tricky one to
answer, it’s a bit like saying “What are you NOT thinking of?” or “What’s in the bottom right of Johari’s window?” So we mulled about and did a few exercises to think about how our actions were driven by historical and no-longer-existing
assumptions.

It hit us! The Post Office! Hundreds of years ago, banks worked on a daily cycle. Why did they work on a daily cycle? Because the Post Office delivered mail daily. So payments could be sent to a clearing house every evening. Head office could send out
a “refer list” every morning and it land on the bank manager’s mat to show, essentially, what had been paid and what had bounced. But now we have real time banking. Accounts still operate on a daily basis. We don’t need the Post
Office for this any more, we no longer send vans out every night. Though we still often have “close of business” processing when our old batch systems have to dreams their fancy end-of-day dreams.[5] If you don’t believe me that
we are still on a daily cycle, have a look at your bank statement. What’s in the leftmost column? Date, yes? Not time. At what time was each transaction posted? Who funded any intraday shortfall? Who paid interest on any transient
surplus? When is interest credited? When debited?

Cheerfully knocking a 3’ wide 6’ high opening for a new door in an 1850’s brick supporting wall right next to the supporting corner with NO lintel (not even a concrete one) – on the Thursday before Good Friday so I couldn’t rustle up an Acrow to hold
it up for five days. Had to “build” a brick stanchion. Amazingly, we didn’t get cracks nor did the house fall down.

Oh, and we can and probably should abolish those also. One for another blog.

And I could argue here is where we could learn a thing or two from Sharia’a banking – one of whose principles is never to divorce the transaction from the underlying trade. Isn’t that just “the financial supply chain should follow (be concurrent with?)
the physical supply chain” – but in simpler language? And, where would your CDO squareds have been under Sharia’a banking – essay question: would the ten-years-ago crisis have happened had we been under Sharia’a law?

Named not after an exotic Johari but after two guys, Joe Luft and Harry Ingham. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window if you don’t know about this.

Russia is an especial problem. 11 time zones, so if a branch in Kaliningrad closes at 6pm, only four hours later the Kamchatka branch could be ready to open at 8am.

“Interest credited at start of day, debited at end of day” say the corporations. “Interest debited at start of day, credited at end of day” say the banks. Oops. One for the regulator?

Phil Cantor’s blog

Sibos Diaries 2017: I nearly never walked again.

It’s only complicated on the inside.

I have metal in my leg. It sets off the metal detectors at airports and I have to explain when they wave their magic wands over me and I hear the monotonous cacophony of beeps that it isn’t my belt, isn’t keys, isn’t a stray mobile phone, is just a piece of titanium I would love to have removed but haven’t. It just means I can walk.

I mentioned in a recent Sibos blog it was six years ago we were last in Toronto. Writing that brought back to me these, more painful, memories of 2011.

If you’re squeamish, look away now. But if not, you should be able to see from the X-ray that a whole wedge of my tibia nearly broke away, exactly one week after my 33rd Wedding Anniversary. Foolishly I insisted on my friend driving me from the slopes of Flaine to the hospital where they soundly berated me for not calling an ambulance.
I was convinced it was a small thing, “strap me up!” I said “and I’ll be on my way!” After all, I had bought corporate hospitality tickets to see the World Cup at Chamonix the very next day with my wife and best friends for €1,500. “I’m not missing that

M. Coudert, who had also a few years previously filled my leg with metal (same leg), came and saw me late that Friday night. “Je veux vous expliquer la gravité de la situation” he said Woah.

He went on, in English, “I will not operate tomorrow. Tomorrow we are busy. I will operate on Sunday morning, first thing. I want to be fresh for such a long and complex challenge.” That’s not good. When a surgeon (and especially one as talented as M. Coudert, whose location at the foot of Mont Banc means he probably butchers and fixes up more broken bodies than anyone else in the world in the shortest of orders) needs a night’s rest to have a run up at treating you, it’s time to worry a tad.

Surgeons are not noted for their humility nor their generosity to fellow practitioners. But when I returned to one of the finest knee surgeons in England at the Oaks Hospital in Colchester, he heard what had happened and said “well you will have osteoporosis for sure, if there is any cartilage left at all, you should have come straight home, not let these non-specialists operate on you, this is a very tricky one and he will not have been able to avoid the metal fouling your femur, I’m really quite…oooh look at that” as he saw exactly how M. Coudert had skilfully fashioned ironwork to rectify the leg and make it whole but avoid encroaching on either the cartilage or the upper bone of the knee joint, notoriously the most complex joint in the human body.

“He’s done a great job!” he enthused, as I fell off my chair at such unlikely praise.

Its only complicated on the inside.

So, six years on and you will not see me hurrying or running often and I may occasionally pause a moment. Being in charge of Sibos calls for many things, often to be done quickly, but I have learned that calmness matters and there are few things that need precipitous energy. A friend of mine hadn’t really worked this out last year and was dashing hither and tither in a perpetual state of ither. “Ooh, Phil” he complained to me, “it’s dreadful, my feet are killing me.” My point is, less is more, do things well and fast, but calmly, he who hesitates is lost but also look before you leap, you only live once but if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well and, going back 2,000 years, the Romans had this one cracked, they said “festina lente” or, “hurry slowly.”

So as, in the Latin style, as we creep (or rush) ever nearer to Sibonius Torontonius, I begin to get a bigger perspective. We have had 400 years of banking that were (literally) a licence to print money, and my j’accuse, for the last thirty-two years since I first joined a bank, has been that banks offer up their back office capabilities just on the off chance that their corporate clients might want to avail themselves of those, share in the thrill of doing what only a banking licence let’s you do, learn banking lingo, be a banker for a moment (and many treasurers are, indeed, bankers manqués) and go at it, fill in that Swift field, play that CHIPS/CHAPS/KEPPS etc acronym game.

But in my simple, metal-knee but invisible-from-the-outside world, I look for something simple on the outside and tailored to the context.

Businesses come in all shapes and sizes. But what they have in common is they all want to buy, to sell, to do that safely, to have the funds to buy and to use the proceeds of sale correctly. It’s crucial, this, so I’ll repeat myself. The core need is to buy, sell, safely, have the funds to buy and use the proceeds of sale wisely.

Please note I have not, here, mentioned a single banking “product.” No sweeping, no trade finance, no collections, no supply chain finance, not even payments, that most fundamental and precious of banking capabilities. Of course, all those things are available and matter hugely (indeed, it’s what we in iGTB provide software for, brilliantly I might add, in my humble opinion and in the opinion of a fast-growing number of banks), but the point is, that’s not the context. The context is for that specific moment and action, based on the data available at the time and AI and NLP techniques to anticipate, for buying (yes buying does need payments and, I might include especially buying labour, whose payment we call salaries, that strange single-debit-multi-credit-multicurrency/FX-authorise-without-seeing-beneficiary-name beast), selling (yes selling needs collections to avoid the curse of cash flow bingo bankruptcy), safety (eg trade finance to make sure of what you’re buying), funding buying (position keeping, sweeping, supply chain finance, dynamic discounting, you name it) and wise usage of the proceeds of sale (deposit management, investment sweeps, treasury). We, and a growing band of fellow advocates, call it Contextual Banking.

It’s not the metal that counts, it’s the skill with which it’s used and kept hidden. Do it right and, as I said, it’s only complicated on the inside.

So, if I can stretch the analogy perhaps a little too far, let’s move our thinking away from the metal in the leg (the digital, the sweeping, the trade finance, the collections, and so on) and concentrate instead on how the patient (ie client) can actually function as supposed to (buy, sell, safely, funds, proceeds) well, then, maybe then, we’ll be able to cast off 400 years of customer uncentricity and actually do what will help businesses grow, help create wealth, help economies, help meet government funding gap targets, help everybody benefit and maybe even make a tiny dent in the unbanked, in poverty, in the aspirant village SME, in the large MNC and, at the risk of being ridiculously fanciful, allow banks to be – well if not liked, exactly, by the population – at least respected, more.


I did. But I’m lucky. It’s an inconvenience, no more. Plenty are much less mobile. My memento mori is my good colleague Razia, whose childhood polio trims her mobility much more but from whom no-one has ever heard a peep of complaint or regret, let alone self pity.

“I would like to explain to you how grave your situation is.”

Indeed. I did get to watch the World Cup. Some of it. On television, on the ward. Indeed, soon after it started, I saw Manuel Osborne-Paradis, whom I had watched in person do the practice run the day before very successfully, hurl himself and his two long plans of carbon fibre down the infamous Khandahar at breakneck speed, fall, literally not breakneck I hoped, and two minutes later saw the helicopter land and bundle him in so they could carry on, and two minutes later again saw through my hospital window next to me that same helicopter land and medicos remove him on his stretcher and rush him into the hospital a few doors down. I do hope he had the same surgeon.

Though I am much less riven with pain than my colleague, whose difficult knee legacy stems from his basketball-stardom past.

I’ve heard of that. It’s called shoeicide.

No matter what James Bond says.

Hear this explained properly, not bloggily, and using AI, NLP and machine learning, on Sibos Tuesday (17th October) at 5pm at Open Theatre One.

Phil Cantor’s blog