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Web-based universal banking


System Access is a leading global provider of end-to-end eBanking software solutions for financial services organizations. The company's flagship product, netSYMBOLS, with 600 man-years of product development, has now evolved into a front to back eBusiness infrastructure that supports customer centric delivery of financial services across multiple channels in the networked economy.

The '90s has seen the company steadfastly extending its SYMBOLS product to incorporate cross segment Universal Banking functionality, extending its customer centric design around a seamless advanced technology foundation. Since 1998, the company ventured to extend further the SYMBOLS product into the internet computing paradigm with the development of its Extended Enterprise eBanking Engine netSYMBOLS.

This suite of products contains over 30 integrated modules that support a full spectrum of Retail, Wholesale, Treasury and Internet banking business functionality. Analysts expecte that netSYMBOLS shall emerge as the industry's first universal banking software solution that delivers complete extended enterprise processing support through a seamless internet computing platform.

At the top layer of netSYMBOLS is the Multi Channel e-Services Portal. The e-Services Portal provides access to multiple product delivery channels through a common layer of security, data mining and front-end personalisation tools while maintaining application specific business logic for serving products to an institution's customers on a one-to-one basis.

With the e-Services Portal capabilities, the customer can make payment using any product delivery channels including electronic bill presentment features as well. The bills will be presented on the delivery channel familiar or chose by the customer. Should the customer decided to pay the bill, the customer's account will be debited on line and at the end of the day, the necessary information will be generated either on tape or different media as requested by the Payee Corporation. The necessary reports will be generated for reconciliation and for audit purpose as well.

At the centre of the architecture is the e-CRM Centre that houses the database containing events, customer profiles, customer static data, account information, knowledge management data and transaction data.

Logically below the e-CRM Centre is the Enterprise Operations Centre which consists of a set of powerful product transaction engines that perform efficient operational back-office processing for deposits and lending, and in the future the possibility of adding trade services, investments and treasury products to the range of business systems supported.

Front office delivery systems
The Multi Channel eServices Portal can be divided into two logical layers. The Touchpoint and Channel Integrator layer interfaces with the customer facing facilities including multiple channel device interfaces, the Call Centre, the Personaliser and the security manager. The eServices layer contains the front-end application facing business logic. The eServices layer is further logically divided into Front Office, Customer and Value Added e-Service Centres depending on the application class of service.

The Touchpoint and Channel Integrator layer supports interaction with the customer independent of which channel the customer uses to access the application service.

As financial products achieve greater levels of commoditisation, banks need to go beyond the traditional banking services to create greater value for their customers.

The eServices layer supports the provision and management of value-added services for the branch, for customers and for external applications. Recognising the need to extend many of the traditional Bank processes out to the customer, the eServices layer also provides functionality that allows the customer the ability to perform transaction that were previously the sole domain of the Bank. Thus, the typical retail teller transactions, and lending functions are provided as well as corporate functionality such as foreign exchange trading, letter of credit processing as well as international and domestic payment processing can be included as eServices.

The eCRM Centre provides a centralised Data warehousing Infrastructure as an Enterprise Repository to turn "raw" operational transaction data into meaningful information and then to turn this into intelligence that can be

acted upon. The purpose of the eCRM Centre is to provide the customer and bank personnel with a complete picture of the customer's financial services relationship with the institution. The objective therefore is to be able to create meaningful profitability, risk and customer behavioural data from an integrated customer, product, channel and organisational entity perspective. The end result being the ability to target the right product to the right customer through the preferred channel at the right moment at the right price at the right profitability at an acceptable level of risk.

Enterprise management systems
The Enterprise Operations Centre supports the efficient administration of the Bank's financial products of Deposits, Lending, Cards, Securities, Trade Services and Treasury products. These systems provide real-time updates of account information eliminating the need for follow-up processes for exception items and error correction. Product application systems make use of common processes where required but can execute as independent engines to maximise processing throughput. The emphasis is on financial product flexibility enabling new products to be created by non-technical individuals in hours as opposed to the traditional weeks in most institutions.

The Enterprise Operations Centre is responsible for processing the financial products manufactured by the Bank. The Centre is designed around the Lines of Business found in Universal, Consumer Retail, Corporate and International Banks.

The key attribute in designing these efficient scalable processing engines is the ability to create new financial products very quickly. This allows the financial institution to create differentiated products and target specific customers and customer segments. Most importantly these new products can be created in days via netSYMBOLS as opposed to the months that it traditionally takes in legacy environments. In addition to product flexibility, significant automation of banking functions are provided to enable banks to improve their cost efficiency ratios, providing real-time "one and done" posting as well as access to information.

The Enterprise Foundation Layer provides common functionality across these lines of business. This reduces costs from both a business and technology management perspective.

Departmental operations system
To ensure business success, it is essential that the bank achieve high level of departmental operational efficiency to support each business unit within the bank

Development Technology
The Financial Services organisation of the 21st century will be selling financial and other products to its customers via a numberof its own and 3rd) party channels. Essentially, these organisations provide a financial ecosystem for its customers to manage their complete financial affairs. This value network, where the Bank becomes the primary aggregator, can only be achieved through a foundation technology platform designed to support the networked processing needs of both a completely centralised view of the customer relationship and a completely distributed provision of product and service.

The above business requirements should be met as far as possible, by the implementation of a package solution based on the open system technology to include SQL Based RDBMS, CASE/4th GL tools set, GUI Windows looks and feels and client server architecture. The system must be able to, within reasonable limits, cope with future business expansion, industry changes and technological advancement, whether this be an increase in business volume, diversification of business activities, operating structure changes, or hardware and operating software changes. The system should adopt design architecture to ensure relatively seamless integration between the new system, existing systems, and possibly external systems. This facilitates the sharing of common data residing within and outside the organisation essential for the implementation of a complete information management system. Standard Technologies can also preserve investment in the bank's infrastructure including computers, applications, networks, people and operations.

netSYMBOLS has been developed using fourth generation rapid application development tools and follows an Internet Computing Platform strategy being executed by the major relational database providers driving by far the majority of Internet e-businesses. This architecture allows the complete front-to-back functionality within netSYM-

BOLS to be extended over Inter, Intra and Extranets. Thus, the acknowledged low cost benefits of Internet processing can be extended to the Bank's employees, to customers and to "partners" in their provision of products and services.

netSYMBOLS is an eBiz architecture/solution for Banks based on open systems technology and complies with J2EE specifications, including EJB, JTS, JSP, etc. The use of these cutting edge technologies enables for rapid application development of enterprise-wide solutions that can meet the ever growing needs of the Internet world. It is both a development and deployment platform. The ePlatform Java components (mainly EJB's) of the system provides the glue and the system management features (such as session management, result caching, or mapping, etc) and the "customer learning ability" (eCRM) that the banking "eServices" business components can make use of. The front-end eServices applications are re-usable components based on EJB (Enterprise Java Beans) and make extensive use of XML, JSP (Java Server Pages), to deliver the user-interface over multiple delivery channels, such as PC, Palm devices, WAP-enabled mobiles, Kiosks/ATM's etc. All the components, be it business or systems, comprises of Enterprise Java Beans (entity and stateless session beans), Java classes and Java Beans, which are developed initially on Weblogic Application Server and Jbuilder, but can be deployed on any J2EE compliant Java Application Server, with a industry standard RDBMS Server as the Data Container.

The ePlatform of netSYMBOLS can be used for custom based development by FSI, since it is does away with the silo approach existing in the current available solutions from other vendors. The enterprise operational system is integrated with the netSYMBOLS eLayer through the means of BEA Tuxedo, which functions as a Middleware/TP Monitor. The use of Tuxedo abstracts the enterprise operational system from the eLayer EJB components, thereby making the netSYMBOLS eLayer independent of the netSYMBOLS EOC. The operational and enterprise modules use Oracle Internet Development tools and support for Oracle's 8i relational database. Lastly, enterprise data warehouse applications use Oracle's OLAP server and Express tools.

The company believes it can effectively compete as a universal systems provider in the emerging banking market, legacy systems replacement market, and direct banking market. While System Access has enjoyed success to date primarily in the emerging banking market, the completely web-architecture and end-to-end e-Business capability of the enhanced netSYMBOLS product shall enable the company to compete in the direct bank and legacy replacement markets.

Sameer Jain
Systems Acess




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