ABC overhauls core banking applications

ABC builds real time view of global risk with two year application overhaul project.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  April 2, 2002

|~||~||~|Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) is in the final phases of overhauling its corporate banking application infrastructure. The project, which began in 1999, aims to standardise the bank’s application stack throughout its international operation, in turn improving customer services and putting business critical data at the fingertips of ABC’s executives.

“The bank set a clear strategy that called for a complete overhaul of its core banking technology platform… our prime objective was to achieve as much integration as possible [between] systems to enable [data] to flow seamlessly across the group,” says Sael Al Waary, senior vice president & head of global information technology, ABC.

“We assessed where we were going — we wanted to cross the 21st century with a platform that will take us forward for another 10 years. [ABC] was growing and we needed to provide the bank with a technology platform that would [enable us] to do business faster,” he adds.

ABC embarked on two projects, which would form the core of its corporate banking applications. Internally described as the ‘Core System Project,’ one team focused on the deployment of Unisys’ URBIS integrated suite of back office banking applications. The other team handled the deployment of Kondor+ from Reuters, which automated the bank’s front end dealing room and treasury processes.

Although both projects were originally mobilised during 1999, the Core Systems Project was scaled back in 2000, due millennium rollover efforts.
But from the start of 2001 both project teams accelerated their efforts, initially deploying Kondor + in Bahrain, followed by the URBIS applications in 2001. Similar rollouts have since followed in New York, London Paris.

In 2002, ABC has also rolled out Kondor + to Milan. Egypt and Tunis are also expected to link to Kondor by the end of the year.“We used a phased implementation approach, because a big bang [deployment] is not practical and often risky,” explains Al Waary.

The deployment of the Kondor+ dealing room solution topped ABC’s business priorities. With a standardised dealing room system worldwide, the bank has the ability to rapidly add products and services. More importantly it has a real time view of its global exposure. “Kondor+ was a key business decision for us — we wanted to standardise our dealing rooms on a worldwide basis because we need an integrated product range, with the ability to assess risk globally across the group,” says Al Waary.

Such detailed reporting functionality provides “the management with comfort… [They] have controls, they know the exact exposure and limits for every product,” adds Al Waary. With the Unisys URBIS solution managing back office functions such as settlement and general ledger and Kondor+ handling the front end deal capture side of the business, ABC has built the core of its banking infrastructure.

However, development work continued with ABC installing risk management applications, covering both market and credit risk. Data from both the Unisys and Kondor systems feed into the risk management applications enabling the bank to achieve an all-round view of its risk.

To create real time vision of its business has taken a considerable amount of integration work. During the project approximately 25 interfaces were developed to ensure that data flowed seamlessly throughout the business. “Some of the interfaces are there to ensure the consolidation of data for reporting,” says Al Waary. “Data from overseas units comes through our systems and it is goes straight through to the financial control systems. Our systems are customised for the way we want to work. Our monthly reporting from branches is now electronic. We are in a position to have real-time exposure worldwide, which we didn't have four years ago,” he adds.||**||

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