Arguably this is not a blog, as it has been too long since my last missive - perhaps on this occasion it should be categorized as a periodic rant in disbelief at human ability not to learn from others’ mistakes?
In this month’s issue of IBS Publishing (Issue 18.9, June 09) a lead article described a project at Caja Madrid, the fourth largest savings bank in Europe, to build a new core banking system from scratch.
The overall budget was set at EUR 33m in 2006, of which almost half was public money under an initiative of the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.
The Spanish IT services firm, Indra, has reportedly reached a significant milestone in the project – the R&D phase is now at an end, with SOA and BPM-based development and execution architectures now in place. Written in Java, “this would be the first project
carried out for a global banking system with this architecture”, says Raúl Torija, the programme director from Indra.
The report goes on – Via Caja Madrid, Indra expects to pick up references in Lisbon, Miami and Vienna as well as in Spain. According to Indra, Temenos’ T24 will be replaced at the former three sites.
Granted that, in 2006, there may not have been a whole host of modern core banking systems in the market that were genuinely built from scratch on new technology, whether Java/J2EE or .Net, but nevertheless there were a number of established vendors that
had already embarked on such strategies and, 3 years down the road, surely would have got Caja Madrid somewhat further than the end of the R&D phase for a great deal less investment.
In 2005, it was reported that HSBC entered into an agreement under which the bank and Temenos would "combine their technology resources" to build HSBC's new international banking platform, based on the onward development of the Java version of Temenos CoreBanking.
Back in 2006, Fortis was reported to have recruited Temenos to build European retail banking platform.
– But what happened to those projects and at what cost?
This rant, sorry – blog, is not intended as Temenos bashing exercise – far from it!
In recent times, more than enough egg has been thrown in the face of bankers regarding their management of financial risks – BUT, the IBS Publishing article did incite me into throwing some eggs from a different angle... Why do the decision making powers
at the highest levels within banks (at these kind of budget levels it must be the main Board, or very close), equally fail to manage IT risk?
"Well done" to Indra for convincing Caja Madrid and the Spanish Government to throw money at them, and equally to Temenos for convincing HSBC and Fortis to sign up, to reinvent the wheel.
But for the sake of all of us in the industry, will the next tier 1 bank – or any bank / financial services institution, for that matter – please please please check the market more thoroughly and do better due diligence before reinventing the wheel!
There are a number of vendors that have already invested over the past 4 or 5 years in building a brand new technology core banking system wheel that is in stock, on the shelf and ready to go – perhaps requiring some minor modifications, but essentially
complete. And, if vendor risk is the issue for these financial institutions (which would be ironic given their perceived risk management track record in other areas), or a wish to have control over future development to achieve competitive advantage (perhaps
a more valid reasoning), then I suspect these vendors are open to discussions regarding the inclusion of source code in the deal – especially if even a fraction of EUR 33m is put on the table!
Please, let us not read about another bank investing EUR 33m, or similar sum, of shareholders' money on reinventing the wheel!