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Dare to share

After three days of Sibos 2009 and after having spoken to numerous delegates and my colleagues at the show, it is interesting to see that one of the recurring topics seems to be the renewed emphasis on the payments industry collaborating to share back office processing and moving towards cloud computing. While this is by no means a new topic, it has emerged during numerous debates and discussions that banks might be again looking to combine efforts to improve their back office functionality which, on their own, they might not be able to optimise.

While the Sibos session on Systems Convergence by Jad Khallouf highlighted that margins for back-office processing are minimal and moving to solutions that ultimately prove to be dead ends can put organisations under huge operational and reputational risk, there are significant benefits to be gained from convergence. By sharing their back office processing, it is claimed that banks are able to put themselves into a position where labour and maintenance costs can be significantly reduced – a requirement that is of particular importance, especially in the current market environment. What we also need to remember though is that the back office is there to execute customer requirements.

There are, admittedly, still hurdles to overcome in the move towards cloud computing. As the name already suggests, a cloud is not very transparent and does not always provide a clear view of what happens behind the scenes. As such, many banks are still worried about handing over sensitive information to or sharing it with a third party or indeed letting it pass through their own iron gates. However, now is probably a good time to define the rules of engagement and gain a clear understanding of which functions are available and can be outsourced or shared.

In post-credit crunch times and with an increased focus on improving and optimising customer service, the payments back office is a perfect place to focus initial investments to free up resources and begin to focus on an improved customer experience.

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