Source: Aqua Global
UK-based messaging solutions specialist, Aqua Global Solutions, has completed the development of its new product suite, Intercept e2gen; the full breadth of functionality will be demonstrated for the first time at SWIFT's SIBOS show in Copenhagen in early September.
"e2gen has been designed and written from the ground up, with a new architecture,' says Aqua Global co-founder and director, Mark Fernando. It is the replacement for the supplier's long-standing Intercept suite. Key strengths of e2gen are breadth of functionality, workflow capabilities and business rules, allowing financial institutions to reengineer and simplify their entire Transaction Cycle Processing architecture. "It has proven bi-directional Straight-Through Processing (STP) capabilities, allowing exceptions-based processing from deal entry to final settlement," says Mr Fernando. It is centred on a single database and provides user alerts, with business users able to tailor the solution to meet their specific requirements. A new data definitions layer brings flexible support for the automatic processing of electronic message formats, including XML and data files (such as PDF files, structured reports and spreadsheets).
Mr Fernando believes that financial institutions are seeking to reengineer their back office operations, moving from silo systems to integrated platforms. The shift is towards centres of excellence for generic activities; those activities were previously duplicated within different business units and multiple systems. e2gen was built with this in mind, allowing financial institutions to gain significant improvements in control and STP.
The new suite has been launched on a phased basis. The latest release means that Aqua Global has now rewritten all modules of the Intercept suite. The first phase brought the middleware and messaging core, with this delivered in advance of the introduction of SWIFT's ISO15022 messages. This has been followed by releases for automatic inward processing for payments, treasury and securities; cash, metal and securities reconciliations; treasury message matching; and sanctions monitoring. The entire suite runs on IBM's powerful iSeries range, with a Windows-based GUI, and is fully scalable and configurable, with multi-entity, multi-lingual and multi-product support.
Sales manager, Peter Truckle, says e2gen is installed in financial institutions of all sizes. Volumes at existing users range from 50 to 100 SWIFT messages per day through to organisations processing over 650,000 transactions per month. STP rates are impressive, he says, with inward payment processing and securities bookings reaching levels of 96 percent and above.
Aqua Global is now working on additional releases which will add functionality which was not available in Intercept. These are for securities message matching and case tracking. In addition, as well as supporting all SWIFT FIN and ISO15022 message types, e2gen can support SWIFT's XML ISO20022 messages when these become a market requirement.
The phased nature of the release means that the core components of e2gen are proven in a number of sites. These include the likes of Credit Suisse, Kleinwort Benson, Lloyds TSB, Nordea, SG Hambros Bank & Trust, and Wells Fargo.
Another user is Nikko Bank Luxembourg. It was an early adopter of e2gen, with the need to be ISO15022 compliant well ahead of the deadline. e2gen is integrated at the bank with ERI's Olympic back office system. Nikko Bank Luxembourg's managing director, John Pierre Hettinger, says: "We also wanted to introduce STP and reduce settlement processes and associated risk. Aqua consultants meshed well with our team at Nikko and the project was delivered successfully, on time and within budget. We are now looking forward to installing the latest version of e2gen in September and continuing our excellent relationship with Aqua Global."
There is standard integration between e2gen and a wide range of third party systems, including ERI's Olympic, Misys' Equation and Midas, Financial Objects' IBIS, Fiserv's ICBS, Milvus' Milvus Private Banker/G3 and Temenos' Globus/T24, plus front office systems such as Reuters and Bloomberg. There is also straightforward integration with in-house systems.
Seperately, ISB Luxembourg S.A, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Islandsbanki hf, has gone live with the first phases of Aqua Global Solutions' Intercept e2gen Transaction Cycle Processing suite.
The platform is integrated with the Olympic back office system from ERI in Luxembourg and hooks into the parent bank's SWIFT interface in Iceland. The implementation of e2gen has been rapid and smooth, with ISB Luxembourg gaining markedly improved automation and control as a result.
The project was inspired by Islandsbanki's decision to turn its two year old Luxembourg branch into a fully fledged bank from April 2005. e2gen was selected in May once Olympic had gone live. The initial intention with e2gen was to address reconciliations. The feeling was that, being a new bank, some back office functions could be handled manually until later in the year. However, as Islandsbanki's general manager, project management office, Pall Kolka Isberg, explains, there was then a change of plan. "When we saw how easy the implementation of e2gen was, we decided to go for it all in one."
As a result, ISB Luxembourg has gone live with not only the cash reconciliations and treasury message matching portions of e2gen but also outbound SWIFT messages. Implementation is now under way for automating the inward processing of cash and securities messages, the securities reconciliations module and sanctions monitoring.
"Everything has gone to schedule," says Mr Isberg, the implementation of the initial phases took a matter of a few weeks, followed by tuning of parameters to maximise the straight-through processing (STP). There has been little effort needed for implementation. It is very structured and standardised," he says.
Moreover, the user is quickly in control once the cut-over has been achieved. "The service needed post-implementation is minimal. Integration with Olympic has not been an issue. This has been standard from the perspective of e2gen," he says.
Indeed, he likens it to an old marriage: "The partners don't have to speak to know what each other is thinking." This has all meant "minimal risk compared with many other projects". The initial effort and Aqua Global's professionalism have both been "marvellous", he adds.
The automation itself has been a key benefit. "This is important when building up a bank as you are always lacking in manpower," says Mr Isberg. Another key benefit has been improved risk management, he says. "You only have to make one or two errors in reconciliations and you can lose a lot before you can blink."
ISB Luxembourg's managing director, Allan Strand Olesen, states: "Within four weeks of delivery, the e2gen cash reconciliations module has reduced the manual workload by around 85 percent. This figure is continually improving as users fine-tune the matching rules. Comparable results are being achieved with treasury message matching, while our outward SWIFT messaging has been implemented and has similarly significantly reduced stress levels in the back office."
Mr Strand Olesen believes that the figures will be well above 90 percent before long. He feels that, with this sort of quantifiable benefit, it is relatively straightforward for any new customer to measure the Return on Investment from e2gen.
At the time of selection, aside from the functionality, a key influence was Aqua Global's user base. This was felt to be that much more impressive given the relatively small headcount of the supplier. Mr Isberg explains: "If you look at the number and names of their customers, compared with their number of staff, I think it is a correlation that you would see in no other software house today. It was what surprised us most in relation to Aqua. It shows the strength of the software and its simplicity of use, in contrast to its complex functionality."