Sun launches consolidated payments architecture

Source: Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), the creator and leading advocator of Java technology, launched this week its Consolidated Payments Architecture (CPA) at the world's premier financial services event, SIBOS 2005, being held in Copenhagen, Denmark from September 5-9th.

Sun's new open architectural model was developed in response to growing regulatory requirements for banks and other organizations to take a more centralized approach to payment systems. A study by the Economist Intelligent Unit revealed that only 15% of bankers and payment executives are "highly satisfied" with their current approach to payments processing and 78% base their approach to payments on individual products i.e. separate systems for cheques, credit cards etc. In developing a unified enterprise architecture to monitor, manage and view all transactions centrally, financial services companies are able to move towards legislation requirements. This includes the Single Euro Payments Area in 2010, which will require payments to be made seamlessly, cross-border between different European countries. Other benefits of Sun's CPA include improved trend analysis, sharing of knowledge and best practices, risk-management improvements and, most significantly, cost reduction.

"Payment products and services are amongst the highest earners for financial services, with analysts estimating that they account for between 40- 60% of revenues. Yet over the years many systems have developed with separate technology infrastructures, leading to unnecessary replication and siloed systems," said Pieter Heyn, global banking strategy manager, Sun Microsystems. "Consequently, it can take up to six weeks for some banks to gain an overview of customer payments, which is not only inefficient but also has implications for financial and risk management. We've developed the CPA to simplify and smarten these systems, and ultimately help ensure that costs can be reduced and revenue per customer can be maximised. We've deliberately based it on an open system so that it can integrate with any platform, any banking application - thereby dramatically speeding up deployment."

Speed of migration and delivery is one of the major features of the Consolidated Payments Architecture. A major automated clearing house can migrate from a legacy payments system to Sun's architecture in eight months versus a typical two-year process. This will enable financial services organisations to move quickly towards a centralised system and develop and integrate new payment products and services more rapidly than with legacy systems.

The CPA is based on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)-based principles which allows business requirements to be mapped, captured in software and re- used across multiple payment systems. The architecture is based on the premise that all payments products share common core functionality, including input processing, exception management and reference data. By having access to a range of "off the shelf" component-based products in each of these areas, the design and development of a cost-effective, group payments management offering becomes possible. The CPA is built on industry standards and is designed to work with the Java Enterprise System and other middleware offerings and applications that support those standards.

Sun worked closely with the Java Payments Network (JPN) to develop the Consolidated Payments Architecture and ensure that it both complied with the latest best practices and addressed current customer challenges. The JPN is a collaborative forum founded in 2004, which aims to help banks and vendors better share information, explore new technology developments and promote new standards initiatives in the payments business. Partners including Misys, Pega Systems and Fundtech have recently joined the growing forum and discussed their experiences of payments challenges and future implementations in order to determine the common principles that should be applied to the architecture. Sun also worked with Norwegian Bank BBS and the clearance house BACS when developing the open architecture.

The JPN is currently working on a set of applications for the Consolidated Payments Architecture in areas such as corporate-to-bank payment initiation, bank-to-bank payments and interapplication payment information flow. All the applications will share common payment processes to enable banks to move towards a single consolidated platform through better product integration.

The Consolidated Payments Architecture reflects Sun's continued drive to deliver solutions for the financial services industry based on technologies such as Sun Java Enterprise System and Solaris 10 Operating System (OS) to address integration issues and regulatory pressures.

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