Banksoft specialises in developing mobile banking solutions for banks, seamlessly integrating new systems into old ones and always moving with the times
Common sense suggests that it will be difficult to use, follow or catch something that is constantly changing. This highlights the challenge that banks and their software and service vendors have been facing for the past few years with mobile technology advancements. On the other hand, powerful mobile technology with banking services is bringing high-value customer segments to the fore that most bankers are looking to attract.
From a technical perspective it looks challenging to develop and maintain software that runs across a variety of devices and mobile operating systems, all while keeping pace with the wider industry, which is seeing new models of mobile phones released almost weekly. The strongest market players – from Apple and Microsoft to Samsung, HTC, Sony, Nokia and many others (see Fig. 1) – have progressed mobile technology to incredible levels, and where mobile phones were once simply devices for sending and receiving calls and texts, they are now internet browsers, music and video suites, and much more.
Thanks to all this new technology, mobile phones have become a central point of our business and private lives. So it makes perfect sense to also have a powerful banking service on mobile smartphones. Banking customers these days are quite spoiled and well informed compared to the decades gone by, and in some cases are more willing to change banks as a direct result of the technological services they do or do not offer. Customers simply want comfort, and the power to do their business wherever and whenever they want, quickly and simply and with minimum technical requirements. Most people carry their phones around with them wherever they go, and so the market is in-built. The technology, for the most part, is already there.
The challenge of change
A few years ago, the Croatian company Banksoft recognised this trend and invested in analysis of the banking markets and mobile phones in order to come up with a way of coping with the ongoing changes in the mobile technology industry. The goal was to ensure that its clients (in this case banks) would be able to stay ahead of the game and have mobile banking services on the majority of the latest smartphones.
In addition to Banksoft’s comprehensive CoreBank banking product suite, which has been on the market for almost 20 years, the company designed and developed the MobileBank module, which uses platform-independent Java technology and supports over 80 percent of today’s mobile smartphones, from iPhone/iPad with iOS to all Android OS based phones. See Fig. 2 for an illustration of how Banksoft went about this.
“When we completed initial analysis,” says Zoran Brkic, Managing Director of Banksoft, “we concluded that server portion needs to be platform-independent so customers can choose lower-cost servers if they want to. On the mobile phone side we realised that there is strong demand for mobile banking among Android and iOS-supported devices. This gave us a technological frame that we wanted to use in our solution development.” The company’s mobile banking solution was designed in Java language in order to perfectly fulfil those technical requirements.
Dealing with different operating systems and mobile phone vendors to tailor solutions to their standards was the next opportunity to find optimal design. “We came across demanding initial requirements with Apple and their environment, which required investment into their standards and technology,” says Brkic, “but we eventually found that well-known Apple look and feel. With Android-supported phones it was interesting dealing with multiple vendors’ phones to develop a common set of functions and behaviour which would give us coverage for approximately 60 percent of the total market share of smartphones.”
An easy decision
Another challenge was the fact that most of today’s targeted mobile users don’t actually visit bank branches on a regular basis, so Banksoft prepared a full MobileBank sign-up and contracting service over the internet. Some customers also requested that older phones were not forgotten, and so to maintain continuity with previous SMS banking services, that also became a part of the MobileBank solution. On top of this, Banksoft included standard support for banking transaction data security and enabled solutions for distribution via different channels provided by mobile phone vendors, and an all-round solution was ready to go. Return on investment started coming quickly because Banksoft customers appreciated the company’s efforts to maintain that crucial competitive edge.
Banks have quickly recognised in recent years that the power of additional marketing and communication channelled through smartphones to reach their existing customers is strong. Mrs Trlaja, Member of The Board of one of Banksoft’s MobileBank customers, said: “Our customers were openly saying that they will switch their primary banking to us in order to have mobile banking functionality on their mobile phone, so our decision to invest in MobileBank and attract those prospective customers was quite easy.”
With systems like Banksoft’s MobileBank, banks are getting integrated, sophisticated
mobile banking solutions that can be used easily and quickly at pretty much any given time or place.
Integrating with core banking
With database technology developments and standardisation in the past decade it is much easier now to integrate new modules into banks’ overall IT systems. Most core banking solutions use well-known databases like IBM DB2, Oracle DB or others, and they support the stored procedures concept. It enables external modules to ‘call’ those stored procedures and to perform an inquiry or submit financial transactions to be performed on core banking accounts.
Banksoft even expanded the capabilities of stored procedures because the system was designed in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and any new solution module is using assigned ‘services’ to access core data or perform any financial transaction on core accounts. This architecture gives flexibility to its clients so they can develop, test and apply new modern technology channels like mobile banking quite quickly, while maintaining the continuity and stability of their core banking functions.
Mrs Trlaja continues: “In parallel with the mobile banking project we were busy on the latest EU-related regulatory changes with tight resources and deadlines, but once we and Banksoft assigned project teams the MobileBank implementation was really smooth and easy, including our front-end testing on iPhone and Android smartphones and related core banking services.”
For more information: www.banksoft.hr