Commercial Bank International (CBI) is a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based corporate and retail bank, with a growing Islamic banking business. The Bank was incorporated in 1991 in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and is headquartered in Dubai.  CBI is listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities exchange (ADX) and had a market capitalization of around $ 477 million (as of July 2017) and asset size of $ 5.5 billion as of 2016. It operates exclusively in the UAE through its network of 23 branches and 121 ATMs.  The bank offers a comprehensive portfolio of banking products, as well as tailor-made financial solutions in corporate, Islamic and retail banking; ranging from lending, trade services, cash management and treasury solutions to personal account services, credit cards and finance for homes.

Key Facts

·  Bank: Commercial Bank International·  Assets: US$ 5.5 Bn (2016)

·  Branches (#):23

·  Location: UAE

·  Supplier: Silverlake

·  Solution implemented: SIBS core and digital omnichannel platform

·  Purpose: To replace core platform and add digital omnichannel capabilities

·  Timeline: 20 months

With a new CEO and new senior management, a key part of CBI’s strategy is focussed on expanding its retail customer base by developing its digital offerings to allow customers to benefit from enhanced online and mobile banking services. However, the bank first had to understand if its existing technology infrastructure, which consisted of an old Silverlake Axis core banking system among other systems that were installed in 2008, would be up to the task.

In 2013, CBI decided to replace its core platform and carried out a vendor evaluation of the Oracle, Infosys and Silverlake platforms. The selection process, which included demo and model bank visits, was completed in 2015 with the selection of Silverlake Digital Bank Omni-Channel Platform solution. Silverlake Digital Bank Omni-Channel Platform is the Co-Core digital bank offering that integrate seamlessly with the Silverlake Core Banking System.  The Digital Bank Platform offers Omni-Channel architecture design with ‘our-of the box’ ready-made’ digital target operating model.  CBI is able to centralise its product and services processing policy and rules across all channels and all type of devices consistently at fast pace of delivery than ever.

Typically, banks go about upgrading their systems in a phased approach, for example by adding a digital front-end while maintaining the core unchanged.  However, Silverlake and CBI decided to go with a ‘big bang’ approach in order to accelerate the bank’s digital strategy. This involved implementing the advanced Silverlake Digital Bank Omni-Channel Platform while simultaneously replacing the existing core and upgrading roughly 40 peripheral systems so that they would work in tandem with the new core and front end channels.

The new core banking system, which offers conventional and Islamic banking, came from Silverlake Axis while the digital omni-channel software came from Silverlake Digital Economy (SDE); all these form part of the Silverlake Group Technology solutions.

Key Modules Implemented

The program structure was organised under the directorship of CBI’s CEO. The Programme Management Office consisted of the senior leadership team of CBI and Silverlake senior management.   This bank-wide initiative comprised a new digital omni-channel platform operating in concert with the new core banking system. The new digital omni-channel platform, based on a new platform technology architecture, has the capability to support all the physical channels and digital devices commonly used by a bank’s customer, including mobile phone, tablet, PC, kiosk, phone/IVR and ATM.  CBI’s customers are able to use the channels and devices of their choice anytime, anywhere.

The biggest risk to the successful delivery of the project was smoothly carrying out the simultaneous implementation of the core banking system and the digital omni-channel platform. However, throughout the whole process there was high level of senior management involvement including sponsorship from the CEO’s office, and commitment from the Silverlake team, which were highlighted as the key success factors in making a smooth transition. CBI was specifically appreciative of the continuous support and commitment from the Silverlake team, with even the Chairman of Silverlake Group keeping tabs on the project implementation.  Another challenge for the bank was the cultural change that the bank staff had to go through in moving from traditional bank processes to digital focused bank processes and a new interface. The staff were provided with extensive training from October 2016 till after the go-live to bring them up to speed.

The target goal was to use the “out of the box” ready-made solutions with minimal customization of for both the digital front-end platform and the core banking system.

CBI is extremely pleased with the new solution and the outcome of the project. They claim to be able to achieve up to 65% – 70% straight through processing (STP) in their inbound process, which was not possible with the older core banking platform. The Silverlake Digital Economy (SDE) Digital Bank Omni-Channel Platform offers a digitalised end-to-end, fully automated environment. For example, turnaround time of conventional and Islamic financing applications processing is within minutes instead of days under the traditional practices. There has also been an improvement in customer experience with the bank able to offer mobile banking for the first time and the potential to bring in more offerings like tablet banking in the future.  Based on this experience, CBI has indicated that they are able to become a Silverlake Model Bank in the Middle East region.

The implementation, which was one of the largest investments for CBI, and a first for Silverlake Digital Economy in the GCC region, is one of the few examples of successful implementations involving a complete overhaul of existing systems and simultaneously deploying additional digital capabilities, and completing it all in a reasonable time fame.  In IBS’ view, this platform gives CBI a robust base to develop digital banking offerings for its customers.  At the same time, for Silverlake, this has set a foot in the door for the Middle Eastern market, especially for its Digital Platform solution.

by Bill Boyle
IBS Intelligence Senior Editor
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