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Preparing for a Contextual, Real-Time Future

IBS Journal talks to Arun Jain, CMD, Intellect Design Arena, about what a digital future entails for the industry and how Intellect are discovering willing pioneers across the globe.

Digital is becoming an ever-present buzzword for banks, and it’s a shade of technology which Intellect Design Arena is embracing with open arms. “Digital is becoming a major part of the industry,” says Arun Jain, chairman and managing director of Intellect Design Arena. “When you combine that with AI, machine learning and other trends, it’s an essential factor for banks”. Intellect’s knowledge of the sector, he believes gives it a “cutting-edge” when it comes up against rival vendors.

Appropriately defining the customer’s problem crucial for any financial technology player, and Jain says that Intellect is able to find exactly the right solution for clients. For Jain, everything revolves around the implementation of “Digital 2.0”. Digital 1.0, he says, was a stage focused on smooth channel operation. 2.0 is about being real-time and end-to-end. Intellect Design Arena has done deals across the globe in recent months, winning mandates in Australia, Lesotho and Mongolia. When asked about any regional focus, Jain tells IBS Journal that any area looking to embrace the ideas of Digital 2.0 counts as a target market.

“We’re finding that countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia are in the right frame of mind, looking for expansion to a new type of digital use,” says Jain. The UAE and Qatar are also ripe for the implementation of new digital offerings, he adds. Jain also mentions South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, the Americas and Kenya – a sign that Intellect Design Arena isn’t looking to pigeonhole itself in one global region.

Time’s Up

The competition is too busy to notice countries that are crying out for more digital solutions says the Intellect CMD. Companies are too busy conducting mergers and acquisitions, he says, pointing to the recent combination of Misys and D+H. These processes take time, he believes, and while mega-vendors are busy consolidating, Intellect is out there winning deals.

Customers are coming to Intellect looking for smaller projects, admits Jain, but soon find themselves taking up larger and larger offerings due to the breadth of the vendor’s coverage. “We see the excitement from clients who are happy to find a vendor that can take care of multiple requirements.” Jain claims that Intellect Design Arena has the largest suite of banking products in the world, offered through a straightforward platform.

Alongside digital implementation, banks are looking for core banking switches that take up much less time. Intellect’s framework-based approach, says Jain, enables it to approach banks with an offering that has a much shorter implementation lifecycle. “Now we can deploy an upgrade which would usually take two to three months in real-time, due to the cloud-native aspect of our platform.”

Let’s Get Digital

Cloud acceptance, adds Jain, is on the rise. “There is a lot more conversation happening about the cloud, from all sides.” Until 2016, he admits, the conversations Intellect was having were educational. There were a lot of questions asked from potential clients about feasibility, regulatory issues and security. The firm says Jain, was keen to show these companies what cloud could do, rather than explaining what it was. “I think this year the acceptance of the cloud has improved. In India it has improved substantially, we are receiving proposals from firms asking about going cloud-first.”

When it comes to banks “lagging behind” on new technology. Jain admits that sometimes technologists can forget about the political issues within large banking organisations. “If the CIO wants to take control of a technology she usually wants to keep it in-house. So, there are more dimensions than just the product. People have anxiety about a new technology coming straight of the box. In the enterprise space, technology is sold after being allowed to mature, rather than trying to sell it like hot cakes.”

Looking ahead to 2018, Jain believes that API banking and open source technology will play a major role in the sector. “We need to stop a reliance on back-end proprietary technology,” he says. “The next stage for digital banking is fully open-source, fully API-enabled and fully cloud-native and fully real-time.” One banking solution, adds Jain, won’t solve the banks’ problems. “We need to start looking at more integration to bring a change. You may have the best machine learning application but if it isn’t supported by the best UI or the best deployment methods, you’ll get stuck one way or the other.”

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