The Uk-vast Covid-19 lockdown in March did not prevent challenger bank Allica from launching new services, as the bank’s CIO, Simon Bateman, describes: “When Boris [Johnson] reported we had to operate from household, we had 60 employees get the job done remotely. We did our initially deposit launch and wrote our very first professional bank loan throughout lockdown. We have experienced a substantial volume of inquiries and seen expansion in the financial loan e book through lockdown.”

Bateman has a track record in retail banking. His most current submit prior to Allica Financial institution was as CIO at Harrods Financial institution and he has labored as IT head at Aldermore Lender, Lloyds Banking Group and Produban SCL, section of Santander.

His practical experience of the constraints of IT in conventional banking has educated the IT method that Bateman has taken at Allica Bank.

A person of the vital pillars of the bank’s IT technique has been to use the Microsoft Azure community cloud, as Bateman describes. “When I joined in May well 2018, we decided to create everything from scratch in the cloud using the Microsoft suite,” he states.

Allica Financial institution labored carefully with Microsoft’s Rapid Monitor group to make a technique inside of Azure that would hold purchaser knowledge risk-free and comply with strict restrictions. As properly as making use of Azure to retail outlet shopper data securely, Allica also presents its staff members entry to Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Talking about the variance among the IT techniques at conventional banking institutions and the technique he has taken at Allica, Bateman says: “Historically, big financial institutions establish their IT close to a main banking platform.” But for Allica Lender, the aim was to steer clear of obtaining all the bank’s solutions constrained by the main banking program, he suggests.

“When I set up the tech team, our purpose was to be primarily based all around the application layer, fairly than the core banking technique,” claims Bateman.

CIO interview: Simon Bateman, Allica Bank

“We have the capability to offer you new products and services without making an attempt to get a square peg into a spherical hole”

Simon Bateman, Allica Financial institution

Remaining centered on the application layer relatively than a main banking method, Allica’s IT crew would assistance the bank’s growth options superior by being equipped to give its focus on buyers – tiny and mid-sized organizations – with a complete suite of goods crafted on banking applications centered on ideal-of-breed back again-conclude suppliers, he states. What this indicates for Bateman is that the financial institution has the flexibility to include new banking software program as and when it turns into available.

The bank has used FMS.subsequent as its electronic banking platform, he states. This is Allica Bank’s back-stop transaction system for lending and discounts. For Bateman, amongst the critical positive aspects of this platform is its flexibility, which main banking units have ordinarily lacked.

“We have the skill to offer new solutions on top of the back again-end devoid of hoping to get a square peg into a spherical gap,” he suggests. This implies Allica can look at other goods in the banking application market to empower it to offer you companies these as asset finance or cashflow management.

From an IT architecture standpoint, Allica Financial institution has taken an software programming interface (API) ecosystem tactic to developing out the IT that underpins its banking procedure.

As an alternative of deploying an total software stack from a big economic computer software system service provider, he states an API ecosystem tactic suggests “we are not constrained”.

Seamless expertise

In Could 2018, Allica began building out a team to develop a new variety of banking company for SMEs. Bateman states: “We experienced a vision to supply the very best SME banking support, and understood what goods and channels we would use to go to industry.”

The financial institution settled on currently being a broker-led small business, which motivated the IT tactic that Bateman has adopted. “We understood what brokers desired,” he claims. “We required the skill to construct an onboarding approach that would be best in class.”

This has meant getting an API-led tactic, in which broker applications supply pre-populated types, these as automatically filling in the customer’s postal deal with. “We required to consider the factors that are common in retail banking products and services and convey them to SME banking,” says Bateman.

As properly as linking to external providers and other banking software program, Bateman suggests Allica has also made APIs for internal use. “We also wanted to expose our interior IT, these kinds of as the details in our knowledge warehouse and main lender platform, in buy to underwrite discounts,” he says.

Allica Bank has a focused engineering group tasked with making certain the purchaser expertise is seamless, says Bateman, including: “A frictionless consumer journey needs a whole lot of coding.”

To make seamless and new buyer ordeals, Allica Financial institution engaged MuleSoft professional solutions and consulting spouse Whishworks to carry out MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform. Whishworks developed far more than 300 APIs on Anypoint System, enabling Allica to unlock and unify knowledge throughout disparate systems, these types of as consumer databases, doc management devices and business enterprise procedure administration devices.

By generating reusable developing blocks as APIs, Allica Financial institution can compose new enterprise capabilities in days or months, instead of using months to create from scratch with custom code. 

Allica built its electronic bank twice as quick as its rivals and was granted its United kingdom banking licence in September 2019. “To have been in a position to make a bank able of this in 12 months is staggering,” claims Bateman. “MuleSoft has been a important companion to us on this journey, actively playing a central part as we build a contemporary financial institution with integration at its heart.”


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