Hybrid cloud, and the need for software-defined infrastructure

As customer demands and competitive pressures have grown, telecommunications service providers (SPs) around the world are continuing their march towards digital transformation. This includes taking advantage of private, public, and hybrid clouds, along with technologies that allow SP customers’ business-critical applications to be portable across all the different clouds they manage. In a recent interview with TelecomTV, Ranga Rangachari, Red Hat’s VP & GM of storage and hyperconverged infrastructure, discussed the need for portability and scale-out storage in this hybrid cloud environment, and how Red Hat is helping SPs tackle these challenges with software-defined infrastructure (SDI).

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BCCL upgrades core banking platform with Red Hat and Temenos

“This standardization means better interoperability between our systems and helps us avoid the incompatibility issues we tend to see with proprietary software.” — Pablo Recepter, CIO at BCCL

As industry and regulatory environments in Argentina have evolved, Banco Credicoop Cooperativo Limitado (BCCL) needed to upgrade its core banking platform as part of its digital transformation initiative. To take advantage of this new platform, BCCL, a large cooperative bank that handles 2.65 million customer accounts and up to 4 million transactions a day in 267 branches and 24 service centers across the country, also needed to upgrade its software to create a robust IT foundation for its core banking systems and Temenos software.

Keeping pace with change

According to Pablo Recepter, CIO at BCCL, the project’s goal was to implement the necessary technology to ensure the bank’s transactions could function reliably and efficiently in an increasingly complex industry, as well as meet changing regulatory requirements. Cost containment was another major consideration.   

After evaluating several solutions, BCCL selected open source solutions from Red Hat, a Temenos certified partner. Already, the open source Red Hat platform has met key imperatives of BCCL’s operations so it can offer the kinds of innovative banking services it wants to deliver to its customers, effectively and safely operate in a complex regulatory environment and scale to meet its higher processing requirements.

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AI in banking: Where artificial intelligence and machine learning may take us

With an aim to separate hype from reality in Day 4 at Sibos, I was on a mission to understand what the existing and near-term applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) were in banking.  With machine learning described as “table stakes” now, Richard Harris (Feedzai) during The Ethical Side of AI panel, suggested that the closest we have to understanding the impact AI will have is by looking at the internet – knowing the internet would change everything but twenty years ago, we didn’t know how – describes the state of AI today.

Risk mitigation appears to be an active area for current AI application. For example, with a worldwide impact of money laundering estimates between 2% to 5% of global GDP (upwards of $2 trillion USD), Heike Riel, IBM (Sensemaker: The interconnectedness of everything and advanced AI) cited a case where they found a reduction in false positives of 95% to 50%, along with a reduction of 27% in manual effort by using AI/ML to help discover the undefined unknowns in the data. Using AI to help triage fraud for human interpretation and action is considered ‘narrow’ AI – the application of AI to one particular task.  

Broadening the scope of AI beyond a single task may be on the horizon. In the future I can see a time when an AI would become a new hire to the bank, employed to derive new, company-wide insights to improve processes, identify efficiencies or ways to improve customer experience.

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Financial firms continue to explore distributed ledger opportunities

An increasing number of industries seem to be dipping their toes into the blockchain arena. According to a recent report from PwC, 84 percent of respondents said their company is involved with blockchain in some capacity, whether that be testing new capabilities in a lab setting, building proofs of concept or running full-scale deployments. The World Bank and the United Nations have introduced blockchain initiatives, as has Red Hat customer, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), following the lead of companies in communications and media, retail, energy and utility, healthcare, and other industries.

Blockchain seems to be everywhere. However, according to the PwC survey, there’s still one industry that’s seen as leading the pack: financial services. That financial services leads the pack makes sense, given the fact that blockchain started out as a way to record currency transactions for Bitcoin, a type of digital currency that operates independently of a central bank. And while the initial leading industry for blockchain application was financial services, it’s clear that the technology has moved well beyond this, and financial services organizations are exploring the use of blockchain in different ways.

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Telecom at OpenStack Summit: Here’s what not to miss at the show

Join Red Hat’s telecommunications team at OpenStack Summit Berlin, November 13-15, to learn about virtual central office (VCO), open platform for network functions virtualization (OPNFV), smart OpenStack cloud, Kubernetes, Red Hat Ceph Storage, and more. With more than 200 sessions and a number of extra events there’s a lot happening this year! To give your summit schedule some focus, keep reading for a highlight of key sessions, lightning talks, and events we recommend.

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Virtualizing the central office: Building a foundation for innovation

As service providers look to deliver more services closer to their mobile, residential, and enterprise subscribers, the central office is gaining importance in telecommunications service providers’ digital transformation efforts. PCMag estimates that there are more than 25,000 central offices in the United States alone. These offices connect service providers’ access networks to their metro and core networks. And while significant efforts have been made to modernize central offices over the past several years, the purpose-built, proprietary hardware traditionally used can limit agility and innovation. The next generation of services—including those depending on 5G networks—require a different way of thinking: a virtualized central office (VCO) based on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies.

We expect the most effective VCOs to have modernized edge architectures built on an open, pluggable framework that will help service providers stand up and deliver more advanced mobile, residential, and enterprise services more quickly.

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What’s the future of open development platforms? Find out at an upcoming FINOS forum.

Cut support and operations costs. Modernize IT systems to better service customers and associates. Provide more personalized engagement opportunities that are channel-agnostic. These are just a few of the pressing challenges today’s financial services companies face. One way to help overcome these challenges is the adoption of open source technologies and more collaborative models like open banking.

Historically, the financial services industry has been more conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies and participating in more collaborative ecosystems – even if they have the potential to drive innovation and boost productivity. That may be due to the legal, IP, and compliance regulations that dominate the industry. So, for fintech developers to fully move out of their comfort zones and into open banking — defined as a network of financial institutions’ systems that fosters secure data sharing through application programming interfaces (APIs) – they will need secure continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines across the open source community software supply chain. That’s where the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS) Open Developer Platform (ODP) comes in.

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The Many Faces of Risk in Banking

In the regulatory environment of banking, risk has typically been top of mind. It was also top of mind at Sibos, where I followed the sessions on topics such as distributed ledger technology and open banking with great interest. Sibos, held this year in Sydney, Australia, is an annual week-long event billed as a “premier business forum” for the financial community to gather and collaborate around payments, securities, trade, and cash management, among other key issues facing banks and financial entities today.

In the new high volume and low dollar transaction world of electronic payments, the surface area of business risk has expanded. And when your competitor is only a click away, mitigating both reputational and technical risk becomes more and more critical. Let me explain.

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Red Hat Forum in London, showcasing the role of Open Source in Financial Services

We recently hosted Red Hat Forum in London. At the event, discussions with financial services experts centered around the theme of modernizing for better business results.

Jon Hammant, DevOps practice lead for Accenture, showcased Accenture’s Extended Reality technology, giving attendees a look at new ways to generate profound personal insights for better engagement within organizations.

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The new game plan for banks in the digital age

Borrowing the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, banks are now in the best of times and the worst of times. Advancements in technology have given rise to changing consumer behaviors and enabled non-traditional players to offer banking services. Asian consumers today are 1.6 to 5 times more likely to transact with their banks via online channels as compared to physical branches. These consumers are also showing interest in using banking services offered by tech companies. For instance, Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay are now widely used by consumers in China for payments.

The need for banks to deliver exceptional customer experiences is now more important than ever, as customers are becoming more open to switching financial services providers (even if the provider is not a bank) if they found one that offered them a better experience. However, all hope is not lost. By making the right technological investments and adopting more flexible business models, banks have the opportunity to enhance operational efficiency and accelerate innovation in order to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue.

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