Banking regulations don’t wait for COVID-19 to go away

There is a reason bankers believe that coins were made round – money was meant to circulate. Even in the toughest of times (and perhaps more so in tough times) it is the velocity of transactions that keeps the economy ticking. With COVID-19 forcing large swathes of the world population indoors, keeping the wheels of commerce turning and ensuring smooth transactions has become a challenge for banks. But banks don’t have the luxury of stepping away from their responsibilities. They must continue to meet clients demands and regulatory requirements. One such bank in the UK used ITC Infotech to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.

As the third largest mortgage provider and one among five top commercial lenders and current account providers, the bank had to comply with the regulatory deadline of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The goal was to meet the PSD2 norms for strong customer authentication (SCA or multi factor authentication) across its digital channels. With the COVID-19 pandemic eliminating the chance of our team being physically present at the bank’s facility in the UK, both Client and ITC Infotech set up the infrastructure, teams and tools to remotely ensure that the change to the bank’s digital systems were made within prescribed deadlines and without impacting its 14 million customers base.

The regulatory requirement the bank needed to meet included implementation of 2F authentication for:

  • Standing orders and setting up new payee customer journeys for retail customers
  • Remote log in for retail and business banking customers
  • Confirmation of payee changes

How do you meet deadlines when COVID-19 disrupts the work environment?

ITC Infotech set up a remote team (peak size: 40) to work on the bank’s requirements. From the client side Product owner, Analyst and Client manager worked remotely and continually on meticulously planning the roll out of the 2F authentication to 100% online banking users across the platforms of Web, Mobile and tablets.

The ITC Infotech team members connected using remote access service (RAS) using distributed agile model. The scrum teams both onsite and offshore connected from the safety of their homes.

A number of collaboration tools were used to ensure smooth functioning and on-time program delivery:

  • Microsoft Teams/Zoom video conference and tele-conference for Agile ceremonies and collaborations
  • WhatsApp group for instant offline communication
  • Confluence to communicate priority changes

Since we had low RAS infrastructure availability to handle the vast number of remote connections required for the project, we used a `follow the sun’ model. India members connected and worked prior to start of UK business hours, participating in daily stand ups and connected again when required during post UK work hours. RAS was upgraded to aligning with the peak remote connections requirement. Gradually members are now being moved to common work timing between onsite and offshore

100% customers migrated before deadline for 100% success

The problem of deployment was made complex by the spike in usage by bank customers in March. These implementations were well planned by the Product owners and Client Manager, well supported by team members of ITC Infotech to implement stepwise incremental user migration to the new platform. Finally, before the regulatory deadline, 100% customer migration was achieved—just as the threat from COVID-19 had begun to peak in the UK.

Appreciation from key anchor and Manager of Channels IT, had these words to mention: “Amidst emerging COVID 19 situation at that time, new logon went live with full roll out on 10th & 13th March across Retail & Business Banking. My heartfelt congratulations to the entire team for the good work, dedication and the support you have shown throughout the roll out phase & to support them round the clock. People have worked in shifts covering different time zones / weekends to cover the sheer volume of traffic across these platforms and to continuously monitor the application.

Logon is one of the most complex journeys technically and the handshake to core application was done seamlessly. Creating sophisticated dashboard & alerts / watchers, are some of the proud achievements we can always cherish & this could not have been achieved without your good work, support and dedication.”

The bank’s Senior Manager, Channels IT, took note of the effort: “Amazing work from each one of you—especially in the current climate. Thank you for navigating through such a complex and difficult journey. You have remained focused throughout and shown true collaboration.

Product Owner for Channels IT, summed up the outcome as “I would like to say well done on your efforts to get SCA login over the line for retail and Business. We made the regulatory date despite many obstacles and dependencies – you should be proud of what has been achieved and the current performance of the code is v positive.”

COVID-19 has placed numerous challenges before businesses; it has been no different for us. But with each passing day we find that with innovation, perseverance and presence of mind we can battle the pandemic and ensure life continues with as little disruption as possible.

Author:

Babu Ekambaram Vice President, IT Services, at ITC Infotech

K AlagappanOnsite Delivery Manager for banking customers at ITC Infotech

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