Business challenge

Spotting an opportunity to reduce costs and simplify intragroup messaging, s IT Solutions Austria set out to consolidate management of SWIFT messages for Erste Group without compromising on security.

Transformation

s IT Solutions Austria now uses a single SWIFT message handling solution, based on INTERCOPE’s BOX, IBM® MQ and DB2® solutions, running on IBM z Systems®.

Results

65%

saving on costs for SWIFT infrastructure licenses, connectivity and maintenance

Reduces

risk with a future-proof, highly secure solution that offers greater control

Supports

reliable financial services by ensuring rapid exchange of SWIFT messages

Business challenge story

Streamlining operations

In recent years, Erste Group has expanded its retail banking operations outside of Austria into eastern parts of the European Union, growing organically and through acquisition to become one of the largest players in that market. As new companies and customers come into the Erste Group fold, the group’s IT provider, s IT Solutions Austria, must tackle increasing complexity before it has any impact on efficiency.

“s IT Solutions Austria is now able to offer Erste Group a future-ready, fully integrated messaging system.”

—Andreas Goerlich, Senior Operations Manager SWIFT, s IT Solutions Austria

Erste Group relies on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network to exchange information about financial transactions with other financial institutions in a secure, standardized and reliable environment. Reviewing the Erste Group IT landscape, s IT Solutions Austria recognized SWIFT message handling as one area with potential for savings.

“It made no sense to have 10 individual connections to SWIFT for Erste Group, as well as maintaining multiple software licenses, maintenance and skillsets for the different systems,” says Andreas Goerlich. “Instead, we wanted to find a solution that we could manage as a single system, but that also offered multi-tenant capabilities to enable segregation of business data and an individual system configuration according to the needs of each bank. It was also vital that the solution was capable of handling all the SWIFT changes we saw on the horizon, ensuring that Erste Group’s investment would pay off over the long term.”

Transformation story

Winning partnership

Working closely with IBM Business Partner INTERCOPE and IBM, s IT Solutions Austria deployed a single SWIFT message handling system for all Erste Group entities and Austrian savings banks. Featuring INTERCOPE’s BOX Messaging Hub (BOX), a complete financial messaging solution, it facilitates the exchange of information between back-office applications, SWIFTNet, and complementary networks and protocols. Running on the IBM z Systems platform, BOX is integrated with IBM MQ and DB2 solutions.

“IBM and INTERCOPE were able to offer us a comprehensive solution that met all of our SWIFT message handling needs,” states Andreas Goerlich. “Supporting new XML-based SWIFT MX-messages and offering SWIFT RMA [Relationship Management Application] functionality, it prepared us to meet emerging requirements. The IBM middleware and database solutions perform so well on the mainframe after the move to Linux on z that all banks can fully utilize their SWIFT window size.”

The solution runs on an IBM z13™ managed by IBM Technical Support Services, within a virtualized Linux for z Systems environment. Linked to IBM DB2 for z/OS with IBM DB2 Connect, s IT Solutions Austria’s clients benefit from co-location of Linux and z/OS environment within the same physical server, enabling lower latency, greater operational efficiency and mainframe-standard security across the landscape.

“Physically, we now have just one SWIFT message handling system,” says Andreas Goerlich. “But logically, it is divided into distinct virtual environments, enabling us to protect each individual bank’s data and meet different regulatory requirements. And by running the solution within IFLs [Integrated Facility for Linux], connected with the data within our z/OS environment, we can take advantage of highly cost-effective licensing options.

“Hosting the solution on IBM z Systems allows us to reap the benefits of the exceptional levels of security offered by the mainframe,” he continues. “Utilizing tools such as RACF [Resource Access Control Facility], we can strictly control access to data, recognizing and logging any unauthorized attempts to gain access to our systems.”

Results story

Soaring efficiency

With ongoing support from INTERCOPE, s IT Solutions Austria migrated all the banks within Erste Group to the new solution. Today, the group’s SWIFT Competence Center has gained greater control and visibility of SWIFT messaging handling.

Andreas Goerlich elaborates: “Before, the SWIFT team at each bank had to check all SWIFT messages at the end of every business day for those that required manual intervention but had been missed. Now, they have an overview that enables them to easily identify any messages that require action, reducing risk.”

Since it successfully consolidated multiple SWIFT messaging handling systems to a single, more effective solution, s IT Solutions Austria has helped Erste Group banks achieve valuable cost savings.

“As a result of the project, we reduced the annual costs for SWIFT infrastructure licenses, hardware maintenance and connectivity to the SWIFT network by 65 percent,” says Andreas Goerlich. “We also significantly accelerated manual editing of SWIFT messages. Previously, it was a ‘painful’ process that could involve reviewing tens of pages to find the place where a single word needed to be added. Now, we can modify templates and navigate to specific parts of lengthy messages so that only relevant information appears on a user’s screen.”

Crucially, by reliably supporting an essential back-office function, the INTERCOPE and IBM solution helps s IT Solutions Austria provide consistently exceptional services to Erste Group and, ultimately, its end customers.

Andreas Goerlich concludes: “Choosing INTERCOPE and IBM solutions to facilitate a critical process gives us peace of mind, ensuring that we can rapidly and accurately exchange the interbank messages that underpin our everyday operations. s IT Solutions Austria is now able to offer Erste Group a future-ready, fully integrated messaging system that works across all of its European entities as well as the branches in New York, London and Hong Kong, helping the group meet the challenges of tomorrow.”

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About s IT Solutions Austria

s IT Solutions AT Spardat GmbH is the IT services provider for Erste Bank and savings banks in Austria, responsible for the development, implementation, support and service of banking IT solutions. Additionally, s IT Solutions Austria operates data centers for Erste Group and provides on-site technical support in Austria. Erste Group is one of the largest financial service providers in Central and Eastern Europe. Its key business is retail financial services, covering the entire spectrum from lending, deposit and investment products to current accounts and credit cards.