FIS Fulfilling the Complex Requirements of Financial Services Environment

CIOReview Team | Monday, 28 November 2016, 07:19 IST

Several large forces impact the banking industry today, including consumer behavior, regulatory expectations and proliferation of new technologies. Banks are relying on new technologies more than ever to successfully navigate this environment. Digital revolution is one of them. It has the potential to shrink the role and relevance of today’s banks, and simultaneously help them create better, faster, cheaper services that make them an even more essential part of everyday life for institutions and individuals. To make the impact positive, banks are acknowledging that they need to shake themselves out of institutional complacency and recognize that merely navigating waves of regulation won’t protect them from obsolescence.

Shrihari Bhat, Group Managing Director, Asia Pacific of FIS, one of the leading banking and payments technology companies, says “The startup ecosystem is wide and varied. At the same time, many banks are launching their own FinTech accelerators. The ‘FinTech boom’ is creating blue ocean opportunities. In addition, there is a trend towards outsourcing and consolidation to drive cost optimization and improved vendor and risk management and cybersecurity. India is no different and in many ways leading the charge towards the future global banking landscape. There are some innovations that are happening only in India such as the small finance banks and payment banks. Operationalizing the new banks does not mean tweaking global products and going to the market. There needs to be a different strategy for these new banks.” FIS, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, is working towards empowering them with its expertise and experience in the global markets. A one-stop shop FIS has one of the most robust and comprehensive banking and payments solutions portfolio in the world, with offerings in the core banking, channel, cards, switching, payments hub and risk space. In India, the company is managing ATMs and their associated services on behalf of banks, with more than 14,000 ATMs operating within its portfolio. It is one of the largest providers in this space with more than 400 Million ATM transactions in 2015. The company fulfilled 15 Million cards and its switch transactions have exceeded 650 Million in the same period. With the acquisition of Sungard, the company is adding complete capabilities in capital markets, trading, insurance, treasury, risk, wealth management, cash management and beyond. As a result of such acquisitions, the company has expanded its capabilities as a one-stop shop for both the Indian and global markets. 

“Digital is a game changer when it comes to cutting across multiple businesses. Globally we are partnering with various customers as they embark on their digital journey. We continue to have a substantial role to play in this exciting and evolving space where customer expectations and the ever-changing regulatory environment add additional complexity to the market. We are also one of the few MNCs that have a Global CEO visiting India on a regular basis. With over 13,000 employees spread over nine offices throughout the country, India is a key strategic center for both domestic and overseas activity,” adds Shrihari.

From payment solutions to end-to-end banking solutions

India is FIS’ fastest growing market. Although the company has traditionally been viewed as a payments solution provider, its engagements with Bandhan Bank and Bhartiya Mahila Bank have enabled it to prove its capability in delivering end-to-end banking and payments technologies in the Indian market. “The integration of our acquisitions into our market strategy also extends what we already view as the most comprehensive solution offering in the FinTech space. With the recent FIS acquisition of Sungard, it is a natural extension for us to move into capital markets, asset management and wealth management. Accordingly we now have an extended product portfolio and with our ability to leverage our talent around outsourcing and services while using our own intellectual property, we have a unique positioning in the mind of our customer,” shares Shrihari.

The main core banking solution offering of FIS for the Indian market is Profile. The company has implemented it across the globe, from top 100 banks to start up environments. Profile has been the core solution of choice for many banks that have taken new approaches to market, like direct banks and mobile-only banks. It has also been the platform used for Bandhan Bank and Bharatiya Mahila Bank. FIS offers Profile in a licensed model as well as in a hosted model. The hosted model, termed as Banking on Demand, enables a new bank to quickly enter the market while being competitive with its products and services and also compliant from a regulatory perspective. With Banking on Demand, the bank does not have to expend huge effort and investment to create a centralized technology infrastructure. Until now, this model was deemed suitable only for small banks but increasingly, larger banks are looking at this model so that they can retain a laser-sharp focus on growing their core business.

Pinpoint Marketing – Technology that goes beyond analytics

When asked about integration capabilities of FIS’ solutions, Shrihari says “We have established integration protocols and practices with all of our own solutions and have never had a problem integrating with other vendors’ solutions. Profile is packaged with FIS’ proven database, GT.M, which has in turn saved millions of dollars for our clients over those who use expensive traditional options, while offering great performance, reliability, scalability and availability.” 

FIS is in the unique position of owning the entirety of the transaction and accounts processing stack that financial institutions require to operate their business. With this capability, it has been able to build substantial analytical capabilities to provide knowledge from the strategic to operations level of institutions. The company has a technology called “Pinpoint Marketing” that goes beyond analytics. Through Key Lifestyle Indicators (KLIs) based on customer data from the bank and alternative sources like social media, institutions can deliver real-time and personalized experiences across both digital and physical channels that drive real results. By eliminating manual data analysis, it allows the bank to deploy a broad mix of intelligent campaigns with minimal resource requirements. This can be an excellent tool for new customer acquisition and cross selling.

FIS, being a traditional provider of account and transaction processing back-ends, has the unique position of providing a bespoke solution to fit a financial institution’s integration and IT requirements whilst providing a compelling customer experience. FIS is the largest payments technology provider in the world and even large payment services providers like First Data that compete with it, leverage its software. FIS runs national payments switching infrastructure in over 10 countries across Asia and several more across the world. FIS’ Open Payments Framework delivers additional payments capabilities across varied payment systems and message formats. Its technologies cover the crucial pieces required to ensure smooth back-office operations for its clients across banking, telecom and government. The company’s proven ability to integrate to mobile wallets, ATMs and a variety of other channels enables its end-users to also have a friction-less experience.

Embracing digitalization

FIS has proven that it can deliver solutions that can effectively cater to any segment of the market and have a global commitment to financial inclusion. The company’s launch of the FIS Financial Inclusion Lab in Bengaluru is aimed at creating additional avenues for innovation that serve end user requirements in the Indian subcontinent. The company has begun exploring wearables and other devices outside the traditional digital realm of mobile, tablet and internet. FIS has a strong focus on the digitalization of the assisted and semi-assisted channel and has worked very hard in ensuring that activities customers conduct across all channels is uniform and synergized. The company has done interesting engagements with some global clients to make its next-generation mobile banking applications shift away from the traditional user interface and evolve into a lifestyle approach. “We've also done some pilots around artificial-intelligence capabilities. Why do you need a user interface? There is no reason why you cannot have a Siri-like experience on the handset,” wonders Shrihari.

For the near future, FIS has a next generation strategy in place which is largely focused on data optimization, and Shrihari believes the product bundling and customer unification capabilities that FIS’ integrated stack brings to the market will not only improve customer satisfaction but also drive profitability through increased revenue opportunities and cost reductions for its clients. “Our strategy is extremely data-focused with an understanding of the complexity of most financial institutions’ application architectures. There are back-end systems in different phases of development that cater to the unique challenges we consistently hear about across our 20,000 strong global client base. At the same time, digital continues to be a focus and FIS seeks to continue to cater to the further digitization of financial services,” concludes Shrihari.