Over the years, the digital transformation in banking has become much more than it had been set out to be initially. It is no longer just about introducing new technologies and automation, but about changing how banks function deep down, with a strong emphasis on business working alongside IT, driving delivery of features in agile manner, and dynamically reacting to changing market requirements.
Change of perspective
Based on the experiences and expectations of our clients, we could lately see a shift in what businesses were looking for in terms of a new-generation digital banking platform. It was no longer about providing the clients with a set of features (which was of course still important), it was about going beyond – with businesses requiring more control on how and when the development was done, and relying on internal IT to deliver working solutions. At the same time, multiple clients realized that low-code solutions didn't address all the scenarios that they had in mind, showing the limitations that came to light long after colorful presentations had been done and the solutions already installed. Customizations started piling in, along with costly maintenance. Business was more keen on relying on internal IT teams, sometimes expecting them to build digital platforms from scratch, often getting the feedback that it would require years of work and thousands of man-days spent, not to mention all the risks associated with such an endeavor.
We’ve been working with many of those clients for decades. Based on deep understanding of their needs, paired with new expectations placed on growing IT departments, we’ve seen the evident need for a new breed of digital banking platform. A platform that would accelerate internal development within banks, without the limitations of its low-code counterparts – that was the goal ambitiously set for Comarch Open Platform, kick-starting the new generation of digital experience platforms.
Of course, the implementation was beset with numerous challenges. How to ensure consistency between microservices forming the platform for different business scenarios? Which tools to use for optimal performance in high-output operations? How to facilitate integration with legacy systems? And ultimately – how to guarantee the best developer experience possible?
Addressing common issues
Based on experience, we were able to choose optimal, proven solutions for the mentioned cases, but the last point was especially tricky, as a key goal for the platform was for it to be usable by internal IT teams of banks, with a focus on quickly becoming productive. For that, a completely new toolset was needed – one that covered a complete developer portal, with documentation, video tutorials, access to libraries, archetypes, design system components, and sets of onboarding tasks – making developers first-class citizens, able to actively take part in the development of microservices and micro-frontends in cooperation with business teams in record time.
Developer experience is crucial, but at the same time, businesses cannot wait for years to have a functional product that can be offered to clients. This is another area where Comarch’s experience kicks in. As we’ve been developing digital banking platform modules for more than 25 years, the platform comes with a set of ready-made solutions addressing areas of transaction banking, trade finance, loan origination, and many more. As individual microservices, these modules can be deployed quickly and adjusted as necessary, either by Comarch or internal IT. Additionally, any feature developed for desktop and tablet channels, can be also exposed within native mobile banking app through a secure wrapper functionality, further improving time to market, as well as optimizing development costs.
Finally, there's the ownership aspect. As digital features are often a source of business advantage, it would be detrimental to see competitors having access to the same developments at marginal costs. Fortunately, as Comarch Open Platform allows for the bank-led development, it is assumed that intellectual property rights stay with the bank, allowing businesses to keep all the related benefits. Furthermore, as architecture is based on microservices and micro-frontends, it is natural that the system can be maintained by multiple teams, including ones composed entirely of the bank's IT. This in turn reduces dependence on the vendor, further allowing for reduction of total cost of ownership.
A perfect fit
We can see the new wave of digital transformation being as much technical as it is concerned with organizational changes. And with paradigm of IT working closely with business in agile manner, Comarch Open Platform with its buy-build-own approach seems to be a perfect fit for addressing the challenges that IT is facing regarding quick time to market, business flexibility, and cost effectiveness – things that monolithic systems and low-code platforms don't holistically address.
Author: Maciej Sałata, Consulting Director