Appeared in American Banker on September 8, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
The payments software company ACI Worldwide, Inc. hopes to use a nine-month-old alliance with International Business Machines Corp. to modernize and streamline its offerings, an executive said.
For instance, ACI said last week it is now offering a version of its fraud detection system that has been optimized for the IBM Z series mainframe computer.
But with payment systems in transition in North America and Europe, Andy Brown, the director of product marketing in ACI's London office, said the company wants to use the alliance, and the resources of IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., to refashion its product line to take advantage of contemporary technologies, such as service oriented architecture.
"In the short term there is an opportunity in Europe," Mr. Brown said in an interview last week. ACI, which targets the 500 largest global institutions, estimates that 35% still use homegrown payment systems.
Sepa, the Single Euro Payments Area initiative to develop a Pan-European automated clearing house network, began processing credit-push transfers in January. Direct debit systems are to be in place by November 2009.
"There are still a lot of unknowns" to be settled before the company can write the code for direct debit, he said, but because of credit push, "we've got a lot of that code functionality done."
ACI, of New York, faced similar concerns in the United Kingdom with Faster Payments, its initiative to replace overnight funds transfers with real-time transactions.
"That project required a huge amount of redefinition," but customers agreed to buy the software even though it did not yet exist, Mr. Brown said. "We built the product based on the requirements as they became clear."
In the longer term, ACI plans to integrate its real-time gross settlement systems for wire transfers and overnight ACH transactions, using service-oriented architecture so customers can easily connect the transaction systems to core deposit-accounting systems, fraud detection systems, and the like.
That is the approach ACI is taking with Bank of America Corp. on a project announced in May to develop a single "payments hub."
Distinctions will blur between different types of transaction systems, or banks will find ways to simplify payments for their customers, he predicted. "Why should I care? Why should I have to deliver them in two completely different formats through two completely different systems?"