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Entrepreneurial Spirit Runs Deep in Sella 

Innovation in retail banking is not the exclusive province of large multinational institutions, and Banca Sella offers living proof of this fact. A family-owned regional bank headquartered in Biella, Italy, Banca Sella was an early pioneer in the implementation of electronic payment services and now holds a commanding market share in the e-commerce arena. Bartolomeo Sella made a name for himself in the textile industry back in the 1500s, and the bank itself traces its roots to the 1886 founding of “Gaudenzio Sella & C.”   

As a general rule, Banca Sella manages its affairs (including the development of application software) in-house to ensure superior quality and maximum control. Every once in a while though, the bank finds an outside partner whose products match its needs perfectly and fully satisfy its stringent requirements. For over 14 years, ACI has been that partner for Banca Sella. 

Forging a Strong Partnership

Riccardo Frigeni manages the authorization, clearing and settlement, and risk and fraud departments at the bank. “Because we are an innovative bank, we need to be a pioneer when it comes to new technology,” he said. “This approach helps us maximize our service delivery capabilities while leveraging the most cost-effective solutions. Of course, we select only vendors with proven, high-quality products that are cost-effective and fit our needs exactly. We also demand excellent local support from our software partners. ACI has consistently met all of these requirements.”

GoldenGate Software, provided by ACI under a reseller agreement, supports the bank’s dual-live disaster recovery system for BASE24—the first in Italy and another proof point of Banca Sella’s fierce commitment to innovation. The project was a notable success. “The implementation went smoothly and was completed in a very short timeframe,” said Frigeni. “Much of the credit goes to the professional support provided by the ACI people who made  themselves available around the clock to assist us. This successful project is a real demonstration of how a strong partnership between the solution provider and the customer can achieve a common goal. We are very excited about the results, which are even better than we expected.”

Two Active Systems Shared Across Separate Environments

The dual live system ACI developed for Banca Sella covers all BASE24 software at the bank, in accordance with the Bank of Italy’s 2004 Bollettino de Vigilanza N.7 directive, which mandates operational business continuity plans for all Italian banks.

Banca Sella uses BASE24-pos to drive approximately 64,000 point-of sale devices, which acquire payment transactions at retail locations. All transactions, whether acquired by physical or virtual merchants, are managed using BASE24 software. As in many other parts of the world, the use of credit and debit cards continues to gain against cash-based purchases, driving ever-greater transaction volume—currently some 7.5 million transactions per month—through Banca Sella’s BASE24 system. The bank has its own e-commerce acquiring gateway, and BASE24 is also used to manage those transactions.

Fighting Fraud in Retail Banking

Fraud management is vitally important in the retail banking environment, and ACI Proactive Risk Manager software enables Banca Sella to perform a thorough screening of each transaction in near-real time. “We cannot disclose fraud savings figures, but the overall result of using PRM is significant,” said Frigeni. Banca Sella uses PRM, complemented by business consultancy services from ACI, to monitor approximately 64,000 merchants and 350,000 debit and credit cards. The ACI software replaced a bank-developed analytics solution several years ago.

Banca Sella is now implementing a smart card issuing system that will produce EMV cards in-house, using ACI Smart Chip Manager software. “Our plan is to have a million cards managed by the ACI solution,” said Frigeni. Impetus for this initiative comes from several quarters, including commitment to an Italian Banking Association migration plan and card issuer mandates that shift the liability for fraud back to the acquirer.

Looking Ahead, and at, the Customer

The customer is central to everything Banca Sella does. “Our strong customer orientation is a very important differentiator for us,” said Frigeni. “In fact, we believe that providing the best customer service is key to our success. We are constantly seeking new ways to leverage innovative technology and business processes to satisfy the requirements of our clients. ACI software provides an incomparable level of service and plays a key role in the success of this approach.”