Macquarie IT manager takes the entrepreneurial plunge

Macquarie IT manager takes the entrepreneurial plunge

Summary: An information technology (IT) manager who played a key role in the upgrading of a secure online banking application for the Macquarie Bank has flown away to establish his own security company. Branko Ninkovic -- who acted as release manager for a variety of IT projects at Macquarie, including the online Active Banking service -- left the so-called Millionaire's Factory in January to market online authentication offerings through his startup company, Dragonfly Technologies.

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An information technology (IT) manager who played a key role in the upgrading of a secure online banking application for the Macquarie Bank has flown away to establish his own security company.

Branko Ninkovic -- who acted as release manager for a variety of IT projects at Macquarie, including the online Active Banking service -- left the so-called Millionaire's Factory in January to market online authentication offerings through his startup company, Dragonfly Technologies.

Ninkovic told ZDNet Australia the decision to leave a managerial post in a high-profile organisation -- which had around 1,000 IT staff -- and strike out on his own was not easy.

"There's two paths you can take," he said. "You can take the career path, and climb the corporate ladder. Macquarie had that right in front of me. And actually on my last day I was promoted when I handed my resignation in. So that was quite hard.

"[But] I always felt I wanted to be entrepreneurial and do my own thing. Have my own heartaches and headaches and joys and tribulations."

Ninkovic said he first became interested in online authentication as a business opportunity about 18 months ago.

"I'd always known I wanted to pursue something outside of Macquarie in the IT field," he said. "A year and a half ago I started looking at SMS authentication, so I started following the trade rags, the blogs, and started in my own time to develop this product."

While being cagey about the fine details of his project, Ninkovic allowed that it lay in the area of two-factor authentication involving the use of SMS and voice-recognition to distribute passwords to customers of financial institutions.

"Two factor at the moment is the absolute focus [of] online authentication," he said.

His product is based on Java development and Ninkovic has employed a 15-year Sun Microsystems veteran to bring it to fruition.

"It's the whole J2EE model, really, in essence, that's all how it's packaged," he said.

While some financial institutions have already signed or taken steps toward two-factor authentication deals, such as BankWest, Ninkovic said he would also target opportunities in government.

Several government agencies, such as the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority and Vicroads, were adopting online payment models as part of e-government strategies, according to Ninkovic, and needed these to be secure.

Ninkovic said his work in upgrading Active Banking -- a facility allowing Macquarie clients to manage payroll and pay bills online -- had prepared him well for his new venture.

"I was … overseeing the direction and taking input from technical leaders," he said.

"[It's] much as I see myself now, I've been hands on because I've been trying to get the product off the ground, but I've also [had to] bring in external people to say 'OK, this is what's happened, do you think this is the right approach that's been taken in my development'? If not, what do you propose?'"

"So I don't want to go to my first production customer and give them something only I've seen.

"What I bring to this organisation now is, I guess, what's been taught to me there, the Macquarie culture, the way of doing things ... so I'm taking that away and am going to start my own venture."

Topics: Open Source, Banking, Browser, Enterprise 2.0

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