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Philippine e-payment group upgrades IT system

Country's largest electronic payment network operator BancNet, invests a "few millions of pesos" to implement SAP's SMB offering, Business One.

PHILIPPINES--BancNet, which operates the country's largest electronic payment network, will implement SAP applications to manage the group's human resources and inventory processes.

In a media briefing last week, BancNet added it has also completed an upgrade of its SAP reportorial and data management system.

The financial services provider said it has invested a "few millions of pesos" in Business One, SAP's product offering targeted at small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

The amount BancNet plans to invest for an expansion of its existing contract with SAP, however, remains under wraps.

According to Elmarie Silvino-Reyes, assistant vice president of controllership and administration at BancNet, the group will begin implementing SAP's HRM and inventory modules "in the next few months".

The executive said the legacy system BancNet was using "was no longer viable", as the company continues to expand its portfolio of services.

Silvino-Reyes explained that the financial services provider previously used an application that was developed in-house, but an upgrade was "necessary" to support the sheer volume of data and information that BancNet generates from its services and partner banks. The company operates an electronic payment gateway for 32 member banks across the Philippines.

In July this year, a deal was signed to introduce SAP's Business One in BancNet, she said, adding that the reporting system went live this month.

Silvino-Reyes said BancNet uses switching and data reporting technology for services such as automated teller machines (ATMs), point-of-sale payments, debit cards mobile banking and online banking, among others.

She added that SAP Business One will complement BancNet's Information Switch Technology, or IST--a system that generates revenue reports on a per-product basis.

"But, this system does not have the ability to provide ledgers, or automate data and information entry," Silvino-Reyes said, adding that this is where Business One comes in.

The SAP product will provide, among other functions, the general ledger tool, and the automation of BancNet's entire sales process, which Silvino-Reyes described as a tedious process that involves manually inputting data into the company's IT system.

She added that Business One is expected to drastically cut down man-hours, particularly in the group's data and information department.

The old system was also not able to "please" members of the BancNet executive board.

"When it comes to reporting, member banks want to see data and information immediately and make the analysis," Silvino-Reyes said, noting that BancNet now expects to generate reports at a faster pace.

For instance, she said, if a member bank requests BancNet to give specific revenue and cost details on a particular service, such as debit card payments for the bank-branded card, the new system should be able to come up with the report quickly.

"This is critical, because all 32 member banks have their own bank-branded services that pass through the BancNet network," she said.

Aside from the more common ATMs and payment services, BancNet also handles bills inquiry and online tax payments for government, among others.

According to Silvino-Reyes, the new SAP application will also allow the company to identify services and products that are doing well, and tweak their offerings accordingly.

However, she said, BancNet does not have direct access to the customers' data and only maintains and operates the electronic payment gateway.

Local systems integrator ABM Computech, SAP's partner, will be implementing the HRM and inventory modules for BancNet.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.