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Finance

CBA a real-time bank by next year

Most Commonwealth Bank customers will see real-time banking next year as the bank's main products are switched over onto its new core banking platform.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

Most Commonwealth Bank customers will see real-time banking next year as the bank's main products are switched over onto its new core banking platform.

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CommBank's IT dream team
(Credit: Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet.com.au)

Real-time banking allows the bank to process transactions as they happen, rather than in batched groups as most banking is currently done.

"The main set of retail deposit and transactions accounts will be switched over in the next calendar year so that's obviously where the bulk of our customers will start to notice real time and what that means," Commonwealth Bank's executive general manager core banking modernisation Dave Curran said at a briefing yesterday.

There were already three products — first home saver accounts, Colonial First State term deposits and staff savings accounts — on the new platform. The users of those products were already experiencing real-time banking, he added.

The bank is currently a third of the way through its four-year core banking modernisation program, which it has been carrying out with the help of SAP and Accenture. It has completed the first three major releases and will complete another this year.

The idea of the modernisation has been not to think in products, but instead to use "industrialisation" — making standardised pieces of products that could be used to customise services to user needs. This meant that instead of keeping tabs on which siloed products went online, the bank kept track of which capabilities were on line, which in turn controlled which products could be moved to the new platform. Curran said the bank was currently working through the deposit and transaction standard pieces. The next hurdle would be lending.

The scope of the program has increased since the core banking project was first announced last year, adding another $150 million to the original expected spend. The added scope of the platform made it capable of accommodating the bank's new acquisition BankWest.

Despite the increase in scope the project will run to schedule, according to Curran. "We've taken a very strong focus on schedule," he said. "These programs are huge and if you allow yourself to get bogged down within them you can actually just spin your wheels. We've watched a number of organisations globally both before the program and during the program that have got into that space of just getting bogged down [in] analysis paralysis."

Part of the bank's schedule success might come from its complete leadership of the program, keeping partners SAP and Accenture under the thumb. "The program would be led like the bridge of a ship ... CBA is the captain. We have SAP as an engineer on the bridge and Accenture as the navigator on the bridge: [they're] helping us, but the accountability sits with the captain," Curran said.

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