Web Services in Retail Banking

The business and IT challenges associated with retail banking involve immense complexity, requiring a solution set agile enough to manage a heterogeneous environment, said Stanley Young, worldwide director for financial markets at Hewlett-Packard.



At a recent talk in New York at the Web Services/SOA on Wall Street conference, Young made the case for retail banks to develop service-oriented architectures that can bridge the gap between Web-based technologies and legacy systems.

“Mainframe legacy systems aren’t going away, the mainframe needs to be supported by the SOA,” he said. “We live in the real world; there’s a mix of Web services and legacy systems, and we recognize that our SOA has to be able to handle all of these various options.”

“While SOA increases the ease of integration, it also increases the complexity and management challenges,” Young said.

Problems involved in building banks’ SOA include an inconistent use of data across product silos, which create data quality issues. Data integration can be hampered by the lack of data management processes. In the current environment, new services often can’t be introduced quickly due to a lack of continuous, reliable information flow.

Young said that HP’s OpenBank solution offers a single, complete relationship view of customers across product and delivery channels, provides instantaneous access to profitability metrics and key business indicators, and consolidates customer and account data for efficient and effective service request handling. Design principles for the new product are simplification, standardization, modularity and integration, he added.

In an SOA context, Young said that OpenBank deals with three inter-related information channels that require continuous messaging capability: service consumers, business services, and services providers. Service consumers, the bank branches, automated teller machines and call centers, require information of business services, which provide customer profiles, account summaries, payments and loan information, and then the services providers are actually able to report on and confirm transactions such as deposits and loans.

Corresponding to a reference architecture, Young said OpenBank recommends a “product-agnostic” universal connectivity service and messaging capability to provide business event management, merging of common application services and provides data access for transactions. This server’s role is to translate between Web services and non-Web services applications, with pluggable components and a heterogeneous communications style. OpenBank also deploys probes to make sure everything is working correctly – a drill-down tool that has the capability to analyze transactions.

About the Author

Elizabeth Book Kratz has been Editor-in-Chief at ebizQ since 2004. Her business, technology and analytical writing has been published in the International Herald Tribune’s Germany edition -- the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung-Weekly, the Jerusalem Post, National Defense Magazine, the Johns Hopkins Journal of American Politics, the British Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal Europe and many others. She is a 2003-2004 fellow of the Robert Bosch Foundation, and holds memberships in the Atlantic Bridge and the Düsseldorf Institute for Foreign and Security Policy. Elizabeth can be reached at editor at ebizQ.net.

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