New Integration Solution Akbank
As the largest privately-owned bank in Turkey, Akbank was well positioned to take advantage of the market's rapid growth. In addition to core banking activities, Akbank also offers a wide range of retail, commercial, corporate, private banking, international trade finance services and cash management. However, its existing file transfer processes were hindering development, as they demanded bespoke formatting for every new corporate customer. This was a time-consuming job and one that many corporations were simply not willing to endure. They expected to be able to quickly and efficiently interface with their bank. Akbank decided to implement Microsoft® BizTalk® Server 2004 to accelerate and standardise its file transfer formatting procedures. As a consequence, the bank has seen its file transfer processes cut from an average of one and half weeks to a few hours. It can now provide its corporate customers with greater value-added information, something that is rapidly becoming a key differentiator for banks in this region.
Founded in 1948, Akbank is the largest privately-owned bank in Turkey in terms of profit and market value. Headquartered in Istanbul, Akbank maintains 13 regional offices and, with 611 branches, the bank has one of the most extensive service networks in Turkey. It also runs seven branches in Germany (Frankfurt, Hannover, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Essen, Munich, and Berlin), and a branch in Malta, in addition to Akbank International NV in the Netherlands.
Akbank, is now working with more than 500 blue chip customers in cash management and has at least one system connection with these customers based on the aim of "tailor made solutions" for each customer. Akbank cash management products can be classified in three areas:
1. Collection Management: Check Collections, Direct Debiting System, Biz.card (card based direct debit system), Cash Collections, Promissory Note Collections, Special Fund Transfer System, Utility Payments (Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment), Check Readers and Scanners, Vehicle Identification System.
2. Disbursement Management: Bulk Payments, Payrolls, Continuous Check Program;
3. Knowledge Management: Automated accounting system integrations, e-statements, SWIFT MT940, on-line reconciliation.
As Turkey edges nearer to European Union integration, the market is buzzing with new opportunity. International banks are focusing ever-more attention on the economy and corporations are keen to establish a strong presence in the market. This is good news for the economy in general, but for Turkish banks it demands investment in new technologies in a bid to stay one step ahead of the competition. Despite its privileged position in the market, Akbank's file transfer process needed to be updated for attracting new corporate customers. The problem stemmed from the largely manual, bespoke nature of its approach. Whenever the bank signed a new corporate customer, it had to develop a customised file transfer format to help the client to interface and upload information—such as payments data or cheque details—to the bank. This was a complicated procedure, adding to the cost and time-scale of the customer implementation procedure. Özgür Yoğurtçu, VP of Technology, at technology partner Veripark, explains: "Integration with corporate customers was attained through hand-coded programs. The process involved manual operations such as acquiring the files from file transfer protocol (FTP) servers. As such, implementing new file types required lots of coding and was prone to error."Cuneyt Dirican, Akbank's Cash Management VP adds "Akbank, having more than 600 hundred branches all over Turkey, is playing a dominant role in cash management. The vision of the cash management group is to be the first cash management bank in Turkey. Therefore we have to have a first class technology tool for achieving our targets."
In addition, bank-to-corporate communication suffered as a result of a lack of automation, meaning time-sensitive information was often delivered hours after it was needed. With so many corporations turning their attention to the market, and with a host of competitors keen to win custom from existing players, Akbank had to upgrade its file transfer system if it was to maintain its market-leading position.
Having consulted business solutions provider Veripark, Akbank began a selection procedure that culminated in it selecting Microsoft® BizTalk® Server 2004 to accelerate and standardise its file transfer formatting procedures. The bank had considered a Java-based solution, but concluded it was too expensive and would be more complicated to install.
Furthermore, the bank was not convinced the solution provider had the resources in place to support the implementation of the Java solution. It was advised that a special team would have to be flown in from the U.S., which would have added to the expense and timeframe of the project.
In contrast, BizTalk Server 2004 proved extremely simple to implement. Veripark's Yoğurtçu says: "The procedure took just four months and involved an eight-strong team. This compares to a six-month timetable for equivalent projects that do not utilise BizTalk Server 2004."With BizTalk Server 2004 successfully installed at Akbank, the organisation's corporate clients can communicate with the bank in real time. This translates into significant savings for the bank's clients, who are now better able to manage liquidity or reconcile anomalies in payments information, for example. Demonstrating this point, Akbank cites the fact that it achieved 20,000 money transfers, including approval, in just 20 minutes. This in turn, results in improved banking relationships and improved customer generation and retention for Akbank.
FTP Process Reduced from Weeks to Hours
BizTalk Server 2004 has slashed the time it takes for Akbank to establish new file transfer processes with its corporate customers. Prior to the implementation, the laborious, manual process could take up to one and half weeks, but with BizTalk Server 2004 standardising the process, this timescale has tumbled to just a few hours.
Staff Redeployed to More Profitable Areas
The automated nature of the solution means that just two staff are required to oversee all new client file transfer formats. Prior to the implementation a separate member of staff was required to work on every new format requirement; a situation that kept expert employees tied up for weeks, when their attention could have been focused on more profit-orientated tasks.
Improved Communication Channels Support Customer Satisfaction
The new solution significantly bolsters the entire bank-to-corporate communication process. In the past, when corporate customers requested information regarding payments for example, the bank's in-house team would have to locate and confirm that information manually. This could take an entire working day, and with corporations seeking to manage their capital in near-real time this delay was simply untenable. With BizTalk Server 2004 in place, information requests can be answered in less than an hour.
Enhanced Customer Service
Thanks to the automated nature of the bank's communication channels, Akbank is now able to provide more information of a higher quality to its corporate customers. For instance, it can provide regular confirmations at each step of a process, be that tracking and confirming payments or monitoring the clearing and settlement process. Any errors can be spotted and returned immediately, reducing bottlenecks and saving both the bank and its customers significant time and costs.
Before the introduction of BizTalk Server 2004, each customer implementation was done via custom coding. Consequently, there was no standardised approach to security. With security a kernel of BizTalk Server 2004, each new implementation benefits from the solution's best-of-breed security features.
Greater Scope for Future Integration
The BizTalk Server 2004 implementation was the first major Microsoft project undertaken by the bank. However, the bank has been spurred by the success and ease of the installation, not to mention the results it has achieved. It is now considering implementing further Microsoft solutions, and with BizTalk Server 2004 in place, it knows that integration will not be a problem.
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Microsoft Windows Server System™ is a comprehensive, integrated, and interoperable server infrastructure that helps reduce the complexity and costs of building, deploying, connecting, and operating agile business solutions. Windows Server System helps customers create new value for their business through the strategic use of their IT assets. With the Windows Server operating system as its foundation, Windows Server System delivers dependable infrastructure for data management and analysis; enterprise integration; customer, partner, and employee portals; business process automation; communications and collaboration; and core IT operations including security, deployment, and systems management.