19 February 2010
FIS announced that Citi is going to be conducting a core migration and didn't provide many details. I filled in some of the gaps in an article in American Banker
. For those of you who don't subscribe to American Banker, This is a big deal with Citi moving their entire deposits from an internally developed legacy system to licensed software. Many of the people who developed this internal platform are no longer with Citi, so maintenance and changes are a challenge. I am consistently surprised that banks that conduct a massive core migration are continuing to move to batch systems rather than move to real time systems. Please see the Celent report, Overcoming the Fear Factor: Migrating Core Banking Systems
Citi is moving to Systematics, the 30 plus year old mainframe, COBOL, CICS, batch system that runs at Bank of America, RBS Citizens, and lots of other large banks. If a bank is going to all the trouble of moving core systems, why not go all the way and move to real time, to say FIS Profile? To answer my not so rhetorical question, it will involve changes in item processing and increase risk, but there is certainly some reward to go with that. It's much easier to have such an opinion when I'm not responsible for the conversion and change management. American banks are clearly concerned about adopting the change that a real time system brings. Union Bank (formerly Union Bank of California) is moving to Infosys Finacle, which is a real time system. I eagerly await the results of this migration. Will this start the long-awaited avalanche of core banking migrations? Not yet, but pressure is building. The Citi migration is not a game changer. The Union Bank migration may well be. The Canadians are quite active and there should be some announcements soon. I think that if Union Bank is able to out-innovate the competitors with their new real-time platform and reduce costs, the mass migration will start.