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High availability in banking - why it matters more than ever

By : Andy Brown

November 08, 2018 08:00 AM

Banks are devoting huge resources to improving their digital services - but they must not overlook the underlying infrastructure needed to deliver these offerings.

 

Today's financial services sector, much like almost every other part of the modern world, needs to operate in a 24/7 environment. And this means you need to be available to your customers whenever they want, wherever they are, and on whatever channel they prefer to interact with.

 

As far as the public is concerned, their day-to-day banking typically means the cash and card interactions they use to make payments, the ATMs they use to access their funds, and the online services used to keep track of their activities and initiate transfers. But regardless of how they choose to interact, the fundamentals of transaction processing behind the scenes remain the same.

 

If these supporting systems go down, customers won't be able to access the services they rely on, and in today's era of instant payments, this can quickly become a public relations nightmare for any bank. Therefore, maintaining high availability is not optional.

 

Moving beyond Non-Stop

 

For many years, the financial services sector has relied on HP Non-Stop to provide the availability that customers expect. But this is a system that has been around since the 1980s, so it is reasonable to ask if this technology is the most effective solution in today's digital-first age.

 

While Non-Stop itself has proven to be a reliable solution that has stood the test of time and meets today's requirements, many of the applications that were written to run on it have not. Availability is just one of many requirements in today's landscape, and a system's flexibility, scalability and the ability to use new concepts introduced by cloud computing also need to be taken into account. In these areas, Non-Stop applications are a less compelling option.

 

For instance, cloud computing and processes like DevOps will be the future for many banks, and this is just one of a number of newer technologies that cannot be supported by older applications. Therefore, more modern solutions for achieving high availability are vital if banks are to offer the services consumers expect.

 

At the same time, the reliability of industry hardware has also improved immeasurably over the last 30 years, so there are now many more viable alternatives to the likes of Non-Stop when it comes to supporting your card processing switch, so moving away from this technology does not have to be taking a step into the unknown.

 

Aiming for a zero-downtime environment

 

While 100 per cent availability may not yet be a practical goal, banks should be striving to get as close to this as possible. Even short periods of downtime can have knock-on impacts that can be felt throughout the business, and the longer outages continue, the more likely it is for the consequences to be seen for weeks, months or even years to come.

 

Banks that fail to meet these expectations cannot expect to have these shortcomings go unnoticed. Any failures or downtime that leave customers unable to access information on their own accounts, or worse, locked out from being able to make or receive payments, will certainly lead to negative media headlines and a potentially irreversible loss of trust among consumers.

 

At a time when competition is high and consumers have more choice than ever, from established legacy players to new challengers that can promise a more digital-first approach to personal banking, it will not take much for consumers to transfer their loyalties to another provider if they feel they aren't getting the level of service they expect, and 24/7 availability is now a minimum requirement for customers.

 

In today's omnichannel environment, banks must ask whether Non-Stop can still give them the reassurances they need to keep serving customers, and if it is able to keep up with the next generation of banking technology - and if not, what alternatives are now available.

 

 

To discover additional payments insights, ideas and strategies that make your job easier, visit our new payments portal at

https://www.ncr.com/financial-services/payments-transaction-processing/payments-processing-strategy.

 

Andy Brown

Marketing Director, Payments

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Andy has nearly 30 years experience in e-payment systems from the delivery and support of systems in the Far East and Europe and in the product management and marketing perspective. Based in the UK, Andy is responsible for marketing NCR payment solutions.