NelsonHall: Mortgage & Loan blog feed Insightful Analysis to Drive Your Mortgage & Loan Strategy. NelsonHall's Mortgage & Loan Program is a dedicated service for organizations evaluating, or actively engaged in, the outsourcing of banking industry-specific processes such as payments processing, mortgage processing, or securities processing. <![CDATA[How NS&I Transformed its Digital Banking Customer Experience]]>


NelsonHall recently hosted a webinar in which U.K.’s National Savings and Investments (NS&I) discussed how it has transformed its customer experience and operations delivery, and in so doing increased the value of assets managed by 245% and annual contact volumes by 660% while reducing delivery staff by 76% and cost of operations, calculated on a per assets under management basis, by 24 bps.

NS&I’s Mark Keene, who manages the operation’s outsourcing relationship with Atos, described four key initiatives which have enabled it to transform its delivery into a very low-cost digital business with rapidly growing revenues.

NS&I’s business model is a self-funding process of reinvention where operational savings generated from digitizing its operations allows NS&I to generate additional revenue streams from new channels, offerings, or customer demographics. The strategy was implemented using four key initiatives:

  • Business reinvention: modernize the platform and business model to shift distribution to digital channels 
  • Customer experience: improve CX by implementing channel interfaces, which were created using design thinking to improve delivery of CRM services
  • Operational Excellence: change supporting operations infrastructure from physical to digital to takeout ~70% of delivery costs
  • Trust and compliance: mitigate cybercrime and data loss risks inherent in the new digital infrastructure.

Each of these initiatives required close coordination with Atos. Key components of each initiative are covered below.

Business reinvention

Business reinvention consisted of two components:

  • Platform modernization
  • Ability to pursue B2B business with other government agencies.

Platform modernization delivered functionality including:

  • Transfer to a new operating platform of ~1Bn Premium Bond records
  • Consolidation and virtualization of the IT infrastructure
  • Retiring of legacy infrastructure and applications
  • Implementation of a training and competence framework
  • Implementation of a new evaluation tool to drive improved call center operator performance and gather real time feedback from NS&I customers
  • Automation of ‘Evidence of Identity’ checking regime for initial sales
  • Technology to support the shift to online and telephone channels for customers to manage their NS&I products.

The new banking platform made it faster to develop and bring new offerings to market, and remove offerings when sales targets are reached.

B2B business with other government agencies has been pursued with three agencies delivering payments services. In 2014, NS&I and Atos created NS&I GPS (Government Payment Services) to deliver payment services. The offering reduces NS&I’s overhead costs, and at the same time it reduces the cost of payments for the other agencies. Currently there are contracts with the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, HMRC, and the Department for Education.

Customer experience

Prior to the customer experience initiative, NS&I was a paper-based institution. NS&I increased channel access and captured CX to improve overall customer satisfaction. To implement these changes, NS&I set up a CX directorate, which coordinates teams including: 

  • Customer Insight Team: to generate an understanding of customer requirements and current performance, and move from a product-centric view to a customer-centric view
  • Digital Engagement Team: to build a CX lab based in Glasgow for clients and NS&I to shape, prototype and test business concepts
  • Customer Communications Team: to change contact management culture at NS&I to improve CX and ensure deployment of a mobile optimized website and apps, web chat and co-browsing that will support customers.

NS&I now sells 100% of its offerings direct to customer via digital channels. It offers customers an online experience that has been designed and tested with its customer base, with 3.7m customers registered to use online services.  

Operational Excellence

Operational excellence consists of two components:

  • Workforce management: reduction of operational headcount from 4.2k to 1.2k in a heavily unionized environment, without the need for any compulsory redundancies
  • Real estate consolidation: replaced the entire operational estate portfolio with economically modern real estate, including highly efficient buildings with low carbon footprint and inbuilt sustainability. Reduced the legacy footprint of 1.2m sq. ft. by ~85%. Released £13m of real estate capital receipts. Reduced real estate running costs by 50%.

Funds released have been reinvested into the three other NS&I initiatives discussed here.

Trust and compliance

The move to virtual operations delivery and digital channel sales only means that NS&I is more vulnerable to cyberattack. Atos upgraded the core banking platform to mitigate existing and emerging vulnerabilities as security threats become more sophisticated. To align incentives between vendor and client, NS&I contracted with Atos for them to ensure compliance with all current and future FCA regulations. Atos carries the risk for all losses associated with fraud, error or data loss.


Growing a business is tough. Growing a business while reducing costs and increasing profits is even tougher. NS&I has succeeded in accomplishing this goal by realistically assessing its capabilities and strengths, then partnering to access capabilities and disciplines which it did not have internally. Disciplined partnering has led to a long-term journey which has built strong competitive differentiation of offerings, customer experience, and cost structure.

The build-up of differentiated capabilities and brand promise over a long period of time creates proprietary IP and customer goodwill which is very hard for a competitor to challenge over the long term and impossible to challenge in the short run. To date, NS&I has relied on government sponsored investment products to create its own differentiation. By changing its delivery to reduce cost and increase channel offerings, NS&I is creating a new set of differentiators. Established competitors will find it difficult to challenge the new cost structure, and Fintech start-ups will find it difficult to challenge the brand promise in any reasonable timeframe. While any such competitor tries to make such a challenge, NS&I will continue work on its operations roadmap development with Atos to build additional capabilities. Over the next three years, NS&I will be creating:

  • Offerings for mass market customers, which require even lower cost operational delivery
  • B2B digital engagement offerings for its government clients, which can eventually be productized for sale to private sector B2B clients.

Critical to NS&I’s ability to adapt to the changing marketplace is the ability to consider and experiment with new technologies. NS&I and Atos are currently exploring the possibilities of blockchain and encryption technologies, artificial intelligence, platforms, prescriptive analytics, and accessing wider innovation through open API connectivity. We will update you on the results of these initiatives as they are known. 


NelsonHall runs regular webinars for buy-side sourcing practitioners. To find out more, contact Vicki Jenkins.

<![CDATA[Amelia Enhances its Emotional, Contextual, and Process Intelligence to Outwit Chatbots]]>

IPSoft's Amelia


NelsonHall recently attended the IPSoft analyst event in New York, with a view to understanding the extent to which the company’s shift into customer service has succeeded. It immediately became clear that the company is accelerating its major shift in focus of recent years from autonomics to cognitive agents. While IPSoft began in autonomics in support of IT infrastructure management, and many Amelia implementations are still in support of IT service activities, IPSoft now clearly has its sights on the major prize in the customer service (and sales) world, positioning its Amelia cognitive agent as “The Most Human AI” with much greater range of emotional, contextual, and process “intelligence” than the perceived competition in the form of chatbots.

Key Role for AI is Human Augmentation Not Human Replacement

IPSoft was at pains to point out that AI was the future and that human augmentation was a major trend that would separate the winners from the losers in the corporate world. In demonstrating the point that AI was the future, Nick Bostrom from the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University discussed the result of a survey of ~300 AI experts to identify the point at which high-level machine intelligence, (the point at which unaided machines can accomplish any task better and more cheaply than human workers) would be achieved. This survey concluded that there was a 50% probability that this will be achieved within 50-years and a 25% probability that it will happen within 20-25 years.

On a more conciliatory basis, Dr. Michael Chui suggested that AI was essential to maintaining living standards and that the key role for AI for the foreseeable future was human augmentation rather than human replacement.

According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), “about half the activities people are paid almost $15tn in wages to do in the global economy have the potential to be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology. While less than 5% of all occupations can be automated entirely, about 60% of all occupations have at least 30% of constituent activities that could be automated. More occupations will change than can be automated away.”

McKinsey argues that automation is essential to maintain GDP growth and standards of living, estimating that of the 3.5% per annum GDP growth achieved on average over the past 50 years, half was derived from productivity growth and half from growth in employment. Assuming that growth in employment will largely cease as populations age over the next 50 years, then an increase/approximate doubling in automation-driven productivity growth will be required to maintain the historical levels of GDP growth.

Providing Empathetic Conversations Rather than Transactions

The guiding principles behind Amelia are to provide conversations rather than transactions, to understand customer intent, and to deliver a to-the-point and empathetic response. Overall, IPSoft is looking to position Amelia as a cognitive agent at the intersection of systems of engagement, systems of record, and data platforms, incorporating:

  • Conversational intelligence, encompassing intelligent understanding, empathetic response, & multi-channel handling. IPSoft has recently added additional machine learning and DEEP learning
  • Advanced analytics, encompassing performance analytics, decision intelligence, and data visualization
  • Smart workflow, encompassing dynamic process execution and integration hub, with UI integration (planned)
  • Experience management, to ensure contextual awareness
  • Supervised automated learning, encompassing automated training, observational learning, and industry solutions.

For example, it is possible to upload documents and SOPs in support of automated training and Amelia will advise on the best machine learning algorithms to be used. Using supervised learning, Amelia submits what it has learned to the SME for approval but only uses this new knowledge once approved by the SME to ensure high levels of compliance. Amelia also learns from escalations to agents and automated consolidation of these new learnings will be built into the next Amelia release.

IPSoft is continuing to develop an even greater range of algorithms by partnering with universities. These algorithms remain usable across all organizations with the introduction of customer data to these algorithms leading to the development of client-specific customer service models.

Easier to Teach Amelia Banking Processes than a New Language

An excellent example of the use of Amelia was discussed by a Nordic bank. The bank initially applied Amelia to its internal service desk, starting with a pilot in support of 600 employees in 2016 covering activities such as unlocking accounts and password guidance, before rolling out to 15,000 employees in Spring 2017. This was followed by the application of Amelia to customer service with a silent launch taking place in December 2016 and Amelia being rolled out in support of branch office information, booking meetings, banking terms, products and services, mobile bank IDs, and account opening. The bank had considered using offshore personnel but chose Amelia based on its potential ability to roll-out in a new country in a month and its 24x7 availability. Amelia is currently used by ~300 customers per day over chat.

The bank was open about its use of AI with its customers on its website, indicating that its new chat stream was based on the use of “digital employees with artificial intelligence”. The bank found that while customers, in general, seemed pleased to interact via chat, less expectedly, use of AI led to totally new customer behaviors, both good and bad, with some people who hated the idea of use of robots acting much more aggressively. On the other hand, Amelia was highly successful with individuals who were reluctant to phone the bank or visit a bank branch.

Key lessons learnt by the bank included:

  • The high level of acceptance of Amelia by customer service personnel who regarded Amelia as taking away boring “Monday-morning” tasks allowing them to focus on more meaningful conversations with customers rather than threatening their livelihoods
  • It was easier than expected to teach Amelia the banking processes, but harder than expected to convert to a new language such as Swedish, with the bank perceiving that each language is essentially a different way of thinking. Amelia was perceived to be optimized for English and converting Amelia to Swedish took three months, while training Amelia on the simple banking processes took a matter of days.

Amelia is now successfully handling ~90% of requests, though ~30% of these are intentionally routed to a live agent for example for deeper mortgage discussions.

Amelia Avatar Remains Key to IPSoft Branding

While the blonde, blue-eyed nature of the Amelia avatar is likely to be highly acceptable in Sweden, this stereotype could potentially be less acceptable elsewhere and the tradition within contact centers is to try to match the nature of the agent with that of the customer. While Amelia is clearly designed to be highly empathetic in terms of language, it may be more discordant in terms of appearance.

However, the appearance of the Amelia avatar remains key to IPSoft’s branding. While IPSoft is redesigning the Amelia avatar to capture greater hand and arm movements for greater empathy, and some adaptation of clothing and hairstyle are permitted to reflect brand value, IPSoft is not currently prepared to allow fundamental changes to gender or skin color, or to allow multiple avatars to be used to develop empathy with individual customers. This might need to change as IPSoft becomes more confident of its brand and the market for cognitive agents matures.

Partnering with Consultancies to Develop Horizontal & Vertical IP

At present, Amelia is largely vanilla in flavor and the bulk of implementations are being conducted by IPSoft itself. IPSoft estimates that Amelia has been used in 50 instances, covering ~60% of customer requests with ~90% accuracy and, overall, IPSoft estimates that it takes 6-months to assist an organization to build an Amelia competence in-house, 9-days to go-live, and 6-9 months to scale up from an initial implementation.

Accordingly, it is key to the future of IPSoft that Amelia can develop a wide range of semi-productized horizontal and vertical use cases and that partners can be trained and leveraged to handle the bulk of implementations.

At present, IPSoft estimates that its revenues are 70:30 services:product, with product revenues growing faster than services revenues. While IPSoft is currently carrying out the majority (~60%) of Amelia implementations itself, it is increasingly looking to partner with the major consultancies such as Accenture, Deloittes, PwC, and KPMG to build baseline Amelia products around horizontals and industry-specific processes, for example, working with Deloittes in HR. In addition, IPSoft has partnered with NTT in Japan, with NTT offering a Japanese-language, cloud-based virtual assistant, COTOHA.

IPSoft’s pricing mechanisms consist of:

  • A fixed price per PoC development
  • Production environments: charge for implementation followed by a price per transaction.

While Amelia is available in both cloud and onsite, IPSoft perceives that the major opportunities for its partners lie in highly integrated implementations behind the client firewall.

In conclusion, IPSoft is now making considerable investments in developing Amelia with the aim of becoming the leading cognitive agent for customer service and the high emphasis on “conversations and empathic responses” differentiates the software from more transactionally-focused cognitive software.

Nonetheless, it is early days for Amelia. The company is beginning to increase its emphasis on third-party partnerships which will be key to scaling adoption of the software. However, these are currently focused around the major consultancies. This is fine while cognitive agents are in the first throes of adoption but downstream IPSoft is likely to need the support of, and partnerships with the major contact center outsourcers who currently control around a third of customer service spend and who are influential in assisting organizations in their digital customer service transformations.

<![CDATA[HCL Acquires UFS’ Mortgage BPS Business to Build As-A-Service Consumer Loan Business in U.S.]]>


As discussed in my blog of April 12, 2017, the mortgage processing industry in the U.S. is challenged to remain profitable because, from 2012 to 2016, loans outstanding grew 1.8% per year, while processing costs grew at 7.3% per year. This is leading to industry consolidation and operational restructuring. A recent example of a BPS vendor consolidating in order to drive greater efficiency into operational delivery is HCL Technologies with its acquisition of Urban Fulfillment Services Llc. (UFS).

Analyzing the transaction

HCL has agreed to acquire UFS for $30m, to be paid in tranches as certain goals are met. The transaction is expected to be completed by June 2017 subject to transfer of licenses (in 48 states) and regulatory approval. Founded in 2002, UFS has:

  • ~350 employees
  • 3 delivery centers:
    • Troy, MI
    • Denver, CO
    • West Lake, CA (Los Angeles)
  • 4 clients across 3 key demographics:
    • 1 tier one bank
    • 2 credit unions, of which one is the 3rd largest federal credit union
    • 1 non-bank lender
  • Services that are predominantly origination portfolio purchases, and fulfillment. HCL did not purchase the appraisals, evaluations, mailroom, or print services
  • Bank products supported for conforming mortgages, non-conforming mortgages, HELOCs, and refinances
  • ~200 mortgages processed per day on average.

UFS provides a client base that overlaps with HCL’s clients, but from the capital markets side. HCL has a capital markets client base that is increasingly looking to buy loan portfolios, allowing HCL to upsell UFS services to them. Indeed, the price paid is reasonable to gain access to a substantial U.S.-based M&L BPS business.

UFS brings onshore delivery capabilities, with capacity for internal growth. Its staff have on average 10 years of M&L BPS experience.

The acquisition allows HCL to grow strategic parts of its business:

  • SaaS cloud delivery: HCL will enable As-A-Service delivery of software and BPS. This will reduce cost of delivery for clients, which is important in the current cost pressure environment. HCL will use FinTech enablement to deliver much of the efficiency improvement in operations, and intends to build a loan origination solution delivered from the cloud as a new offering for clients
  • Retail banking (not just capital markets): HCL wants to pursue consumer loan BPS across all its processes.

HCL is also looking to make additional acquisitions over the next year to gain specialized loan expertise such as auto or student loans.


HCL is a vendor with strong technology services capabilities, which will be needed for adapting the strong loan BPS assets acquired in this transaction. HCL will be challenged to integrate UFS (which sells BPS services to consumer lenders) into its capital markets and ITS portfolio of offerings. Maintaining cultural independence and cross-cultural coordination within the resultant organization will require clear role-based definition and execution. HCL has been a successful serial acquirer of businesses, which indicates it should be able to successfully integrate these two firms.

Profitability will be dependent on increasing the level of automation. While UFS is currently profitable, the market is experiencing a large cost squeeze, driven in part by compliance costs, but also by stagnating volumes. When the origination market makes a cyclical downturn, volumes will fall aggressively. HCL will need to have implemented its FinTech enhancements to drive down break-even capacity utilization ratios, to be a winner in that environment. HCL is on the right path to succeed, but speed to digital enablement will determine if it can execute successfully.


NelsonHall will publish a major market analysis report and NEAT vendor evaluation for next generation mortgage and loan BPS services in late Q2 2017, addressing M&L BPS market issues in greater detail. 

<![CDATA[WNS’ Banking BPS Strategy Focused on FinTech Service Enablement for U.S. Regional Banks]]>


NelsonHall attended the WNS analyst conference in New York last week for a business update and to hear about their current initiatives. Here I take a quick look at WNS’ banking industry business specifically, and at how it is focused on applying FinTech to BPS delivery to support large productivity gains for its U.S. regional banking clients.

Market conditions are driving clients, especially in banking, to rethink their business models, operations, and partnerships, and WNS believes it will need to cannibalize existing business to migrate its clients to more efficient digital operations. The willingness to cannibalize revenues has shown itself recently, with double-digit banking revenue losses by quarter Y/Y for the nine months ending December 31, 2016. However, banking processing volumes have increased in North America (primarily the U.S.) and U.K., while decreasing in its RoW markets (which represent half of banking revenues). The North American market is WNS’ primary target market for banking BPS, and increasing volumes in the region indicate that a strategy requiring legacy BPS delivery to be cannibalized by digital-enabled BPS is on track.

WNS’ strategy for the banking BPS market is to focus on regional banks in the U.S. market, primarily banks with $20 Bn to $150 Bn in assets. It has developed a set of tools (TRAC) which sit on top of legacy systems, draw data from silos, and deliver FinTech functionality to relevant processes and channels. WNS has decided to focus on its existing client base to deliver FinTech BPS across a much larger footprint within the client. This has resulted in an elongated sales cycle, which has also depressed short-term growth.

The strategy has begun to pay off, as demonstrated by a contract with a long-term banking client who for many years purchased only one process, credit spreading. This client has acquired 5+ banks in the past two years and has realized it needs to consolidate operations and aggressively improve operational delivery. WNS won the client’s BPS business (another vendor has the ITS remit) and WNS will now expand its operational footprint to cover deposit operations, mortgage originations, and retain credit spreading. Further expansion of the contract is expected.

Part of WNS’ commitment to cost reduction is underpinned by a pricing model, Total Relationship Discount Model, which guarantees cost savings under a non-FTE based business model. Under this pricing model, WNS commits to a set level of cost saving (e.g. 10%). WNS can decide where it will find the savings to optimize its processing, or the client/vendor can select additional areas to pursue wider dollar savings on additional processes. If WNS does not deliver the guaranteed level of savings, it will remit the difference to the client.

In summary, WNS is pursuing the right approach in targeting a very narrow segment of the banking market to pursue FinTech-enabled BPS. This will cannibalize revenues and slow the pipeline in the short run, as WNS and other vendors such as IBM have demonstrated in the past few years. However, in the long run, successful execution of this strategy will produce rapidly growing revenues as clients consolidate vendors to ones with domain expertise in emerging technologies and its application to sub-industry specific challenges. The alternative will be long-term business decline, as the current decline in legacy BPS accelerates.

<![CDATA[Mortgage & Loan Industry Challenged to Achieve Profits, but Turning to FinTech to Drive Efficiency Gains]]>


The mortgage and loan servicing industry is beginning a period of rapid change in the way business process services are delivered. Over the past few years, mortgage portfolios have not grown rapidly. For example, in the U.S., the largest residential mortgage market in the world, loans have grown only 7.3% from year-end 2012 to year-end 2016, a CAAGR of 1.8%. Some lines of loans have grown quickly, such as auto and education loans in the U.S. However, those loan pools are smaller than the mortgage pools and loan servicing requirements are less complex, both of which drive much lower revenues for processing services.

During the same time, regulations governing loan servicing have increased the cost of servicing by 14% CAAGR, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The increasing compliance costs of processing loans has led to banks and servicers exiting the business, notably CitiMortgage’s sale of 780k mortgages to New Residential Investment, due to close in Q2 2017. A separate contract with Cenlar to process the remaining Citibank mortgage portfolios will result in Citibank processing all its mortgages with third party vendors by 2018. In fact, according to the U.S. Government Accounting Office, from 2012 to 2015 non-bank mortgage servicers increased their market share from 6.8% to 24.2% of the market. The gains in market share by non-banks is attributed to the lower level of supervision of non-banks by regulators. Despite this, the economics of servicing are so bad that, in a review of the three largest non-bank mortgage servicers in the U.S., Moody’s found that only one of the three were profitable.

The bottom line is that the economics of this business are terrible, and eventually either lending will shrink or servicing operations must become much more efficient. We are seeing signs of vendors moving towards much more efficient methods of business process delivery for loans. These methods can deliver 40% cost reductions from the current standard of practice.  The methods employed to deliver efficiency gains rely on the use of FinTech solutions, but include a broad range of techniques, including:

  • Greater focus on employee training, which enables greater effectiveness in process execution, particularly when using digital tools to support external stakeholders (primarily customers, but including regulators, service providers, and management). Increased training increases the employment value of a worker and serves to enhance efforts in recruiting, retaining, and adapting the workforce over time
  • Increased investment in proprietary IP, including templates, frameworks, APIs, and methodologies. These serve to facilitate process reengineering and change management when business conditions change and the lender changes its portfolio of offerings
  • FinTech solutions which increase the level of automation and STP to reduce the overall cost of delivery. The key to modern digital solutions is the adaptability of solutions across environments. In the past, scripts were applicable to one task. Modern digital solutions can deliver automated execution across hardware, software, databases, and processes. Reuse of a single license across tasks reduces cost of ownership and increases flexibility of operations.

Banks have been focused on compliance challenges and sales efforts for the last five years. In the past year, banks have been turning to BPS vendors to deliver improved process efficiency for them. Delivering increased efficiency requires a deep dive into industry sub-processes, with an equivalent level of domain knowledge around technology, and yet finding individuals skilled in both areas is difficult. BPS vendors committed to process transformation as part of their services delivery are working to attract and develop those rare employees with dual skill sets. The result can be cost savings over 40%, versus traditional outsourcing cost savings of ~20%.

NelsonHall will publish a major market analysis report and NEAT vendor evaluation for next generation mortgage and loan BPS services in late Q2 2017 to address these issues in greater detail.

<![CDATA[Top 3 Predictions for Banking BPS & ITS in 2017]]>


Based on NelsonHall research conducted during late 2016, I have identified three key predictions for business process services (BPS) and IT services (ITS) in the Banking sector in 2017.


1. Compliance initiatives move from industry headwind to tailwind

The first prediction is that compliance operations change initiatives will decline, and the resources released from this change will fund new revenue generation activities.

Changing bank operations procedures and execution has been the primary driver of operations projects (and the major expense) for the past three years. In 2017, this trend will reverse. With implementation of existing compliance requirements largely in place, spend in this segment would most likely have reduced in 2017 anyway, but the U.S. election has further signaled a respite for banks from new regulations.

Existing initiatives are now set to pay off for the banks. Banks have undertaken:

  • Automation initiatives: primarily robotic and analytics initiatives focused on KYC, AML, and FATCA. Complete digitization of these processes now means any future changes will require AMD services, not operations services
  • Third party delivery of compliance: Compliance-as-a-service shares implementation overhead and increases industry standard adoption of regulations. Third party delivery has eliminated compliance as a competitive differentiator. Future change adoption is now in third party hands
  • Global standardization: Banks have shifted compliance delivery from unique systems for each market to global systems with a standard taxonomy, but configurable for each market’s unique regulatory requirements. This makes new market entry and compliance changes a matter of changing configuration, not developing a new system.

Compliance to date has been a cost sink, which has delivered no differentiation or revenue. However, because most compliance initiatives have focused on customer acquisition requirements, banks are now able to turn those compliance capabilities into customer acquisition drivers. With reference to the three areas above, customer acquisition can now be driven with:

  • Automation, used to drive down TAT and enhance customer experience
  • Third party delivery, used to segment clients and markets, where high priority clients/markets are delivered by retained organizations and lower scale/priority ones delivered by third party vendors
  • Global standardization, increasing brand integrity for existing customers and providing the same experience for new customers.

In essence, banks will be able to create a ‘one brand’ experience for a much larger audience.

2. Revenue generation becomes the top industry priority

The second prediction is that banking BPS vendors will develop multi-service capabilities to support clients in new revenue generation.

Banks can only reduce costs so much on a shrinking base of revenues. In 2016, banks have started to focus their attention on increasing revenues, while reducing marginal variable cost per unit of marginal variable revenue. The great game of 2017 is shaping up to be one of how to find opportunities for good marginal cost/revenue gains, and then execute against those opportunities. Key initiatives that BPS vendors are working on include:

  • Automation and FinTech initiatives: Due to the low cost enabled by increased automation and enablement of much lower cost delivery methods (i.e. digital channels versus brick & mortar channels), banks are able to address previously uneconomic market segments, including lower revenue customers (e.g. mass affluent customers in private banking) and lower revenue markets (e.g. small country entry and/or lower potential revenue product offerings). The remaining challenge, now that banks can technically address these opportunities, will be for banks and vendors to understand the peculiarities and demands of these new customer, market, and product segments
  • Improved customer experience: Lowering the cost of customer acquisition and delivery reduces the barriers to entry for competitors to lure customers away. Rebuilding barriers to entry requires delivery of a unique and agreeable customer experience. This has changed the way banks and vendors address the set-up of customer experiences. The focus has been to build customer interaction operations with a ‘design thinking’ approach, which utilizes a human psychology approach to building delivery to satisfy human expectations and needs. Much has been written about this, and while it’s all the rage in the industry at the moment, it is only likely to yield results if based on quality market research and platform build.

These initiatives provide a good base for banks to build out their revenue generation capabilities in 2017, after years of languishing revenues. Banks have reduced their stable of third party vendors to reduce cost and regulatory certification of vendors. Successful vendors, therefore, will be the ones who can deliver a broad footprint of services across technologies, geographies, and customer segments.

Understanding the buying requirements of previously unbanked customers and markets is not going to be easy to do well. Most vendors will need to expand their market research capabilities to develop the insights necessary to support effective execution of this strategy. And to do that, vendors will have to pursue M&A activities.

3. M&A initiatives will accelerate to enable the shift to a pervasive FinTech structure

The third prediction is that significant mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships will emerge as the Tier 1 service providers continue to develop their digital delivery infrastructure.

To be successful in 2017, vendors will need to build out their offerings to support an emerging environment where new technologies, FinTech, are being adopted to deliver new functionality; technology which is directly related to human senses, emotions, and experience. Building such technologies sequentially would require very long lead times. The answer to that challenge is to build these technologies in parallel. Since no one organization can design, build, and run such a large infrastructure development program, many technology firms will have to focus and specialize on discrete project areas. Then, the successful ones will either merge into larger organizations or acquire other organizations. In the short run, the next two years, vendors will need to partner or acquire capabilities.

Over the next two years, M&A will focus on technologies mature enough to deliver operationally tested functionality where banks are ready to undertake widespread adoption. These technologies include:

  • Machine learning: these technologies have been deployed over the last three years, and users have identified high-value use cases (primarily in customer interactions)
  • Cloud delivery: IT services vendors have trialed use cases (especially where security is less of a concern), cybersecurity solutions, and delivery (primarily partnering with large vendors such as Amazon Cloudfront)
  • CRM for mobility: Scaling the mobile channel cannot be done with a labor-only solution. Automation of customer mobile support has been trialed, and effective first generation solutions have been developed which will now be rolled out and developed into second generation solutions.

The next twelve months will see deployment of these technologies across borders and products. To scale the delivery of these deployments, ITS vendors will need to add labor skilled in these technologies by acquiring small specialist consulting and ITS firms. They will also need to acquire IP to fill in the gaps in IT that ISVs are missing. Examples include:

  • APIs connecting legacy platforms with new technologies
  • ITS automation tools focused on these domains
  • Solutions that can enhance functionality, such as CRM modules providing functionality not provided in existing mobile CRM tools.


In 2017, the banking BPS and ITS industry will consolidate many of the small-scale FinTech initiatives that have been developing over the past three years. FinTech solutions remain very small-scale to date, but have been very successful in identifying use cases and developing solutions that have been successfully deployed at small scale. Over the next year, the FinTech solutions and services industry is poised to deploy at scale and to develop initial capabilities into robust capabilities. This will require aggressive scaling of resources, staff and infrastructure, and will require deepening of IP to deliver much more robust functionality that can be successful in a broader range of operating environments than has been required of these technologies to date. It is shaping up to be a fun year!

<![CDATA[HCL’s ISV Investments to Drive Legacy Modernization at Global Banks Over Next Ten Years]]>


At HCL’s recent adviser and analyst event, #HCLBigLeap, I spoke with their banking industry executives about HCL’s strategy and activities designed to drive application maintenance and modernization services, and specifically about the key ISV partnerships that are enabling this.


HCL was founded in 1976, and had a strong focus on manufacturing during its first two decades. HCL Technologies was spun off as the enterprise’s software services and information technology company in 1991, and was listed in 1999. Application services, which includes AMD services, has been HCL’s largest service offering by revenues until Q2 FY 2017 (ended September 30, 2016). However, application services has faced slowing growth due to declining demand for ERP deployment. HCL is mitigating that revenue loss with expanded application modernization services, which is of particular interest in the financial services industry.

Key partnerships underpinning application modernization drive

HCL has pursued a strategy over the past 35 years of creating joint ventures and alliances with key partners such as Hewlett Packard, Cisco, Perot Systems, Deutsche Bank, and NEC Corporation, amongst others, to drive strategic growth.

Recently, HCL has set up JVs and partnerships with banking industry software vendors to drive application maintenance and modernization services targeting the widely adopted legacy platforms used by global financial institutions. By helping global banks modernize their legacy platforms, HCL hopes to expand its banking client base and develop domain expertise on the custom legacy platforms within these banks.

Current partnerships include CSC and Infor:


In July 2015, HCL and CSC formed a joint venture, CeleritiFinTech, in which HCL contributes engineering capabilities to provide modernization services for Hogan platform, CAMS II, PTS, and EarlyResolution. Specifically, HCL has developed source code documentation capabilities that can document complex COBOL mainframe source code. This documentation is useful for deconstructing the code so as to be able to isolate components relevant to a specific function, and thereafter apply incremental modernization techniques such as API, exposing business logic, data, etc. From this, it is possible to identify any customizations that have been made to the code, and identify how to change code or insert new modules and subroutines as banks modernize their applications. Alternatively, this capability can be used to diagnose bugs in new code. APIs so developed can be reused in deploying standard FinTech functionality.

As part of the JV, HCL has recently finished mapping the original source code, and in Q4 2016 will be rolling out app modernization services to the ~100 CSC banking clients using CSC banking solutions


In June 2015, Infor & HCL announced a strategic partnership. This collaboration will help to expand implementation, development and support resources for Infor customers across all geographies through HCL’s local operations in ~30 countries. As part of the alliance, HCL will build a practice specifically to support key Infor products, including Infor M3 and Infor Lawson Enterprise Financial Management, dedicating ~500 employees to work exclusively with the Infor ecosystem. The company’s resources and expertise combined with Infor’s applications will promote faster and more effective responses to market opportunities, which is expected to serve as a catalyst for growth for both organizations.


Banks are challenged to modernize legacy systems, primarily those based on the COBOL language, where source code documentation and skilled programmers are in limited supply. At the same time, banks are under pressure to modernize from:

  • Regulators, who are demanding compliance for new regulatory frameworks
  • Competitors, many startups, who are delivering digital banking services that did not exist in the past.

HCL’s ISV partnerships are enabling it to reduce time to market and cost to deploy new functionality or remedy existing software. These initiatives provide HCL with a large installed base of established banks with which they can pursue AMD services. This has required large investments (tens of millions of dollars in each case) to map the code, but it should pay commensurate dividends over the next ten years, as banks cannot re-platform in the current business environment, if ever. HCL intends to expand this initiative as opportunities present themselves. 

<![CDATA[Gen 2.0 Customer Analytics in Banking: IBM Operationalizes its Capabilities]]>

NelsonHall attended the IBM Forum for Financial Services event in New York this past week, which focused on how bank customers are using IBM’s cognitive offerings. IBM has been investing heavily in services and technologies to enable deeper insight into financial institutions’ customers, starting 18 months ago with the development of Watson-based analytic assets.

IBM’s thesis is that it can segment financial services customers in a better fashion than traditional institutions have done in the past. Its approach is to segment customers by their individual preferences rather than by the institution’s preferences, i.e. asking the question ‘what does the person want or need?’ rather than ‘is this a high net worth customer or low net worth customer?’. To enable this, IBM is utilizing its repository of analytic learnings and clients’ customer databases, using its dynamic segmentation tools to identify changes in customer needs based on transaction history, which then enables banks to offer relevant products to meet emerging consumer needs.

In Generation 1.0 of IBM’s customer analytics for the financial services industry, it engaged clients in around 26 PoCs to establish new customer segmentation and improve both the customer experience and the clients’ sales. Of these POCs, around18 have moved to full production. The others are not funded at this time due to required capital commitment versus hurdle rates many of these on-hold projects will be revisited now that IBM has developed a cloud-based delivery system with a lower price point than an internally delivered project.   

At the forum, IBM announced Customer Insight 2.0, part of its financial services customer analytics offerings. IBM’s new capabilities include:

  • Prebuilt solutions based on experience to date
  • Cloud-based delivery to lower adoption costs, including private cloud implementation to address client security issues
  • APIs to integrate legacy systems into emerging technologies
  • Customer prebuilt profiles (nine life event profiles based on research and PoCs to date).

A key question that the PoCs have been seeking to answer is what life events and personality traits are driving customer behavior and how can a bank support the customer in dealing with those issues. Clients buying these services from IBM have been focused on single bank product lines, but are looking to maximize overall customer retention and life cycle value. Ultimately, better cross-selling of existing customers can only succeed if those customers have a high satisfaction level. Thus, immediate sales performance is not as important as customer satisfaction. 

IBM has developed a way of looking at customers that is less institution-centric and more consumer-centric. It uses its Watson capabilities and industry experience to enable better usage of a bank’s transaction data to understand its own customers. IBM uses its dynamic segmentation capabilities to identify changes in consumer needs, which can trigger changes in buying behavior that the bank can fulfill. IBM provides the infrastructure to deliver these now productized capabilities so that banks can use them to drive revenue and, more importantly, customer retention, at a lower price point than would otherwise be possible.

While further buildout of this offering will happen, banks using it are now can begin redefining their relationships with their customers for the digital age.

<![CDATA[Platform-Based BPS: Driving Process Efficiency & New Business Model Adoption in Retail Banks]]>


Here I take a look at how platform-based business process services (BPS) is yielding benefits for retail banks – specifically, delivering manual processes with greater efficiency, increasing automation, and delivering transaction products at scale.

Delivering manual processes with greater efficiency

Retail banking (RB) BPS is a large-scale, mature business with high adoption rates by global banks operating in their home (mature) markets. However, to date, RB BPS has had low adoption by mid/small tier banks and all sizes of banks within emerging markets. Global banks typically start with single tower BPS engagements and slowly expand to multi-geography and multi-product engagements.

Vendors are asked to deliver elemental processes focused on disputes, reconciliation, and data management, from offshore centers. These processes include manual review, remediation, and analysis of assets/liabilities/entities, data, and documents. Efficiency improvements have focused on process optimization, using techniques such as Six Sigma, to improve efficiency and accuracy, and meet deadlines.

Clients and vendors have been challenged to improve BPS efficiencies beyond labor arbitrage and process discipline, due to banks’ product-centric legacy systems (which make platform-based process improvements difficult). In addition, siloed legacy systems make data extraction for deriving analytical insights difficult. Continuing industry consolidation has made legacy systems a growing challenge.

Developing & delivering automated processes

Platform-based RB BPS delivery has been tried over the past five years with the aim of delivering lower cost and higher quality operations. However, previous attempts at platform-based delivery have failed due to the unwillingness of banks to replace legacy platforms en masse. This is now changing, with the RB BPS industry beginning to adopt platform-based BPS delivery to support a wide range of banks, including global banks (their emerging market operations), regional banks, local banks, and start-up banks. The platforms are not core banking platforms, but rather process platforms (e.g. reconciliation, customer management, settlement, etc.). These are not an integrated part of the bank’s core platform, but rather operate by pulling data or transactions from the bank’s core platform, often from multiple siloes.

The processes are mostly transaction-based. Typical processes include: data/transaction support, document management, compliance, omni-channel delivery, and support for entire operations for smaller/start-up banks. Delivery to date has been focused on single tenant environments. However, BPaaS delivery is rapidly moving to the forefront to enable overhead costs to be shared across processes that are not competitive differentiators and where cost has been growing (e.g. in compliance, reconciliation). Finally, where banks do not have domain expertise (i.e. Fintech), banks are looking to vendors to monitor industry developments in order to understand and deliver best practice.

Transaction products delivered at scale with automation

Retail banks will continue to adapt to new business models whereby they will offer a wider array of low-risk, transaction-based products (i.e. deposits, payments, and wealth management), which will be supported by more standardized, consolidated, automated operations across multiple markets, from very high scale delivery centers. And increasingly these will be delivered by third party vendors. Vendors will use their own platforms for delivering services, which will be highly automated. Manual processing will shrink aggressively as a proportion of the overall operations footprint.

Standardized global processing will expand in order to continue to reduce cost per transaction. High volume, standardized processing, enabled by automation, will allow pricing per transaction to become the standard pricing scheme in RB BPS. The shift to transaction pricing will allow banks to become nimbler, shifting their product mix in response to changing market conditions, and reducing the boom/bust cycle that has driven the industry in the past.

<![CDATA[How Retail Banks Prioritize Business Processes for Outsourcing]]> In the retail banking BPS market assessment I am currently undertaking, several key trends are emerging regarding which processes are being outsourced and why. Banks do not outsource all processes at once, and selecting the highest priority processes to outsource can be reduced to an analysis of two key dimensions:

  • Margin: where profit margins are highest, usually with new processes or products where competition has not yet developed, speed to market is critical and cost is not a challenge
  • Scale: cost can be reduced by applying operational techniques (automation, centers of excellence, or sharing of overhead) which leverage economies of scale.

Where margins have been thinnest and scale largest, BPS has flourished. Since banking regulations vary by country, banks have adopted outsourcing in the largest countries first. Recently, aggressive changes in regulations have spurred banks to focus BPS efforts on outsourcing compliance-related activities, which have a negative margin (cost, but no associated revenue).

Today, retail banks, the largest-scale adopters of BPS in financial services, are on the verge of a sustained increase in BPS adoption, as margins have aggressively contracted across product lines and standardization (driven by regulatory requirements which have been coordinated cross-country) has increased, and will continue to increase, significantly.

Each process in banking is unique and the degree of scale and margin varies significantly across processes. The three primary processes in retail banking are:

  • Deposits: low margin, limited scale, multiple sub-products
  • Lending: high margin, limited scale, standardization of syndicated/securitized products, high customization of retained loans
  • Payments: low margin, very high scale, standardization across countries.

Based on the margin/scale characteristics, one would expect the earliest adoption of BPS to be in payments, which it is. Next we would expect sub-processes with the largest scale to be outsourced. Again, customer contact and account opening have been largest scale (with applicability across all processes). These sub-processes have been outsourced for deposits and lending. Loan administration in standardized loans (consumer mortgages underwritten by government programs) were the next processes to be outsourced. In the last three years banks have focused on outsourcing compliance processing, which has the lowest margins (negative), and largest scale (across all products).

The next stage in the journey

Bank offerings at a macro level are well established and will not gain new processing scale. However, reengineering of processes can develop increasing scale, as banks restructure their operations from a vertical (product-oriented) approach to a horizontal (customer-centric) approach. This is allowing banks to focus on standardizing customer interaction processes (which increased regulations encourage), which can then be delivered by third-party vendors.

Key technologies supporting this include:

  • Customer analytics, which support bringing the ‘right’ product to a customer at the right time
  • Robotic process automation, which supports highly standardized delivery of processes
  • Mobile services, which support centralized service delivery, since mobile services are not delivered in person.

This focus on customer delivery will improve C-SAT and allow banks to deliver a much larger array of offerings to their customers, while keeping complexity of multi-product delivery low. 

<![CDATA[How Banks are Driving Down the Cost of Operations by Deepening Capital Infrastructure]]> Financial institutions are seeking to deepen their operational capital in order to drive down cost of operations, increasing fixed cost and reducing variable cost (non-linear cost reduction). Here we look at two examples of how institutions are achieving this by partnering with third party operations vendors.

Capital Markets Client with Broadridge

In this example, Broadridge is providing a post-trade utility for a global institution looking to become a primary dealer in the U.S. market, something which requires the creation of large operational delivery scale in fixed income. Provision of operational services is on a multi-tenant platform with support from U.S. fixed income domain experts.

Benefits achieved from this arrangement include:

  • 35% lower TCO
  • Increased STP
  • Adaptability to remain current: new product offerings and reporting required for primary dealers
  • Simplified connectivity to 70+ data feeds and global custodians/depositories.

Retail Banking Client with Infosys

In this example, Infosys is supporting platform renovation and providing BPS services to a major Canadian bank. The client’s challenge was three-fold:

  • To identify savings from increased automation and BPS
  • To transform their platform and train employees on new processes
  • To reduce costs and improve process efficiency and accuracy.

Processes requiring improvement included deposit services, mortgage lending, virtual banking, wealth management, and investment services.

Benefits achieved from this arrangement include:

  • Upfront cost reductions of 40% to 80% across most processes, primarily from use of tools and automation
  • Significant cross-training during the transition phase
  • Enhanced tracking of SLAs to provide the client with visibility into process quality
  • Vendor committed to 25% improvement in process efficiency over three years.


In both cases, BPS vendors are supporting capital investment with technology they are using across multiple institutions. The technology is modern with an emphasis on increased automation of manual processes and STP. The multi-tenant environment ensures currency will be maintained because of demand from many tenants, and lowest cost of change due to shared overheads. The domain expertise of the vendors’ employees is enhanced by exposure to multiple clients addressing the same set of industry challenges.

The shape of operational workforces in this platform-driven approach to service delivery shifts from a pyramid shape (with the largest number of workers in the lowest skill jobs) to a diamond shape (with the largest number of workers in mid-level tasks, managing technology and robotic processing tools). Bots can scale transactions at a negligible marginal cost, allowing clients to achieve a lower TCO over an entire cycle (both seasonal and secular cycles). Cost savings are running at between 40% and 80% using this type of approach, as compared to the typical labor arbitrage cost savings of between 20% and 30%.

<![CDATA[Capital Scarcity, Operating Leverage & BPaaS Drive Emerging Partnership Strategies in Financial Services BPS]]> There has been a recent spate of acquisitions and partnerships among Financial Services BPS vendors which reveals interesting trends. These include the following deals from 2015:

  • HCL and CSC: Two JVs were formed, whereby HCL will operate and expand the existing Core Banking business of CSC. The first JV will focus on account management and delivery governance while the second will focus on service delivery and product development
  • FIS and Sungard: FIS acquired Sungard for its wealth and asset management solutions. The combined entity will focus on selling platform-based BPS services to the wealth and asset management industry, and leverage FIS’ existing retail banking clients for upsell (FIS has seven other public solution partnerships in capital markets)
  • Broadridge and QED Solutions: Broadridge acquired QED to obtain software-based investment accounting solutions which will now be delivered in a BPaaS mode
  • Wipro and Viteos: Wipro acquired Viteos to provide STP and post-trade BPaaS services for alternative investment managers
  • Broadridge and Direxxis: Broadridge acquired Direxxis to acquire cloud-based marketing solutions for wealth advisors.

These deals are being driven by several key business factors in Financial Services:

  • Capital scarcity for both financial institutions and BPS vendors
  • Requirement for IP to support process reengineering which delivers cost reduction that increases with scale (operating leverage)
  • Lack of client engagement staff to support business growth and C-SAT improvements
  • Willingness of clients to accept standardized services for a much broader array of processes, which will drive BPaaS adoption.

Businesses at all levels (financial institutions, ISVs, and BPSs) have limited resources to pursue revenue gains and therefore have to adopt ‘sharing’ policies to succeed. Currently, qualified labor (i.e. domain expertise and the experience to effectively use that expertise) is scarce and expensive. To solve the twin challenges of cost reduction that increases with growing volumes, and client/customer engagement, all participants need access to large amounts of labor. This can only be accomplished by sharing the scarce resource. We will continue to see partnerships and acquisitions of the types listed above for the next three years. The result of these partnerships will be the restructuring of the BPS industry servicing the Financial Services industry. BPS will become highly automated and delivered in a BPaaS fashion.

Ultimately, industry consolidation (both financial and BPS industries) will be required to realize the gains from these new IP-based BPS services. The net outcome, to be achieved over the next ten years, will be:

  • Financial Services will consolidate, with ~40% fewer firms. The survivors will be buying operations on a BPaaS basis, which will deliver 40% to 50% lower cost, but more importantly greater flexibility, allowing financial institutions to enter and leave lines of business much faster than is currently the case
  • BPS vendors will consolidate, with 60% to 70% fewer tier one BPS vendors delivering industry-specific processes. Lack of proprietary solutions will make pure manual delivery cost-ineffective (~40% to 50% more expensive)
  • ISVs for industry-specific solutions will struggle to survive independent of the BPSs who utilize their software. Most ISVs will either partner with operations vendors in multiple geographies or will merge with one of those vendors. 
<![CDATA[Worldline's Equens Acquisition Set to Change the Face of European Payments Market]]> Payments processor Worldline has agreed to acquire Equens for cash and stock in a multi-part transaction expected to close in Q2 2016, with both parties claiming this to be a transformational deal. Here we take a look at the details of the deal and assess the impact it will have on the European payments market.

Criteria for success in payments processing

The payment processing industry is a mature industry characterized by very high transaction volumes, strict processing deadlines, and high levels of regulatory oversight. Hence, success in the payments processing industry requires vendors to have:

  • The ability to process high volumes of transactions with short turnaround times
  • Leading market share in individual markets, not global (multi-market) size
  • Market-leading features/functionality.

In short, maintaining scale while driving additional functionality into its offering is what drives vendor success.   

Key features of the transaction

The Equens financial processing business will be merged into a new entity owned 63.6% by Worldline and 36.4% by current Equens shareholders (and ultimately Worldline will acquire 100% of the shares). The new company, Equens Worldline Company (EWC), is expected to have 100m payment cards serviced and ~€700m in revenues. Key markets serviced include France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. EWC will have the largest payment processing market share in each of those countries post-merger.  

Worldline will acquire 100% of PaySquare (Equens’ commercial acquiring business) for a cash payment of €72m (~$79m). PaySquare provides payment services to 50 financial institutions and acquiring services (in-country and cross border) to 120k merchants primarily in four countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Poland. PaySquare is expected to increase Worldline revenues by ~25%.

Other features of the acquisition include:

  • The bank/shareholders of Equens (ABN Amro, DZ Bank, ICBPI, ING bank, and Rabobank) will renew contracts for 5 years, creating ~€1 Bn committed pipeline of processing business
  • The deal includes an option, starting in 2017, for Worldline to acquire any selling shares from Equens shareholders, and eventually acquire 100% ownership
  • The number of staff with electronic payment expertise will rise from 1.7k to 3k employees
  • There are targeted cost savings of €40m in infrastructure rationalization by 2018, and €15m per year in client-specific increased efficiencies by 2021. In addition, there will be one-time savings of €40m in synergy implementation costs between 2016 and 2018
  • The deal creates an omni-channel business, combining card capabilities (Worldline) with non-card capabilities (Equens)
  • An enhanced roadmap will result from consolidating and standardizing processing platforms, and reinvesting savings into enhancing features/functionalities of offerings (including client customization, country customization, cross border transactions, mobile, security, and analytics).

Outlook for the transaction

This transaction will be very important for the central European payments market. The impacts will include:

  • Lower cost for EWC by ~4% to ~5% of revenues
  • Creation of an unassailable leading payments vendor in five key markets: France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands
  • Creation of a springboard for Worldline to challenge incumbent payments vendors in key adjacent geographies, including Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Southern Europe. Success in those markets would create a dominant Pan-European payments vendor
  • Greater resources available to develop  payment functionalities relevant to the central European marketplace.
<![CDATA[HCL Targets Industry-Specific Processes with RPA - Significant Presence Developing in Banking Sector]]> HCL began its robotics program in late 2013. Since then HCL has invested ~$1.5m in robotics, (ToscanaBot Automation Framework), via its HCL ToscanaBot center of excellence, which currently employs a team of ~25 personnel and is planned to grow to 50+ personnel by 2016. HCL estimates that its robotics practice currently has an FTE impact of around 2,000 with this expected to grow to ~8,000 FTE impact by 2016.

HCL is offering robotics both in the form of robotics software plus operations to its new & existing BPO contracts. HCL is typically deploying robotics in two forms:

  • Virtualized workforce, directly replacing the agent with robotics (~70% of current activity by value). Here HCL estimates that 50%-70% efficiency gains are achievable

  • Assisted decisioning, empowering the agent by providing them with additional information through non-invasive techniques (~30% of current activity by value) and achieving estimated efficiency gains of 20%-30%.

In general HCL is aiming to co-locate its robots with client systems to avoid the wait times inherent in robots accessing client systems using a surface integration techniques a through virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

The principal sectors currently being targeted by HCL for RPA are retail banking, investment banking, insurance, and telecoms, with the company also planning to apply robotics to the utilities sector, supply chain management, and finance & accounting. Overall, origination support is a major theme in the application of RPA by HCL. In addition, the company has applied robotics to track-and-trace in support of the logistics sector.

HCL currently has ~10 RPA implementations & pilots underway. Examples of where RPA has been applied by HCL include:

Account Opening for a European Bank

Prior to the application of robotics, the agent, having checked that the application data was complete and that the application was eligible, was required to enter duplicate application data separately into the bank’s money laundering and account opening systems,.

The implementation of robotics still requires agents to handle AML and checklist verification manually but applying automated data entry by ToscanaBot robots and presentation layer integration thereafter removed the subsequent data entry by agents leading to a refocusing of the agents on QC-related activities and an overall reduction of 42% in agent headcount.

Change of Address for a European Bank

This bank’s “change of address” process involved a number of mandatory checks including field checks and signature verification. However, it then potentially involved the agent in accessing a range of systems covering multiple banking products such as savings accounts, credit card, mortgage, and loan. This led to a lengthy agent training cycle since the agent needed to be familiar with each system supporting each of the full range of products offered by the bank.

While as in the first example, the agent is still required to perform the initial verification checks on the customer, robotics is then used to poll the various systems and present the relevant information to the agent. Once the agent authorizes, the robot now updates the systems. This has led to a 54% reduction in agent headcount.

Financial Reporting for a Large U.S. Bank

HCL has carried out a pilot with a large U.S. bank to address the challenges inherent to the financial reporting process. Through this pilot HCL proposes to replace manual activities covering data acquisition, data validation, and preparation of the financial reporting templates. In this pilot HCL estimates that it has achieved 54% reduction in the human effort and double digit reduction in the error rates. FTEs are now largely responsible for making the manual adjustments (subject to auditor, client and fund specs) and reviewing the Robot output instead of the usual maker/checker activities.

Fund Accounting for U.S. Bank

HCL has also carried out a pilot to address fund accounting processes with a U.S. bank. The principle was again to concentrate the agent activity on review and exception handling and to use robots for data input where possible. Here once RPA was implemented, following the introduction of workflow to facilitate hand-offs between agents and robots, the following steps were handled by agents:

  • Upload investor transactions

  • Review cash reconciliation

  • Review monetary value reconciliation

  • Review net asset value package

Robotics now handled the following steps:

  • Book trade & non-trade

  • Prepare cash reconciliation

  • Price securities

  • Prepare monetary value reconciliation

  • Book accruals

  • Prepare net asset value package.

This shows the potential to automate 60% of those activities formerly handled by agents.

In addition, HCL has implemented assisted decisioning for a telecoms operator, with robots accessing information from three systems: call manager, knowledge management, & billing, and in support of order management for a telecoms operator. In the latter case, order management data entry required knowledge of a different system for each region, again making agent training a significant issue for the company.

HCL’s robotic automation software is branded ToscanaBot, and as an integral part of the Toscana Suite which also includes HCL’s BPM/workflow software.

ToscanaBot is based on partner robotic software. The current partners used are Blue Prism and jacada, with in addition Automation Anywhere currently being onboarded. In the future, HCL plans to additionally partner with IPsoft and Celaton as the market becomes more sophisticated and increasingly embraces artificial cognition within RPA.

HCL aims to differentiate its robotics capability by:

  • Combining robotics within a portfolio of transformational tools including for example ICR/OCR, BPM, text mining & analytics, and machine learning. In particular, HCL is looking to incorporate more intelligence into its robotics offerings, including enhancing its ability to convert non-digital documents to digital format and convert unstructured data to structured data

  • Process and domain knowledge, HCL has so far largely targeted specialist industry-specific processes requiring significant domain knowledge rather than horizontal services and is working on creating add-ons for specific core software applications/ERPs, to facilitate integration between ToscanaBot and these core domain-specific applications

  • Creation of IP on top of partner software products.

Within BPO contracts, HCL is aiming to offer outcome-based pricing in conjunction with robotics, but in some instances the company has just sold the tools to the client organization or provided robotics as part of a wider ADM service.

Overall, HCL may be lagging behind some of its competitors in the application of RPA to horizontal processes such as F&A, though HCL is applying RPA to its own in-house finance & accounting process, but is at the forefront in the application of RPA to industry-specific processes where the company has strong domain knowledge in areas such as banking and supply chain management.

<![CDATA[Infosys and Wipro Strengthen Multi-Shore Delivery in Ireland Courtesy of AIB]]> On July 3, Infosys announced it has been awarded a multi-year application development and management (ADM) services contract by Allied Irish Banks (AIB). As a strategic partner to AIB, Infosys will:

  • Provide application development and management, and transformation and innovation services
  • Set up a 200-seat facility in Dublin to house staff who will be transferring from AIB plus other local staff serving other contracts that Infosys has signed in the region.

State-owned AIB has been executing a restructuring program, which includes initiatives to improve organizational efficiency. Cost discipline remains an ongoing component of its strategy and it is pursuing a medium term target of a cost-to-income ratio of less than 50% (progress so far has been good: from a 76% ratio in 2013 to 55% in 2014).

Back in January, AIB stated that, as part of its restructuring plan to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, it was planning to outsource IT activities, with about 450 roles potentially affected as suppliers take over services. 

  • Announced contracts to date have been for IT infrastructure services, with awards to Wipro ($150m mainframe services deal announced January, ~130 personnel transfer, with Wipro also setting up a center in Dublin), Eircom (~30 personnel transfer) and Integreon (security services, handful transfer). And in 2014, HCL took over some EUC services at the bank (~73 personnel transfer)
  • Around 300 staff will be affected by the bank's outsourcing of applications services; most of these employees will transfer to Infosys and also to Wipro (the other ADM service provider selected by AIB).

Notable features of these awards include:

  • The bank has selected Indian oriented services providers (IOSPs) for all its major IT outsources, and it had no previous significant experience of working with any of them. In contrast, the Bank of Ireland (BoI) last year chose a more familiar partner, Accenture, when it outsourced its group technology and change division (200 people)
  • Infosys and Wipro are both setting up sizeable centers in Ireland to service AIB. This will have been one of the factors that will have helped in AIB's selection. And of course, Infosys and Wipro expect to use their centers to service other local clients
  • In this contract, Infosys is to provide support to AIB for its digital transformation journey - as well as the operational efficiency focus, AIB (like other retail banks) is also increasingly investing in its omni-channel customer strategy. The bank has also had Accenture providing consulting services around digital transformation.

With reference to its $10m innovation fund being set side, Ireland has a significant Fintech market, which will be attractive to Infosys.

AIB also signed some BPO contracts in 2014: payments clearing to BancTec and learning services to Accenture. Are more BPO awards on the cards?

BoI's IT infrastructure management contract with IBM is up for renewal this year: Wipro and HCL will clearly be interested.

And for Infosys, it gains another banking organization as a major client for ADM services in Europe. Just a week later, Infosys also announced a major application services contract with longstanding client Deutsche Bank, who has selected Infosys as one of its strategic technology services partners. See here

(Details of all these outsourcing contracts are available to subscribers of NelsonHall's contract database).

<![CDATA[Payment Vendors' Growth Slows As They Face Two-Year Battle to Preserve Market Share]]> Over the past few weeks the major payment processing vendors have reported first quarter 2015 financial results, and they show a noticeable slowdown n y/y growth from 2014 (refer to NelsonHall Tracking Service articles for detailed analysis of the quarterly results). Summary results for Q1 2015 (in USD unless stated otherwise) are as follows:

Card networks:

  • Mastercard: +2.7% (2014: +13.5%)
  • Visa: +0.8% (2014: +7.8%)

Payment processors:

  • First Data: +2.1% (2014:+3.0%)
  • TSYS: +18.0% (2014: +20.2%)
  • Euronet: +11.9% (2014: +18.0%)
  • Worldine: in euros, +4.0%  (2014: +2.8%)

In every case, Q1 2015 revenues grew more slowly than 2014 revenues, with the exception of Worldline, which generates and reports revenues in euros, and has signed contracts in Latin America (e.g. Brazil and Argentina) which has driven very high growth in its mobility and e-transactions services.

In general, vendors had good revenue growth in North America and in emerging payments (e.g. mobile and e-payments). Whereas, vendors had weak or declining revenue growth in non-U.S. markets (especially Europe and Asia) and mature business lines (e.g. card issuing and card acceptance). 

So what has changed?

Two key changes in the payments market have occurred:

  • FX rates have changed (primarily, the U.S. dollar has strengthened), which has reduced the rate of growth, after currency conversion, in the highest growth markets for vendors
  • Pricing of services has declined due to:
    • Shift to lower cost transactions. This is especially true in mature markets where transactions continue to shift from high cost channels (e.g. checks, credit cards, wires, and cross border payments outside SEPA) to low cost channels (e.g. debit cards, EFT, prepaid cards, SEPA compliant cross border transactions)
    • Aggressive cost reduction (e.g. renegotiation of AMEX/Costco contract to a lower cost contract at MC/Costco; various digital wallets, such as Google Wallet)
    • Use of analytics to minimize cost of transactions via bundling, and improved cash management.

What does it all mean?

Established payments processors and banks have done a serviceable job of disrupting existing payments systems to drive increased growth in the payments market, while driving down user cost and maintaining margins. We believe that stage of the payments market is coming to an end and traditional vendors will now experience very aggressive challenges to their existing market positions. Future cost reductions will be so aggressive that margins will fall – by a lot. For example, Google Wallet charges customers nothing for its service (and hopes to recoup costs plus a profit from advertising). Given a cost of zero for transactions, it will be hard for a vendor charging on a per transaction model to compete without completely changing their pricing model. Full stop.

Established vendors are finding success in two key areas:

  • Analytics: both corporates and consumers show a willingness to pay for analytics that help them to manage payments and their financial lives better
  • Aggressive cost takeout: vendors experienced in emerging markets, where costs are already exponentially lower than in mature markets, are finding it easier to succeed in the payments market today. Mature market vendors who try to hold onto current pricing levels face large losses in market share. For example, the Costco relationship represented ~8% of AMEX’s spending volume. AMEX may wish to harvest profits from its existing base of business, but it will not survive in the long run unless it finds a way to maintain (and grow) its base of business in the face of reduced pricing and ultimately changed pricing models.

The next two years will see the battle of pricing models and analytics support for clients in the payments market. 

<![CDATA[Payments Processing Services Market Heats Up: Financial Results of Six Key Vendors Show What it Takes to Win]]> Changes in banks’ regulatory capital requirements for businesses are leading banks to exit or downsize lines of business and increase the focus on other lines of business. Payments is an area where banks and non-banks are significantly increasing their commitments. Over the next five years the payments industry will change its entire shape, structure, and offerings. In the past, the complexity of the payments industry has made it very difficult for new entrants to displace incumbents, regardless of how innovative the challengers have been or how slow the incumbents have been. That is no longer the case.

Looking at the recent financial results of six key incumbent vendors (four payment processors and two card schemes, all global vendors) highlights where the industry is going and what it takes to succeed. Below are results for the quarter ended September 30, 2014 (refer to NelsonHall’s tracking service articles for more detailed analysis).

How Payment Processors are Winning in the Current Environment

Headline results for payment processors are:

  • Alliance Data: Q3 FY 2014 revenues of $1,319.1m, up 20.3 % year-on-year (yoy). International revenues grew at 23.5%
  • Euronet: Q3 FY 2014 revenues of $453.4m, up 25.7 % yoy. International revenues represent almost all revenues (~90%). EFT services grew 28.6%
  • First Data: Q3 FY 2014 revenues of $2,791.1m, up 2.9 % yoy. International revenues grew at 4.1%. Merchant services grew 0.3%
  • TSYS: Q3 FY 2014 revenues of $552.9m, up 8.5 % yoy. International revenues grew at 12.2%. Merchant services grew 1.2%.

Vendors growing revenues (and profits) are focused on:

  • Non-U.S. and non-mature markets growth
  • Emerging services such as mobile payments, EFT payments (especially ATM networks in emerging markets), and P2P payments, including cross border money transfers

Among the payment processors, two vendors with winning strategies are Euronet and Alliance Data.


Euronet's growth is the result of:

  • Continuing expansion of its payments network (primarily ATM machines in India and Europe)
  • Products:
    • Electronic payments in Middle East, Germany, and India
    • Money transfer, consumer to consumer, and Walmart2Walmart

The key to Euronet's success has been its ability to identify under-penetrated markets and pursue those opportunities. For example, Germany is not typically thought of as emerging, but its use of EFT is accelerating. Similarly, Walmart is a merchant with leading technology, but deployment of money transfer capabilities into retail merchant environments is leading edge in the U.S. 

Euronet should continue to grow revenues in double digits just based on its existing footprint, which is not yet fully saturated. As it develops new initiatives, its revenue growth can accelerate further. 

Alliance Data (ADS)

ADS’ growth is the result of:

  • Growth of its loyalty programs in Canada and Brazil (Loyalty One in Canada, Dotz in Brazil, and BrandLoyalty/LoyaltyOne for grocers in Europe and LATAM)
  • Growth of its merchant marketing programs in Europe and LATAM (Epsilon globally)
  • Growth of its private card program, primarily the loan balances on the merchant clients’ private label cards)

The key to ADS’ success has been supporting clients in increasing their sales. ADS centers its offerings on marketing and sales support, driven from its proprietary technology and underlying transactions data. Payment processing, a core deliverable of ADS’ services, does not stand center stage in its value proposition.

ADS’ delivers services which are scarce in the marketplace, but not unique. For example, funding and managing card loans is especially important to merchants now that banks are withdrawing from that market. ADS is embracing this profitable business, while other participants are withdrawing.

ADS should grow its revenues in double digits by expanding into new markets in LATAM and Europe. Its Canadian market opportunities are saturated, by logo, but not by service offering. New analytics and payment types (e.g. mobile) should help drive growth in the Canadian market for ADS over the next five years.

Card Schemes Find Their Own Path to Success

Headline results for card schemes are:

  • Mastercard: Q3 FY 2014 revenues of $2,503m, up 12.8 % yoy. Cross border volume grew 15% on a constant dollar basis. Total processed transactions grew 18.3% to 11.7 bn
  • Visa: Q4 FY 2014 revenues of $3,229m, up 9.9 % yoy. Cross border volume grew 10% on a constant dollar basis. Total processed transactions grew 4.2% to 20.9 bn.

The card schemes face a somewhat different set of challenges because they sell highly standardized services, which are underpinned by massive capital investments, through card issuers (banks). Despite the limitations placed on card schemes by the nature of their underlying services, card schemes are finding the same drivers of success. Critical to growing the business is international markets and new services.

Mastercard has aggressively moved into emerging markets, staking out an aggressive growth strategy in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Key examples over the past year alone include:

  • National identity card program in Nigeria with payments capabilities
  • Electracard acquisition in India to expand processing services for banks in 25 countries
  • Opening various delivery centers in Middle East and Asia
  • Launch of a development platform in Ireland for ISVs to develop APIs and solutions for Mastercard processing services

These aggressive moves into markets and services have allowed Mastercard to grow revenues faster than Visa over the past year, and in the past quarter alone 28% faster.

Competitors Face Limited Window of Opportunity to Challenge Incumbents

In summary, the winners are moving into new markets and services. Critical new markets are emerging markets with little payments infrastructure and mature markets with legacy payments infrastructure where newer payments technologies (mobile, EFT networks) are starting widespread adoption. Establishing proprietary networks or distribution outlets (such as P2P payments) will create barriers to entry in the future and the opportunity for upsell of additional services, such as analytics.

Over the next two years, the window for competitors to catch up by pursuing these vendors will close. Already, presence in smaller countries, such as ADS in Brazil, makes it challenging for competitors to displace an entrenched vendor. Once payments vendors have created dominant market positions in major country markets, over the next five years, the payments industry will begin a consolidation phase in order to convert local leadership into multi-country leadership.  

<![CDATA[Mastercard, First Data, and TSYS Partner with Apple to Enable Apple Pay for Mobile Payments]]> Mastercard, First Data, and TSYS have partnered with Apple to enable Apple Pay for mobile payments. Apple Pay is a mobile payment service. Apple Pay works with iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and Apple Watch through an NFC antenna design, a dedicated chip called the Secure Element, and Touch ID security. Apple Pay can be set up by users with their credit or debit card on file from their iTunes Store account. The service will be available in October 2014.

Apple Pay supports credit and debit cards from the three major payment networks, American Express, MasterCard and Visa, issued by the largest banks, with ~83% of purchase volume in the U.S. Apple Watch will also work at the over 220,000 merchant locations across the U.S. that have contactless payment enabled.

Key benefits identified by Apple for the service are:

  • Apple does not collect purchase history so purchases remain private
  • Transaction security is improved. Card numbers are not stored on the device nor on Apple servers. A unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on the consumer’s Apple device. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique number using the Device Account Number and Apple Pay creates a dynamic security code to securely validate each transaction. 

Payments via Apple Pay integrate with the MasterCard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) which is provided by MasterCard to banks, allows a connected device to be used for payments.

Both First Data and TSYS are providing Apple with:

  • Tokenization security
  • Facilitation and enablement for issuers, merchants and app developers in processing transactions from Apple Pay. 

Apple Pay is a major developent in mobile payment services. The major inhibiter to mobile payment adoption has been consumer concerns over security. This offering addresses the major security concerns with best practice solutions, tokenization and fingerprint sign-on. It also addresses customer concerns about tracking histories of purchases. Implementation with effective delivery on the brand promise will be critical to the success or failure of this service. 

More important to the success of Apple Pay than the technical requirements of this service is a broad ecosystem of participants to drive usability for consumers. This announcement has come with the participation of most card issuing banks, card schemes, and retailers in the U.S. participating. Creating a broad ecosystem for a new payments service in the U.S. has been the reason most vendors fail. If customers, especially high spending custoemrs like Apple users, can use the services effortlessly, then the payment service can become self sustaining and eventually displace physical card initiated payments. 

Because the payments industry is so large, if Apple succeeds with this service, it could restructure the retail payments industry over time, eliminating many mid-tier vendors. 

<![CDATA[HCL Launches Enterprise Function as a Service to Support Financial Services Firms in Creation of Utility Models]]> HCL has launched a service called EFaaS, Enterprise Function as a Service, to address reducing the operations costs of organizations through creation of specialized utilities. The service is initially targeted at capital markets firms, retail banks, and insurance companies and at the finance, procurement, HR, risk & compliance, legal and marketing functions.

The EFaaS service has arisen from HCL’s Next Gen BPO tenets, namely domain orientation, innovation and improvement focused, based on output/outcome/flexible constructs, utilizing HCL’s Integrated Global Delivery Model (IGDM), and addressing risk and compliance. In particular, the EFaaS service aims to deliver business function services as utilities by undertaking elements of business operations transformation, IT standardization (e.g. SAP/Oracle transformation, unified chart of accounts, reduced reporting platforms, data warehouses etc.), platform transformation, and infrastructure consolidation and to achieve 25%-35% cost reduction within each utility. Accordingly, HCL is:

  • Looking to create domain-specific global shared centers
  • Use business outcome based constructs to put “skin in the game” in transforming the organization’s enterprise function
  • Focusing on enhancing risk and compliance and HCL will engage with global accounting firms for SAS compliance
  • In addition to cost reduction benefits, the carve-out of a business function utility aims to deliver increased business agility, enhanced controls, and faster scalability.

HCL has a five-step approach, typically spread over 24-30 months, to implementing EFaaS, namely:

  • Due diligence and risk assessment, in conjunction with a Big 4 consulting partner, including developing process maps, integrated IT-BPO roadmap, co-governance model
  • Process consolidation, including functional alignment, adjusting grade mix and location mix, and shared services utility creation
  • Commercialization, including market assessment, asset monetization, and revenue sharing arrangement
  • Carve out and transition, including carve out, transition, rebadging, and organization change management
  • Platform transformation, including creating common data model, data & platform consolidation, new platform implementation and analytics.

HCL is working with global strategic partners in the development of these utilities, with partners assisting in:

  • Benchmarking with world class enterprise functions
  • Cost/benefits evaluation
  • Performance and change management frameworks
  • Stakeholder assessments and leadership alignment
  • Communications strategy.

HCL initially targeted a number of major banks, all of which are looking to achieve multi-billion dollars of cost take-out from their operations. In particular, these banks typically face the following issues:

  • How to carve-out non-core business functions
  • How to boost their controls and put in strong compliance & control environment.
  • How to manage complex IT environments typically involving use of the major ERPs plus a number of regulatory point solutions.

HCL has so far signed two contracts for EFaaS, both in the banking sector. In HCL’s initial contract for EFaaS, the contract scope covered four principal business processes within the client organization:

  • External reporting, for example to the FCA and Bank of England
  • Management reporting
  • Cost utility, covering allocations/adjustments/accruals
  • Regional and Group reporting & consolidation under U.S. GAAP, IFRS, U.K., GAAP and multiple local GAAPs.

Across these four process areas, HCL undertook a multi-year contract, undertaking to take out 35% of cost, while simplifying the IT environment with no up-front IT investment required by the client organization. In addition, the client organization was looking to establish a private utility or utilities across these functions that could then be taken to wider banking organizations.

In response, HCL established a private utility for the client organization across all four of these process areas and identified external reporting as the area which could be most readily replicated and taken to market. In addition, the process knowledge but not the technology aspects of the “cost utility” processes could be replicated, whereas management reporting is typically very specific to each bank and can’t be readily replicated. Accordingly, while private utilities have been established for the initial banking client organization across all four target process areas, only external reporting is being commercialized to other organizations at this stage.

Process improvement and service delivery location shifts have been made across all four process areas. For example, prior to the contract with HCL, 60% of the reporting was done by the bank in Excel. HCL has standardized much of this reporting using various report writing tools. In addition, HCL has implemented workflow in support of the close process, enabling the life-cycle of the close process to be established as an online tool and increasing transparency on a global basis.

Within the external reporting function, the approach taken by HCL has been to use Axiom software to establish and pre-populate templates for daily, monthly, and quarterly external reporting, extracting the appropriate data from SAP and Oracle ERPs.

In terms of delivery, HCL is creating global hubs in India (~80% of activity) with regional centers in the U.S. in Cary and in Europe in Krakow.  HCL has also put in place training in support of local country regulations, for example the differences between U.S. GAAP and U.K. GAAP.

HCL is continuing to take EFaaS to market by targeting major banking and insurance firms, initially approaching existing accounts. In terms of geographies, HCL is selectively targeting major banks and insurers in U.S., U.K., and Continental Europe.

The banks and insurers are expected to retain their existing ERPs. However, HCL perceives that it can assist banks and insurers in adoption of best-in-class chart-of-accounts design and governance and best practices around data management and simplifying the various instances of ERPs.

In general, within its EFaaS offering, HCL is prepared to fund projects for banks and insurers that involve cost take-out and where HCL can take fees downstream based on criteria where HCL has control of the outcomes.

HCL perceives “speed of replication” to be a key differentiator of the EFaaS approach, and the EFaaS framework initially used has now been replicated for another banking institution in support of their finance operations and external reporting processes.

This service is a timely response to the needs of capital markets firms in particular, that have been seeking to take considerable costs out of their operations and to carve-out and commercialize non-core functions into separate third-party-owned utilities. It is likely that capital markets firms will carve-out a relatively large number of narrowly-focused utilities with some of these being successfully commercialized by third-parties. The retail banks are likely to follow this pattern subsequently, though probably to a lesser extent than capital markets firms.

In addition to Finance as an enterprise function, HCL’s EFaaS model will be subsequently developed to target other enterprise functions such as procurement, HR, risk & compliance, legal, and marketing functions.

<![CDATA[Wipro Raises the Stakes on its Commitment to Mortgage and Loan BPO]]> Wipro is to acquire mortgage due diligence and risk management services provider Opus Capital Markets Consultants LLC (Opus CMC) for $75m to enhance its mortgage BPO capabilities. (See tracker article #201521 for acquisition details).

Wipro's existing mortgage BPO capabilities include:

  • 850 FTEs in origination and administration BPO
  • BPO services in loan originations and administration
  • Loan origination services platform (LOS), acquired with Gallagher
  • Mortgage licenses in 47 states (3 states in process)
  • Joint venture with large sub-servicer for loan servicing

Opus CMC's existing mortgage BPO capabilities include:

  • 490 FTEs, of which 315 are loan underwriters (all U.S. based across 5 locations
  • Consulting services for secondary loan portfolio marketing (loan underwriting, valuation services, etc.)
  • Service coverage for residential and commercial mortgages
  • Loan valuation and due diligence platform
  • Approved third party due diligence provider by Moody’s, S&P, Fitch, and DBRS)

The overlap of the client base of each vendor is just 10%, making cross selling of complementary services to existing clients a low hanging fruit.

Wipro is looking to create a significant presence in loan BPO with a platform based offering. This allows it to cover all three principal legs of mortgage operations:

  • Origination, using the Gallagher platform, Net Oxygen
  • Administration, using BPO services supported by Wipro process management tools
  • Secondary market due diligence and marketing, using the Opus CMC platform.

Wipro believes the secondary market will grow as a percent of overall mortgage market as government agencies reduce their commitment to the mortgage market; private lenders pursue non-conforming loans with new product offerings; and private equity and hedge fund investors ramp up investments in loan portfolios.

This a timely investment by Wipro. It has extensive IT services capabilities in the retail banking sector, but has not yet developed a BPO business in the sector that is commensurate with its overall size. Wipro’s strategy in mortgages will allow it to finally create a banking BPO service that aggressively leverages its technology capabilities. The secondary market is going to dominate decisions and financing in the mortgage market. It remains for Wipro to allow the Opus CMC business to focus on its client base and solution development. Wipro intends to maintain the two businesses as separate entities so as not to distract either from their primary business focus.

Over time Wipro intends to expand the Opus CMC capabilities into other loan types, starting with student loans and auto loans. That will require adapting to the peculiarities of those markets. They are likely to acquire additional, smaller consultancies, to enter those businesses for the executive domain knowledge.

<![CDATA[Worldline Awarded Merchant Acceptance Card Processing Contract by Diners Club]]> Worldline dominates the Belgian marketplace for electronic payments. This contract will provide good growth for Worldline in this market, as Discover and Diners Club have significant (but much smaller than MC or Visa) memberships. However, this is an even bigger win for Diners Club, because they will now have usability with the largest payments network in the Benelux countries for their card members.