November 11, 2019 at 2:59 PM
Recently Principa announced their partnership with UK-based Welcom Digital. Welcom Digital’s platform Financier is one of the leading account processing platforms. Principa is now the sales and delivery partner in South Africa for Financier. We speak to Principa’s Eric Hay – a technical specialist with over 25 years’ experience with credit systems include account processing systems – who has been now appointed technical delivery head for Financier.
1. How have account processors changed over the years?
The biggest change over the years has been in breaking down the components of account processing into specialist solutions. Originally, account processors did it all: account origination, management and collections. These solutions would authorise spending, manage credit limits and switch transactions to 3rd parties. The sheer amount going on in these solutions make them difficult to maintain and unable to quickly react to market changes.
Over time specialist solutions came to be, which did the job much better. Account processors too became specialist. Incorporating tools like business rules management systems (BRMS) and configurable integration layers make these specialist solutions highly flexible. The FinSmart platform is a new generation account processing solution that offers a high degree of configurability through Financier for account processing, AppSmart for originations, CollectSmart for collections and recoveries, DecisionSmart for business rules and BridgeSmart to easily integrate all the components.
Another point to make is that account processors are beginning to migrate away from the mainframe.
2. What are the challenges with a mainframe solution?
I think that the biggest challenge has to be cost followed closely by flexibility and ease of integration. In addition to platform costs being higher than alternatives, the very nature of the mainframe environment adds to the cost. It is more difficult to test individual changes, and mainframe resources tend to be specialised in what they do. There are no “full-stack” developers. This leads to bigger teams and generally slower turnaround times.
While parameterisation offers a degree of flexibility, it does not compare to that of rules engines. Entire processes can be configured in DecisionSmart with BridgeSmart fetching data from Financier and other sources, calling DecisionSmart and updating the result to Financier.
3. How is the account processor architecture different with the new generation of account processors like Financier?
The difference is in the tools available to the client, allowing them to implement change with very little IT technical support. For instance, the Financier “additional information” capability allows users to add new data fields at a customer or agreement level. Financier workflow allows a user the ability to read customer or agreement data, perform calculations, implement conditional splits and update data to the account or agreement. Integration with BridgeSmart makes integration to any number of data or decision services simple. This combination allows the client to be agile, innovative and self-sufficient.
4. In the UK, there is pressure on credit granters to offer different credit options to customers. How is Financier suited to do this?
I think the first important thing to note is that SA (and other countries) often follows the UK from a legislative perspective, whether it be consumer protection, data protection, debt rehabilitation, etc. If it is happening in the UK, then there is a good chance we will see it in SA in the next few years. And so, we will probably see pressure on credit granters (for example retailers) to offer variety in the future.
To answer the question, though, Financier allows you to build both product and sub-product. You can quite easily clone a product/sub-product and make interest, fee or term adjustments on the clone. There are currently 23 different interest calculations, and Financier can cater for a plethora of fee structures whether they are fixed, variable or conditional based.
Through catering to their different client’s needs over the past 40 years, Welcom Digital has incorporated many of the requirements as configurable settings or processes within Financier.
In addition to this, the integration of SmartSuite to Financier allows users easy access to additional data sources, services and complex decision solutions to offer the most appropriate product to the client.
5. How long does Financier take to deploy?
Welcom Digital have deployed Financier in as little as three months. Some deployments have run considerably longer. The factor most affecting the length of time to deploy is whether data-migration is necessary. As a core system within the organisation it is important that a rigorous deployment process is followed. Welcom Digital and Principa (as South African deployment partners) follow a very detailed process to ensure Financier is deployed correctly.
6. What industries could benefit from adopting Financier?
Financier has been deployed at several different types of organisations. These range from unsecured lenders, fashion retailers, furniture retailers, SME loans, vehicle finance houses, insurers, medical loans, mobile loans and several others.
7. What size companies would be suited to adopt Financier?
Financier has been adopted by companies that manage many millions of agreements right down to start-ups who still need to onboard their first customers. The pricing structure is normally a rental model, and for start-ups Principa/Welcom offer a low-and-grow model. More information is available on request.