FORBES: OHPEN - AN ALL-CLOUD BANKINGPLATFORM IS GROWING


21-12-2015

"CHANGE IS COMING TO BANKING."

When Chris Zadeh started developing the Ohpen financial services platform in 2008, he opened an account with Amazon Web Services and said the company would never buy a computer for its platform. Banks were interested in the cloud concept, said Zadeh, but cautious as bankers are, they told him to come back when he had two customers.

“Then we got Robeco, a large international asset manager based in Rotterdam which invited proposals and got them from Temenos, Oracle, Misys and hosting companies like HP and IBM IBM. We offered our Ohpen as Saas (Software as a Service), they chose us and we migrated 220,000 clients. It was the first bank in a cloud in the world.”

Next on board was Robein, a Dutch insurance company which is using using the Ohpen Platform as a master, giving it access to all modules such as the savings accounts, investments accounts, CRM, CMS, Payment, workflow manager and anti-money laundering (AML). With Ohpen, Robein introduced online investment and pension programs. It reduced its total costs by 80 percent and has added 2,000 new customers and 100 million euros in assets under management.

Ohpen has recently signed an international client to roll out the platform across 10 countries, Zadeh added, and it has another bank operating with its platform.

Unlike traditional systems where the bank has to go back to the vendor for any modifications, the Ohpen system operates as one big API, he said.

“Any data you want to get out or put in — risk compliance, legal — you can do it yourself. All the information a user wants to have they can just plug into the API. That’s different from other systems where you always need your supplier to get something done.”

Ohpen charges a fixed fee per account, so FIs know what their costs will be, and it guarantees 100 percent up-time and a maximum one second response time.

“The downside is we are less flexible than other companies,” said Zadeh. “We ask the banks to change their processes to our technology.” That way it runs a single instance of its software, minimizing support costs and complexity, avoiding the infamous spaghetti code that so many legacy systems have developed.

The back end works the same for all the Ohpen clients, whether it’s a general ledger or performance measures or net interest calculations.

“We are saying you will not make a difference by buying back office, you make the difference on the front end. The good thing is that we have a system in the cloud, so you as a bank don’t have to worry; we will guarantee these back office processes work.”

Ohpen connects to four AWS data centers, three in Ireland and one in Germany, and does real-time syncing between all four.
Bank software will move to the cloud, just as other business like Salesforce, Workday, and SuccessFactors have, Zadeh thinks.

“The only world where it hasn’t happened is retail finance.” Banking software companies say they are doing cloud, but they need to sell systems to make their numbers, so they limit their cloud sales to small clients.

“They have to sell on-premises licenses. If companies like us don’t grow bigger, they might continue to exist. Otherwise they will be the next Blockbuster or Kodak.” Companies that transition to the cloud usually take a hit to revenue for the first year or two and then recover as regular license renewals kick in.

Ohpen writes its software in Microsoft .Net and uses MySQL as a database, all on AWS, of course.

“We are a Windows company,” said Zadeh. “All our servers are Windows.” He thinks that in five years banks won’t bother with Web sites; customers just want to know how much they have in their account and the performance of their investments.

With AWS, those calculations are fast. One client took eight hours to calculate a portfolio, Ohpen cut it to 8 minutes and can now do it in .02 seconds by using AWS.

“That’s what unlimited computing power can do in banking.”

Change is coming to banking, although he admits to being puzzled that banking customers are so loyal to their existing bank.

“If you are a hotel and you have negative Trip Advisor review, your bookings could go down by 30 percent. But for some strange reason people are still very loyal to their bank But the moment that stops…”

Article written by Tom Groenfeldt for Forbes.