“EBICS as a service” – An operating model for small and medium-sized financial institutions

It is actually undisputed that EBICS will establish itself as a transaction banking protocol in Switzerland. Major banks and larger cantonal banks already offer EBICS or are in the process of implementing an EBICS interface for their business customers. The next step would be a shared-use "EBICS as a service" platform, for which there is currently no provider.

The advantages of secure, standardized, and cost-effective point-to-point communication are so apparent that the topic is now cropping up on the agendas of even small and medium-sized financial institutions. Depending on the particular institute and the number of customers to be connected up to EBICS, the management of some banks consider the initial costs for purchasing, installing, and running an EBICS product to be prohibitive.

Product providers should take these concerns very seriously, especially when we consider that implementing an EBICS project entails costs on a five- to six-figure scale, which accounts for a sizeable chunk of many smaller banks' budgets. Particularly in Switzerland, where there are around a hundred institutes in this segment, such as smaller cantonal and private banks, the following question arises: Why is there no provider offering "EBICS as a service" yet in the local market? Shared use of an EBICS platform actually has clear advantages, and there are also providers in the market who seem ready-made for the role and would be capable of getting such an offer off the ground.
A multi-client enabled EBICS model could be implemented along the lines of outsourcing services for operating banking platforms. Once even a small number of bank participants are on board, the business case pays off, resulting in a win-win situation for everyone involved. The provider of the solution can present an expanded service portfolio to the market while quickly recouping the initial investment costs as use of the standard grows and spreads. Customers, in this case banks, can offer their business clients access at low investment costs and reduced operating costs, allowing them to catch up with the big banks in terms of the connectivity opportunities they provide.

What else is needed? Well, the right product of course, one that is designed for multi-client operation and that is optimized for running in data centres with respect to operating functionalities. Furthermore, an innovative banking IT solutions provider who is ready to be first into the breach is also required. As mentioned above, there are a few candidates in Switzerland, including the operators of Avaloq or Finnova solutions, classical data centres, and the insourcing solutions of larger institutes.

We are curious to see who will seize this opportunity in the Swiss market.

Carsten Miehling


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