Financial services is a tricky, competitive business in Africa. And even more so in Nigeria, where over 100 banks operate and are all vying for the top spot. So, when your bank is rated 65th out of 100, it’s no surprise that you take dramatic steps to change things – this is the story of Access Bank.
Listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Access Bank PLC. is a leading full-service commercial bank operating a network of more than 600 branches and service outlets. It has 3,000 ATMs, over 28,000 employees and services 45 million customers.
The problem facing Access Bank
Access Bank faced a challenge. Its reputation was dwindling, and so was its market share. It attributed to an inflexible technology backend that didn’t support customer growth acquisition and was hampering its desire to become the number one bank in Nigeria.
The heart of the problem was a three-tier architecture, failing hardware that was impossible to upscale/refresh, and a developer unfriendly backend stalling business transformation and future growth.
If these challenges weren’t addressed, Access Bank would lose any ground it was making in becoming Nigeria’s preeminent bank. And it would experience customer attrition due to trying to service millions of customers manually with inflexible systems that were eating away at its IT budgets.
A path to transformation
The team at Access Bank, spearheaded by its head of governance, architecture and planning, made a bold decision. The only way it could change its fate, and right its course to becoming the predominant player in the Nigerian banking sector was to transform its technology systems and create a platform from which it can innovate and drive digital transformation.
This required a rethink of how it procures technology, a look at how to modernise an ageing technology stack, the adoption of a robust private cloud, and the deployment of a rapidly scalable software-defined backend architecture that would embrace the convergence of the private and public cloud
The solutions? VMware vCloud Suite, Carbon Black App Control, and VMware Horizon.
Reaping the benefits of success
Access Bank’s new environment creates a critical link between the bank, its branches, ATMs, and its people, with its central banking systems all running on the VMware private cloud environment. But scalability and innovation are the real prizes – for example; it has been able to develop an online loan product that disposes a loan to a qualifying customer in less than 10 seconds.
Other positive factors experienced by the bank include stability and security, and the Access Bank card information system hosted on its private cloud seamlessly complies with local and global Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DDS). As for security – the team says it can safeguard critical personal information and is happy to report it has not suffered a breach.
As for its engineers, resources are now able to provide real business value and are no longer changing parts or checking drives. And rolling out innovative banking applications and services is done from an agile environment that has, according to the team, changed how it can react to and deliver on demands driven by different divisions for new technologies.
Full business transformation
While Access Bank is making the most of the incredible environment it has built, it’s not resting on its laurels. It’s already putting a stake in the ground and saying its next stop is the modernisation of its networking environment.
With all of this in place, the bank is now officially the top-ranked bank in Nigeria, leapfrogging 64 places to get to this point. It says it will maintain a position by being a technology-savvy and digital-centric organisation.