Informing the IBM Community

Ethiopia gets 21st century banking



Ethiopia’s biggest bank has undertaken a huge expansion and modernisation programme based on model 795 and 770 Power Systems.

Founded in 1942 and headquartered in Addis Ababa (pictured), Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) has more than eight million account holders and annual revenues equivalent to $586 million. It now operates 868 branches across Ethiopia and a branch in South Sudan.

However, the national institution had a long way to go before it could meet its objective of becoming a world-class player by 2025. When it started its revamp, only 35 of its then 300 branches were connected to its core IT systems. The remainder were reliant on paper-based processes.

In a report just published by IBM, Million Yeshiwas, infrastructure management manager at CBE, says: “In the past, basic services such as bank transfers relied on heavily manual processes. Customers had to visit their local branch, complete the necessary paperwork and then wait up to four days for their order to go through.

“We wanted to offer our customers the freedom to access their banking services anytime, anywhere via connected desktop, mobile or tablet devices. In addition to accelerating customer transactions, we recognised that electronic banking could help us to cut our operational costs – for example, by reducing the need for cash-in-transit services for our branches.”

After reviewing its options, the bank replaced its old software with the T24 Core Banking app from Switzerland’s Temenos using Oracle’s 11g database running on AIX-flavoured Power 795 and 770 servers with System Storage DS8800 arrays.

To create a secure online banking architecture on its new Power hardware, it went for IBM’s WebSphere Application Server with WebSphere MQ. To support its mobile banking services and line-of-business apps, CBE deployed two IBM BladeCenter HS23 chassis populated with blades running Windows Server 2008.

Today, the bank supports almost 500,000 in-branch transactions per day – an increase of 150% percent.

Yeshiwas says: “Since our IBM and Oracle solutions went live, the number of CBE branches across Ethiopia has increased to 868. There are no more internal limitations to onboarding new branches. To date, we have a total of 634 branches connected to Temenos, and the remaining branches are in remote locations that are not yet connected to the internet.”

Because virtually all of its branches are now connected, bank transfers that previously took up to four days now take just ten minutes.

“What’s more, customers can now access these services anytime, anywhere via any device with a web browser,” he says.

“By offering a consistently high-quality service on every channel, we are nurturing the loyalty of our existing customers and cultivating a strong reputation – reducing the cost of customer acquisition and retention.”

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