Core banking and core principles: getting to the future, from where you are today
I was at a conference recently.
And during the panel after the presentations, one of my co-panelists gave an impassioned talk in favour of experimentation.
The tech is here, he said.
And it’s cheap, in the grand scheme of things, to set up a digital experiment.
Cheap and fast.
It’s not like it’s core banking.
Didn’t I just finish telling you about Foundry? About how we are leveraging existing technology to build a core banking platform that is fast to get onto, cheaper to be on, and easy to do business with, allowing for real-time configurations and all that jazz?
Yes you did.
And didn’t I just say we didn’t invent the tech? This is what is currently possible. To all of us. This is what is available, to all of us.
Yes you did.
Do you want me to soften this? Ok, this is the art of the recently possible. It’s ok if you didn’t know before, but you have no excuse now, I just told you.
Were you not listening?
I asked him that.
Were you not listening?
He chuckled at being called dude. Suit and tie and 25 years in a big four consulting firm living up to every hoodie-wearing stereotype I could think of even though I am still really a suit myself. But I pressed him, with a smile.
I call everyone dude. It’s a term of endearment in my book.
Were you not listening.
Of course he was.
He thought it was fascinating. Amazing. Truly impressive. And since he runs the digital transformation practice for his firm for the geography we were in, he wanted to hear more as it may interest his clients.
So you heard that it is fast and considerably cheaper, yes? Yes.
And that it is core banking, yes? Yes.
So one of us is not understanding something key here. Is it me or you, dude?
Turns out, it was both of us.
This is not another innovation centre play while the real stuff continues as before
What the dude didn’t get is that the parasitic industry of PowerPoint decks, ecosystem activation workshops and POCs that never see the light of day is not the way things are meant to be.
And before someone assaults me: I believe it is parasitic by default, not design.
The people who tried those things first to get the ‘oil tanker turning’ as the phrase goes, didn’t intend for innovation consultancies to become a thing, ideation workshops to be their own deliverable and experiments to remain away from the business.
Sure, a lot of folks have built careers out of this state of affairs and many consultancies have made a lot of money and I don’t even know that it is a case of cynical opportunism. I am open to believing everyone meant well and things just didn’t pan out as planned. But it’s time to do things differently.
The future is already here.
We are already doing things differently.
Banks are doing things differently.
Although empty POCs still happen, more and more business-aligned, meaningful digital work gets done. And the more of that we do and see, the more we learn about what is possible and what we can now expect from technology.
So, no, dude, I don’t think you were taking it in, even if you were listening.
You are so used to shallow tech and shallow intentions, experiments and implementations being skin-deep, peripheral and small that what I said resonated but didn’t sink in.
Adjusting the mental categories we are used to
And yet he’s not the only one who needs to keep reality checking. What I can’t afford to forget is how entrenched some mental categories are. How deep some inherited knowledge runs. How ingrained some insidious information is.
Core banking is boring, slow and limiting.
Upgrading it is expensive, painful and potentially career ending.
It is there like death and taxes and you live with it and work around it.
Not any more.
But me telling you that it doesn’t need to be so, and showing you what is possible doesn’t mean you will update all your mental files in one fell swoop. Even if you are listening, like the dude was. Even if you are excited about what I am showing you and the prospects it unlocks.
I am turning the truth of your world upside down and even if you really want to believe me, and most do (there are still the guardians of the old world who would rather we went away because they like their kingdoms just the way they are, to them I say, #sorrynotsorry) there is still a journey they need to go on. Questions they need to ask. Comfort that needs to be sought and given.
The fact that what I am saying is true and people listen and believe doesn’t mean their learned world has changed ipso facto. The process takes time and it is part of our job to give that time and enable the journey and stay the course.
So here it goes.
It is now possible for us to be digital all the way down.
To build systems with a digital core, with more manageable costs, short timeliness, reduced risk, improved performance and resilience.
The future is here.
And it is not limiting.
What both the dude and the world will learn because it is true and it is good and it is here is that amazing things are currently possible and people are building them. My team of wizards are building Foundry and we are not alone.
People all over the world are using the art of the recently possible to re-imagine what it is to be human in a connected world: banking is only part of this journey and core banking our little corner of that.
The tech is here.
So the dude can listen, or not.
Can believe, or not, depending on where his own interests lie.
But whatever he chooses to do, the change is no less true and no less momentous.
And I can choose to remember that believing is not instant because it comes with a massive gear-shift in mindset: chucking out decades’ worth of assumptions that underpinned countless decisions over long careers is not fast. Or easy.
I can choose to ignore this because hey change happened, deal with it.
But that would be foolish. And short-sighed.
Because ultimately we want to help this industry get better and do better. And to do that we have to do two things: meet our clients and partners where they are, with no judgment and no mockery. With no criticism of why they haven’t made it further. Meet them where we are and take them where we are going: the future is here. It’s available to all, accessible to all and real. And it’s turtles all the way down.
By Leda Glyptis
Leda Glyptis is FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur – she leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption as chief of staff at 11:FS and CEO of 11:FS Foundry.
She is a recovering banker, lapsed academic and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem.
All opinions are her own. You can’t have them – but you are welcome to debate and comment!