Revamped Net-ready workstations free bank tellers to focus on serving customers better

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 12:00am

Wing Lung Bank has completed a sweeping overhaul of the teller infrastructure at its branches in Hong Kong.

The bank has replaced more than 300 terminals at the 34 branches with fully integrated, Internet-ready workstations - part of a three-year revamp of its core retail banking system started by IBM in 2001.

Wing Lung Bank's executive director and general manager, Chung Che-shum, said the new platform would streamline internal processes and give the bank a better picture of each customer.

'What is more, we now have a common foundation for all our retail customer service channels,' he said.

'The system also helps to reduce the cost of developing new products and the time it takes to bring them to market while ensuring service-delivery consistency across all channels.'

Financial details were not provided, but officials said the bank had moved closer to completing the upgrade of its core banking and retail system.

The bank is aiming for moderate growth this year after posting an 11.2 per cent fall in profits to HK$757.6 million last year.

'With the current low interest rates, weak demand for mortgages and intense competition, deepening relationships with customers is essential to enhancing our competitiveness in Hong Kong's retail banking market,' Mr Chung said.

He said IBM was selected as Wing Lung Bank's technology partner because of its expertise in financial services requirements and its strong presence in Hong Kong's banking sector.

The bank's new multifunction workstations consist of IBM NetVista personal computers, which replaced the ageing and limited-function IBM 4700 teller terminals.

The set-up also employs IBM's WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Business Components Composer software.

The NetVista PCs allow bank tellers to access retail banking applications through a standard Web browser.

The new terminal infrastructure was also designed to minimise maintenance as all business applications run from centralised servers. WebSphere helps connect the core banking system, which runs on servers at Wing Lung Bank headquarters in Central, to the bank's IBM Lotus Domino server to support e-mail and workflow.

Wing Lung Bank tellers can complete regular tasks with their new machines such as processing transactions, verifying signatures, accessing reports, routing automatic workflow, writing memos and sending e-mail.

By automating routine functions such as cheque-processing and streamlining others, the new system frees up bank tellers to focus on customers, according to Kent Ting, IBM Hong Kong's spokesman on the financial services sector.

The network means supervisors within a branch, or at other branches, can instantly be alerted to customer requests and remotely undertake both reviews and approvals.

'By adopting a teller and Internet-banking platform architecture based on open standards to support its retail operations, Wing Lung Bank has the flexibility to respond quickly to changes in customer demand,' Mr Ting said.

'The object-oriented model that underlies the system is highly productive and enables the bank's application software code and Java programming skills to be used across all channels.'

Mr Ting said the infrastructure allowed for highly automated, centralised monitoring and management of the bank's branch systems. This meant software could be upgraded across all the branches without interrupting services to customers.