With maximum accessibility for bank users; efficient, scalable, and secure operations; .NET platform working in conjunction with Microsoft servers Mizrahi-Tefahot is ready today for tomorrow.
Background and Business Challenge
Mizrahi-Tefahot, the fourth largest bank in Israel, was created through the largest ever merger in the Israeli banking industry. The bank operates some 120 branches across the country. Mizrahi-Tefahot provides banking and financial services, as well as mortgages of various types to both private and institutional clients, and manages tens of millions of operations a year.
As part of a strategic decision to improve customer relations, bank management decided to expand the online banking site and enrich it with the addition of range of financial channels, an intuitive and friendly interface, and advanced technology.
Reaching beyond user-oriented service, Mizrahi-Tefahot asked to improve the efficiency and speed of the site and to ensure high survivability and greater future ability to accommodate large numbers of new customers.
"A banking system is by nature complex, subject to regulations, conditions, and authorizations for operations," says Jerry Polani, Manager of the Direct Banking Department of the i-team, the computer division of the bank. "Therefore, it is necessary to maintain several central standards, such as flexibility (because heavy loads arrive in waves, as on days when salaries are paid or options mature), scalability (to offer new products quickly and fully integrated with other banking systems), and security (both of the data and of data communication in the various channels)."
Mizrahi-Tefahot bank established an online e-banking site as part of a broad spectrum of advanced banking solutions. In parallel, a new internal baking system was established, and a wide range of Microsoft platforms were deployed to handle transaction processing, content management, trade, data security, communication, integration, and more. The systems were developed on the .NET 2.0 platform, while the bank's IT department is already adopting version 3.0 and is ready for version 3.5. All the projects were carried out with the assistance of Matrix.
The development and management tools of the online e-banking site and of the internal banking system, as well as the interface to the central communication system and to the bank's main computer rely on uniform technologies, with a view toward the future unification of the systems.
The Internet service of Mizrahi-Tefahot enables bank customers to perform a variety of financial operations under one interface, while maintaining high levels of security and survivability.
The new site provides the bank with an advanced facade at the point of virtual contact with the end user. The site enables customers to enjoy secure direct banking services 24 hours a day from any location. Customers can receive information about their accounts and transactions, mortgage payments, investments, credit cards, loans, etc. In addition, the site contains information about sales, benefits, and discounts on banking operations.
The bank emphasizes that the system has been developed with a forward-looking approach, and that the scalability built into its architecture provides great flexibility and serves as a catalyst for rapid changes and future growth, consistent with the dynamic nature of the banking industry.
Shahar Hevrony, the Matrix project manager, adds: "The smart architecture of the system is manifest in several clear benefits: robustness, stability, performance, ability to expand, flexibility, and longevity. But its greatest advantage is its ability to serve as an advanced starting point for provisioning innovative services. To date, several months after the system went live, we rapidly provisioned a large number of additional new services."
Contribution of Microsoft Tools to Project Success
"Several technological options were available to us for developing the system. We chose the Microsoft roadmap as presented by matrix. Beyond the superb development environment offered by the .NET platform, all the components work in concert, and the servers form an integrated, secure system with outstanding performance and capable of withstanding very heavy loads," explains Polani.
IT managers at the bank and Matrix professionals overwhelmingly agree that the flexible development software tools enable them to provide of quick answers to business needs. The fact that the development environment provides a complete suite of solutions results in substantial savings in development work.
Polani emphasizes that "all throughout the project we received extensive support, and it was very important for us that we had a rich selection of compatible third-party components at our disposal."
The development process was carried out according to Microsoft's security method, and a Microsoft consultant conducted a performance survey in the course of the development process.
On the day that the site went live, the bank boosted its help desk with additional support personnel, which turned out to have been unnecessary. "The system's ability to handle heavy loads proved itself from day one, and the help desk did not register any unusual activity," says Polani.
Shahar Hevrony points to four variables that favored success: "A highly motivated professional team, true partnership between vendor and client, involvement of senior management, and advanced technology with extensive support from Microsoft."
"The system places us in a strong starting position for the next ten years, it enables us to merge our infrastructures in the future, and will serve as a real marketing lever," summarizes Polani.
Matrix was awarded the Outstanding Project prize in the Best Enterprise Mission Critical System Solution category for this project at a ceremony for the recognition of outstanding projects by Microsoft partners, in the presence of Simon Witts, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Enterprise & Partner Group.