Case Studies / Investec Mauritius: An Out of the Ordinary Technology Journey

How does an organisation constantly deliver client satisfaction in an era of rapidly changing needs? This is a question that Investec Mauritius has answered.

Investec Mauritius has an online banking platform built around its clients’ distinctive needs, with exceptional security, easy-to-use applications and intuitive self-service all synthesising to create client satisfaction. However, this is not achieved without focus. Ensuring client satisfaction is an ongoing process as clients’ needs, advanced technologies and security threats constantly evolve.

In 2009, Synthesis Software Technologies, an innovative software development and consulting company, partnered with Investec Mauritius to translate client requirements into technology realities. Since then, Investec Mauritius has developed a fully-fledged banking system that has experienced numerous evolutions and incremental changes over the past decade.

Challenge

Investec Mauritius has always sought to provide high-touch client experiences. The demand for online banking and self-service meant that its banking platform would need to be a place where high touch and high tech merged. The bank also needed to ensure user journey cohesion with the Investec brand, while meeting the specific requirements of its Mauritius market. This all needed to be built with world-class security features so that clients could transact with confidence.

Solution

Together, Investec Mauritius and Synthesis built a full-fledged banking system. The banking system itself has gone through multiple iterations. What began as a basic view-only system in 2009, later went transactional and finally was rewritten in Net Core from 2015 onwards.

The following was built in a decade:

  • Payments
  • Transfers
  • Scheduled payments
  • Fixed deposits
  • Complex authorisation systems that allow transactions to be gated for review and release
  • Forex with live market rates and selection for doing cross-currency trades / payments
  • Admin portals with complete account, user management and masquerading capabilities
  • Transactional screens such as Statements, History and Notifications.
  • 2FA with Single Sign On (SSO)

Client-centred solutions

Ruchi Jain, Investec Mauritius Team Lead, explains that Investec Mauritius’ clients transact in high volumes. “The solution that was put into place suited clients by giving them access, multi-user access and authorisation. It gave them the setup they required.” She also explains that, “We have a very senior client base. They want easy screens to navigate around,” When designing the platform, the unique needs of the Mauritius client bases as well as the increased demand for self-service, had to be top of mind. Clients are now able to do what they need when they need it with the addition of Investec’s bankers and a global support centre.

Regarding corporate use, the banking platform had to cater for the different needs of Mauritius businesses. Leandré Roux, Synthesis Senior Developer, says: “The system is not a one-size-fits all. It’s so tuneable. Each company can work differently. They don’t all have to follow the same patterns. You can mandate the way you want to do your business. It can be configured in such a fashion that it conforms to those mandates.”

This allowed Investec Mauritius to provide high tech with high touch suited for the client at hand. Obey Makhuvele, Investec Mauritius Technical Lead, explains: “We get to understand the clients and build tailor-made products for them, which makes it easier for them to give us feedback. It is more feedback for us, which enables us to further improve.”

Consistency

Investec has recently launched One Place. This is a drive to ensure consistency regardless of which platform a client uses to log in. This is important because many clients bank across Investec and have accounts with Investec UK, Investec SA and Investec Mauritius. It was important that the user experience should always remain the same, even when the back end was built differently. Synthesis assisted with this and provided an updated framework. They also improved the tech stack so that things would work better, faster and would be easier to maintain. This, in turn, was a technical win for the group. “This is where Investec is going. They want to unite all the different groups under a single platform,” says Roux.

Security

Security has always been a key component of the platform, explains Jain. “The security priority was thought about right from the start.” The team frequently conducted penetration (PEN) testing in line with this mandate. This is where external companies are paid to try hack into the system and report any vulnerabilities. Roux iterates: “Since we have never failed a PEN test, the findings from our tests have always been a ‘by the way; this came up as a warning. It’s not a security breach issue but you can improve on it if you like.’ It was never a report of we found a big problem and we need to patch it out.” He continues that, “from a security perspective, Synthesis has always gotten it right and that is because Synthesis has a focus on getting security right the first time.”

In addition, Synthesis and Investec Mauritius also created the Transaction Monitoring system, which allows the business to do due diligence when investigating suspicious transactions flagged by the host’s system. This allows the bank to see transactions flagged on a dashboard. The team can then assign it to investigators, who can add documentation and proofs as a workflow. This is then used to generate reports to auditors and the Bank of Mauritius as required.

Forex Trading

An example of this is where Investec offered clients cross-currency trading, but the bank used to decide a rate for the client, which was a very manual process. Alternatively, clients would need to speak to their private banker to confirm the rate. To remove this pressure from private bankers and allow the client to do this themselves, Synthesis built in client trading. Roux explains: “What this entailed is that when you would do a cross currency payment over a certain threshold, the system would no longer select a rate for you. You would get prompted live rates off the market and as soon as you saw a rate that you were happy with, you would lock it in and your payment would be created and traded against that rate.”

Fixed Deposits

This new feature allowed the team to easily set new rates ahead of time, which become active automatically on a set date.

Onboarding

Onboarding changed from a manual process to a seamless automated process, so clients could have a positive experience from the moment they began the Investec Mauritius journey.

A new platform

The old banking system that had been implemented was starting to show its age. It was slow in certain instances, but still usable. Synthesis started building the new banking system in 2015. The updated back end was built on .Net Core, which was released earlier that year. The new system had a 38% increase in performance. However, this was not a simple task, explains Roux. “It’s tricky to build a system that works properly over multiple jurisdictions. Since he accounts are stored, maintained and handled differently, there were a lot of issues to make it look seamless when switching between Mauritius and the UK.”

The old banking platform also needed to be updated to increase the speed for more complex users. Roux explains: “We deal with corporate users who bank on behalf of somebody else. There are a lot of banking data and accounts that need to be pulled to the front end with their balances, spend and transactions. This happened in under a second for personal users, but for corporates, it could be a time-consuming process.

“We are talking about hundreds and hundreds of banking accounts. On the old system, it took a while to complete before we optimised it. Now, the maximum time is three seconds: even with the biggest sets of accounts. The new stack was built to allow for a lot less overhead in processing the data compared to the old stack.”

Jain regards “Mauritius online as one of the most stable customer-facing applications running at Investec. Our old online, before the UX, was also one of the most stable applications. No app is error free, but the recovery time for us as a team to fix an issue or a bug, was small, which adds to client satisfaction. We recently launched the new look and feel. If you look at the journey of how many complaints or problems we have got and if you compare that with other projects that land into client space, I think it was a smooth landing and that clients were happy.”

Building for the future

A significant distinguishing factor has also been using technology that ensures longevity and the ability to make constant updates safely, which ensures client satisfaction.

Regarding the original platform, the foundation created was very strong. “It was ideally designed to last for two years, but it lasted for eight, which speaks for itself,” says Jain.

The same applies to the user experience platform (UXP). “It was suggested from Synthesis to create the microservices form. It was implemented and it is not something we will be writing in a year or two. It is future-fitted the way it was designed,” comments Jain. Makhuvele adds: “We were able to see where the future was going in terms of coming up with a micro-services application that will basically be called in any pattern. We are reaping the fruits of the decisions we have made back in the days. We can dockerise and deploy the microservices into the cloud, which is a huge win for us.”

Results

The Investec Mauritius team has achieved client satisfaction while achieving brand consistency. One of the proofs for this lies in their call centre, says Jain: “If you see how many calls our calls centre gets, that tells us how good and stable our system is. Our desk is asking if they can help us because they get bored sitting at their desks waiting for calls”. They have also remained up to date with the Investec group.

The key to successful change is change built on truly listening to clients and their requirements. “They are very happy with us. We have been listening to them and build solutions to satisfy their needs,” explains Jain.

When asked about the greatest success over the last decade, Roux answers: “Helping Investec all these years and achieving client satisfaction. You can always get someone to come and build a banking system, but I don’t think building the system was necessarily the greatest success. Building that relationship and Investec Mauritius trusting us to make the right decisions, was more valuable. They wanted to work with Synthesis and building that legacy together, was the greatest success.”

Makhuvele confirms: “You call Leandre at 12pm and he be will on the phone. The relationship has been great.” Jain concludes: “Everyone who came from Synthesis was part of the team. We never thought that they were not a permanent member of the team. There was never an employer-contractor relationship. It is basically a Mauritius team. We have grown with Synthesis. We have grown together as partners and it was a beautiful journey.”

We don’t know what the next decade with bring, but we know that Investec Mauritius will continue to create a legacy built on client needs, brand integrity and future-focus.

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