Westpac finally moves to re-architect IT for NPP

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Westpac finally moves to re-architect IT for NPP

How ready will it be for real-time payments launch?

Update: Westpac denied it is late to architect its systems for the NPP.

It told iTnews it has been working to re-architect its systems since 2014, and the principal architect job ad had recently been republished from a 2014 ad to seek a new candidate.

In response to questions on why its target state has not been defined three years later, a spokesperson said this work was "evolving" based on industry developments and "changes in business demand".

Westpac is finally set to begin work re-architecting its systems to allow it to participate in the forthcoming new payments platform (NPP).

The bank is recruiting a principal architect to redefine and re-architect payment infrastructure across the group’s operations.

The “leadership role” sits within Westpac's ON NPP program, which for several years has been responsible for preparing Westpac for the arrival of the new payments platform.

The NPP will allow customers of any institution to make payments to each other in real-time, rather than the current system where banks often take days to clear a payment.

Westpac said the principal architect for ON NPP will “define the target state and roadmaps for how our payments technology landscape will need to evolve to achieve our strategic outcomes".

The architect will work with “business and technology teams to identify a target architecture that will help the Westpac group achieve the goal of being a 21st century bank and define roadmaps which identify how we will move towards that target through multiple investments and phases”.

The move to begin re-architecting group systems signals a major step forward in Westpac’s slow embrace of the NPP.

Westpac was one of the last majors to sign up to the NPP back in 2014, agreeing to do so only after the then-Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens threatened to regulate its involvement rather than simply keep asking for it.

The Westpac ON NPP program has spent the past 2.5 years strategising the bank’s participation in the scheme.

But Banking Day reported last month that Westpac “won't be there on day one when the new payments platform rolls into view, in November 2017 under current scenarios. And, thus, also missing will be St George, BankSA and allied brands".

Westpac has previously put forward a timeline for the ON program in expired recruitment advertisements still visible in Google cache.

The ads say the Westpac ON program will be "progressively delivered across quarterly enterprise releases from November 2015" and is "expected to be completed in FY2018".

NPP Australia similarly notes on its website that not all institutions will be ready when the platform goes live; "others will ramp-up their services gradually."

Westpac - at least publicly - has been optimistic about what NPP will deliver. The bank's general manager of digital and transformation, Harry Wendt, late last year said the "arrival of the NPP will be a great relief to both the bank and its customers".

“It will offer improvements to working capital and reconciliation for our customers, and let them focus on more important things, like running and growing their business," Wendt said.

“We’re investing substantially to ensure that as the NPP is rolled out, our business customers can extract the most benefits from it.”

Applications to lead the architecture effort for NPP adoption close on September 27.

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