Westpac is nearing completion on a project to allow corporate customers to integrate their SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems with its core payment platform.
The Corporate Banking Connectivity project commenced about 18 months ago and aimed to deliver a pilot solution by April 2013.
Westpac planned to offer a downloadable software package, based on SAP’s NetWeaver Process Integration technology, to connect to corporate customers’ ERP systems within weeks.
The software would convert payment instructions to ISO 20022 data standards and automatically transmit them to its Fundtech high-value payment platform for processing.
A majority of Westpac Institutional Bank customers currently transmit payment instructions to the bank’s Corporate Online portal in manual, batch processes. One in five use bespoke integrations, requiring up to nine months of work.
Mike Baldwin, head of innovation and implementation of Westpac Institutional Bank, said the Corporate Banking Connectivity project would automate customer processes, facilitating real-time intrabank payments to their customers and suppliers.
But Baldwin speculated that real-time payments between banks would not be possible until the Reserve Bank of Australia forced banks to align their systems.
Westpac’s integration would transmit acknowledgement messages from the bank to customer SAP systems in real-time, providing more information about the status of payments, Baldwin noted.
He said the bank had chosen to work with SAP because it had “the biggest footprint of ERP systems in Australia”.
Westpac “could consider” developing software to integrate with other ERP brands, such as Oracle, after the current Corporate Banking Connectivity project was bedded down, he said.
Baldwin would not disclose the cost of the project, describing it only as a medium-sized investment that involved six to 12 Westpac staff.
“This innovation is part of an ongoing program to simplify banking processes ... we think we will get a good return on this in the first year,” he said, expecting the offering to drive more business from existing and new corporate customers.