November 30, 2023

Top 5 Integration Challenges and Solutions from 100+ Financial Institution Customers

by David Wexler in Connectors , Digital Transformation , IT Management 0 comments

We’ve identified the five most demanding areas of integrating diverse systems, including cutting-edge fintech, dynamic payment platforms, sophisticated lending systems, banking cores, and legacy applications from our work with over 100 bank and credit union customers. These insights do more than just spotlight the challenges confronting financial institutions; they have also shaped PortX’s focus in product development and influenced our approach to project management. So, here are the biggest takeaways from years of banking integration… and what we’re doing about it.

1. Building from Scratch is Slow. Reusability Equals Speed!

Financial institutions (FIs) must build integrations from a standardized approach, eliminating the need to develop each from scratch. One of our bank customers leveraged 75% of the APIs from its first project to cut development time on the second project in half. Today, we continue to follow this model of reuse. After a substantial number of projects, reusability has enabled our team to leverage pre-built elements, such as connectors, code, or templates, for our platform customers. 

We have formalized these integrations in two ways: Integration Manager’s API Catalog and ORCA (Open Reusable Core APIs), a set of open banking (compatible with FDX (Financial Data Exchange) and ISO 20022) APIs for standardized connectivity to any banking core. These pre-built connections are made freely available to our clients on the PortX platform, streamlining their integration processes and enhancing efficiency. This move towards productizing integrations marks a significant step in our ongoing efforts to optimize and standardize the integration experience for our clients.

Impact on Business Users:

Business users gain from accelerated project timelines and reduced development costs. The availability of pre-built, reusable components means quicker deployment of new services and easier adaptation to changing business needs.

2. Ubiquitous Monitoring is Non-Negotiable

End-to-end monitoring is essential in today’s banking sector, especially as we transition to a market requiring constant uptime and real-time operations. Many customer integration issues stem from legacy endpoints, highlighting the need for rapid diagnosis and clear visibility of system interactions. Recognizing this, we’ve introduced an observability stack as a key feature of Integration Manager’s user experience interface. This tool enables FIs to effectively trace and pinpoint problems within their systems, identifying which systems are lagging and potentially foreseeing issues before they escalate. This level of insight and proactive management is crucial for FIs to mitigate the risk of system failures and maintain seamless operations.

Impact on Business Users:

With dynamic monitoring, businesses can proactively manage system health, reducing downtime and improving customer experience. This capability is crucial for maintaining service reliability and trust, especially in real-time financial environments.

3. Developers and Core Admins Want (and Need) Low-Code Autonomy

FIs are increasingly hiring developers who are engaged with the business and can use low-code tools, rather than the engineer-of-the-past who worked in isolation. This trend is particularly evident in those FIs pushing the boundaries of innovation. These organizations not only hire developers but focus on product managers who can also leverage low-code solutions. This preference stems from the desire of advanced core administrators and developers to manage their own integration deployments. 

Given that advanced integration is one of the most challenging aspects of the industry, there’s a need for tools that facilitate self-service, specifically through low-code platforms. Such platforms simplify the integration process by making it accessible without requiring extensive experience. For this reason, we are continuously adding low-code tools to the PortX platform that provide easy access to integration capabilities and leverage reusable products. Our team is exploring new possibilities to enhance the user-friendly approach by creating no-code solutions to enable a broader range of the FI’s team to participate.

Impact on Business Users:

Business users benefit significantly as this approach empowers FIs to rapidly build and deploy new experiences tailored to their needs. It enhances agility and responsiveness to market changes, allowing FIs to offer innovative services quickly and efficiently.

4. Data Mapping is Overly Time-Consuming

After mapping hundreds of systems for FIs, we’ve identified that data mapping remains a major bottleneck in integration projects. Our goal is to make data mapping more user-friendly, eliminating the need for developers and empowering business teams to easily handle the task. For example, we recently shared the seamless integration of DataSonnet as a part of Integration Manager, and our team just contributed a new debugger to DataSonnet as well.

These enhancements significantly accelerate the integration process and are anticipated to reduce the time required for mapping projects by at least 50%.

Impact on Business Users:

This transformation in data mapping dramatically reduces project timelines, allowing business users to launch and adapt their financial products more quickly. It also enables non-technical team members to participate in integration processes, democratizing the development and fostering innovation.

5. Uptime Makes a the Difference

Uptime has always been a crucial factor, with regulatory bodies imposing penalties on FIs that do not maintain minimal downtime. However, as FIs transition to real-time operations, high availability becomes a more critical requirement. Vendors who cannot meet this high availability standard will struggle in the real-time environment. Therefore, FIs must choose vendors capable of providing high availability, often 99.99%, and ensuring redundancy and resilience in their applications. 

We have numerous instances where customer endpoints experienced downtime. As the middleware layer, we possess a unique vantage point that allows us to promptly detect these occurrences (often before the vendor is aware of an issue). This capability is vital in assisting both vendors and FIs to adopt applications that meet the stringent reliability requirements of future banking.

Impact on Business Users:

High uptime and system reliability are key differentiators in today’s banking industry. As Larry Lou from Leader Bank notes, “In the last three years, we’ve never experienced a single downtime from the PortX environment.” This reliability translates to consistent, quality service for customers, enhancing their banking experience and boosting the bank’s reputation.

What’s next?

Understanding these trends and implementing the right strategies and tools is key to enhancing efficiency, agility, and customer satisfaction. Whether you’re grappling with data mapping complexities, seeking to speed up your integration processes, or aiming to ensure seamless system operations, our team at PortX is here to guide and support you through every step.

If you’re interested in learning more about how our solutions can benefit your business or if you have specific challenges you’d like to discuss, we invite you to reach out to our team.

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