Nottingham Building Society to launch e-savings platform

Nottingham Building Society is launching an e-savings platform as part of an ongoing overhaul of its IT.

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Nottingham Building Society is launching an e-savings platform as part of an ongoing overhaul
of its IT.

The platform, which is supplied by IT services company Tieto, is due to go live early next year. Jack Cutts, head of IT at the building society, said that the platform is based on a package used by Sweden’s Nordea Bank and its 6.5 million customers.

According to Cutts, the most challenging aspect of the e-savings implementation was the security.

“We revamped all the security, because we’re more visible on the web than we have ever been. We’ve gone for the two factor security – a physical piece of information and also online,” he said.

Nottingham’s customers authorise transactions on the platform by entering certain codes printed on a credit card-sized card, called a Tan card, which is unique to each customer.

The building society has also upgraded its firewalls as its new website will be hosted offsite, by Tieto, as a managed service, but also connected to its backend systems.

In addition, Nottingham has been trialling a new automatic prompt system that helps its branch staff cross-sell products as soon as they initiate a customer transaction. The building society has been trialling the system, Foretel’s Podium, for the last six months, and is planning to roll it out, after positive customer feedback.

“Podium targets different people. It will analyse what the customer [profile] looks like, and suggests what the customer might be interested in. For example, people over 50 might want to put more money into ISAs, or a young family might be interested in buying a foreign currency cash card,” Cutts explained.

Over the last four years, the building society has replaced all of its hardware and systems as part of a “complete refresh”, and it now runs SAN applications on IBM blade servers and Sun servers. Cutts initiated the refresh when he started at Nottingham in March 2006.

Nottingham moved its bespoke, in-house-developed mortgage and savings system to a standard system provided by Tieto, which has allowed the building society to share best practices.

“We are a small organisation but we’re now part of a development club, with shared development,” said Cutts.

Much of the focus of its refresh has been on green IT, including reducing power and working towards going paperless.

“We’re a mutual, so sustainability is a big thing for us,” said Cutts.

“It started off a few years ago when we were working on management information systems. We put the MI solution, IBM analytics, on top of the raw data, from day one, from testing to the live environment.”

“We were [also] very early into virtualisation, for example, which saved us a lot of power.”

In order to “significantly” cut down on paper, which was initially widely used at the organisation, Nottingham now provides all its management reports electronically either through the intranet or emailed as a PDF.

“We halved the amount of paper per printer after three months. It’s an ongoing project, you never stop,” Cutts added.

Nottingham also hopes to minimise the use of paper in the organisation’s communications, by implementing secure mail with its customers, so that a lot of correspondence will be electronic.

“We’re looking at statements [and] how we deliver those,” Cutts said, but he admitted that due to the building society’s older customer demographic, “there’s a limit to how far you can go”.

Meanwhile, in terms of cloud computing, Cutts said that Nottingham was not “leading edge” enough to explore the approach yet.

“Cloud is a little early for us at the moment. In our current strategy, we won’t do anything [with cloud] for the next three years.”

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