Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: National Bank Launches New Core Banking System

The project launch was delayed by three months, due to its complexity and a failure to deploy technical staff

The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) launched its new centralised, online, real-time, electronic (CORE) banking system, called Quantum Intellect, on Monday, November 18, 2013. This will replace the previous Bank Master system.

The new system, which is expected to facilitate and streamline the activities of the Bank, was developed by Indian technology firm, Polaris Financial Technology Ltd, after the two signed a deal on October 5, 2012, for 3.4 million dollars.

The NBE implemented its new national payment system (NPS) in 2011 and, in order for all electronic interbank money transactions to be integrated into it, all banks were required to install CORE banking solutions. This led to a drive by banks to install such systems, though many did not meet the June 2011 deadline.

However, Bank Master could not fully interface with the NPS, which led the NBE to seek a new alternative.

In addition, problems with the management of the currency reserve and government accounts were also faced with the old system, according to the NBE's quarterly magazine, Birritu, published in January 2013.

The Intellect solution, which was developed specifically for central banks, is expected to resolve these issues by allowing the integration of currency management, securities, payments & settlement and the enterprise general ledger. In addition, it should speed up the Bank's operations, and allow it to keep accurate management and regulatory reports, according to Polaris' press release at the time of the contract signing.

Though the agreement called for the completion of the project within nine months, in August 2013, a month after the system was supposed to be ready, the Bank indicated that the launch would be delayed until the end of September.

It was previously reported that the delay in the project came because of Polaris' failure to deploy technical staff to analyse the old system, in addition to the complexity of the project. These difficulties pushed back the project starting date by three months.

At that time, officials also told Fortune that the old system would run side-by-side the new one for the first two weeks, after which the Bank Master programme would be phased out.

The system was then launched at test level on September 24, Fortune learnt, before its current full launch.

According to sources, the NBE has bought and deployed new servers and software to support its CORE banking system. Afcor Plc was awarded a one million-dollar contract in April 2013, for the supply of IBM 3650-M3 servers and Oracle software for data storage. The contract includes the service of interfacing the software and the servers with the new system.

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