Qore is working to make technology more accessible for all financial institutions across Africa. Co-founder Mudiaga Umukoro knew that the key to increasing the efficiency of Qore’s first-of-its-kind shared services banking platform while keeping costs low was to go cloud-native. Today, over 50 percent of Nigerian financial institutions in the Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) category use Qore’ BankOne for its critical banking functions.
In 2008, Nigeria’s second-tier banks and lending institutions lacked digitalized banking systems, relying on spreadsheets or paperwork. Today, Qore’s BankOne platform has digitized more than half the Nigerian microfinance sector.
Qore started 15 years ago by developing software and supplementary solutions for commercial banks. These products got plugged into enterprise-grade banking systems to provide additional services. Soon, though, Qore co-founder and Chief Operations Officer (COO) Mudiaga Umukoro saw the bigger vacuum in the market—the lack of cost-effective core banking technology.
“Using an on-premises model is an inefficient and costly way to deliver core banking services,” explains Mudi. “Each bank will need to spend time and money on infrastructure and security and still hire a robust IT department to manage the platform. This is then replicated at every institution running the solution.” Mudi saw a way to resolve this. “We knew the cloud was the future. “With a shared cloud platform, customer partners could split the total cost of ownership instead of absorbing it alone and multiply the benefits of having a secure and advanced banking service,” he says.
“With a shared cloud platform, customer partners could split the total cost of ownership instead of absorbing it alone and multiply the benefits of having a secure and advanced banking service.
– Mudiaga Umukoro: Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer.”
Bridging the technology gap
Mudi was certain this model would benefit financial institutions that have outdated methods or sub-standard software to collate customer information. It would also benefit large banks relying on legacy solutions that come with their own set of challenges.
In 2010, Mudi and his team met the needs of the market by developing a cost-effective, high-efficiency shared services core banking platform—BankOne. Today, the platform has empowered more than 500 banks and financial companies across four African countries and generates a cumulative gross merchandising value worth over US$12 billion annually.
Record-breaking deployment times
Unlike on-premises and some cloud models, the BankOne platform can function with minimal effort by each institution. “We use a database-managed instance for all our clients. This means Microsoft Azure handles database administration and security, which saves us and our clients time and resources. We can focus on developing specific competencies around applications, and our customers only have to monitor the platform,” he says.
Using the cloud-based BankOne platform also shortens deployment times dramatically. Traditional core banking solutions could take about 12 months to implement. In contrast, the BankOne platform can be deployed in six weeks within Nigeria and about 12 weeks within the continent.
Africa’s bespoke, secure banking solution
For many African banks, sophisticated core banking solutions developed for Western banks are hard to adapt and finetune for the local market. “It’s difficult to customize those platforms built for the West. Local banks have to adjust them to fit African financial ambitions but it takes too long,” Mudi explains. “Many end up feeling they’re unable to get the value for the many hours spent trying to customize the standard banking solution.”
In contrast, BankOne’s unique delivery model means it is customized easily since it’s a single-instance multi-tenant cloud-based platform. “We work to meet each client’s preferred software configuration,” Mudi adds. “This is one of the strong benefits of building on the cloud from the start.”
When it comes to security, building BankOne on Azure also helped Mudi convince customers to move from on-premises solutions to the cloud. “Microsoft’s reputation in security is well known. That gave me the confidence to guarantee security to my customers who were unsure about making the transition,” he explains. “I know that the Microsoft team can build a respond to a new threat much faster than a bank’s local IT person could.”
A symbiotic partnership
Qore’s relationship with Microsoft has been a critical factor in the company’s success thus far. Under the Digital Natives initiative, Microsoft’s focus is empowering Qore with the tools they need to succeed even further, explains Martin Muchine, Vice President of International Expansion at Qore. “Microsoft offers us infrastructure support that’s not reliant on our Azure spends. With this, we can access all the tools and features available to optimize and grow the solution and use cases.”
Mudi plans to take BankOne out of Nigeria to financial institutions across Africa. “The problem we’ve solved in Nigeria exists across the continent,” Mudi shares. “There’s still a lack of Africa-centric banking technology that’s also cost-effective. We want to fill that gap.”
Mudi’s next goal is to build a banking infrastructure operating system open to other developers. “BankOne will be the starting point, and fintech developers can plug into our platform, deploy APIs, and deliver the next generation of innovative services,” he says.
PUBLISHED BY MICROSOFT