Lessons Learned: Addressing the Accelerated Digital Transformation Needs of the Financial Services Industry

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Lessons Learned: Addressing the Accelerated Digital Transformation Needs of the Financial Services Industry

As successive lockdowns left customers reliant on online services, the pandemic has left a lasting mark on the banking industry—accelerating digital transformation trends. As more digital banks launch across the Asia Pacific region, Balazs Fejes, VP, Chief Technologist, APAC at EPAM Systems, Inc., urges new players to learn from the mistakes of first-generation digital banks.

Many of the first digital banks used the same core technology as traditional banks.  While they are fit for purpose, in terms of opening accounts, they are not agile enough to enable banks to test and launch new products at scale.

“Innovating, trying out new products, and personalising products and services is all infinitely difficult and takes a long time to do from traditional banking cores,” explains Fejes. “If you want to be successful as a digital service, you have to have the flexibility to innovate, to bring products to market quickly, and evolve them.”

Digital banks should use cloud-native products with light-weight digital cores that provide the flexibility to experiment with products, personalise offers and give customers the digital experience they are looking for. “One of our partners has a cloud-native banking product called Thought Machine Vault which uses Smart Contract technology. You can write very simple Python script to represent any kind of product you need to customise. It provides incredible flexibility.” Fejes adds that using Thought Machine Vault, EPAM built a functioning digital bank with innovative loan and savings products in just eight weeks.

Banking is not the only sector to have seen digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic.  Fejes explains that with galleries closed and art fairs postponed, artists had to become more creative about how they sold their work, leading to the creation of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). “NFTs are a new use case for blockchain technology. As an artist, you can create a piece of digital art and use this technology to give the people who buy it proof that they own one of a limited set of editions of a digital product.”

NFTs are still an emerging technology and EPAM is helping several start-ups create platforms to act as marketplaces for NFTs. Once the platforms become more established, other players are likely to enter the market, such as gaming companies who offer in-game assets for players to purchase. “NFTs are a really good, decentralised technology to make trading safe and standards based. If you have digital assets worth hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, you need a way for someone to act as a custodian for these assets and provide brokerage services.”

EPAM has its own suite of products that helps in this area, offered through its CryptoCortex platform. They have also partnered with another company to create an open-source TimeBase platform, which acts as a time series data store. “EPAM is one of the largest core product open-source contributors in the world, and we always look for core technologies that we don’t sell as a product but are a framework that other products teams can use to contribute to the open-source community.”

EPAM is currently recruiting in Singapore for new talent— solution architects, technical leads, and senior software engineers with experience in Java Springboot Microservices and MLE.  In Hong Kong, positions available include a principal in business consulting for the insurance domain, business analysts and senior business analysts, solution architects for Java and DevSecOps and Java software engineers. Alongside technical skills, EPAM is looking for people who work collaboratively. “Our approach to agile work involves co-creation with clients, so being able to work collaboratively and present well is very important,” Fejes says.

Click here to learn about open positions in Singapore and Hong Kong.

EPAM really invests in training its talents. “On the junior side, we take on fresh graduates and put them through a rigorous four-month bootcamp, training them in Java Microservices or JavaScript and other technologies. We also teach them how to do agile project delivery,” said Fejes. “EPAM is a learning organisation, and we are very focused on giving people opportunities to learn and grow.”

For those with more experience, EPAM offers a multifaceted training programme, covering not just engineering excellence, such as coding, technical skills, project management and agile methodology, but also soft skills, such as presentation and communication skills. In fact, their internal training programme EngX Learning Journey that is conducted for all engineers, won the Gold Award for Best In-House Certification programme at the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore.