Core Banking Integration Systems: Challenges & Strategies for Success

Core Banking Integration Systems: Challenges & Strategies for Success

Systems integration in banking (sometimes referred to as SI) is the highly complex process of upgrading and connecting essential services that have traditionally been separate. These things include basic back-end administrative tasks that employees may use as well as products and services that their customers can enjoy.

Systems integration is not really a new concept but has recently been accelerated, in part due to changes that the coronavirus pandemic has imposed on in-person banking. Now more than ever people need remote, easy access to their money or loans.

However, in order to perform a successful integration, a bank must find the right balance between goals, budget, and labor resources.

In this article, we’ll go over the different trade-offs that must be made when creating and implementing a systems integration project in banking.

Core Banking Systems Integration

A system integration project usually begins with an assessment either done in-house or by a specialized development team. This process seeks to identify the core banking systems that are in need of an upgrade and perhaps prioritize them as well. 

These type of processes are usually vital to the bank’s overall health and include things such as:

  • Lending services, for example home, auto, or business loans. 
  • Accounting, such as calculating and paying interest rates, CD dividends as well as subtracting any fees or penalties incurred.
  • Deposits by check, ACH transfer, or wire, ensuring the correct amount is transferred and verified to be legitimate.
  • Money withdrawals from tellers, bank or network ATMs by customers using their bank cards.
  • Customer service by phone, email, or chat.
  • Website services such as account access, applications, monthly statements, and financial data exports to Quicken.

Even today, many of these older banks use systems that are running on very old software, sometimes even done via paper or fax machine. Legacy banks have traditionally been very reluctant to change, but market pressure from new fintech companies and the general industry push to adopt new technology is forcing their hand (along with covid).

The future of banking lies in smart, secure, and easy access, which integration will provide.

These established banks understand why they need to do this and know that when completed, each integration gives an additional service or functionality that benefits everyone.  

  • Integration inevitably improves customers satisfaction, making it possible for them to bank at their convenience.
  • Integration allows for more sophisticated services.
  • Integration enhances a bank’s overall security as more transactions can be easily monitored and flagged if necessary.
  • Integration is forward-thinking.

However, as you may very well imagine, integration is a complex process. Any misstep could result in not just angry customers, but perhaps large financial losses from hackers, thieves, or simply human error.

Up until recently, integration was pitched as an “all or nothing” solution. Now it is possible for firms to perform a more targeted approach, finding a pace that doesn’t overload the development process or break the bank (pun intended). 

The Unattainable Triangle

There is an old saying in the business world and it certainly applies to systems integration as well:

You can have your product fast, cheap, or good:  but you can only choose two of the three.

Essentially, it means you can integrate cheaply and quickly (but it won’t be very good), integrate cheaply with high-quality (but it won’t be done quickly), or integrate fast and good (but it won’t be cheap). 

This conundrum is sometimes referred to as the unattainable triangle

The Promise and Pitfall of Third-Party Solutions

Because of these factors, some banks and development teams are tempted to use third-party solutions, coding or software that someone else has developed.

This can save both time and money, which of course is a good thing. These ready-made solutions may have the same features the bank is looking to add and do not have to resort to being built from scratch. Some are open-sourced, which can offer greater security and flexibility. 

The downside is that third-party development can’t be fully controlled:

  • A third-party may change features or functionality of their software without notice.
  • Some features that are integrated may not be used, wasting development time and money.
  • Development could stop altogether, forcing the bank to switch to another solution.

Creating a Strong Plan

Now that we’ve discussed various factors of the development process, you can see why it’s important to have a good strategy in place before banks begin a systems integration project.

  • Identify the legacy systems you want or need to integrate.
  • Don’t take on too much at once as it could overwhelm your development team.
  • Assess your budget, use it to inform your goal setting. Be realistic with what you want to accomplish.
  • Look for ready-made solutions with the same functionality that can possibly save development costs.
  • Remember that you may not have the same level of control over these applications.
  • Fast, cheap, or good: choose two.

Regulatory Compliance in Core Banking Integration

Regulatory compliance is paramount in banking integration, where stringent regulations exist to safeguard the stability and security of financial systems. In this section, we’ll delve into key regulatory requirements and their impact on core banking integration. 

Regulatory Reporting

Regulatory reporting demands meticulous attention to detail and accuracy, yet most legacy systems lack the comprehensive reporting functionalities required for core banking system integration compliance. When outdated or inadequately designed core banking systems are used and fail to produce required data during reporting periods, your organization will be forced to divert additional resources for retrieving, recording, and reporting the missing or inaccessible data. If the integrated banking system doesn’t center on general ledger transactions and support intra-company accounting within a single platform, your organization will be unable to efficiently generate reports, calculations, statements, reconciliations, etc. on time. Separating accounts and ledgers across multiple systems results in reporting delays. 

User Access Rights Management

With poorly designed core banking systems, users can carry out multiple critical actions without adequate oversight from other personnel. For instance, they can onboard malicious actors and high-risk customers, approve illegal transactions, and navigate their way around risk monitoring alerts i.e. anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing, etc. These security gaps present serious security risks and underscore the need for banks to integrate only software that prioritizes proper user rights governance. This includes segregating duties to ensure each user only has permissions tied to their job functions and implementing multiple-step workflows that mandate reviews and approval from authorities to greenlight critical actions.

Payment Data Protection

Protection of sensitive payment data is a requirement in every country aimed at preventing unauthorized access and upholding compliance standards. Specifically, banks are to craft user permissions in such a way that the level of access granted to individuals is necessitated by their job responsibilities. As an example, counter-terrorist financing (CTF) and anti-money laundering (AML) officers should be the only ones with access to sensitive payment data. Other departments should not have this access, even though they use the core banking system for their roles, too. Beyond user rights management, banking entities also need to fortify their defenses with encryption algorithms and tokenization technology, ensuring data is secure both in transit and at rest.

Anti-Money Laundering Functionalities

To thwart financial crimes promptly and effectively, anti-money laundering (AML), counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations, and other banking integration directives aimed at monitoring high-risk transactions require swift and accurate actions from banks and financial institutions. 

The ability to seamlessly interface with external databases to access information about client risks or negative reputation is essential to identify potential high-risk clients. Establishing transaction limits, tracking expiration dates for customer information, monitoring customer groups for risk assessment, and conducting real-time CTF and AML checks against transaction records are also indispensable functionalities. These core banking system integration features will help you ensure you comply with regulatory mandates. 

Strategies for Successful Core Banking Integration

Integrating a new solution into your existing core banking infrastructure presents some risk and complexity. Successful core banking integration demands proper planning, process evaluations, and partnering with experienced technology providers. 

Comprehensive Planning

Before embarking on core banking system integration, your organization needs to have a clear understanding of what it’s trying to achieve and how to get there. Analyze your current processes and systems in detail to pinpoint bottlenecks; then set objectives for the outcome of integrating a particular system. A few examples of goals you may have for core banking system integration:

  • improving compliance with regulations such as AML, CTF, and DORA.
  • Streamlined financial transactions with minimal processing delays and errors.
  • Saving expenses on the maintenance of legacy systems.
  • Improved customer service and quicker issue resolution times. 
  • Leveraging emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, and cloud computing. 

Evaluate and Streamline Processes

During integration, it’s easy to copy existing processes as-is to the new architecture by mistake. However, this can lead to some complications. You will have to often make excessive customizations in the future, and this ultimately affects the feasibility of core banking system integration. 

It's important to evaluate existing workflows and processes during core system integrations to determine which processes should be retained, simplified, and discarded. Thus, you can align your new integrated banking system with your bank’s long-term goals and simplify the migration process.

Define Your Migration Plan

When integrating new core banking systems, there are 3 migration strategies to consider:

  • gradual migrations entail breaking down legacy architecture into separate domains with new interfaces. Then, each domain will be replaced with a new solution. They enable a phased rollout of the new system and guarantee minimal disruption to customer services.
  • Parallel builds involve integrating new architecture alongside existing one. Both systems will be processing events simultaneously. This approach enables you to switch architecture without requiring all functionalities in the new system right away.
  • Big bang migrations involve migrating all your data and systems in a single operation. Although this approach is faster and more efficient, it is riskier — data may be lost, customer services may be disrupted, and the process must be completed before the new system is fully integrated.

Embrace New Technologies and Modern Integration Platforms

When switching core banking infrastructure to improve customer experiences, satisfy compliance, and stay competitive, organizations should consider adopting cloud solutions. These systems reduce dependence on physical infrastructures and enhance operational resilience by enabling banks to scale as needed. Cloud technologies aside, AI models are especially helpful for real-time data analytics, customer service, risk monitoring, and targeted marketing.

Implement Robust Security Measures

For successful core banking system integration, banks also need to ensure that the system they implement includes powerful security mechanisms, such as MFA, data encryption, and user authorization protocols. Protecting sensitive data during financial workflows and preventing the mishandling of customer information by malicious actors are priorities that define the level of trust and reputation overall.

Case Studies: Real-World Core Banking Integration Success Stories

Now, let’s explore real-world examples of core banking integration through the lens of three banks that successfully transformed their services and streamlined processes using robust integrated banking systems. 


In January 2018, the European Union introduced the Payment Service Providers Directive (PSD2), a directive aimed at fostering innovation and service quality by pushing banks to embrace open banking principles. Before the introduction of PSD2, if you had accounts at two or three banks, you would need multiple banking apps to manage those accounts. But with open banking, fintech companies can develop apps that you can use to see and manage all those accounts. Bankart, a progressive payment processing firm based in Slovenia, embraced this shift and partnered with IBM business partner SRC Sistemske Integracije d.o.o. to develop its accessible open banking framework. Once launched, Bankart’s solution became a resounding success. Out of the 15 banks in Slovenia at that time, 11 chose to use Bankart’s core banking system integration. It helped them avoid the cost and development/deployment resources needed to develop their own open banking systems in-house. 


Another bank that underwent a successful overhaul of its services by adopting a robust integrated banking system is Namibia’s Ebank. For context, Ebank's business model is centered around delivering a wide range of electronic money services to third-party vendors and suppliers. Processing over 3,000 transactions daily, Ebank realized the need for a system that facilitated seamless data exchange in multiple formats, ensuring efficient collaboration with its clients. Ebank set out to integrate Fiorano ESB, a flexible core banking system that enabled seamless system integration and data sharing between Ebank and its numerous clients. Ebank began the process of integrating Fiorano ESB sometime in June 2017. Eight months later, Ebank went live with all updated architecture, thereby achieving its goal of efficient data sharing and collaboration with partners. 

Federal Bank

Federal Bank Limited is a top commercial bank headquartered in India and listed on the Bombay and London Stock Exchanges. It had a unique challenge. Federal Bank wanted to provide real-time foreign exchange remittance services through SWIFT. However, its IT team understood that banking integration with multiple SWIFT partners would require huge investments in software, hardware, and consulting. 

Point-to-point connections between these various software programs would make the scalability and security management of their system a challenge. The best long-term solution was to revisit the architectural blueprint for the enterprise middleware infrastructure. They decided upon Fiorano’s ESB, which would allow them to meet the increasing demands of their clients. 

Federal Bank reported significantly improved customer response levels, the addition of new revenue channels, and faster response to business and market demand, following their decision to adopt Fiorano’s integrated banking system. 

Talk to S-PRO

When you’re ready to begin discussing system integrations, connect with us at S-PRO

We are a banking software development and consulting partner that has been helping banks with system integrations for the past 5 years. We have a team of over 150 developers who are ready to take your project from discovery to launch and beyond. 

S-PRO utilizes an agile method of development, allowing the process to be fluid and creative with the ultimate goal of benefitting our client. We make sure to be in constant communication and to immediately respond to questions or concerns. Transparency is one of our key commitments. 

Our specialties include Big Data as well as AI and blockchain; these are the key technologies that are central to the future of banking. We can help with UX/UI development and branding along with web and mobile apps that will work seamlessly with your core systems. 

When you are ready, we strongly encourage you to contact S-PRO and set up a free consultation session. One of our expert associates will listen to your needs and from there help you make the smart decisions that will result in successful system integration.

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