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What will be your Legacy(Platform)? Modernizing Payments

April 3, 2017

The payments industry is powered by legacy platforms. There, I said it. All the buzz focused on modular, cloud-based processing platforms make for great panel discussions, but the world is still dependent of decades old technology. If you are a new FI or program manager, then it probably makes sense to launch with the latest technology. However, the banking, travel and public sector still process the majority of their transactions on a legacy system. So how do current payment providers stay competitive with the fintech companies seeking to disrupt the space? By adopting a customer centric approach that delivers the user experiences that today’s consumers demand while playing to the strengths of the legacy platform.


Modern computing is based on the concept of sessions that may involve several different systems. This approach to computing was unheard when most of the legacy platforms were designed. Core banking platforms can provide significant value to the business but are extremely outdated in terms of modern features and functions. But there are a few basic approaches to make your legacy platform competitive.


Blue Oceans/ Green Fields

For some organizations, a complete mainframe application rewrite that provides a web and cloud-based system to improve the customer experience is the way to go. While it may make sense if you are a large company that needs the core to stay intact, it is probably the most expensive and risky modernization approach.  However, IT departments can use, code conversion, automated code analysis and cloud deployment tools can greatly reduce the risks and costs. You will not get the flexibility of a true cloud-based, modular platform, but this approach will make a significant impact.


Lift and Shift

If your main concern is to reduce capital expenditures, then you can move your platform to the cloud and eliminate the costs to maintain an obsolete mainframe. Several companies offer emulation platforms that run COBAL and other legacy programming languages the will speed up the processes and provide better user access. But it will not allow you to create a flexible, highly-configurable solution that a purpose build cloud platform offers.


Gradual Replacement

This approach is the most common solution for payment providers with multiple legacy systems. Many of the large companies in the industry have grown through acquisition and they have 1000’s of clients on several different platforms.  To replace them all at once would be too complex and disrupt key relationships. Therefore, you prioritize platforms and replace them in a purposeful method. To accomplish this, an organization develops an abstraction layer (APIs or an interface) between the legacy application and