success story

Virtusa leads a consortium to customize its open innovation platform to drive greater financial inclusion for an underbanked ASEAN population

AFIN, the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network, is an institution that exists to facilitate innovation and cooperation between financial institutions (FIs) and FinTechs to digitally transform the banking and financial sectors across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region to ultimately drive financial inclusion. AFIN was founded by the ASEAN Bankers Association (ABA), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

In order to achieve its mission, AFIN needed a universally available, scalable solution that catered to the foundational needs of Financial Institutions while also enabling a pathway to collaborative innovation with FinTechs.

This solution is called the Application Programming Interface Exchange platform (APIX). Delivered by a Virtusa-led consortium and architected on AWS, APIX allows ASEAN FIs to easily discover new industry solutions and ultimately deploy those solutions within their infrastructure for operational efficiency, revenue opportunities, and better risk and compliance.



The Challenge

The ASEAN region has been historically underbanked.

Adoption of innovative financial technology could help to address these unmet needs, but for most local banks in the region, this is a very costly endeavor. In order for many of those banks to research, source, and deploy integrated solutions, they would need to independently invest heavily in building their own respective infrastructures and also hire and train highly-skilled, expensive resources. In parallel, it is difficult for young FinTech companies to meet regulatory compliance and make the necessary technical investments to offer services across many countries. Given these constraints, the resulting process for collaboration would be through costly in-house and bi-lateral testing and development between FIs and FinTechs. Due to these factors, financial institutions are unable to resourcefully provide the breadth of services required to help financially include the underbanked communities of the ASEAN region.

AFIN needed a solution that helped banks gain access to FinTech capabilities while helping those FinTechs manage regulatory compliance and reduce the level of technical investment required to make their solutions available across a regionally diverse marketplace. By enabling this collaboration, AFIN's goal was to help financial institutions more easily provide services to the ASEAN community and thereby increase financial inclusion.

The Solution

Virtusa led a consortium of professional services firms and worked alongside AFIN to build and launch the APIX platform.

At its foundation, APIX is an outcome-driven, secure and virtual sandbox environment that enables FIs and FinTechs to efficiently co-design, experiment with, and launch new financial products and services. In order to ensure the solution was built and deployed effectively, the following solution elements were leveraged and customized:

Virtusa's Open Innovation Platform (OIP) -Virtusa's OIP is a purpose-built, integrated development environment that is based on the trend that the financial world is moving towards an 'open system'. The OIP gives banks the ability to handle the challenges of regulatory compliance, evaluate and ideate FinTechs, develop in their own production environment, collaborate with multiple entities, and even run hackathons to leverage crowd intelligence. Every element of the OIP is underpinned by a synthetic data set consisting of over 10 million customer records and 40 million transactions that replicate the data of a banking environment, allowing a bank to quickly evaluate solutions and circumvent intensive data migrations.

Virtusa customized the Open Innovation platform to align to AFIN's region-specific requirements for APIX.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) - AWS provides a low cost, scalable, and highly reliable infrastructure platform to businesses who are looking to manage variable costs and replace high upfront infrastructure investments. AWS was selected not only due to its high global availability and its infrastructural presence in the APAC region, but also because of its development platform that provides a host of services that help bring products to market quickly, reliably, and securely. Virtusa architected the APIX solution on AWS and leveraged a multitude of AWS tools to ensure that the APIX implementation was in line with the AWS Well-Architected Framework, meaning that the solution was built so that security, reliability, performance efficiency, cost optimization, and operational excellence were and are key facets of the implementation architecture.

The Solution
The Benefit

APIX was officially launched in November 2018 with the intent of bringing an unbanked population of 1.7 billion people into the formal financial market.

As the world's first cross-border, open-architecture API marketplace and sandbox platform, APIX massively reduces financial institutions' barrier to launching new products and services in the marketplace. Through these products and services, banks are able to expand access to finance for an underbanked population to drive greater financial inclusion.

Additionally, by promoting collaboration between financial institutions and FinTechs by helping FIs discover solutions; design, prototype, and test those solutions; and ultimately rapidly deploy newly built solutions, banks in the ASEAN region are now better positioned to be competitive in the global marketplace.

Click here to learn more about AFIN and the APIX platform.

Leveraging the agility, flexibility, and reliability of AWS, the Virtusa-led consortium quickly and securely built the foundation of the go-to-market APIX Platform. By laying this foundation we were able to collect valuable feedback from our community, leading us to re-imagine APIX two year on, with an open tech stack utilizing Amazon EC2, Amazon Aurora (MySQL) and AWS Well-Architected toolkit which has helped us adopt architecture best practices and make the APIX platform enterprise-grade.

We are now confident of tackling the global financial ecosystem beyond Asia as the go-to platform for not only the largest names in the financial services industry, but also for smaller institutions going digital and thus accelerating the pace of much needed Financial Inclusion. In addition to servicing the banking sector, we are expanding our value added services to central banks, regulators, and multilateral agencies as well as other financial segments, including capital markets and insurance.

Mr. Pieter Franken, Special Advisor to the Board, AFIN
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