Bank Leumi is Israel’s oldest bank, having founded in 1902 as a subsidiary of the Jewish Colonial Trust. Its primary aim was to promote industry, construction, agriculture and infrastructure in the land that was to subsequently become Israel. Today, it is Israel’s largest bank by total assets ($198.1 billion as at the end of 2022) and in branch numbers and with overseas offices in many world capitals. The bank is in the hands of private investors, although the government is the largest single shareholder. It leads the digital banking sector in Israel with a host of innovative digital products and services.
Bank Leumi has a fintech company, called FinTeka, which provides fintechs with access to the bank’s open banking operations, infrastructure and capabilities. The bank has engaged Amazon Web Services as a strategic partner.
FinTeka, Bank Leumi describes, is a dedicated open banking subsidiary. Through this, the bank aims to create a new, agile fintech culture and simplify communications with its external developer community. It aims to create an API marketplace that would support the bank’s open banking strategy.
What FinTeka does is to offer external developers an easy access to a rich portfolio of open APIs so they could create new, exciting customer experiences. The bank has identified global digital transformation company GFT as its delivery partner in this effort. The 2 together aim to:
- Deliver a dynamic marketplace to support open banking APIs and future services
- Enable Bank Leumi to build an active external developer community
- Provide a ‘sandbox’ environment for developers to test their innovations and facilitate premium subscription models to generate new revenue streams.
GFT has an Open API Framework, which runs on serverless architecture and on AWS. It also offers an API Gateway to manage the bank’s APIs systematically and automatically with integration and control through a single interface.
TIE-UP WITH GIGASPACES
Bank Leumi has partnered with GigaSpaces Technologies, a leading provider of Digital Integration Hub, or DIH, tools that enable large enterprises to expedite and scale the delivery of online, customer facing applications. The bank has also made a strategic investment of $8 million in GigaSpaces. GigaSpaces’ DIH is expected to fulfil the bank’s core strategic digital vision, and power faster deployment of several digital applications.
The bank has deployed a visual IVR, and agent-customer collaboration platform developed by CallVu, a provider of omnichannel solutions for organizations to effectively engage customers in their channels of choice. The bank is now able to divert more activity into digital channels, shorten the duration of service calls and significantly increase first-call resolution. The system also helps the bank to streamline back-office operations.
The platform enables self-service with mobile digital engagement based on visual IVR, collaboration and service BOTs. Once a service call is made, CallVu diverts it to digital self-service so customers can quickly and easily resolve issues without waiting on the phone for an agent.
EWS FOR MICROSERVICES
When Bank Leumi first migrated to AWS, it chose Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, or EKS, for its microservices platforms with an aim to automate operations. It wanted a transformation based on a cloud-first strategy. It opted for a hybrid environment so that it could migrate its systems to the cloud while continuing to deliver quality service to its customers. The bank used Amazon EKS Anywhere, a deployment option that enterprises can use to create and operate Kubernetes clusters on self managed infrastructure.
AN AI-POWERED MOBILE BANK
Bank Leumi has an AI-powered mobile bank, called Pepper. What is unique about Pepper is that it, for the first time in Israel, allowed 16- to 18-year-olds to open fully mobile bank accounts as their first current account, just by using their mobile phones from anywhere and at any time.
Pepper was also the first Israeli bank to allow its customers to open a fully mobile, commission-free account, without having to visit a bank branch. The short onboarding process included scanning two ID cards and a video chat with a representative. Customers aged 16-18 can join Pepper in the same convenient and quick manner, with one ID card only.
The move was made possible by the introduction of one of the world’s most advanced facial recognition technologies, which cross-checks the ID card and the facial scan. Pepper offers personal accounts, including a debit card, with all transactions being managed from an iPhone or an Android app. It also has lending products, with no checking account fees. It also has an investment app that aims to attract young people to buy fractional shares.
Another feature is that it offers live customer service by professional bankers round the clock (24/7) via video chat, online messaging, or by phone. Pepper relies on Temenos’ software for its technology, front to-back office.