Digital Banking - Engineering an Agile Future

By John Berven
on Jan 15, 2020

As Singapore and now Malaysia gear up towards their digital banking futures, I wanted to look at the opportunities that digital banks have as they look to avoid the millstones their competition must face. Equally, I wanted to show the challenges and opportunities available to incumbents as they look to create their digital banks or look to evolve their transformation to avoid losing competitive advantage. 

With close to twenty years' experience in finance, I have seen first-hand the explosion in the numbers of systems used and also the challenges of implementing new systems and updates to existing ones. These problems are the norm not the exception. The good news is that there is a solution, one that offers efficiency of resource, improves transparency and governance.

On the 28 June 2019, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced that it will issue up to five new digital banking licenses by mid-2020. These will be in addition to any digital banks created by incumbent Singaporean banking groups. The aim is to increase diversity and strengthen the future as Singapore secures its digital banking future. Since then the MAS has announced 21 applications were received by the 31 December 2019 deadline. "The majority of applicants are consortiums, with entities seeking to combine their strengths to enhance the digital bank’s value proposition," said the MAS.

The licenses will be in two types in Singapore:

  • Full Digital Licenses: Up to two full digital banking licenses will be issued, allowing a broad range of financial services, including deposit taking.
  • Wholesale Bank Licenses: Up to three digital wholesale bank licences will be issued, allowing SME’s and other non-retail segments to be served.

While many of the existing banking groups within Singapore are looking at implementing digital banks the approach and sophistication vary. Both the current and future digital banks are offered the ability to start afresh and simplify and streamline their existing processes.

On the 27 December 2019, Bank Negara Malaysia offered up to five licences to establish digital banks to conduct either conventional or Islamic banking business in Malaysia.

In Malaysia there is no such distinction, but the aim is “to offer meaningful access to and promote responsible usage of suitable and affordable financial solutions to financial consumers.” Another key difference is that in Malaysia incumbent banks may apply.


Incumbent banks have some lineage and process flows mapped, but these are typically either paper based, Excel-based or done within existing legacy systems that have their own constraints. There is now the opportunity to structure a new business model based on a solid operational blueprint – one that can map both operational processes and data flows, at either a micro or macro level and across several systems. Over time, large banks have acquired tens of thousands of systems creating complexity, redundancy and duplication limiting the bank’s ability to truly comprehend their technical assets, or to ensure that they achieve optimal compliance.

Without this millstone of legacy processes and systems, challengers will plan and visualise from inception. Understanding the links between processes; ensuring correct user entitlement and data retention policies are effectively managed; implementing exclusively golden source reporting; enforcing strategically determined data governance and reducing risk around system transformations.

Solidatus as a solution

Solidatus enables the effective management of data, people and processes, it highlights gaps, declares transparency and provides a simpler, quicker and better route to implement change. Solidatus delivers this in a clear and transparent way, offering a DevOps approach to business change and providing lasting value. Solidatus facilitates both data lineage and business process engineering. We consider lineage to be the visual representation of any form of connected entities, be that low-level attribute data lineage, high-level systems data lineage, process or any other business connectivity. Whether, documenting data flows or disaggregating complex workflows, Solidatus allows users to engineer clear and intuitive models. The trick is to deliver regulatory compliance and business value at the same time – use the obligatory investment to create an advantage, creating a sustainable approach where each new challenge or opportunity is easier and less costly to achieve. By planning from the outset and utilising Solidatus’s API, market entrants can manage change in their process and create lineage automatically. Giving managers confidence that the organisation exists as they understand it.

The organisations that are awarded the licenses will need to be truly nimble and agile, operate with cost efficiency to maximise profitability and demonstrate optimal, transparent compliance to auditors and regulators. Creating a framework where future change can be effectively deployed and maintaining a competitive advantage over legacy players. By using Solidatus, this can be engineered into processes from the outset ensuring operational and technical excellence from inception.

Equally given the ability the enhanced likelihood of a consortium winning, the need to collaborate across different taxonomies and entities will be vital to the success of these ventures.

Click here to read our Whitepaper on Digital Banking in Singapore.

Topics: Data Lineage, Data Governance, Data Quality, Data Management

Author: John Berven

Director of APAC, John launched the Singapore office in 2019. He has extensive knowledge within the region and offers nearly 20 years of experience working in the information technology and banking industry.
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