Seychelles Credit Union (SCU) stands apart as the only member-owned savings and credit cooperative that operates in Seychelles. And while local commercial banks focus on developing an extensive range of retail and corporate services, SCU prioritises people above profits, aiming to promote financial literacy and prosperity among citizens with highly competitive loans and savings products.
Recent years have seen big changes in the local market: new legal and regulatory frameworks and the emergence of a younger generation eager to consume banking services via digital channels have created new pressures and opportunities for banks in Seychelles. Keen to stay ahead of the curve, SCU considered how it could continue to deliver a high-quality experience that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of its members.
The introduction of new regulations by the Central Bank of Seychelles spurred SCU into action. To comply with the new rules, the credit union would require a comprehensive refresh of its core banking systems. But SCU also spotted the chance to turn this do-or-die moment to its advantage, and aimed to seize the opportunity to transform many of its legacy processes. To execute the plan, it looked for a strategic partner.
In 2016, the Central Bank of Seychelles issued a directive that required all banks and credit unions to integrate with the new national payments platform, the Seychelles Electronic Funds Transfer (SEFT) system. SCU quickly realised that it would be very difficult to integrate its existing core banking solutions with the platform supporting the new electronic funds transfer system.
Ingrid Sinon, Chief Executive Officer at Seychelles Credit Union, explains: “This was a huge moment for us. We faced an ultimatum from the Central Bank that meant we had to bring our systems into line with SEFT by a specific deadline. We took decisive action and targeted a root-and-branch replacement of our core systems with a modern, agile core platform that would deliver regulatory compliance.”
Embracing a new digital era
In addition, SCU wanted to deploy a solution that would accelerate many internal workflows, replacing time-consuming manual working with fully digital operations. The previous core banking system also lacked key functionality, including ATM-compatibility, and comprehensive governance structures such as audit trails. With the new platform, SCU looked to implement enhanced access controls and international best practices.
Ingrid Sinon continues: “We saw this as the perfect moment to bring SCU into the digital age. Although we still have many consumers keen to use cash deposits, the younger generation are looking to manage their money via mobile or online. As we kicked off the search for a new core platform, we wanted to find advanced digital functionality that would solve our operational issues and help us to serve different customer segments.”
Finding just the right fit
Following an extensive intelligence gathering exercise, SCU selected Temenos Inclusive Banking Suite as its new core platform. The solution provides SCU with access to the Temenos T24 Transact core banking solution in a configuration specifically designed for credit unions and microfinance institutions rather than large-scale commercial banks.
During the research process, SCU consulted with a local bank in Seychelles that utilises Temenos T24 Transact, as well as the CEOs of several other financial institutions who rely on Temenos core banking tools. The credit union also approached the service provider responsible for hosting SEFT for the Central Bank of Seychelles to check on the level of integration between Temenos and the electronic payments system.
Ingrid Sinon adds: “All of the feedback about Temenos that we received was excellent. The service provider confirmed in writing that Temenos T24 Transact was the best fit to integrate with SEFT, while the CEOs assured us that their deployments had been quick and simple. Combined with our own research and assurances from Temenos about the digital functionality they could provide, it was clear we were on the right track.”
Implementing in record time
In the final stage of the decision process, SCU was concerned that such a large-scale transformation project could not be completed within the deadlines stipulated by the Central Bank. Temenos and a business partner pulled out all the stops to ensure a rapid implementation, and managed to complete the data migration and integration with the national payments system within just 90 days.
Ingrid Sinon elaborates: “The implementation was a huge success, and we later learned this was the fastest deployment that Temenos has ever achieved for the core banking platform. Even when we requested modifications to some of the modules, Temenos were ready to help. Throughout the process, they were checking in on our progress and making sure everything was going according to our schedule.”
Unleashing new efficiencies
With the Temenos platform in place, SCU achieved its regulatory compliance goals and established more robust governance structures. The solution enables the credit union to implement stricter access controls on who can enter and manipulate data and transaction records. And by replacing manual steps with straight-through-processing and digitalised workflows, SCU accelerated many key operational processes.
For example, SCU automated the production of daily performance reports, which would previously take many hours to create manually using Excel spreadsheets and copying and pasting data between applications. The credit union can now gain deeper insights and track key performance indicators such as daily income statements at a more granular level.
Ingrid Sinon continues: “With the Temenos platform, we have daily reports ready much faster, and we can dig down to analyse our performance by region, demographic groups, and individual products. Our teams can take that data and identify clients or customer groups who could be interested in supplementary services, or spot areas where we need to refine our value proposition.”
Getting data right the first time
Replacing manual workflows has also helped SCU to significantly improve data accuracy. Previously, when staff had to enter data into the core systems by hand, there was a high risk of error, leading SCU to dedicate extra resources to double-checking transaction records. Now, the credit union’s audit department estimate data accuracy has improved by 25 percent, freeing staff who were formerly tied up with lower-value work.
Ingrid Sinon adds: “Since implementing the Temenos platform, our IT costs have significantly decreased as a proportion of our incomes. With our previous core banking systems, we were locked in to an agreement that forced us to purchase licenses per workstation rather than per user. Temenos offers a much greater degree of flexibility in our licensing agreements, which better suits the way that we work.”
Building on customer appeal
Using the Temenos solution, SCU increased the number of transactions it can handle each day by 25 percent, without having to increase staff numbers. The high level of automation and straight-through-processing provided by the platform means SCU can process requests for transfers and withdrawals much faster, ensuring that customers receive a superior experience when managing their money.
Ingrid Sinon comments: “The enhanced service that we can now offer has helped us to attract many new customers. In 2017, when we implemented the Temenos solution, we had around 15,000 customers. Today we have grown to serve around 17,000—a rise of more than 11 percent, which we can accommodate easily thanks to the speed and scalability of the Temenos platform.”
Reaching new customer groups
SCU is continuously looking to optimise its core banking environment, and is currently upgrading its R14 of Temenos T24 Transact to the latest R18 iteration. Alongside this, the credit union is exploring the potential of Temenos Infinity to provide online and mobile banking, which could help it to sharpen its competitive edge by capturing business from among the millennial customer bracket.
Ingrid Sinon concludes: “Working with Temenos has been exceptional—in fact, our experience with them stands as one of the best we have had with any of our strategic partners or vendors. Temenos understood our problem, provided a solution, helped us deploy in rapid time and have gone above and beyond what we normally expect and receive from vendors. We look forward to taking the next steps of our journey with them.”