Leumi Bank (about $40 billion in assets) was a pioneer in Web banking, having launched its corporate intranet and home banking service seven years ago. "The Web is a major operation and strategy in our bank, and it will remain a key as we move forward," says Meir Shor, Leumi Bank's chief technology officer.
Yet Leumi continued to correspond with customers via paper. Associates compiled, approved and printed documents. Leumi also incurred the costs to mail hard copies. So, in 2001, Leumi began a search for a solution that would help the bank dig out from under piles of paper and post documents online.
"We wanted a solution that could integrate with our existing systems, including our mainframe computer, home banking site, user authentication system and centralized database," Shor relates. "This would keep our operating expenses down. As we improved productivity, our customers could benefit in the form of better service." The bank also wanted a scalable, secure solution that would provide instant online access to information.
Leumi chose the PowerText system from BluePhoenix Solutions (Herzlia, Israel, and Cary, N.C.) and, in June 2001, created an interface that linked PowerText to Leumi's mainframe. Within one year, PowerText was integrated into the bank's Windows NT platform.
Leumi's first order of business was to provide customers with online access to statements and letters. PowerText's Doc Miner module pulled text files from Leumi's mainframe and converted them to XML. "Between 1 and 3 [gigabytes] of data is received from our mainframe each evening," Shor explains. "Doc Miner pulls all of this information, deciphers it, then tags it with XML code. Tagged files are cataloged by customer, date and branch. Then files are encrypted and stored in our centralized database."
As users request information, PowerText's Doc Presenter module pulls the document from the database and displays it online. "Customers can choose what they want to see or keep," Shor says.
Time Is Money
In 2002, Leumi began using PowerText to electronically present customers with reserved mail, or documents that customers request to receive in the branch. Historically, customers called or visited the branch to request copies of their reserved mail. Tellers requested the data from the central branch, then waited at least 24 hours to receive the printed information.
By adding PowerText to the mix, tellers now simply access these letters, which are stored electronically in a searchable, relational SQL database, through the company intranet. The software records who accesses the data and how it is distributed.
In January 2004, Leumi also began using PowerText to post its daily financial products catalog online. Previously, administrators could spend up to 12 hours compiling, printing and distributing hard copies to branches. Now, PowerText electronically creates and delivers this data. Further, the system supports queries that help associates find the best product for each customer.
By transitioning its text files to XML, Leumi is also saving expensive disk space. "One page of a text document is 8.5 KB of data," says Orit Abelson, BluePhoenix's PowerText product manager. By saving the data in an XML format, "Leumi uses between 1 and 2 KB per page."
The electronic documents are also reducing Leumi's operating costs. "By eliminating mailings, we save about 20 cents per message," Shor says.
Institution: Leumi Bank (Tel Aviv, Israel).
Assets: Approximately $40 billion.
Business Challenge: Transition paper documents to electronic format that can be viewed online.
Solution: BluePhoenix Solutions' (Israel and Cary, N.C.) PowerText system.