Malta well-positioned for e-commerce
Future of e-banking highlighted
Addressing a seminar hosted by the Malta Chamber of Commerce last week,
e-finance expert Michael Jannsen emphasised that Malta is already well
prepared for the introduction and adoption of multi-channel services.
He elaborates, "Malta is among the top three of the EU Candidate
Countries in web connections and these have increased by 63.2% over
the last year, whilst the mobile phone penetration per inhabitant has
increased by 218.2% over the last year. There is also a higher percentage
of Cable TV connections established in Malta than in most other European
Mr Janssen is the Chief Financial Officer at Brokat, one of the leading
European providers of software and services for flexible e-finance solutions.
The company is present in seven European countries and is considered
as a pioneer in Internet-banking and a European market leader of Internet
financial services solutions.
In fact, over 2,000 financial companies today make use of Brokats
solutions. It specialises in the provision of solutions for retail,
corporate and private banking as well as retail and professional brokerage
and insurance and portal solutions.
Speaking about the important role of the Internet in todays banking
world, Mr Janssen explained how banks and other business organisations
are now becoming more aware that investing in IT applications is the
only way which guarantees survival.
As such, e-banking IT expenditure in Europe in 2000 stood at US$2 billion
while by 2005, given todays trend, the expenditure is expected
to reach the US$5 billion mark.
The seminar was chaired by Joseph F. X. Zahra, Chairman of the Chambers
Financial Services Trade Section and Chairman of the Bank of Valletta
Group. Addressing the delegates Mr Zahra comments, "Malta is making
important steps in catching up with the rest of Europe and the United
States in the areas of IT development and e-commerce - the launch of
the E-Malta and E-Government initiatives are steps in the right direction.
A recent initiative by MSFC on e-Money is a clear sign that we fully
understand the importance of this phenomenon in the way we live and
Speaking about Internet banking, Mr Zahra explains, "New technology
is already having a profound impact on the financial services industry
both internationally and locally. It is revolutionising the operation
of, and access to, wholesale and retail markets; it is transforming
local and cross border service provision; and it is acting as a catalyst
for the creation of new financial services and new business models,
often triggering new alliances involving telecommunications, information
technology, retail and financial services providers."
Mr Zahra referred to BoVs recent signing of an agreement with
Brokat to develop a multi-channel delivery software for the Bank. The
Bank is expected to upgrade its telebanking services and plans to move
into internet banking and to set up a sophisticated call centre.
Mr Zahra concluded, "Internet has brought about a revolution in
the way business is done locally and internationally. Malta is taking
part in this new experience of doing business however, the environment
needs to be supported by the necessary legal infrastructure."
The seminar was also addressed by Victor Denaro, Executive Head for
Information Technology at Bank of Valletta. Speaking about the developments
in IT carried out within Bank of Valletta over the past few years, Mr
Denaro explained how the bank's IT Division has been able to position
the bank in terms of its systems and infrastructure so that it can offer
its range of products and services through a variety of delivery channels.
In the past, banks have operated their functions via a single channel
approach with very limited back office and CRM support.
BoV is now working towards achieving a multi-channel approach where
sales and service channels can be easily integrated together with back
office operations. This involves the use of multi-functional applications
thus servicing a widespread number of users.
Mr Denaro also detailed the difficulties being faced by executives and
project managers that are developing and implementing e-Business solutions.
Traditional IT projects were managed on the basis that the working and
operating environment was rather mature and therefore predictable.
In this scope, the emphasis has always been to deliver "on time,
according to scope and within budget". Because they are based on
emerging technologies, e-projects are of an entirely different nature
where the desired result could differ from the original requirement.
This concept should not be misunderstood in that we should not establish
targets, but only to understand that the goal is to get the product
right at the end and not at the beginning.