AfrAsia Bank Limited ensures the physical safety of its employees, customers and assets and reviews and addresses its controls and procedures on an on-going basis.
On a more practical level, this includes the following measures taken since the launch of the Bank:
The African continent provides a tremendous growth opportunity for AfrAsia Bank. With our devised strategy, we are well-positioned to benefit from this emerging market opportunity using the Mauritius International Financial Centre as a gateway of investment.
- the Bank has engaged the services of the Mauritius Police Force to provide armed guards during the operational hours of the Bank in Port Louis
- a specialised private security agency also ensures a round-the-clock service to the Bank’s personnel, customers and its assets on both Port Louis Main Branch/Head Office and Ebene Operation centre
- a 24-hour alarm system is also in place
- the risks of fire have been addressed by fitting the building with fire detection and alarm systems throughout with proper training to take the right measures in the event of a fire and fire drills
- the vault room is entirely built with reinforced concrete using the latest standards. Access within the Bank, offices and operation center is controlled using magnetic cards
- the Bank is equipped with security cameras and each access to the building is monitored and registered on the system for future review and
- biometric access device introduced for data centre access in Ebene.
Anti-flood gate has been set up in specific areas in Port Louis Branch.
SYSTEM UPGRADE - CHALLENGES
Core Banking Software Migration
In line with the approved IT Blue Print, the Bank started with the upgrade of our Core Banking Software in September 2013. The project was a very critical one as the Core Banking Software happens to be that one piece of software through which most of the Bank’s services are provided to all its clients. The software was to be upgraded after a gap of about seven years to the latest version.
Oracle Corporation was the supplier of the software since 2007 and the project plan was worked out to be a four month exercise to upgrade it to the latest version. A Core Banking Group was formed of 20 people handpicked by the business, back office and IT. This group was the driver for this project since the beginning of the upgrade till the User Testing and Post migration issues resolutions.
The Core Banking team was matched with about 12 specialists from Oracle/IBM ranging from product specialists to trainers to hard core software, hardware database and operating system people. Oracle, being a global entity follows the best practices for all its projects.
It was also decided to have a Quality Assurance team to keep a sanity check on the whole process and FinTech, Kenya was selected for this work of independent assurance provider. With all this readiness, the project was initiated and the cutover happened on 24th February 2014, i.e., when we went live on the new upgraded software.
The logistics were a challenge as the existing premises were not equipped for the teams that were to land up for the project. New premises were taken up as a Project Office in Port Louis, furnished and wired within a record time of two weeks.
Project kicked off with Oracle conducting a product walkthrough for the entire Core Banking Software with the Core Banking Team. This work was primarily done to help Oracle set up the product parameters and identify gaps that were required for business processes.
Oracle then took some time to do the product set up on their off-site labs and they were back on site in November 2013 with software to start with 1st round of User Acceptance testing (‘UAT’). The UAT 1 found the changes that were still required for Oracle to work on to start with the 2nd round of User testing by December 2013. The UAT 2 was completed by mid-January 2014.
Oracle then took some time to do the product set up on their off-site labs and they were back onsite in November 2013 with software to start with 1st round of User Acceptance testing (“UAT”). The UAT1
providing support on new projects of the Bank (E-Statements, XtraMiles, Physical Archiving and Prepaid Cards)
preparing and circulating to staff of the Bank, action points and summary of changes in existing Legislations and Guidelines and new Legislations and Guidelines. On a quarterly basis the regulatory changes are also reported to the Board Audit Committee
assisting other departments in setting up and preparing Policies and Procedures
actively participating in Compliance meetings held at the Bank of Mauritius and Mauritius Bankers’ Association level
compliance workshops are organised for Senior Management and Relationship Managers to discuss Compliance issues and update them about recent regulatory developments
Furthermore the Compliance Function will now be responsible for the compliance of the entities under the AfrAsia Group and the Representative Offices in South Africa and UK.
MANAGING DISASTER EVENT
Movement of Data and Operations centre to Ebene
Since 2007, the Bank has been operating from the registered office in Port Louis. In 2012, to accomodate the growing numbers of staff, other premises were opened next to the headquarters. However, Port Louis was flooded on 30th March 2013 and the Bank was impacted by the sudden rise of water level in the area. IT, which was on the ground floor, was not impacted but as a precautionary measure, by June 2013, the decision was taken to look for another place to move the IT and back office functions along with the opening of another branch outside Port Louis. A site was identified for this move. The agencies were appointed after going through the process of floating and request for proposal and selection process.
The new premises were ready to move into by March 2014 along with the interiors and networking in place for IT and other offices. It was then decided to move IT first as once IT services are available at the new premises, it is easier to move other departments. Moving the IT with live servers over the weekend was a big challenge which was executed by the IT team to perfection. It was once again the ‘can-do’ attitude of the team and hard work at all levels that resulted in another smooth migration.