The Bank of St. Helena (BOSH) was created to provide the communities of St. Helena with modern commercial banking services making everyday financial transactions simple and more efficient.
At its inception, BOSH inherited the assets and accounts of the former Government Savings Bank (in St. Helena) and the Ascension Island Savings Bank, both of which have now ceased to exist. Since its launch, the bank has introduced many new services, aimed at making financial services more readily available to its clients, in an environment that is still largely cash-based. The bank now manages £47m of assets, has 22 employees and a customer base of nearly 10,000.
Since the Bank’s inception International Financial Systems (iFinancial) from London, has been the choice of provider for its technology systems which included not only the branch on St Helena itself but also the remote branch in the Ascension Islands. Rosie Bargo Managing Director The bank originally looked at a number of suppliers including those on mid-range platforms. The reason that the bank selected iFinancial was a combination of functionality, price, support, and ‘their reputation for going the extra mile’.
A ‘hands-on’ supplier iFinancial’s solution was on the preferred architecture platform and the company’s philosophy favoured the bank: a ‘handson’ supplier who could react quickly and flexibly and be proactive, putting forward alternative suggestions for the project. Since then ‘we have built a wonderful working relationship with them’, said Rosemary Bargo, Managing Director at BOSH.
After five years of using BankWare DOS, iFinancial recommended that BOSH upgrade to Bankware.NET as the Bank wanted to take advantage of the functionality and features of the new software. Moving to the latest technology also gave the Bank the security of a system which would be supported for the foreseeable future. This was important to BOSH as their remote location impacted on the availability of practical support.
‘The front end teller system was completely re-written’ Because many “Saints” leave the island to live and work abroad, the bank also decided to introduce iBank (Internet banking) at the same time so that it could provide them with a service that was effective wherever they are in the world. Implementation When implementation of the new system began, Bargo travelled from St Helena to the UK for training at the iFinancial London office. This lasted for 2 months and included data conversion, configuration and initial user acceptance testing.
This latter step was particularly important as Terry Day, Managing Director of iFinancial observed ‘The front end teller system had been completely re-written for BOSH’. Subsequently, on her return to St Helena, it took about a week for Bargo to provide user training to the staff at BOSH. Handled remotely Other than Bargo’s visit to London, the installation, the parallel running and the final data conversion were handled entirely remotely.
The Bank parallel ran for a period of about two months which included the back-office staff from both offices and 15 tellers using the system concurrently. Bargo said ‘We needed to test that the new system would not only give us the same results as its predecessor but that it was sufficiently fast and robust enough to support our very busy banking halls’.
The support given by the iFinancial team to the BOSH staff throughout the implementation was ‘very impressive and extremely helpful.’ BOSH is ‘very satisfied’ with BankWare.NET and iBank. The upgrade has given BOSH a firm footing for growth. Future plans for BOSH debit cards and a planned upgrade of the loans module. ‘iFinancial will definitely have a lead role in all of this’, said Rosie Bargo.