Data services: Vizor Software

The Irish tech company has rolled out major updates to pave the way for more agile supervision as its scalable system won major repeat business with Sama and the Bank of England
Conor Crowley
Conor Crowley, chief executive of Vizor
Vizor

Demands on supervisors have never been greater as new firms enter the market, innovative business models emerge and data proliferates. In such a world, supervisors need to be agile, both in terms of keeping up with growing granularity and volumes of data, and in tailoring their requests to particular demands from policy-makers. As new risks emerge, supervisors need to be on top of them.

Vizor Software has built a platform that helps them to meet those needs.

In the past year, the company has rolled out major updates to allow ‘self-service’ by users, making its system much easier to tailor. It has also won significant repeat business in the process with some of the world’s largest central banks.

“What we’re finding is the pace of change for supervisors is increasing quite rapidly,” says Conor Crowley, chief executive of Vizor. “They’re being asked to look at a lot more ad hoc requests, based on thematic reviews addressing emerging risks.”

Self-service

Vizor’s platform has always been adaptable, but the Irish company noticed that only the larger supervisors were making full use of its capabilities. During the past year, the company has overhauled its system to make it easier to configure and improve the user interface, backing this up with an enhanced mentoring programme to help smaller institutions learn to make full use of the platform. The system is underpinned by a ‘rules engine’ that signals possible anomalies – and this, too, has been made easier to manage.

In the past, the market for data handling has been “underserved”, says John Fallon, head of product marketing, which led to many supervisors building their own “custom-coded” systems. But this meant every time the system needed to change there would have to be a major IT project, which could run into several months. It was an approach that simply was too slow to keep up with the pace of change.

Given that speed is of the essence, Vizor offers products that work straight ‘out of the box’ – and for those with fewer resources, the platforms can now be configured according to a set of pre-prepared, best-practice rules.

As a supervisor’s capabilities grow, it can configure the system more, and add new modules.

The system is also designed so that it can automatically adapt to new XML or XBRL taxonomies, which previously would have required vendors to engage in a lengthy modification process. “That’s a radical change,” says Fallon.

Repeat business

Vizor has now implemented its platform with around 20 different supervisors worldwide, in both advanced and emerging economies.

The technology company was already working with the Bank of England, but in 2017, the UK central bank put out a tender for a data collection platform that could meets its needs over the long term. Vizor won the contract early in 2018 after an extensive process of evaluations.

Beju Shah, who oversees the project at the BoE, says such projects are “not without their bumps”. “Vizor handled them swiftly and proactively, and worked hard with my team, allowing us to remain on track and deliver on time,” says Shah, adding he is “very pleased” with Vizor’s “approach and attitude”.

It has been a perfect platform – it enables you to continually add new modules, new features. It is very flexible in terms of adaptability. It gives that particular edge in terms of usage

Elias Omondi, Kenyan Insurance Regulatory Authority

Vizor’s system is designed with scalability in mind, allowing supervisors to add the data collection module first and then supplement it with licensing modules, risk-based supervision, extra analytics and more.

Starting small with preconfigured templates, the system allows even small supervisors to be flexible in their requests for data. Requests can be tailored to specific data types or firms – for instance, supervisors might choose to place lighter demands on smaller firms.

Kenya’s Insurance Regulatory Authority chose to increase its capabilities in the past year, building on its earlier relationship with Vizor to take advantage of the new tools for customisation and extend the system using its own team.

“It has been a perfect platform – it enables you to continually add new modules, new features,” says Elias Omondi, an associate actuary at the Kenyan regulator. “It is very flexible in terms of adaptability. It gives that particular edge in terms of usage – if you cannot extend a particular solution over time, it becomes redundant.”

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama) has also given Vizor new business as it expands its existing platform with new modules focused on risk-based supervision.

Future focus

With an eye on the system’s future needs, Vizor is now adding additional capabilities, including support for iXBRL, XBRL’s human-readable variant, as well as new application programming interfaces and toughened cyber security. The new cyber tools will give users both additional protection for their systems and enhanced monitoring internally for any intrusions, says Fallon.

One additional area of development is a move towards cloud computing. Although most central banks have proven reluctant to adopt the technology so far, for fears over confidentiality and security, Vizor is planning to roll out its first cloud-based products in early 2019. Fallon says this is a “very gradual process”, and Vizor has been focusing initially on the safest areas to demonstrate to users that cloud-based systems can meet their high standards.

Supervisory needs look set to continue their evolution in the coming years, and Vizor’s agile data system is well placed to respond to those needs.

The Central Banking Awards were written by Christopher Jeffery, Daniel Hinge, Dan Hardie, Rachael King, Victor Mendez-Barreira, Joel Clark, William Towning and Tristan Carlyle

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