Technology Adviser: SkySparc

Lars Shroder
Lars Schröder, senior engagement manager, SkySparc

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many central banks halted technology initiatives that were under way and focused on stabilising their economies. A larger portion, however, managed to adapt quickly to the new normal and embarked on ambitious system upgrades throughout 2020.

For almost 20 years, Swedish firm SkySparc has been providing consulting services to the central banking community, helping many to test and upgrade treasury management and reporting systems – 2020 was no different.

“The pandemic caused no delays to projects and we delivered everything on time. By the summer, we were practically back to normal,” explains SkySparc’s engagement manager for central banks, Lars Schröder.

In April 2021, the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) choose to use SkySparc’s automated reporting tool, OmniFi. The partnership was established following SkySparc’s success in responding to a public tender to automate reporting across numerous departments, supported by a recommendation from the European Central Bank.

“We have spent time with them to build reports and integrate with other systems,” says Schröder. “Also, [the NBG] wanted to be prepared for the future so they asked us to build a package for test automation in case of changes to the system or even upgrade projects.”

The platform will replace the NBG’s manual reporting process, while also improving the speed and quality of reporting. OmniFi will automate transaction, risk, payment and reconciliation reports, and draw in data from third parties including Bloomberg and Matlab.

In 2020, the Croatian National Bank also announced that it would be using OmniFi. Due to the pandemic, the central bank was onboarded remotely and SkySparc provided a week of virtual training to staff who would be using the platform. Tatjana Frlužec, chief adviser at the CNB, said SkySparc’s consultants were co-operative and helpful in “all areas”.

“Compared to competitors in the market, SkySparc went beyond what we expected and were really willing to help in every way. Not once did they have to check whether anything was ‘covered in the contract’, which showed they were really dedicated,” she said.

SkySparc’s dedication to its clients was evident when the Central Bank of Iceland renewed its agreement with the firm earlier this year. The central bank has used SkySparc’s services since 2018, but the new agreement allows SkySparc to provide structured support to its treasury management systems until at least 2025.

In addition, SkySparc has licensed use of OmniFi across the central bank’s treasury operations, having worked with internal teams to identify a number of use cases, including for test automation and data warehouse projects. The agreement includes an annual upgrade of OmniFi.

“We are a small central bank and we only have a few staff working on Wallstreet Suite, so it is very helpful to have SkySparc for outsourced support services,” says Kjartan Hansson, a business analyst in the the Central Bank of Iceland’s markets department.

“SkySparc has gone the extra mile to improve our use of the Wallstreet Suit treasury system. They not only resolve the issues we report, but also point out underneath problems that we did not realise,” says Hansson.

“They provide us with thorough documentation of their work so we can understand the underlying functionality better.”

While central banks have adapted to the new normal after the pandemic, there are signs many are exploring how to adapt their business operations following periods spent remote working, which can help them improve efficiency and cut costs.

“Because of Covid, central bank clients can now work fully remotely which was unthinkable in the past,” says Schröder. “So they might move to the cloud infrastructures. Some commercial clients are already taking this up. Government clients must have plans under way,” says Schröder.

 

Read more about how SkySparc is driving shifts in central banks’ technology requirements

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