Friday, 21 May 2010
Malaysia's pioneering GREAT shared ATM network
I was thrust into this project quite by accident as my then supervising officer suddenly quit her job - the challenge of working overseas was too great, she told me much later - and left me to take over as the head of the ATM Centre at Ban Hin Lee Bank.
But first, before we could even implement the shared network, we had to get our own proprietary network up and running. The bank ran an internal competition to pick a name for the ATM card but eventually, the consortium decided that all the participating institutions should use the common GREAT name for group visibility and marketing.
Months of development work and testing of the proprietary ATM network followed. While the developers (the external developers working with the internal Information Technology staff) were busy upstairs, my operational team was ensconced with a development ATM in the bank's meeting room at the back of the building in Beach Street. On many days we would be living there from nine o'clock in the morning till five o'clock in the afternoon, feeding dummy transactions into the machine and testing it out in all sorts of manner to simulate technical and operational errors and faults. As a bank, it went without question that the integrity of any financial system must be secured because the security of customers' money was central to any banking feature.
At the same time too, we began testing the shared ATM network with the other partners. Using the same test script that had served us well at the proprietary level, we ran a whole range of comprehensive tests at the shared level. (Actually, the proprietary tests were based on the shared tests, but let's not quibble here.) At first the tests were carried out on a one-to-one basis and it all ended with a complete stress test with all financial institutions together a few weeks before the official launch in 1987.
Even after the launch of the shared network, I continued to be fully involved with the project for many more years. Running the ATM Centre meant that I had to attend monthly meetings at the EFT Systems office in Kuala Lumpur with the other ATM Centre representatives. Also, because Ban Hin Lee Bank was alone in being located outside Kuala Lumpur, I also had to participate actively in the technical meetings on the same day as the operations meetings. So I did learn a lot of stuff during my six or seven years in this project and made a lot of friends in the process.
Ban Hin Lee Bank's ATM service....they were some of the best years of my work life.
Other Ban Hin Lee Bank stories here.