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posted by LaminatorX on Monday December 15 2014, @01:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the credstick dept.

Nathaniel Popper writes at the NYT that the Citizens Bank of Weir, Kansas, or CBW, has been taken apart and rebuilt, from its fiber optic cables up, so it can offer services not available at even the nation’s largest bank. The creation of the new bank, and the maintenance of the old one, are the work of Suresh Ramamurthi and his wife, Suchitra Padmanabhan who were born in India and ended up buying the bank in Kansas in 2009 after living in Silicon Valley and passing through jobs at Google and Lehman Brothers. Their goal was to find solutions to logjams that continue to vex consumers all over the country, such as the obstacles that slow money moving from one bank to another and across international borders. The new services that CBW is providing, like instant payments to any bank in the United States, direct remittance transfers abroad and specialized debit cards, might seem as if they should be painless upgrades in an age of high-frequency trading and interplanetary space missions. But the slowness of current methods of moving money is a widely acknowledged problem in the financial industry.

In the United States the primary option that consumers have to transfer money is still the ACH payment. Requests for ACH transfers are collected by banks and submitted in batches, once a day, and the banks receiving the transfers also process the payments once a day, leading to long waits. ACH technology was created in the 1970s and has not changed significantly since. The clunky system, which takes at least a day to deliver money, has become so deeply embedded in the banking industry that it has been hard to replace. CBW went to work on the problem by using the debit card networks that power ATM cash dispensers. Ramamurthi’s team engineered a system so that a business could collect a customer’s debit card number and use it to make an instant payment directly into the customer’s account — or into the account of a customer of almost any other bank in the country. The key to CBW's system is real-time, payment transaction risk-scoring - software that can judge the risk involved in any transaction in real time by looking at 20 to 40 factors, including a customers’ transaction history and I.P., address where the transaction originated. It was this system that Elizabeth McQuerry, the former Fed official, praised as the “biggest idea” at a recent bank conference. "Today's banks offer the equivalent of 300-year-old paper ledgers converted to an electronic form -- a digital skin on an antiquated transaction process," says Suresh Ramamurthi. "We'll now be one of the first banks in the world to offer customers a reliable, compliant, safe and secure way to instantly send and receive money internationally."

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  • (Score: 2) by edIII on Monday December 15 2014, @11:49PM

    by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 15 2014, @11:49PM (#126349)

    VERY efficient on mainframes, having been tuned for this exact function for the past 50 years.

    Mod AC +5 Informative.

    IBM did indeed get their hands into the whole mess quite deep as even today you must encode ACH batch transactions with the X9.37 [] format:

    Details regarding these and other FRB implementation restrictions are included in Section 5 Federal Reserve DSTU X9.37- 2003 Field Specifications:
    IMAGE FORMAT: Images shall conform with ANS X9.100-181-2007
    IMAGE COMPRESSION: CCITT G4 (resolution – 200 or 240 DPI - Black/White)
    TIFF TAG BYTE ORDER Little Endian (Intel) ONLY
    CHARACTER CODE: 8 bit EBCDIC except for BINARY image data
    VIEW DESCRIPTOR: Full view
    FILE SIZE: 2 GB maximum
    IMAGE QUALITY: IQA requirements are documented in Section 4.3
    ADDENDA RECORDS: Addenda Records are required as documented in Section 3.2. Refer to FRB Operating Circulars for details
    regarding actions resulting from missing Addendum Records.
    MICR DATA: All MICR data present on the MICR line of the original item are required. Refer to FRB Operating Circulars for
    details regarding actions resulting from missing MICR Data

    Writing classes for the stuff is incredibly fun. Forget about using anything other than IBM mainframe era formats and technologies when making these batch files. The level of work you go through to essentially perform a database export from modern platforms into this archaic format is hysterical. We may have as well handed the information and data to wonderfully sweet couriers who's mentally challenged status only makes them handicapable.

    It really is a joy though from the perspective of writing flat file formats and normalized data. Just a really really oddball and strange way to wrap records into bunches of records, themselves being bunches. Anybody who remembers dealing with data structures before the widespread use of database servers will appreciate it.

    Otherwise, you would get so amazingly angry that you needed to spend a week at a time coding multiple "slightly customized" X9.37 filters to make these little beauties. You might want to yell and say, "There has to be a better $*%&%$ way than this. We're smarter than this. *Sob*"

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