Heritage Bank is doing everything in its power to address compliance needs and secure its position as a fast-growing and well-respected bank in Belize. In this undertaking, the bank will begin the implementation of the Alchemy Payment Processing Solution to automate the payment processes for its entire back office. This will ensure the bank’s compliance with the Straight Through Processing (STP) and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) deadlines set by the Central bank of Belize (CBB). In addition, reducing manual processes will give the bank a significant competitive advantage in the market as it increases customer service levels, responding faster to payment requests with quicker and more efficient execution.
The Alchemy platform has been developed by banking experts at IBIS Management to address existing global banking automation needs in the payment arena. The solution provides real-time responses to customers, access to all information on customers’ payments, and a real time, preventative and proactive compliance filter with a complete end-to-end audit trail for all transactions. Banks that have implemented Alchemy have experienced on average over 600% gain in efficiency during the first months of operation, with additional gains in the following months as an increased number of payments are processed straight through.
In addition to the base Alchemy Payment Processing platform, Heritage Bank has also chosen to implement the ACH Payments/File Manager module and the Montran_RTGS Interface module to fully automate the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) process for all domestic payments to and from the ATS. Once these features are implemented, outgoing Domestic transfers as well as incoming Domestic transfers that have to be processed through the National ACH clearing network will automatically be routed to and from the ATS network to ensure secure and reliable interfacing to Belize’s ACH network. Key resources of the IBIS Management team will travel to Belize next month for the project kick-off to ensure successful implementation and expedited installation and integration to meet the CBB deadlines.
IBIS Management understands the needs in Belize as it has had a 7+ years relationship with the banks in the country. Heritage Bank Limited, Heritage International Bank & Trust Limited as well as Belize Bank Limited and Belize Bank International Limited have been successfully using the company’s SWISSRoute GMP hosted (SWIFT Payment Gateway) solution to connect to the SWIFT network.
Heritage bank recently acquired First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) and experienced a significant growth in new customer accounts, which in turn increase standing orders and payment volumes. With the implementation of Alchemy, the bank will be able to take on these new customers without straining or expanding its existing operations.
Next to the day-to-day activities, the new solution will also help the bank improve and build positive relationships with US correspondent banks. Real-time Preventative Compliance filtering is a key requirement from US Correspondent banks to ensure payments going out of, but also coming in to the bank are duly checked prior to execution and is a built-in feature on the Alchemy platform.
Recently, US banks have been experiencing increasing pressures from regulatory bodies to have processes in place to fight financial crimes. Many have faced harsh penalties and have become weary about risky jurisdictions.
For banks to maintain a US Correspondent relationship they need to take the necessary steps to ensure that measures are taken to ensure compliance and monitor incoming and outgoing transactions. Automating a payment and compliance system is part of the process that helps banks obtain and/or maintain a trusting relationship and minimize the chance of being cast in the de-risking basket.
About Heritage Bank
Incorporated on May 13th, 1998, Provident Bank & Trust of Belize Limited was established with Class ‘A’ license to provide international banking services to non-residents. It became the pioneer and leader in international banking services in Belize and has evolved into a globally competitive international bank.
Three years later on January 2, 2001, the Alliance Bank of Belize Limited was incorporated to undertake domestic banking to residents of Belize. ABBL’s entrance in the market was historic for Belize in that for the first time, Belizeans could save, borrow and invest in a local bank which would channel funds invested right back in the country. The bank shaped its operations around policies and goals aimed at encouraging the growth of local businesses and building Belize by offering the best savings and loan rates on the market.
Both institutions shared common shareholders and in 2006 a decision was made for Provident Bank & Trust of Belize Limited to acquire majority shareholding in the Alliance Bank of Belize Limited. In October 2008, the process of integration within the regulatory and legal framework began and, in January of 2009, the banks commenced the physical changes necessary to fully integrate all functions. The institutions have since integrated all functions to benefit from synergies, resulting in one Board of Directors, one Management Team, and one staff complement body.
As part of a fresh image and new beginning, the names of both banks were changed effective January 1st, 2010. The name Provident Bank & Trust of Belize Limited was changed to Heritage International Bank & Trust Limited and Alliance Bank of Belize Limited was changed to Heritage Bank Limited.
From a holistic and futuristic view, the merger brings greater meaning to the bank’s value chain and vision. The competitive advantages gained are reflected in the bank’s size size, breadth of product offerings and client base; the presence of an international and domestic arm; and a stronger market positioning.
About IBIS Management Associates
IBIS Management Associates was founded in Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean, in 2000 to provide solutions and advice to Financial Institutions, ensuring the achievement of operational excellence. This is based on reducing compliance risk, while increasing payment processing efficiencies and profitability. IBIS Management’s clients range from Central banks to leading commercial and retail banks as well as Trust and Utility companies in the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe.
IBIS Management’s proprietary technologies have been developed by a team of senior international banking consultants together with IBIS Management’s in-house development team with extensive knowledge in international payment processing, risk mitigation and regulatory reporting for global and multi-currency banking.
The hallmark of the IBIS Management approach is a high degree of flexibility and innovation in delivering solutions that are specific to clients’ requirements within each jurisdiction, with offices in Curaçao, United States (Miami), Singapore and soon opening a satellite office in the Netherlands.
Steven Duncan, Managing Director, Alliance & Provident Bank
“The board had to sit down and type up these names, go through them, type them up, make their selections. We did a shortlist and we went around so many times it was very difficult. It took us a time to come up with it actually and the deadline that we originally set, we actually missed it partly because it was such a difficult task to choose and partly because we had to get the proper level of approvals from authorities from two different bodies we had to get approval in the country. The board is made up of seven members and we probably started off with seven different names because each had his or her own preference. But we eventually were able to get a consensus on the name Heritage after some discussion and back and forth.”