Financial data company Accuity has completed a massive data management project to deal with the concurrent challenges of a merger conversion, new compliance mandates and the growth of digital and cross-border payments.

"We have to make sure we can update the database on a daily basis, which is better than weekly or monthly. As supply chains, for example, become increasingly global and operate in different countries, that means you need fresh data all of the time if you are processing those payments," says Hugh Jones, president and CEO of Accuity.

Accuity partnered with enterprise software company NVisia to develop a MarkLogic NoSQL data platform, a type of technology that allows databases to leverage information drawn from broader sources. These include traditional structured data sources like transaction records and newer unstructured sources such as social networks.

As part of the broader project, NVisia helped combine databases from Accuity and The Bankers Almanac, a Reed Elsevier banking data service that was combined with Accuity's database when Reed Elsevier acquired Accuity in 2011 (Reed Elsevier purchased Accuity from Investcorp, the parent company of SourceMedia, which publishes PaymentsSource).  The bank data service, which includes payments data, operated under Jones' leadership as BankersAccuity, a brand that recently changed to Accuity.

NVisia examined the two transaction databases from The Bankers Almanac and Accuity to spot gaps and overlap. It combined the two into a single source of payments information that Accuity will access to offer payments data services to its 23,000 clients.

"We had a technology mountain to climb to combine the databases," Jones says.

NVisia also searched for opportunities to improve staffing. "We looked at the technical knowledge and business knowledge…looking for a need for a systems architect in a certain area, for example," says Jennine Loisel, a principal consultant at NVisia.

Accuity plans to integrate this new data platform with existing bank data management systems to handle advanced searches, information filtering and faster processing.

"If you deal with ten customers all day the straight through processing rate isn't top of mind, but if you're handling cross border payments in multiple currencies, making sure those payments are processing quickly and accurately becomes a big deal," Jones says.

That can help mobile payments, which rely on near-real-time processing to fulfill the payment and deliver rewards and other services, Jones says.

"Bank payments fail less frequently if we have more data and allow the rate of straight through processing to go up," Jones says.

In 2013, the mobile retail payments market more than doubled from the $20.7 billion market of 2012, says Daniel Van Dyke, a research specialist at Javelin Strategy & Research.

"This brought the challenge of integrating data from mobile, online and traditional payments channels to the fore," Van Dyke says, adding 59% of consumers own smartphones and 41% own tablets, adding to the data management challenge. "Financial institutions must move immediately to ensure all data collected—for example, customer experience data collected from branch visits and online—is integrated."

These improvements will help accommodate mobile payments and with the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) project, which is designed to create common payment standards throughout Europe, Jones says.

Accuity has also used the data project to update its ability to comply with SEPA. The SEPA deadline is February 2014, and compliance has proven difficult for European acquirers. Since the databases include information on payment type, counterparties and the network used for routing, acquirers can use the data to quickly spot differences in local markets to inform SEPA compliance, Jones says.

Accuity's data also includes information on card networks and processing, which can differ from one country to another and can also complicate SEPA compliance, Jones says. 

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