LEVERIS: reinventing banking through digital technology

Conor Fennelly, LEVERIS founder and CEO, discusses how the company is reinventing banking with its innovative, cloud-native platform

|Aug 3|magazine19 min read

LEVERIS was born out of a single aim: to use the power of digital technology to build a better banking experience. The complexity that is inherent in many legacy banking platforms and infrastructure is hindering evolution in the financial services industry. As a result, according to LEVERIS, those institutions are at a fundamental point of change where, rather than evolve, they must invent to remove the constraints imposed by existing technology. 

Since its founding four years ago, the company – which is driven by more than 200 individuals with extensive banking and technology experience – has worked to solve this problem. It has done so by designing and building an innovative, cloud-native platform that is unencumbered by existing systems and enables banks and financial institutions the freedom to offer customers tailored experiences. 

LEVERIS is led by CEO and founder Conor Fennelly, a highly experienced tech entrepreneur who, over the course of a career that includes a 20-year stint in Silicon Valley, has founded and led several high-growth internet startups. The company, he says, is built on the belief that “it’s not so much a case of banks failing their customers, but more a case of technology failing banks. The systemic problems facing banks can be addressed almost entirely via technology.”

This approach, says Fennelly, was cemented during his previous interactions with the financial services sector. This includes five years running one of Southeast Asia’s largest independent systems, integrations, and technology and software companies, where he worked on bank-to-bank systems integrations projects. “We used that experience to develop a micro-billing software solution, which acted as a financial services layer between credit cards and gift cards and scaled very well,” he adds. “From there, I’ve also completed several core transformation projects in the sector and, through that experience and over that time, we really understood what a banking platform was - all the existing peculiarities, legacy issues and complexities. 

“Each time you do an implementation of that kind, the result is always suboptimal,” Fennelly continues. “We reached the stage where we thought: ‘if we had the freedom to do it again, how would we do so differently and in a way that eradicated all of those issues?’. Legacy systems have performed well - they’ve been robust and resilient, and stood the test of time with no major issues until about five years ago. The rise of fintech really changed things. It started disintermediating, and showing banks that innovative technology can be used to do things faster and better, to operate in real-time and provide greater value to the customer.”

The latter, Fennelly notes, is becoming increasingly important as a driver for change. Customers want more control over their finances, as well as the convenience and value-added service to exercise that control when they choose - this can be provided by the kind of data-focused technology that doesn’t exist in legacy systems. “There are several key issues,” Fennelly explains. “In some respects, it’s not so much the technology itself as the organisational composition that sets everything in silos - you have deposits, checking or current accounts, access control and so on, and they all have their own databases, which can equate to anything from 500 to 1,000 subsystems. The holy grail of banking is to have one single view of the customer, but that doesn’t really work as the fundamental data model in legacy systems isn’t established to deliver that from the beginning. 

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Banking isn’t radical, it just has to be better

Conor Fennelly | Founder and CEO, LEVERIS

“Similarly, existing technology is typically product oriented rather than being customer centric,” he adds. “Any new system has to be entirely focused on the customer - everything you do, irrespective of the service should accrue in one area and that data is then used across everything.” Fennelly also points to the high CapEx required to run a legacy system as a result of their complexity, adding that they are precarious to maintain and difficult to change due to their being non-homogenous. On the latter he explains “even the simplest of things can be overly complex; there are multiple vendors in a bank’s world and software written in different languages so that any change has to be coordinated through this complexity.”

LEVERIS offers an alternative to these issues. The company has built a system from the ground up, using state-of-the-art, best-in-class technology that is service driven and changes the way that businesses deliver financial products. The LEVERIS platform is a cloud-native, real-time, non-legacy core banking system that is modular, flexible and secure. It leverages big data to streamline operations for banks and lenders, and increase their revenue, uses process automation to reduce the need to manual intervention and is configurable to each customer’s specific requirements. 

“Everything is automated end-to-end and completed in real-time,” says Fennelly, “which are the major things in terms of how this changes the way in which banks operate. We set out to build a next-generation full services retail bank, and part of that was really about considering what the bank of 2030 looked like. We realised about a year into the build that, while we could build the technology stack, we couldn’t implement all the features on that stack unless we had a clear idea of what that bank looked like. From a customer perspective, that’s all about advocacy and building an effective transactional relationship through the greater use of data, for example. Banks haven't always architected customer data in a way that’s useful, but that data has a massive residual value for customers.” 

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LEVERIS creates a single view of the customer by mapping all data to a unique customer ID. This gives a complete picture of the customer across the bank’s entire platform and allows the building of a personalised picture of the customer and their journey, thus enabling the building of an enhanced customer experience. LEVERIS’ single customer view is quick to market, has open APIs and connects the dots across a wide variety of data types, categories and systems; it is also scalable as the company grows. 

“Many bankers are acutely aware of what they want from their technology stack, they're just missing the product to do it - they’re constrained by the tech,” says Fennelly. “The interesting thing is that we don’t have a revelation about how these changes are translated in the front end, the fundamental pivot points that will make the difference are actually quite subtle. Take the heart of the bank, the current or savings account. It’s an idea that’s set in stone and that the consumers understand, but we have the notion of an ‘account’ with a set of attributes that the bank can scale as it chooses. 

“The idea is that, if you look at banking infrastructure of yesterday against that of the future, then you’ll see historically that banks have built thousands - even tens of thousands - of products, because any change or variation in things like different accounts has to be manufactured as a ‘new’ product,” he continues. “The core of a transformation and a platform like LEVERIS is about removing that complexity and providing a technology that allows the building of any unique set of services for a consumer based on a very limited number of products in the back end. Adding a new card, a new person to the account or so on doesn’t increase the product complexity in our world, and that’s a real revolution in financial services. There’s no major technology required, it’s how you pose the pieces and, really, it’s about how far your imagination goes.”

Currently, LEVERIS’s platform is available for banks, lenders and loan servicers. For the former, the system is delivered market ready and pre-integrated with the essential banking services required to launch and run a modern digital bank. “Take a typical legacy bank that has a number of branches as an example,” says Fennelly. “We can operate our platform completely independently as an additional branch in the infrastructure, which lets our customers ‘plug LEVERIS in’ their world seamlessly as a starting point. Over time, we can then work on tactical strategic decisions of which legacy systems to take out and to migrate across to our platform. It becomes a natural evolution that leads to a greatly improved digital direction.”

Since it was established, LEVERIS has focused on developing a platform that can transform banking. Little has changed since that original vision was developed, Fennelly explains, but the business is now focused on going to market. “Banking isn’t radical, it just has to be better,” he states. “And it also has to be capable of incremental, organic improvement. We’ve a blank platform that is given to every client, it’s up to those banks how they use our configuration interfaces to build the products they want - we don’t give them the technology to succeed, we provide the platform to build what they want, to implement their strategy and achieve their version of success.”

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