Q&A: Central Bank of Costa Rica goes .NET

San Jos

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, Costa Rica, Sept. 16, 2002 —
Every day the Banco Central de Costa Rica (Central Bank of Costa Rica) must move more than US$500 million through some 100,000 transactions among worldwide financial institutions. The bank has just completed a successful migration of this main payment system, called Sistema Interbancario de Negociaci
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n y Pagos Electr
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nicos (SINPE), to Microsoft .NET technologies. To mark the launch of such a mission-critical application, PressPass spoke with Rodrigo Ayala , general manager for Microsoft Costa Rica, and Carlos Araya , CEO of ArtinSoft. Araya’s company developed the Upgrade Wizard that ships with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and that which such migrations to take place. ArtinSoft worked with the Banco Central de Costa Rica to finalize its migration to the new version of SINPE.

PressPass: What type of solution is the Banco Central de Costa Rica implementing?

Ayala: Today we are announcing the launch of a new version of SINPE, based on Microsoft .NET technology. The system is designed to benefit Costa Ricas money market, eliminating technological boundaries and enabling it to be more agile.

One of the keys to the success of this project is not having to rebuild existing systems. We were able to migrate over 1.3 million lines of code from previous Microsoft COM-based technology into .NET with the help of ArtinSofts automated migration technology and services. Its become one of the biggest .NET deployments of a core mission critical application worldwide.

PressPass: Can you describe the SINPE system in more detail?

Ayala: Sistema Interbancario de Negociaci
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n y Pagos Electr
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nicos is the main payment system for the central bank. It provides services such as electronic money transfers, check clearing, direct debts and direct credits, as well as providing account information for all bank-related institutions. 99 percent of Costa Ricas financial institutions are connected to the system, which handles an average of US$500 million in daily transactions through a wide variety of financial services.

PressPass: How is .NET technology helping?

Ayala: .NET technology is based on XML Web services, which uses standard protocols such as SOAP and XML data. This allows people using the new system to send, receive, and process data to and from a myriad of proprietary systems used by different organizations, such as financial service institutions and government agencies. By eliminating these technology barriers with .NET technology, the BCCR should see very good return on their IT investment.

.NET technology promises an easier integration within and between financial institutions, while improving the time and cost associated with developing and maintaining SINPE as a business application. .NET opens a new window of opportunities, making it possible for Banco Central de Costa Rica to release a new breed of financial services that ultimately will foster a better economy.

PressPass: What kind of services will SINPE
be providing to the Costa Rican financial institutions and how will they benefit from this technology?

Ayala: With .NET, SINPE delivers excellent operational availability, reliability and security to customers and trading partners. It provides them with application-to-application access to SINPE through programmatic interfaces, which enables seamless process integration with business partners and helps to reduce transaction costs.

SINPE will also help to increase transactional volume by taking a new brand of e-services into electronic channels, such as vertical portals and e-marketplaces. Through .NET technology, SINPE will allow for flexible and rapid adjustment to unexpected alterations in the financial marketplace. The financial institutions will be able to develop new offerings, such as service consumption through mobile devices, third-party vertical portals, and get them to market quickly.

PressPass: What is the role of ArtinSoft in the implementation of this solution?

Ayala: ArtinSoft is Microsofts global premier partner for migrating technologies to .NET. After signing an alliance with Microsoft back in July 2001, ArtinSofts line of migration products has been substantially increased to handle massive movements of application code from a wide range of sources into .NET. ArtinSoft provides SINPE with premier technology, support and services for the automated migration to .NET. The services brought by ArtinSoft guarantee a state known as “100-percent functional equivalence

between the old and the new system. With their services and technology, we managed to migrate a total of 1.2 million lines of code in just six months from previous Microsoft COM-based technology to the .NET Framework.

PressPass: How has ArtinSofts technology aided in this migration?

Araya : We helped with this migration in two different ways: first, we developed the Upgrade Wizard that ships with Visual Studio .NET, which automatically converts 95 percent of the code. Secondly, we worked closely with the bank to ensure the last 5 percent of the migration was seamlessly converted, so the bank could enjoy all the benefits afforded by the new system.

PressPass: What did this mean for the Banco Central de Costa Rica?

Araya: The two main advantages for undergoing an automatic migration with ArtinSoft are added value and cost and time benefits. First, with over nine years of experience in executing migration projects, we believe our customers should concentrate their development resources in adding value to the application, not in merely migrating it. Banco Central de Costa Rica can now enjoy the benefits of a modern application using .NET technologies. Secondly, the migration of 1.2 million lines of code can take a significant amount of time and cost a great deal of money, important issues to an organization. We helped the Banco Central de Costa Rica reduce the migration time and cost by 45 percent of what was originally estimated.

PressPass: Is this type of technology affordable for developing countries?

Ayala: Yes. One of the main challenges for all developing countries is to create competitive advantages and efficiencies in their economies. Technology plays a key role in achieving this objective, enabling people to essentially do more with less. .NET has proven to be a great technology for any industry and the financial industry is no exception. Costa Rica has one of the best payments systems in the world: it provides a very high quality of services and is also very cost-effective.

By bringing XML standards through .NET directly into SINPE, BCCR is dramatically lowering the cost structures associated with business integration technology facilitating a lower entry point for all kinds of businesses.