Infor to Resell Cashbook’s IBM i Banking Software
July 27, 2010 Alex Woodie
IBM i software juggernaut Infor yesterday unveiled Electronic Banking for System i, a new application designed to automate a company’s inbound and output payments, as well as provide bank statement reconciliation with a customer’s books. The Java-based product, which was developed by the Irish software company Cashbook, has been in use by many System i shops for some time, and will now be sold and supported directly by Infor.
Electronic Banking for System i provides three core electronic banking functions for its BPCS, MAPICS, and System 21 customers, according to Kari Miller, Infor’s director of product development for System i products.
For starters, the new software transmits outbound payments electronically through the banking networks. This eliminates the need for accounts payable departments to print checks, stuff envelopes, and apply stamps. The return on investment for this level of automation is very good because it eliminates hard costs like check stock and postage, Miller says.
The second thing that Electronic Banking for System i does is automate inbound payments in the accounts receivable department. By automating incoming payments, it eliminates the need for employees to manually match payments with invoices. Miller says Cashbook will correctly match a payment to an invoice 75 percent of the time, which impressed Infor.
The same kind of payback that users get with electronic outbound payments also applies to inbound processing, Miller says. “Now you’re not handling paper checks, you don’t have to make out deposit slips manually, and you don’t have to drive to the bank. So the payback is very good,” she tells IT Jungle.
The third primary area of Electronic Banking for System i is automated bank account reconciliation. Cashbook supports the data formats of 165 banks around the world, and matches that to the general ledgers of leading ERP products, including BPCS, MAPICS, Baan, and JD Edwards. (It’s doubtful that Infor will be selling this to Oracle‘s JD Edwards customers. But Cashbook highlights JDE as one of its biggest customer bases.)
Miller says automated bank account reconciliations is a “nice to have” for most organizations. “If you’re already doing in outbound cash and inbound cash, from a banking perspective, you might as well reconcile your bank statements automatically as well,” she says. “It’s one of those time savers, and it reduces errors.”
The decision to formalize a reseller relationship with Cashbook, which is headed by CEO Greg Coulter, was triggered by new banking regulation looming in Europe. Under the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) initiative, all electronic payments occurring in or across the 32-country SEPA zone will be considered domestic; differences between national and cross-border payments will no longer be tolerated. It’s a big shift moving to the SEPA framework, and most European countries from Greece to Iceland must adhere to it by the end of 2010.
Instead of trying to match each of its ERP systems to each bank’s format to prepare its customers for SEPA compliance, Infor decided it made more sense to hire out the development work to Cashbook, in effect, and ensure the integrations with the IBM i-based ERP systems were airtight.
“We’ve been individually trying to handle those for each ERP, and that just didn’t make sense,” Miller says. “You’ve got no economics of scale that way, and everybody was chasing after the same thing. So when this new European payment requirement [SEPA] came out, we said it was time to find a solution that will solve this across all the ERPs, and solve all banking format issues, so we’re not all trying to reinvent the wheel all the time.”
Infor looked at other banking software providers, but settled on Cashbook for several reasons, including the long history that many of its BPCS and System 21 customers had with the company, as well as the fact that the Cashbook software runs on the IBM i server. “System i customers tend to like sensitive data to be on the System i, which they find to be very safe,” Miller says. “Having it run on System i was one of the criteria that we had.”
Infor will provide level one support for Electronic Banking for System i, while the Cashbook folks in Limerick will handle bug reports and more extensive support calls. The two companies will also collaborate on integrations with the IBM i ERP applications; an integration for PRMS is in the works, while connectors for other applications like KBM will depend on demand.