Accelerating Credit Saison's Digital Transformation,
IT Strategy Development, and the Cloud Journey
80% of its systems to be migrated by 2025
With 36 million cardholders, Credit Saison Co., Ltd. focuses its operations on payments, and it also engages in finance and real estate-related businesses. The company, which is moving ahead with digital transformation (DX) across all its operations, started a project in 2019 to migrate about 40 core peripheral systems, including credit screening, to Amazon Web Services (AWS). To accelerate digitization, new services like digital marketing infrastructure and scoring services will be developed in a cloud-first manner, based on AWS. In 2019, Credit Saison also began the development of a payment demand system using Amazon Connect to automate 200,000 calls per month.
We decided to use AWS because of its extensive track record of implementation in financial institutions. What we like about AWS is that it is constantly being updated with functionality and expanded with the latest services. We will continue to promote DX by transforming employee development, organization, and business."
General Manager of Digital Platform Development Dept., Digital Innovation Division,
Credit Saison Co., Ltd.
Shifting to cloud computing to reduce costs and accelerate DX for core peripheral systems
Credit Saison provides advanced, customer-oriented services. The company has launched many unique services such as "Eikyufumetsu (never expire) Points" and "No annual card fees". Currently, Saison’s mid-term management vision is to become "Neo Finance Company in Asia." The company’s goal is to be a finance company that provides a variety of services in support of its customers' life events and corporate business cycles.
The company had developed its IT strategy over a period of 10 years from 2008 to 2018, rebuilding its core system on the mainframe. These systems handle customer management, payment approval processes, and the management of deposits and withdrawals. The next step was to update and modernize subsystems (core peripheral systems) that support the core operations of the company’s credit card business, including membership screening, credit management, and debt collection. Tatsuya Ito, General Manager of the Infrastructure Management Department, says, "Our core peripheral systems, which had been built on a monolithic structure with partial optimization, had many overlapping functions, making it difficult for us to respond to market changes.”
To deal with this, the company organized and narrowed down the functions of its core peripheral systems and decided to lift all systems that could be migrated to the cloud. The goal was to reduce costs and accelerate DX by moving to the cloud. AWS was selected as the migration destination after considering the following four factors among a range of cloud services: cost, fault tolerance, track record of implementation in financial institutions, and number of services offered.
"The decisive factor was AWS’s track record with financial institutions. At the time, AWS was the only company that could satisfy FISC security standards and audits for financial institutions. In addition, the fact that it was PCI DSS compliant was also a key factor," says Manabu Yoshida, General Manager of the Digital Platform Development Department, Digital Innovation Division.
Towards 100 million yen in annual infrastructure savings through migration of the electronic ledger sheet interface to AWS
After deciding to adopt AWS, Saison's first project in May 2019 was to migrate four systems for initial screening and credit monitoring systems which control about 2 million credit transactions per year. Since then, the company has been migrating its core peripheral systems as soon as its maintenance contracts expire. Including those that have been migrated since 2017, 22 systems are already running on AWS.
"We plan to migrate 80% of all core peripheral systems by 2025, and expect to reduce IT costs by 3.8 billion yen over the next 10 years," says Ito.
Among the core peripheral systems that have been migrated to AWS, one of the most symbolic is the interface with the electronic ledger system that connects the company with its partners. This is a batch system that acquires data from the core system, generates an image of the ledger sheet, and passes it on to the electronic ledger system. Since the system generates some 25 million pages of electronic forms each month, any failure or delay will interfere with the business operations of Saison’s partners. Therefore, great care needed to be exercised in making the transition.
When migrating on-premise servers to Amazon EC2 and connecting to the core system via AWS Direct Connect, Saison separated the functionality from the core system and changed the server OS and the middleware. "We expect to save 100 million yen per year in both initial and running costs. Not only that, but we were able to overcome any worries that delays in batch processing would affect subsequent operations,” says Ito.
Building an Automated Call System with Amazon Connect To process 200,000 payment reminders per month
In parallel with its core peripheral systems, the company is accelerating the shift to cloud computing for its digital services. Saison has set up a digital department separate from its IT department that operates existing systems, and the company is developing smartphone applications, scoring, loyalty point services, and digital marketing platforms - all on AWS. In September 2019, with the goal of integrating the digital and real worlds, Saison built a service infrastructure, "Saison no Otsukidama" on AWS. This is a monthly drawing in which customers who spend at least 500 yen on the Saison card can receive a gift of 10,000 yen in cash.
One of the unique attempts in the context of developing projects that leverage the agility of AWS is the automation of call center operator operations through Amazon Connect. Until now, operators have handled 300,000 delinquent credit card transactions per month by calling customers directly, but there were limits to how far Saison could rely on people power alone.
To address this issue, a system was developed that combines Amazon Connect, a contact center service, and Amazon Polly, a text-to-speech service, to provide automated phone calls and automated voice prompts requesting payment. The project ran for six months, from June to November 2019, and has been in production since December 2019.
"The combination of Amazon Connect and Amazon Polly had a much lower initial cost than a package-based automated calling system. To reduce operational loads, the system was set up as a serverless/managed service using AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB. We are also trying to prevent operational errors by linking the call history with the debt collection system," says Yoshida.
Currently, Saison is running a hybrid system, which uses an automated telephone reminder system for general delinquent customers and an operator to make calls to loyal customers. "We are now able to make about 200,000 automated calls per month, and can contact delinquent customers who could not be approached manually. In terms of operator hours, this is equivalent to 100 people-hours, which represents a dramatic increase in productivity.” says Yoshida.
Further acceleration of DX by transforming human resources, organization, and business
Saison plans to continue to improve development efficiency in the area of core systems by building APIs and other collaboration infrastructure, while systematically migrating core peripheral systems to AWS and adopting microservice architecture while taking into account costs and service life cycle. They will also be launching new services on a cloud-first basis to make a digital shift.
In terms of organization, Saison envisions taking the current system of collaboration and personnel exchange between the IT and digital departments one step further. The company wants to create a highly flexible organization that can smoothly coordinate what the business side wants to achieve digitally and what can be achieved with systems, transcending the existing gap between IT and DX, and waterfall and agile. "We will accelerate DX throughout Credit Saison by transforming our human resources, organization, and business to stay in step with changes in the market. What we like about AWS is that it is constantly being updated with functionality and expanded with the latest services. We will continue to evolve our services,” says Yoshida.
Customer Profile: Credit Saison Co., Ltd.
- Established: May 1, 1951
- Capital: 75.93 billion yen
- Number of employees: 4,319 (as of March 31, 2021)
- Business activities: Payments, leasing, financing, real estate related, entertainment
Benefits and future development after AWS implementation
- Reduce IT costs for core peripheral systems by 3.8 billion yen over 10 years (estimated)
- Annual reduction of 100 million yen in both initial and running costs by migrating the electronic ledger system interface to AWS
- Automated call collection system using Amazon Connect achieves 200,000 automated calls per month, automating the man-hours of 100 operators
- Transform human resources, organization, and business to accelerate DX for Credit Saison as a whole
AWS Services Used
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.
Amazon Connect is an easy-to-use omnichannel cloud contact center that helps companies provide superior customer service at lower cost.
Amazon Polly is a service that converts text into real speech. The ability to create applications that can read text out loud gives enterprises the ability to build entirely new types of speech-enabled products.
AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.
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