BBVA Francés
Unlocking the full power of IBM Z by optimizing mission-critical COBOL code
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To retain its market-leading position and deliver on customer demand for digital services, Argentine bank BBVA Francés wanted to improve the performance of its core banking applications. With IBM® Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS®, the bank dramatically improved performance of its most critical COBOL applications without any need for recompilation.

Business challenge

To deliver more responsive retail banking services for its customers, BBVA Francés aimed to realize the full potential of its new IBM Z® platform to enhance the performance of its core software stack.


The bank used IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS to enable its COBOL applications to take advantage of the latest IBM Z architecture, boosting performance and operational efficiency.

Results 28% lower
CPU usage for optimized applications
more responsive customer services, helping to increase satisfaction
a solid foundation for the development of new customer-facing digital services
Business challenge story
Meeting new demands

Founded in 1886, BBVA Francés is the oldest private domestic bank in Argentina. Over the last 130 years, it has grown to become one of the country’s largest banks and today serves 2.4 million private customers, 42,000 small and medium-sized businesses, and over 800 corporations.

As one of the biggest players in the Argentine banking industry, BBVA Francés is no stranger to innovation. The bank is spearheading the transformation of the country’s financial services sector for the digital age. With 1.29 million customers actively using its internet and mobile banking services, a market penetration of 55.2%, BBVA Francés is leading the way.

But the bank refuses to rest on its laurels, as a spokesperson explains: “We’re always looking for ways to improve customer services. In particular, we want to ensure that our digital offering meets the demands and expectations of a new generation of customers.”

To bring new products and services to market, BBVA Francés must ensure that the IT infrastructure and tools underpinning its core banking systems are always performing at their best.

“Many of our most critical business applications are decades old, and we have added to and built on those systems over the years,” says the spokesperson. “As a result, different applications are written in different versions of COBOL code; some are based on COBOL 3.2 logic, others on COBOL 4.2. We wanted to optimize our application code to improve performance—without the immediate effort and expense of having to recompile all our code.”

IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS generates code that enables our applications to exploit the new hardware features of our z13 server without any recompilation whatsoever—it’s a fantastic tool. Spokesperson BBVA Francés
Transformation story
Optimizing operations

BBVA Francés has relied on IBM Z to support its core banking systems for many years, and recently renewed its investment in the platform by upgrading to an IBM z13® server. To take advantage of the new IBM Z architecture without the immediate cost and complexity of recompiling its COBOL applications, the bank deployed IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS (ABO).

“Initially, we considered migrating all our applications to COBOL Version 6, but soon realized that changing and testing the source code would take quite a lot of time and effort,” recalls the spokesperson. “We wanted to start taking advantage of the new z13 features right away, so we decided to give ABO a try.”

First, BBVA Francés installed a trial edition of IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS, enabling it to test out the solution over a 90-day evaluation period at no charge. Next, BBVA Francés identified 15 applications with high CPU consumption to run through ABO.

“The results were very compelling,” says the spokesperson. “Using IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS, we were able to reduce CPU usage of those test programs by around 15 percent, significantly improving performance.”

Based on this success, BBVA Francés installed the full edition of IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS for use on production workloads. The bank then worked closely with a team from IBM to begin optimizing its COBOL applications, with a full contingency plan in place to keep risk to a minimum.

“Every week, we take 10 CPU-intensive batch programs to optimize in the ABO development environment and deploy them into production on Friday evenings,” says spokesperson. “IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS generates code that enables our applications to exploit the new hardware features of our z13 server without any recompilation whatsoever—it’s a fantastic tool.”

The latest changes we’ve made to our IBM Z environment give us a solid foundation on which to build new products and services, including innovative digital banking solutions. Spokesperson BBVA Francés
Results story
Reaping the rewards

To date, BBVA Francés has transformed 225 programs using IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS, reducing CPU usage by 28 percent on average—the equivalent of 26 CPU hours per month.

“We’ve been really impressed with the results so far,” says the spokesperson. “IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS has enabled us to unlock the enhanced processing power of our new z13 server, boosting performance. The optimized applications are now running much faster and much more efficiently.”

By reducing its CPU usage, the bank has shortened its batch windows and reallocated the saved CPU resources to other jobs—increasing performance not just of its core banking systems, but other important production workloads too.

Critically, IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS enables BBVA Francés to achieve these benefits without making any changes to the source code. As a result, developers are free to continue building on the proven COBOL logic, safe in the knowledge that it is here to stay.

Today, the bank is continuing to work closely with IBM to optimize its remaining COBOL applications.

“All of our most critical applications are in COBOL, so investing in code optimization puts us in a strong position to drive our digital transformation,” concludes the spokesperson. “The latest changes we’ve made to our IBM Z environment give us a solid foundation on which to build new products and services, including innovative digital banking solutions. We have a long and successful history with IBM Z, and we’re excited to see where it takes us next.”

BBVA Francés

BBVA Francés (link resides outside of is one of Argentina’s leading banks. Headquartered in Buenos Aires, BBVA Francés operates 250 branches and 1,400 ATMs across the country, and employs more than 6,000 people.

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