To sustain rapid growth, Fawry wanted to introduce innovative payment services quickly without compromising the rock-solid reliability of its network or jeopardizing data protection and availability.
Fawry selected IBM Storage and Power Systems solutions to accommodate rapid data growth and support data science initiatives that aim to generate deeper customer insights.
Halvedtime to complete overnight reconciliation process (from 5 hours to 2.5)
35% boostin storage performance contributes to better delivery of services
24/7availability of IT infrastructure and data ensures exceptional and seamless service
Business challenge story
Changing the way Egyptians bank
With a population of over 100 million people, Egypt is a land of opportunity for consumer services providers. In a country where payment procedures are often slow, fragmented and complex, Fawry identified a gap in the market for a simple, secure omnichannel payment gateway.
Haytham Abbas, Infrastructure Director at Fawry, picks up the story: “When we launched in 2008, the average household had to deal with around 13 separate utility and service providers. Since they typically had to set up payments with each service provider separately, often by visiting a branch, this was a lot of hassle. We created an omnichannel digital payment network to make life easier for consumers and the businesses that serve them.”
Fawry now supports millions of transactions daily for consumers and business through more than 90,000 locations (including groceries, pharmacies, stationaries and post offices), as well as through multiple alternative channels, including online, ATMs, and mobile wallets. The company’s client base and service offerings continue to expand, leading to rapid data growth. Abbas comments: "Our data has doubled in just the last eight months, and we expect it to grow even faster in the years to come.”
The company’s success is built on delivering consistently fast, dependable services alongside continual innovation. Seeing an opportunity to do more with its data, Fawry evaluated its technology infrastructure to ensure it was ready for the next phase in its evolution.
“Not only do we have to cope with more data, we also want to put it to better use,” says Abbas. “We set up a data science team to do more with data, by delving deeper into our transactions and user profiles to better understand our customer needs. To support these new initiatives and continue to provide the responsive, 24/7 services we’re known for, we wanted to step up our technology solutions.”
Powering the business to new heights
Fawry has a long history with IBM, having chosen IBM solutions to underpin its business again and again over the last decade. The company relies on both IBM Db2 and Oracle database software running on IBM Power Systems to support its bespoke electronic financial platform, processing 2 million transactions per day.
“Together, IBM Db2, Oracle database and IBM Power Systems solutions give us the ability to process huge transaction volumes,” comments Abbas. “They provide a powerful foundation for our business, and have scaled seamlessly as we’ve grown.”
To ensure that it selected the best offerings on the market for its latest refresh, the company’s IT team undertook a thorough evaluation of storage and server options from multiple vendors.
“We put together business cases for a range of solutions, and IBM Storage came out on top – again,” says Abbas. “With software-defined storage solutions from IBM, we can be certain about where our data is stored. And that we can access it whenever we need it.”
To manage data across its storage environment, the company relies on a suite of IBM Spectrum Storage™ solutions, including IBM Spectrum Control™, IBM Spectrum Protect™, IBM Spectrum Scale™ and IBM Spectrum Virtualize™. Fawry implemented an IBM Elastic Storage™ Server to support its data retention strategy, gaining a scalable, cost-effective platform for backups.
The company also deployed IBM FlashSystem® A9000R, grid-scale, all-flash storage technology designed for data at scale. “The efficiency and performance gains promised by the latest generation of IBM FlashSystem technology were too good to pass up,” recalls Abbas.
The technology offers data compression and deduplication features that enable Fawry to boost utilization of storage resources. Abbas adds: “IBM FlashSystem A9000R offers much greater performance than our previous storage platform, meaning that we get both optimized data economics and short response times. We were able to achieve a seamless migration to the new platform with zero downtime.”
To support its quest to understand its customers more deeply, Fawry will soon deploy IBM Watson Machine Learning Accelerator, which includes popular open source deep learning frameworks and efficient artificial intelligence (AI) tools on accelerated IBM Power Systems AC922 servers. Power Systems AC922 servers pair POWER9 CPUs and NVIDIA Tesla V100 with NVLink GPUs, providing massive throughput capability for high performance computing, deep learning and artificial intelligence workloads. Abbas explains: “The combination of IBM Watson Machine Learning Accelerator and FlashSystem solutions will give us the incredibly high performance required to extract new insights from our data.”
Thinking big, achieving big
To accommodate 200 percent data growth while keeping its storage footprint low, Fawry relies on the deduplication and data compression features offered by IBM FlashSystem A9000R solutions. The technology enabled Fawry to increase storage efficiency significantly. By freeing up headroom and capital to invest in new services, the company can deliver a better customer experience.
“So far, we’ve achieved a 2.5 to 1 compression ratio on FlashSystem A9000R, and we believe this may rise to 3 to 1 once we install a microcode update,” says Abbas. “Over the last few years, we’ve exceeded expectations for data growth, so it gives us real peace of mind to know that we have this extra breathing space – and the cost savings that come with it.”
With consistently higher performance from its IT infrastructure, Fawry can raise service levels to customers and accelerate innovation. The project has inspired positive feedback from the company’s employees, impressed by the drop in response times.
Abbas elaborates: “IBM FlashSystem solutions give us 35 percent higher storage performance – staff members were so impressed by the improvement, they came to us wanting to know what had changed! Our overnight reconciliation process used to take five hours, now it’s completed in half the time. More responsive systems translate into more responsive services for customers, which lead to higher satisfaction – and loyalty.”
Fawry now has the freedom to focus on developing new services, confident that its high-availability infrastructure will deliver 24/7 uptime. As a result, the company can provide more seamless customer experiences.
Abbas concludes: “Fawry got this far by offering omnichannel digital payment services that consumers and businesses can rely on, and IBM solutions are helping us continue to deliver on that promise. Our 11-year relationship with IBM is still bearing fruit, supporting us in putting Egypt on the global digital banking map.”
Fawry provides financial services to Egyptian consumers and businesses through a pioneering electronic payment network, serving more than 90,000 locations and a range of channels. Its payment gateway is based on proprietary technology that is fully compliant with international security standards. Fawry is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM FlashSystem solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/storage/flash
To learn more about IBM Spectrum Storage solutions, visit: ibm.com/storage/spectrum
To learn more about IBM Power Systems solutions, visit: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/power