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Thought Machine

Core Provider

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  • Functionality & Response to Areas of Focus

  • Quick Facts

Functionality & Response to Areas of Focus

Core Functionality

Thought Machine states that Vault is a cloud-native core banking platform that is designed to be scalable, resilient and highly available. Its microservices and application programming interface-driven architecture is designed to be highly configurable. It decouples bank configuration items from the underlying core platform, thereby offering full flexibility and control to the bank in order to define products and business processes.

The core entities of the Vault platform are customers, accounts, products and transactions. The platform enables system users to manufacture behavior of banking products (referred to as Smart Contracts), provisioning of these products in the form of accounts to customers as recorded in Vault and processing of transactions against these accounts. According to business processes defined by system users, the Workflow Engine provides orchestration capability for Vault and other systems within the bank where required.

The value proposition for banks using Vault is to create an efficient and lean operating model built around a customer-first proposition by:

  • Removing restrictions a limitations of a traditional banking core, and enabling banks to build a cost structure along with related operations for increased efficiency. 
  • Reinventing the core with a cloud-native, fully secure and highly resilient modern technology platform that supports an open banking ecosystem and innovation across the enterprise.
  • Enabling banks to create a customer-centric bank with improved enterprise agility to better adapt to marketplace demands through the rapid development and launch of new, highly tailored propositions.

Vault can be conceptualized as consisting of a core set of “Platform Layer” components and “Banking Layer” configuration data. The Platform consists of the “Kernel,” the core banking engine of the Platform Layer, and optional components, as required by the client’s architecture. The Kernel provides core banking capabilities for the operation of customers, accounts and products. The operations dashboard provides a user interface for interacting with the Platform Layer and Banking Layer configuration data.

The Vault Platform Layer is built with a high degree of configuration, enabled in the Banking Layer, and an API-oriented design, enabling clients to achieve a wide range of propositions and operating models.

Vault’s Banking Layer configuration decouples configuration from the underlying Platform Layer, thereby offering full flexibility and control to the bank in order to define products and associated attributes (using Smart Contracts) and business processes (as Vault workflows), without the need to undertake full-scale software upgrades.

Each component of Vault follows an API-oriented design, providing a set of RESTful APIs and streaming APIs to enable clients to integrate with the Platform Layer to achieve a range of functionality required for backend systems and customer-facing channel applications. The Vault Platform Layer is continually improved by Thought Machine in line with the Vault product roadmap, with a regular cadence of enhancements that are continuously released to clients.

The Vault Platform Layer is the core product component of Vault and is common to all banks. It hosts the infrastructure required to store, manage, run and integrate all components within the banking layer. Underpinning the Platform Layer is the Kernel, with the following key capabilities:

  • Management of product (i.e. Smart Contracts) life cycle including product definition, behavior, versioning, migration and configuration.
  • Provisioning of accounts and account management, including internal accounts.

    Definition and management of processes and operating procedures related to core banking (including integration with external systems) using the Workflow Engine.
  • Definition of roles and mapping of permissions.
  • Maintaining real-time account positions in a ledger that acts as the single source of truth.
  • Capture of postings, including validation and processing of transactions based on product (Smart Contracts) definition.
  • Scheduling service for purposes of periodic tasks such as interest accruals.
  • Generation of real-time events for all data processed in the platform.

Thought Machine states that self-service capability is provided as part of the Platform Layer, which enables all customers of Vault to develop, simulate and test different configurations of Banking Layers. Documentation and toolkits are provided for development of Smart Contracts, workflows and user administration. Additionally, API documentation to deploy Banking Layer assets and processes are provided. Other 3rd party vendor relationships would be required for services such as internet/mobile banking, CRM, Teller, Items processing, etc. However, there are established relationships with best-in-class providers that are already in the marketplace.

Firm's Response to Core Committee's Key Areas of Focus

Thought Machine states that Vault is an API-driven platform that exposes data and underlying Kernel functionality using a well-documented set of RESTful and Streaming APIs. All events, associated data and metadata are streamed in real time for consumption by downstream applications, systems, data lakes and repositories belonging to the bank. APIs can be used to interact and query data residing within Vault. Thought Machine can also deploy data pipelines to deliver aggregated data sets to external systems. 

Thought Machine states that contrary to incumbent approaches, Thought Machine ensures its client banks are in full control of their instance of Vault, and retain access to all data, both primary and derivative, contained therein if they choose to do so.

Thought Machine has not yet formally engaged with the Financial Data Exchange. However, this is part of the roadmap and will align with plans to establish a U.S. hub in 2020. Thought Machine and Vault’s APIs adhere to the principles of access, control, transparency, traceability and security in line with requirements across the globe from initiatives such as PSD2 and open banking. As such, exposing the Vault API framework to the FDX API for a particular integrator (financial institution) is likely to be a straightforward technical exercise. As Thought Machine builds its U.S. hub, it expects to formally become part of the financial data sharing ecosystem.

Thought Machine has taken a “white box” approach to building financial products on their platform. This will provide banks with the ability to develop their own IP using the platform or partner with Fintechs to develop on the platform.

Thought Machine states that Vault APIs provide a broad range of resources and functionality to enable a bank to build a wide array of system integrations, both for customer channel applications and backoffice systems and processes. The Vault Kernel supports real-time event sourcing from its services using streaming APIs and enables broadcasting of events related to the creation of and changes of each resource e.g. accounts, balances, products and customers, throughout its lifecycle. Vault APIs also allow the consumption of events generated by changes to the primary data stored in the Kernel by systems external to the Vault platform. Common use cases include consumption by pipelines for analytics such as further transformation and aggregation, data warehousing for subsequent querying and real-time integrations.

When it comes to API-based methods for secure and authorized data sharing with customers, banks using Thought Machine’s Vault platform utilize this framework of secure APIs to augment their firm-wide approach to data aggregators.

(Including Exclusivity, Coterminous Contracts, Deconversion Fees, Limitation of Liability, SLAs and Early Termination Penalties)

Thought Machine states the following:

  • Does not incorporate exclusivity in its contracts.
  • Coterminous contracts are not applicable.
  • Provides support for migration on a time and material basis for services required by the bank. As the system is an open platform with data and products owned by the bank, it is expected that services required from Thought Machine will be minimal.
  • Standard liability cap for SaaS (subject to customary exclusions) is an amount equal to the total fees during the rolling 12-month period prior to the month in which a claim arises.
  • SLAs aligned to industry standards as expected by a core banking platform provider.
  • Does not impose additional early termination penalties above and beyond the outstanding license fees of the term.

Quick Facts

Quick Facts
Headquarters LocationLondon, United Kingdom
Year Established2014
Ownership ModelPrivate
Regionally Focused or NationalGlobal
Number of Cores Offered1
Name of Core SolutionVault
Number of US Banks on the Core0
If not currently in the market, plans to operate in the US by 2021? If not, when?

Thought Machine is fully committed to building a global footprint as exemplified by the rapid growth in the London office (corporate headquarters and EMEA hub), new APAC hub in Singapore and planned launch of Americas hub in Q2 2020. These efforts will enable Thought Machine to locate dedicated engagement teams to support the implementation and localized configuration of Vault to meet requirements for American banks.

The platform was inspired by Google’s ability to process massive amounts of data to generate real-time data analytics.

Target Bank Asset SizeMore than $1 billion
Business StrategyThought Machine’s long-term strategy is to provide cloud-native, elastically scalable and real-time platforms for core banking, payment processing and card processing in order to service the needs of banking customers on a global basis. Products will be offered to cover retail, small-to-medium-enterprise, corporate and private wealth businesses.