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Intelligent Financial Network Paves the Way for the Bank 4.0 Era

By Kevin Hu, President of Huawei Data Communication Product Line

In the Bank 4.0 era, networks are more than simply connections; they’re also the key to improving the operational efficiency of the brain of smart finance and enabling intelligent decision-making. To support these developments, Huawei has launched its Intelligent Financial Network Solution, which features ubiquitous connectivity, distributed architecture, intent-driven capabilities, and autonomous driving.

The Bank 4.0 era encompasses the full digitalization of the banking industry. Simply put, banking services will be available in real-time — anytime and anywhere — intelligently tailored to individual customers and integrated across the industry. In the Bank 4.0 era, banking no longer revolves around physical spaces as it did in Bank 3.0; rather, it is lifestyle-based. New technologies — such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, and blockchain — provide more possibilities for the development of smart banking services. Future banks will therefore be customer-centric, providing users with omnichannel, seamless, and customized products and services.

New technologies are powering service agility and digitalization. Banks therefore must use them to digitally upgrade, anticipating the ubiquitous services to come. In the Bank 4.0 era, networks are more than simply connections, though; they’re also the key to improving the operational efficiency of the brain of smart finance, enabling intelligent decision-making. To support always-on services that are available anywhere, Huawei has launched its Intelligent Financial Network Solution, which is defined by four characteristics: ubiquitous connectivity and accessible services; distributed architecture and agile service provisioning; intent-driven capabilities and fast closed-loop business; and AI-powered autonomous driving networks.

Ubiquitous Connectivity and Accessible Services

The rise of Internet finance has significantly reduced the footfall of traditional banking branches, prompting banking branches to transform to increase revenues while reducing costs. In the Bank 4.0 era, bank branches will be transformed, from conventional transaction centers into marketing and experience centers. These intelligent banking outlets will be service-oriented, featuring hybrid operations that involve unmanned and mobile banking. They will go beyond merely offering products: Customers will receive comprehensive and intelligent financial services with no waiting times, making service transactions more efficient and far more user-friendly.

Huawei’s intelligent financial access network provides intelligent, agile, and ubiquitous connectivity, meeting the needs of multi-tenant hybrid operations and enabling the smart upgrade of multiple banking outlets. Through the Software-Defined-Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) Solution, the network dynamically identifies service types and provides access on demand, ensuring an excellent service experience. The intelligent security system of banking outlets provides differentiated services for VIP users, who are identified through facial recognition. It can also detect suspicious behavior — such as loitering, trailing other customers, and gathering in groups — to ensure transaction security. The Virtual Teller Machine (VTM) system applies the high bandwidth of 5G SD-WAN to eliminate the need for expensive cross-region private lines, by allowing banking outlets to directly access their headquarters’ data center for remote agent services.

Meanwhile, all-access network devices support new capabilities, such as deployment by scanning a barcode, zero-touch configuration, and service provisioning in minutes. These capabilities enable fast network deployment and make financial services more accessible. This was ably demonstrated when China Construction Bank (CCB) and Huawei jointly built the world’s first 5G+ smart banking outlet. By providing high-tech services, such as financial space capsules, smart teller machines, and simulation robots — all over the ubiquitous network — the banking outlet was transformed into a customer marketing services hub. As well as improving transaction efficiency and reducing wait times, such a technologically-advanced banking outlet provides customers with an improved experience throughout the entire banking process, enabling customers to access immersive and personalized financial services.

Distributed Architecture and Agile Service Provisioning

Banking 4.0 uses IT technologies to provide customers with banking services anytime, anywhere. To achieve this, a distributed transformation of the core financial system is necessary. Traditional centralized architecture is hard to expand, slow to deliver, and expensive to upgrade or expand (in terms of capacity). In contrast, distributed architecture delivers a 99.999 percent system availability and supports over 10,000 servers (compared to 10 hosts). The communication between servers migrates from internal buses to network buses, and applications can be deployed across regions and data centers. However, distributed financial architecture also poses new requirements for financial networks, including high-quality lossless transmission and fast deployment of micro-services across data centers.

In data centers of the Bank 4.0 era, the performance of computing and storage components must be improved by hundreds of times, highlighting the extent of congestion-triggered packet loss suffered on conventional Ethernet networks. Even in a low-load traffic environment, with link bandwidth usage below 10 percent, burst traffic leads to a network packet loss rate of nearly one percent on a traditional network — enough to reduce computing power by almost 50 percent in the AI era. Packet loss is further exacerbated by the increase in service loads and incast traffic in distributed architecture. Huawei’s intelligent financial data center network uses the industry’s first data center switch equipped with a high-performance AI chip — CloudEngine 16800. The switch achieves zero packet loss on the network and harnesses 100 percent of AI computing power. To date, Huawei’s intelligent financial data center network has been deployed by several leading financial institutions, including China Merchants Bank, Ping An Technology, and China CITIC Bank — ensuring the efficient operation of the brain of smart finance, supporting high-quality decision-making, and unleashing the power of intelligence.

The popularity of Internet finance services is driving the evolution from active-active redundancy across three data centers in two sites to multiple data centers in multiple sites. The on-demand streamlining of services of the same type in multiple data centers poses new requirements for inter-cloud resource management and scheduling. Huawei’s Intelligent Financial WAN Solution is based on the SRv6 protocol. It uses a controller to implement one-click delivery, achieving End-to-End (E2E) automated service deployment and reducing network deployment time from months to minutes. This speeds up service provisioning, improves operational efficiency, and cuts Operating Expense (OPEX).

Intent-Driven, Fast Closed-Loop Business

Agile service provisioning requires an increasingly short iteration period. However, when new services are provisioned on conventional IT architecture, the operations involve applications, networking, servers, and storage. Typically, this process takes two to three months, failing to meet the rapidly changing requirements of Internet finance. By introducing a platform that supports integration of management, control, and analysis, Huawei’s Intelligent Financial Network Solution effectively connects physical networks and business intents, providing integrated network management as well as rapid integration of Information Technology (IT) and networks, through open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This approach covers the entire lifecycle, including network planning, construction, maintenance, and optimization.

Planning: In intent-driven planning and design, a common network design for each domain is modeled and standardized then centrally managed to form an online design model library.

Construction: Automated deployment enables service intents to be automatically converted into network configurations. Moreover, a cross-domain orchestration system is introduced to ensure E2E automated service provisioning.

Maintenance: Intelligent Operations and Maintenance (O&M) includes monitoring and visualization of the health status of Network Elements (NEs) along with the entire network, as well as automatic analysis of the root causes and impacts of network faults, facilitating intelligent decision-making.

Optimization: Various O&M data guides system decision-making, delivering automated closed-loop troubleshooting and proactive network optimization, forming a large closed-loop system throughout the entire network lifecycle.

The main aim of the closed-loop system is to accelerate closed-loop business, provide optimal network assurance for diversified financial services, improve network operation and management, shift from a network-centric to a service-centric focus, and build a next-generation, business logic-oriented network that features full-lifecycle automation, intelligent O&M, and an intent-driven closed-loop.

AI-Powered Autonomous Driving Networks

The Internet of Everything leads to a massive number of devices and connections, with multi-dimensional Service Level Agreements (SLAs). As a result, there is a large amount of data to be collected, analyzed, and processed. In traditional O&M, the Network Management Systems (NMS) merely performs basic processing and simple display of the collected device data. Data analysis is performed manually, which is both time-consuming and labor-intensive. O&M engineers need to become familiar with protocols and the entire service processing procedure. Put simply, traditional O&M now fails to meet the network O&M requirements of the Bank 4.0 era, so AI must be applied to network O&M. Automated analysis and intelligent processing of a large amount of data generated on the network have proven to be the best practices in the industry to cope with network O&M challenges.

O&M is based on big data visualization. Refined visualization can improve the efficiency of handling O&M problems. For complex problems, in-depth root cause analysis is needed. In these circumstances, an O&M knowledge graph needs to be constructed. The system uses Machine Learning (ML) to constantly add new rules to the troubleshooting rule library and optimize judgment criteria, continuously improving the coverage and accuracy of fault identification. As well as proactive identification, the system dynamically generates baselines through ML of historical data. The comparison between the baseline and real-time data helps to predict potential faults and identify network indicator deterioration before services are interrupted. In addition, the system can forecast future network services and guide network adjustment.

Through joint innovation with customers such as China Merchants Bank and the People’s Insurance Company of China, Huawei uses AI to achieve intelligent O&M of data center networks. Huawei’s Intelligent Financial Network Solution can detect 75 types of common faults within one minute, locate them within three minutes, and rectify them within five minutes. Based on autonomous driving network architecture and predictive maintenance, Huawei’s Intelligent Financial Network Solution is committed to delivering network autonomy and self-healing.

Intent-Driven Network for Banking Everywhere

Throughout the history of financial development, network technology has played an increasingly important role in financial transformation. Bank 4.0 represents a new era for financial technology, evolving from the eras of the banking outlet, through e-banking to, most recently, mobile Internet. To prepare for Bank 4.0, banks have to embrace new technologies. They need to rebuild their business models accordingly and upgrade their infrastructure, in preparation for the “open banking” of the future. They will only achieve this by deploying intelligent networks that enable smart banking, anytime and anywhere.

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Issue 29 — Intelligent Finance Special

Thriving in a Mobile Future: Working Together Toward Smart Finance

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