Thanks to digital transformation, banking looks nothing like it did a generation ago. In fewer than 30 years, customers have gone from queuing up in a physical bank during lunchtime and weekends, to transferring money and cashing checks via mobile phones at any hour, virtually anywhere on the planet.

All that technological infrastructure is not easy to maintain. The global fintech market was valued at USD 112.5 billion in 2021, and researchers predict it will reach USD 332.5 billion by 2028. The globe-spanning IT infrastructure that makes it all run is a complex web of digital connections and payment networks talking to each other—or trying to. There are about 2 billion people excluded from the global financial system because they don’t have the right technology to allow their payment network to join in the conversation. Banks need skilled IT practitioners to create platforms that facilitate these interactions between financial institutions. IT professionals like PortX do precisely that.

PortX is a Seattle-based infrastructure and integration technology company focused on open-source banking solutions that give community financial institutions (CFIs) access to global economic systems. Its PortX offering, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS), simplifies connectivity between banks and credit unions to the new wave of fintechs and real-time payment networks that shape global finance.

To offer better service to CFI clients, PortX needed to expand its capacity as a Federal Reserve FedLine Direct service provider. FedLine Direct provides access to critical payment benefits via a highly secure computer-to-computer link to Federal Reserve Financial Services. The expansion would facilitate digital transformation for their clients, who would then be able to compete with big banks by providing services that are cheaper, faster and easier to use.

PortX needed to upgrade its queuing middleware to accomplish this expansion and decided to use the IBM MQ messaging application. MQ provides asynchronous messaging for applications that need to communicate but don’t need to be online continuously. MQ allows applications to run at different speeds and handles transactions, communication and security so clients can focus less on maintaining technology and more on adding business value.

But the PortX team needed to ensure the adoption didn’t disrupt its IT processes and didn’t affect clients, drain their existing technical skillsets or affect the company’s overall cost of delivering services.

Finding success with IBM Platinum Partner DAI Source

With a tight deadline looming and an extremely complex technology adoption underway, PortX leaders were getting nervous. Failure to complete the expanded Federal Reserve connection threatened to delay the project indefinitely.

PortX needed to host IBM MQ in a cloud-native, highly available state, an approach consistent with its cloud-native operational model. Fortunately, IBM recently announced Cloud Pak for Integration, which solved some of PortX’s hosting challenges.

But the PortX team was still unfamiliar with running IBM MQ as a Docker container in Kubernetes, and the details of configuring the queue manager correctly to provide the necessary levels of availability, security and runtime isolation eluded the team. They needed to get it right and fast.

The PortX team brought in IBM Platinum Business Partner DAI Source to help navigate the IBM ecosystem, ensuring that its developers found and used essential resources from IBM’s product team. The collaboration resulted in a solution that leveraged IBM Cloud Pak for Integration on the AWS ROSA platform.

That solution: PortX deployed the MQ capability via the operator in Cloud Pak, with the MQ NativeHA architecture for production and MQ’s Single Resilient Queue Manager for non-production environments. They also implemented the FLUX operator on Red Hat OpenShift GitOps for continuous deployment, demonstrating the flexibility of Cloud Pak for Integration, given that Argo was IBM’s default GitOps option.

It worked. The solution integrated seamlessly, allowing FedLine Direct wire payments with the Federal Reserve. PortX is currently developing the next set of requirements to enable additional Federal Reserve integration services, such as ACH and FedNow. With Cloud Pak for Integration, PortX expanded its fintech offerings and broadened the range of services for its customers.

The result: new business growth and continuous product improvement

By delivering these new capabilities quickly and effectively, PortX was able to strategically acquire new customers and establish a long-term business trajectory. The capabilities give the company confidence that it can provide access to a new tier of high-value customers, accelerating its growth into the future. In addition, through the successful collaboration with DAI Source, PortX has renewed confidence that IBM invested in its clients’ success.

Additionally, this project empowered IBM and critical Ecosystem Business Partners like DAI Source to establish ongoing mind share with their clients. For example, PortX is now part of IBM’s early beta program, which will allow the company to help define the next generation of MQ and guide its development roadmap priorities to ensure the future success of other MQ users. Partnering with IBM resulted in new business growth and continuous product development for PortX.

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