As ground-breaking digital technologies continue to reshape the banking landscape across the global, Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) have become their banks’ lead playmakers when it comes to preparing for the future. By utilising the right tools and support, the right CTO will revolutionise all aspects of operations and add value, aligning the technology vision to the business vision.
APS Bank plc CTO Jonathan Caruana knows this only too well, as he continues to lead his team to embrace innovation as part of the resilient technology strategy in support of the bank’s digital journey and business growth, while staying ahead of a fast-changing game.
Even prior to the pandemic, APS Bank already had a strong digital roadmap in place, driven by a hyperfocus on customer experience, community inclusion and innovation. Understanding that a digitally empowered workforce, is a happy productive workforce, Mr Caruana and his team also provided a remote working environment complemented with modernised premises and flexible practices. The pandemic simply added another layer to this complex leadership position, with him and his team ensuring that the bank’s technology function and technical roadmap maintained optimal productivity throughout. The bank owes its longevity to the “forward-looking attitude towards sustainability and embracing technology”.
An experienced technology enthusiast, Mr Caruana’s extensive technical and banking background have served him well, as he worked his way up to this C-Suite role. Here he draws on his expertise, and with his team, maintains a complex technology landscape. As a financial service, the bank is heavily regulated, and cybersecurity is paramount. Through the multi-layered platforms and application of AI-based tools, the bank is better positioned to detect threats, and protect the system.
His drive to focus on improving quality through software testing automation, dedicated teams, collaborating with the right security partners and a hyper-vigilant attitude to security, further complements the robustness of the IT architecture. In addition, the bank has also implemented future-proof platforms for regulatory reporting and fraud prevention to safeguard the interests of its customer base.
Processing digital payments is another core function that is so much more than a revenue source, and according to Mr Caruana, “Evaluating the changes in customer behaviour is enabling the bank to develop targeted digital products.” With data disrupting every known market, he knows that data analytics is shaping the bank’s offering to assist the varied customer cohorts and improve customer engagement.
On the challenges of remaining innovative, while still being a customer-centric bank, Mr Caruana outlines the key building blocks for the bank’s future innovation and growth strategy. A hybrid cloud architecture has contributed massively towards creating a lean and agile environment. Additionally, whilst having a team that is maintaining and continuously improving the existing platforms, a dedicated innovation team serves to challenge the status quo and help disseminate knowledge on disruptive technologies, while another focuses solely on long-term projects.
As a pioneer in inclusion, APS Bank developed a Future Banker Programme for employees, which shares information about disruptive technologies and empowers future bankers. Omni-Channel Banking is another key function at the bank. As Mr Caruana explains, the bank is adopting an API-driven microservices architecture for integrations as this will enable an agile and scalable ecosystem, eventually resulting in streamlined processes and seamless customer journeys. APS Bank looks ambitiously to the future, while remaining equally committed to serving the customers’ “needs of the present across all channels”.
On the trends that are emerging as winners, Mr Caruana cites that open banking will enable banks to partner with other institutions and offer bundled product and service offerings to the customers. Meanwhile, AI will continue transforming the bank’s digital journeys, handling high-speed data processing, providing valuable insights and improving the customer experience by enabling optimised processes and frictionless, 24/7 customer service interactions.
Mr Caruana is excited about the future and is committed to continue developing a data-driven technology roadmap for the future, ensuring resilience and growth across the bank’s ecosystem.
Jonathan Caruana is an experienced technology enthusiast with an extensive technical and banking background, with over 20 years’ experience. Mr Caruana joined APS Bank in 1999 and served in various departments before moving to Information Systems Manager in 2008 and Head of Information in 2015. He was appointed CTO in November 2016.
Mr Caruana holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Computing from University of Greenwich and a Master of Science in Software Engineering from University of Hertfordshire. The bank describes him as a pragmatic, results-focused senior executive with a proven history in delivering digital transformation projects, and is driven to forming high performing, motivated teams to deliver high impact business and technology solutions.
APS Bank plc is regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority as a Credit Institution under the Banking Act 1994 and to carry out Investment Services activities under the Investment Services Act 1994. The Bank is also registered as a Tied Insurance Intermediary under the Insurance Distribution Act 2018.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of APS Bank plc.
APS Bank plc CTO Jonathan Caruana
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