Capital Software provides payroll, payments and collection services to corporate and SME customers throughout Africa. The company is also one of the largest issuers of co-branded pre-paid debit cards in South Africa.
This 50 year old business ran on a COBOL based mainframe application since the late 1960s. During the client/server era in the 1990s, Capital Software converted its COBOL code to ACUCOBOL-GT®, meeting customer demand for increased platform and database interoperability. It has since followed the Micro Focus ACUCOBOL® upgrade path, as Jacques de Wet, Managing Director for Capital Software, explains: “Every extend® release gave us new features enabling us to bring a richer customer experience. However, the underlying architecture was perceived as legacy by our customers and we found ourselves defending our COBOL choice and explaining why we couldn’t offer a web-based solution, like many of our competitors. Even though we could very effectively compete on a feature-by-feature basis, we were often not invited to the table.”
Capital Software solutions heavily rely on straight through processing power, and the robustness, scalability, and performance of the solutions has to be a priority. Nevertheless, the company wanted to explore development of a web-based version. De Wet: “We started converting our COBOL code to .NET which we estimated would take us 2-3 years. In a fast-moving market like ours we really didn’t have this time, and we were delighted when Micro Focus released its latest version of extend which delivered exactly what we needed.”
This latest ACUCOBOL technology, AcuToWeb, offers even greater platform support, new performance optimizations, Unicode internationalization support, and, crucially for Capital Software, a new capability for instant UI transformation for web and mobile access without code change, cost, or risk.
The Capital Software development team quickly abandoned its code rewrite effort and were instead educated on the new AcuToWeb capabilities. Christel de Bruin, Chief Operations Officer for Capital Software, comments: “We had to upskill our COBOL-focused development team to understand a browser universe. Micro Focus supported us with fantastic training and professional services and we managed to create the entire presentation layer with our new toolset within eight weeks.”
Capital Software now has the feature-rich application it always had, but with a brand-new front-end, and endless possibilities. It can deliver the full functionality of the customers’ existing ACUCOBOL applications via a standards based web browser on any platform. Whereas in the past Capital Software had focused on SMEs, now large corporate customers are well within its reach, as de Wet comments: “Using the latest version of ACUCOBOL, our new modern look and feel puts us in a great competitive position. It’s also much easier for us to add new features and increase our integration capabilities. Our latest version includes a live chat feature for instance, and we customize front-ends with our customer’s branding so that our solution fits seamlessly in their own client offering. We have already signed contracts with large government departments and financial institutions.”
The African continent has very quickly embraced mobile payments and, with the new ACUCOBOL capabilities, this market is now open to Capital Software. South Africa aims to uplift local township economies by introducing thousands of small retail shops in strategic locations. This lower end of the SME scale was never a viable segment for Capital Software. However, its retail POS solution can now be deployed on tablets, making it profitable to deliver these services at scale to small shops.
The new HTML5 presentation layer was introduced without any degradation to system scalability and performance. Capital Software has seamlessly moved from supporting SME customers with an average of 50 users to corporate customers with a user base of 150,000.
De Bruin comments: “Straight through processing is our core competency and we would never have compromised our ability to process low value and high volume payment transactions. AcuToWeb has given us the best of both worlds; a user friendly and flexible interface with the essential robustness and efficiency.”
De Wet concludes: “The speed to market for our new AcuToWeb solution was just incredible. From concept to delivery in eight weeks, with an ROI of just four months, is something we could only have done with the amazing support of Micro Focus. With the latest version of extend and AcuToWeb we feel we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible; our blinkers have well and truly come off and the sky is the limit.”
The speed to market for our new AcuToWeb solution was just incredible. From concept to delivery in eight weeks, with an ROI of just four months, is something we could only have done with the amazing support of Micro Focus.
Straight through processing is our core competency and we would never have compromised our ability to process low value and high volume payment transactions. AcuToWeb has given us the best of both worlds; a user friendly and flexible interface with the essential robustness and efficiency.