Linking SAP and Electra
The integration of the SAP system and Electra started in 2006 at Magyar Telekom. That project implemented a complex system involving three banks using the Electra system and two banks using other electronic channels. Banking transactions were generated by the SAP system, then transferred to banking clearing systems through Electra. Completion of the transactions was confirmed to the SAP system also through Electra in the form of order statuses, DD and postal notifications and bank account statements. When implementing the link between the systems, we put special emphasis on complete automation and making human intervention unnecessary.
Based on the professional experience gained in relation to the system implemented at Magyar Telekom, SAP and Cardinal Kft. began to develop plans concerning the implementation of an advanced SAP-based system connecting to banks. It was our primary goal that the performance of the automatic transfer mechanism previously implemented did not decrease, i.e. the data link between SAP and banks was to remain operational and did not require any human intervention. Maintaining the formerly implemented banking functionalities was another, also very important requirement.
While maintaining compliance with the boundary conditions of the previous system, further development focused mainly on security and efficiency areas.
Definitions of the most important notions and acronyms are as follows:
- AKP - RFC server software developed by Cardinal Kft., which can be fully integrated into the SAP system. It converts SAP transactions received via the RFC protocol into Electra order packages, validates them and sends them to the bank via STP. The bank messages sent in response to orders (account balances, statements, notifications and order statuses) are also forwarded to SAP via AKP.
- RFC – Remote Function Call; a proprietary data communication tool of SAP providing internal software-software connections. RFC has a client-server architecture: the party initiating calls acts as a client and the party providing services acts as the server. RFC can be integrated into any software using a routine library.
- STP – Straight-Through Processing, i.e. prompt processing or automated processing. For the purposes of this document we also use STP to refer to the ‘remotely controllable’ additional module of the Electra client software. The STP Electra client program can serve SOAP requests received via the STP channel in server mode.
Banking clearing systems cannot be directly accessed from the SAP system at present. As the clearing systems used by various bank are significantly different, it is not practical to implement a solution for customers to directly communicate with them. The Electra system can provide a uniform interface for customers, while the different special functions used by banks are handled by the Electra server implemented in the banks. Apart from the functions provided by the different systems, security (confidentiality, authenticity and operability) is also a very important aspect.
SAP systems are accessed by banks in the following way:
SAP - AKP communication
The RFC module is an integral part of SAP but it can also be integrated into any other software as a routine library. RFC allows encrypted communication between SAP and other systems using a client-server architecture. The component initiating an RFC call will act as a client and the component serving the call will act as the server. SAP will be the client in SAP-AKP communication since all initiatives (send or query transactions) occur on the SAP side. AKP is an RFC server program which is automatically launched by the SAP system when requests are to be processed and served. AKP does nothing else but continually waits for and serves requests. It is the RFC operating mechanism that specifies how long AKP must run. If it is not needed, SAP will send it a special ‘exit’ message. It is a very important condition from an operation point of view that the AKP software has no ‘memory’, i.e. it does not have any information about previous sessions, nor can it have any assumptions in that respect, so it must receive or generate all data and information required for its operation during the given session.
AKP – Electra client program communication
The AKP software can communicate with the Electra client software through a so-called STP module in client-server mode. Here, AKP acts as the client and the Electra client program acts as the server, which means that every request is initiated by AKP. The STP module is a communication software component which is capable of transferring SOAP structures and uses the TCP/IP-based, so called Unicom protocol developed by Cardinal Kft.. STP communication provides a two-way data transfer channel between AKP and the Electra client software encrypted using a standard AES algorithm and protected with checksums. STP communication is based on request-response pairs. The client cannot send a new request until the response to the previous request is received. Requests and responses have a SOAP (XML) structure, which provides significant flexibility to this solution.
The STP module of the Electra client program includes the basic Unicom communication infrastructure and also the program code of the routines required for processing specific requests. STP is just an additional service in the Electra client program, which users can switch on or off at their discretion. This additional service is an integral part of the Electra client software, i.e. it uses the same routines that the client software calls during normal operation. Because of this, there is no need to implement and maintain any specific software just for managing automatisms, and banks can focus on a single program since STP-compatibility (i.e. SAP-compatibility) can be set up for any standard Electra client application in no time.
Electra client program - Bank communication
With respect to communication, the STP Electra client program works exactly the same way as the standard version: the client program addressed via STP can also use the original communication settings, which means that enabling the STP operating mode for an implemented and properly set up standard program does not require any other modification. Communication can be implemented via the Internet or a switched line.
This type of communication also has a client-server architecture, where the Electra client software acts as a client and the Electra server acts as the server.
Business functionality: Orders
The SAP system will send the following types of order packages through STP Electra:
- HUF – standard and VIBER HUF payment order
- INK – collection order
- DEV – FX payment
- DBB – intrabank FX payment
- CAT – GIRO direct credit
- CBE – GIRO direct debit
- FAP – confirmation of mandates for GIRO direct transactions
- PKF – postal payment voucher (payment from a bank account to a residential address)
Business functionality: Queries
The SAP system will send the following queries through STP Electra:
- Status information on order packages
- Bank account statements by account number
- Notifications about GIRO direct transactions (CS-Status, CS-Detsta, CS-FinalDetsta etc.)
- Postal payment certificates
- Notifications about payments made using postal services (‘yellow cheques’)
- Bank account balance information by account number