Throughout our careers, we often face difficult choices and challenges. At times, a single decision can change our path and destiny forever. Looking back, we can see these defining moments clearly. For Vinod Kumar GS, ANZ Technology Area Lead Payments Engineering, the defining moment of his career was in 2015.
A year before, in 2014, the Reserve Bank of Australia established the New Payments Platform (NPP) Australia Limited. Their job was to update a 40-year-old domestic payments system to enable real-time payment capabilities. By 2015, all Australian banks were gearing up for this huge technology shift.
Simultaneously, after 14 years of experience in Engineering Architecture and Technology consulting roles, Vinod was looking for a change. “I was looking for an opportunity to work with a bank as part of a transformational program. My goal was to learn, bring about change, and leverage my experience as a consultant. In many ways I was looking for adventure! I wanted to challenge norms and the status quo to enable a significant transformation for a progressive company.”
In March 2015 Vinod moved from Chennai to Bengaluru in India - to take up his position as a Solution Architect on ANZ’s NPP program and their ambitious payments transformation project. “I’d never done anything drastic like this before, and my son was just starting school at the time. It was a big deal for me,” he recalls.
“No other bank was building their own NPP real-time processing capability, so what ANZ was about to do was exceptional. A genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“From my first day at ANZ, I knew the move was worth it and that I’d made the right decision. I was privileged to be part of a top-notch team of technologists. Within a matter of weeks I felt at home, with fellow architects helping me understand the nuances of architecture and design within ANZ.
Within a year, his boss tapped him on the shoulder to represent ANZ in the ‘Design and Architecture Forum’ for the NPP. The forum was made up of payments experts from all the major Australian banks. Vinod had the opportunity to shape and influence the strategy, design, as well as execution of ANZ’s NPP program.
He also represented ANZ in other NPP industry design forums and played a key role in conceiving cross-site resiliency patterns for the payment gateways. His patterns were endorsed by SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications). It was a rare accomplishment and the patterns were adopted by other banks.
Today, ANZ’s NPP supports every part of the bank that needs to transfer money, from large Government and institutional customers to you and me. At least four other Australian banks now use ANZ for their real-time NPP payments. The platform manages millions of transactions daily and moves billions of dollars globally. If you’ve ever used PayID to transfer or receive money, then you’ve probably used technology that Vinod has worked on.
“I’m confident that my role in architecture and design of the NPP for ANZ will remain one of the highlights of my career, regardless of what I do next. Excellence and innovation thrive only under the right conditions, and these need to be enabled by leadership and their vision.”
After launching the NPP in 2017, Vinod moved into a Platform Architecture role. His focus here was setting the vision for the future of ANZ’s payments platforms. With the wind at his back, other significant transformations followed.
With his gift for bringing people together, Vinod has been able to re-wire how payments architects and engineers from Bengaluru and Melbourne engage with the business.
Vinod is now the Technology Area Lead of Payments for ANZ’s Payments & Institutional business and is responsible for a team of 300 plus software engineers across eight different capabilities and multiple payments platforms.
“I’ve had people tell me that they like Vinod’s flexibility,” notes Tim Hogarth, ANZ’s Chief Technology Officer. “He’s not strict about his role and what he needs to do in a given situation. It seems to be second nature for him to be flexible and roll up his sleeves and jump right in when he needs to. He has a lot of fans around here, including me.
“And he’s really smart and great at his job – like all the engineers working in India. That’s why he was asked to lead the newly formed AI Centre of Experimentation in Bengaluru.”
An ANZ-specific ChatGPT, called Z-GPT, was built in Bengaluru by Vinod and a team of engineers he mobilised inside the AI Centre for Experimentation.
“I was honoured that Tim would ask for my help with this project. As the GenAI space is changing so quickly, we jumped right into the build. I’m very happy with what we built in only three months.”
Lee Ross, ANZ’s Domain Lead for payments, has seen Vinod from up close. “I've been fortunate to work with Vinod for the past eight years, having started the journey together around implementing a vision where payments become a competitive advantage and a point of difference (through self-engineering platforms). I'm confident that with his vision and leadership, he will continue to make significant contributions to the payments industry and the broader engineering community” he notes.
“Moving to ANZ has worked out better than I could ever have imagined,” says Vinod. “I’m happy because I can weave the subtle fabric of culture that binds people together and produces work that keeps ANZ at the leading-edge of payments globally.”
Matthew Archdall is a Talent Marketing Specialist at ANZ