GRASS ROOTS

Ecuador 2013 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Richard Moss, CEO Latin America of Cobiscorp, on the importance of IT to an economy.

Richard Moss
BIOGRAPHY
Richard Moss was born in Guayaquil and graduated in Economics and Japanese from Cornell University. He also holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and a Master’s in International Studies, also from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently the CEO of Cobiscorp Latin America, previously having served as Director General of the Andean Community, and Minister of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries in the government of Gustavo Noboa.

What is the importance of developing a high-tech IT infrastructure?

The IT sector catalyzes development in the 21st century in all fields: finance, medicine, education, commerce, manufacturing, tourism, and communications. In the present era, any endeavor requires the support of a strong IT partner to be sustainable. The government of President Correa has been very proactive in its use of IT and has been visionary in recognizing the need for strong IT services of the broader economy. This is why the government is intent on building substantial foundations for technological, and specifically, IT development. This is generating strong demand for young, capable professionals, and leading to a scarcity of talent. Thus, the main challenge is talent, and the solution is a focus on developing sufficient human capital to be competitive in the 21st century.

How is Cobiscorp managing this growing scarcity of human resources?

We are one of the leading employers of new IT graduates, and have been effective in attracting top talent. We have programs to collaborate with universities and aim to match the curricula with our needs. Cobiscorp also has its own in-house training programs, where we take fresh graduates and train them in financial technology, or fin-tech. This is how we bring them up to speed with our products and methods.

What have been the company's major milestones?

In 2013, we are celebrating our 60th anniversary. We were in the business of processing transactions long before becoming a software company. I have been with the company since the early 1990s, right around the time when we started developing banking software for the Latin American region. In 1956, my father, Richard Moss Howard, started the company as the exclusive representation of the National Cash Register Company. At the time, we sold mechanical, and later electro-mechanical cash registers, as well as accounting machines, which were used primarily by banks. We were seen as a company that brought innovation to the country, and catalyzed the inception of the self-service retail industry in Ecuador. We also worked very closely with clients in the financial sector, transforming their operations from hand-written annotations in journals to mechanical accounting systems. An important milestone for our company was our shift from electro-mechanical machines to the first era of computers in the early 1970s. This was a period of change and opportunity: to continue serving our primary clients, we had to meet the challenge of developing a computer-based solution for the local banking sector. This coincided with the start of Ecuador's oil exports, and a period of rapid growth for the economy. New banks were being established, and we became a leader in the provision of software banking solutions for the Ecuadorean market. By the end of the decade, more than 50% of the banks in Ecuador were using LABIS, our first core banking solution. Then the early 1990s brought another milestone for our company. New technological paradigms generated a shift toward open systems and client-server architectures, both of which became industry standards. Our challenge was to create a new solution based on this technology, and we decided that our focus would expand into the Latin American market. We, therefore, created COBIS. Both COBIS and the market have evolved, and today it is used by leading banks in 15 countries in Latin America, as well as by smaller clients in the US, Asia, and Africa. Everything has changed, but over our 60 years we have constantly innovated and reinvented ourselves to better serve our customers. Cobiscorp is a company that demands multiple talents and skills, including innovation, teamwork, entrepreneurship, deep technical knowledge, and long-lasting relationships with each of our clients.

“ Any endeavor requires the support of a strong IT partner to be sustainable. "