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Open Payments Eco-system (OPE)
 
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Open Payments Eco-system (OPE)

OPE is a project funded financed by the EU through the HORIZON 2020 Programme in which the Department of Computer Science of the University of Malta is involved.

The aim is to enable the widespread development of innovative payment applications with the active involvement of financial institutions (e.g. banks) providing supporting transaction services by creating an Open Payments Eco-system (OPE). The OPE is the critical step in widening access to payment services and to alternative, open, collaborative, lower cost methods of delivering payment applications to end users (particularly SME’s) who want to make use of payment services within their business. The Eco-system enables the SME developer community to provide creative new payment applications to the market and offers a high degree of re-use of common application components. 

OPE has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the current creation and delivery mechanisms for payment services, by providing for the low-cost creation of quality assured payment applications and the building and delivery of payment services, in a controlled and regulatory-compliant environment. 

Forecasting reports (Visa Europe – 2011 and PSE Consulting – 2013) indicate a potential market for prepaid payment services in corporate and consumer segments in Europe of more than 140bn Euros by 2020. The market application will initially be launched in the UK (2017-18) but quickly rolled out into the rest of Europe (2018 onwards) leveraging the expected OPE common coded regulatory compliance, with Italy, Spain, France and Germany being the focus. 

The project is being carried out in conjunction with Ixaris Ltd, which specialises in the development of innovative global applications based on open-loop prepaid card schemes and the OPE will add a unique infrastructure to its product portfolio. This will be achieved by opening up the established payment infrastructure and in doing so disrupting the traditional way in which innovation in payments takes place within the current established banking eco-system. 


The Department of Computer Science at the University of Malta

The University of Malta is the highest teaching institution in Malta with 11,500 registered students. It is publicly funded and dates back 400 years, being one of the oldest universities in the Mediterranean. 

The Department of Computer Science has two research foci: system dependability, dealing with correctness of systems; and systems research, dealing with their development.

The department has a strong track record in runtime monitoring with a number of publications in the area, a set of tools, and a number of industrial case studies.  Below is a list of recently explored topics with particular relevance to this call:

 

  • Runtime verification tools
Two main tools have been developed used extensively in case studies and student projects: Larva and PollyRV (formerly polyLarva). 
    • polyLarva: Runtime Verification with Configurable System-Monitor Resource-Aware Boundaries, Christian Colombo, Adrian Francalanza, Ruth Mizzi and Gordon Pace,  Software Engineering and Formal Methods (SEFM), 2012.
    • LARVA - Safer Monitoring of Real-Time Java Programs, Christian Colombo, Gordon J. Pace and Gerardo Schneider, in Software Engineering and Formal Methods (SEFM), 2009.

  • Runtime verification for financial systems

Errors in financial systems have to be caught as soon as possible due to the possibility of huge losses both in terms of money and customer trust. In this context, runtime verification provides mechanisms to detect and mitigate undesirable behaviour. 

    • Fast-Forward Runtime Monitoring - An Industrial Case Study, Christian Colombo, and Gordon Pace, in the Proceedings of Runtime Verification (RV), 2012.
    • Safer Asynchronous Runtime Monitoring Using Compensations, Christian Colombo, Gordon Pace and Patrick Abela, in Formal Methods in System Design, 41(3): 269-294, 2012.

  • Runtime verification and testing

Testing is highly related to runtime verification since the former is concerned with giving verdicts on the behaviour of test runs while the latter gives verdicts on actual system runs. This connection can be exploited to extract monitors from tests.

    • Combining Testing and Runtime Verification Techniques, Kevin Falzon and Gordon Pace, in the Proceedings of 8th International Workshop on Model-based Methodologies for Pervasive and Embedded Software (MOMPES), 2012.

  • Runtime verification for distributed systems

Both projects deal with the distributed payment system at Ixaris. Such system present particular challenges, not least that of organising monitors to execute efficiently in such an environment.

    • Organising LTL Monitors over Distributed Systems with a Global Clock, Christian Colombo and Ylies Falcone, in the Proceedings of Runtime Verification (RV), 2014.
    • Distributed System Contract Monitoring, Adrian Francalanza, Andrew Gauci, and Gordon Pace, in Journal of Logic and Algebraic Programming (JLAP), 2013.

 

  • Runtime verification and static analysis

To avoid runtime verifying properties which can be check statically, work has been done to identify such properties (or part thereof) using static analysis techniques.

    • A Specification Language for Static and Runtime Verification of Data and Control Properties, Jesus Mauricio Chimento, Wolfgang Ahrendt, Gordon Pace, and Gerardo Schneider, in the Proceedings of the 20th International Symposium on Formal Methods (FM 2015), 2015.

Ixaris Systems Ltd

Starting in 2002, Ixaris created an electronic payment solution that would give anyone the ability to pay regardless of their location or credit-worthiness. A year later, Ixaris introduced EntroPay, the first virtual prepaid Visa card in Europe, offering both merchants and consumers a safe, reliable way to pay online. Over the next few years, Ixaris continued to enhance the EntroPay virtual card for consumers and began working closely with businesses to create custom payment solutions that incorporated the EntroPay functionality into the clients’ existing payment applications.

Based on customer demand, in 2010 Ixaris added other payment types to its virtual prepaid card service, including plastic cards for physical point-of-sale and ATM access, SWIFT transfers both from and to virtual accounts, as well as local ACH and bank transfer in around 40 countries.  Having overcome several technical and business model challenges in combining these diverse payment types, Ixaris set to make this capability available to businesses and third-party developers who wanted to create customised and sometimes complex payment applications involving a variety of payment components and sometimes engaging multiple financial institutions within a single application. In 2010, Ixaris introduced a payment application platform and started delivering and operating end-to-end customised payment solutions for enterprise clients.

Having proven the commercial demand for its approach to payment solution creation, Ixaris now plans to grow the adoption of its approach by making its technology available to financial institutions and payments entrepreneurs and other innovators.  Its first payments technology product is the Ixaris Payments Server along with an initial suite of highly configurable corporate prepaid payment applications that innovators can use to create, sell and deliver branded payment services.

Below is the architecture of the Open Payments Ecosystem in which, the role of the University of Malta will be working on the Compliance System to ensure that the apps are working according to legal regulations and other constraints:

OPE-img

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Last Updated: 22 September 2015

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