BBVA Compass is launching real-time payments through Dwolla, but the really interesting part is what's going on beneath the surface: the bank is opening its technological black box to a nimble startup in order to speed innovation.

At most banks, the technological heart of everything they do is a massive set of hardware and software called the core processing engine. It often runs on a mainframe and it processes all day-to-day transactions — debits and credits to checking and savings accounts, loan payments, ATM transactions, and so on. The core may be old, but it works and is kept very secure.

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