A bet by Sanchez Computer Associates Inc. that it could ease major banks off their mainframe-based core processing systems is paying off within ING Group.

In the first step of a global conversion, the Dutch financial services giant's Hungarian banking unit has successfully switched from mainframe- based data processing to Sanchez's Unix-based Profile system.

Sanchez's installation at ING Bank Hungary adheres to a master plan by the software company to gets its feet in the doors of large institutions by first automating telephone- and Internet-based "direct" banks.

Sanchez began its relationship with ING in 1997 with a project to help build ING Direct in Canada as part of a global software licensing agreement.

"We proved ourselves through the success we've had with the direct bank," said R.J. "Zap" Zlatoper, chief executive officer of Malvern, Pa.- based Sanchez.

With the $1 billion-asset ING Direct processing accounts for 150,000 customers and the ING Bank Hungary installation complete, Sanchez now is installing its software at ING Spain and in a Netherlands subsidiary, InterAdvies.

"When we began working with ING two years ago, we knew the potential was there for Profile to be implemented throughout" the company, said Michael A. Sanchez, chairman of the software firm.

Sanchez's progression through the $426 billion-asset ING is bolstering the credibility of so-called client/server systems, which in the past have not been perceived as robust enough to power the biggest banks.

"In the last five years, client/server systems have made great headway in becoming bulletproof platforms for large, global institutions," said Rick Sellers, a Chicago partner in Arthur Andersen.

He said he expects other large banking companies to imitate ING's move to client/server architecture, which offers more flexibility than mainframes do. Sanchez is on the "early curve" of providing such systems, he said.

Sanchez's Profile/Anyware core processing software and its Profile/FMS (financial management system) accounting software are being used by ING Bank Hungary's headquarters, nine branches, and 26 mini-branches, said Martin Vonk, senior manager of information technology at ING Financial Services International.

Various components of Profile have also been sold to Bankers Trust Corp., Citigroup Inc., and Sumitomo Bank of Japan.

With the completion in March of its acquisition of Artech Financial Technology Services Inc., Sanchez also is going after the market for electronic commerce, Mr. Zlatoper said. It is starting an outsourcing service for electronic banking called e-Profile.com.

The service will "take the complexity out of building a direct bank," Mr. Sanchez said.

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