Home Financial Network, a 10-month-old company that plans to introduce easy-to-use home banking programs early next year, yesterday announced three banks that intend to offer its products.
First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C.; Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala.; and UMB Financial Corp. of Kansas City, Mo., are scheduled as the first customers of the Westport, Conn.-based company.
Home Financial Network aims to build transaction-based home banking software for people who lack the time or desire to conduct their banking needs.
Its first two products, for bill payment and simple banking transactions, will have ATM-like interfaces and require no computer manuals or training to use.
"Our products are not personal finance managers - they are electronic transaction-based products," said Daniel M. Schley, chief executive of Home Financial Network.
The products will be designed for use over the Internet and by private dial-up through a personal computer. The target audience, Mr. Schley said, is "middle and mass-market customers."
The three banks, which the company is calling its "charter banks," are offering advice on design and strategy to Home Financial Network, but no direct financial investment, he said.
In return for the banks' consultation and offering the company's products to customers, Home Financial Network is tailoring its software for each bank, highlighting their logos and echoing the look and feel of existing computer offerings.
"It's a great way to provide for very strong branding," said Dennis Triplett, executive vice president of the retail banking division at UMB.
"We think it's quite important that the customer have a sense that we, the bank, are providing these things as opposed to a software house or something," he said.
Jimmy Fordham, a director in the retail banking division of Regions Financial, said he liked Home Financial Network's products because of their similarity to automated teller machines.
"It's a metaphor that customers are accustomed to, so the comfort level will be high," he said.
Home Financial Network faces competition from technology giants like Intuit Inc. and Microsoft Corp., the makers of Quicken and Money. Intuit has recently released a transaction-oriented home banking program called BankNow, which is available on America Online.
And Meca Software Inc., the Fairfield, Conn.-based company over which Mr. Schley once presided, has recently released pared-down versions of two flagship products, Managing Your Money Lite and Ultralite.