Dale L. Reistad, a longtime expert in electronic banking and payments, has founded a company to develop interactive financial systems for remote banking and commerce.

Mr. Reistad, recently a payments and technology consultant, has set up shop for Interactive Finsys International Inc. in Alexandria, Va.

He plans to draw together a wide array of system and software developers and content providers - including banks - to create broad-based interactive service platforms that consumers could access through a variety of devices.

"I believe strongly that content is king," he said.

Mr. Reistad said he is negotiating with a few banks, but he would not disclose their names or just what kinds of agreements were contemplated.

He added that his company's first undertaking would involve fewer than a dozen bank and nonbank players.

He said he might start testing his initial product, which he calls a "banking agent," as soon as next month.

The product is an intelligent multimedia interface that would sit between the customer and a bank or other service provider.

Mr. Reistad noted that Visa International Inc. is working on a similar product, Electronic Courtyard, with software developer Worlds Inc.

Before starting his consulting practice about three years ago, Mr. Reistad worked for a year and a half for the ill-fated Eon Corp., a venture created to deliver shopping and banking services via interactive television.

Although a couple of banks, including Meridian Bancorp, signed on to the project, Eon moved in fits and starts until finally stalling amid federal licensing technicalities.

As a consultant, Mr. Reistad worked with the Interactive Television Association and helped develop proprietary electronic systems for banks, including State Bank of Fenton, Mich.

Mr. Reistad still hopes interactive television will become a major conduit of consumer financial services. But his vision of electronic banking is not limited to the cable box.

"Interactive television is so robust, so huge, so many players are looking at it as a breakthrough, that it is not going to disappear," he said, but his interactive applications will be "appliance independent."

He said is focused on building a general platform that could be accessed by screen phone as well personal computer and television alike. But he noted that expert-helper "agents" of the sort he is planning - similar to what some software developers call "avatars - are best suited to TV and PC access.

Joseph Pendleton, a senior vice president at Meridian Bancorp, Reading, Pa., acknowledged Mr. Reistad's experience in the electronic banking industry. "We will be paying attention to what he says," the banker said.

Mr. Reistad, 62, worked for years in electronic banking and payments before his more recent endeavors.

Before his stint with Eon - known at the time as TV Answer Inc., a unit of Electronic Payment Products - Mr. Reistad spent a year working on a telecommunications research project for James Martin Associates studying the anticipated changes in communications for banking in the 21st century.

For four years before that, starting in 1985, he was president and chief executive of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.

Earlier Mr. Reistad founded Payment Systems Inc., a consulting firm that specialized in funds transfer and payment issues. He started the company in 1968; it was sold to American Express Co. in 1975, but Mr. Reistad stayed on as chief executive until 1981.

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