First Chicago NBD Corp. has hired American Management Systems Inc. to build a global trade processing system.
The project is expected to cost $10 million. The system will make use of object-oriented technology, which lets software programmers combine reusable strings of software code - known as objects - to create customized applications.
Frank Schell, senior vice president at the bank's Global Trade Services unit, said the technology "cuts the cycle time for new product applications."
"This is the next-generation capability," he said. "It avoids throwaway work."
Executives at American Management Systems, a Fairfax, Va., software and systems integrator, said it could take as long as 30 months to construct the new system.
The resulting service - to be called Object TradeLine by the bank - should provide access to information about import and export letters of credit to corporate treasury managers.
Object TradeLine will be aimed at large and middle-market companies, both domestically and internationally.
Officials said the service will be designed to link with customers' foreign exchange and cash management systems, including electronic data interchange systems, which provide for the electronic exchange of business information in standard formats.
In addition, the system should streamline bank customers' access to bank services.
"Clients want integrated front ends," Mr. Schell said. "We are working on that to achieve what we call a 'single electronic point of access' for all treasury and operating applications."
First Chicago's announcement recalls a study conducted last year by Westport Consulting Group, which found corporations clamoring for more links between corporate services provided by banks.
"Trade is in big need of catching up to cash and securities, and obviously (First Chicago NBD) has recognized that," said John A. Laurino, managing director at the Westport, Conn.-based consulting firm.
But he also cautioned that "anyone that comes along and says 'we can do everything' ... will be misleading you."