WASHINGTON The financial data company Fiserv Inc. may be coming soon to a television near you.
The Milwaukeebased Fiserv is in disCussions with Time Warner Cable on providing banking services for the cable giant's foray into interactive television.
The Tune Warner Entertainment unit plans to link 4,000 homes in the Orlando suburbs to the information superhighway through their television sets. The project -- the largest testbed nationwide for interactive TV -- is to be up and mnning by the end of the year, the company said.
"What we axe trying to do here is bring in what is now a futuristic Concept into today's homes," said Tom Feige, president of Mailland, Fla.-based Time Warner Cable Full Service Network.
George D. Dalton, Fiserv's chairman. and chief executive, said he has met twice with Time Wamer. "I like what I see," Mr. Dalton said. "It is very experimental."
The TV sets in the pilot program will provide movies and video games on demand, home shopping, educational programs, and grocery shopping services with an interactive program guide, Mr. Feige said,
Time Warner plans to eventually offer interactive service nationwide. The network uses television, cable, and telephone technology to bring more information through existing televisions, Mr. Feige s.aid.
The talks with FiServ are preliminary, and the interactive TV will not at first have a strong home banking component. But Mr. Feige said he hopes that will come soon.
"We very much want to get into the financial arena," he said.
Through television, the company wants to provide "better services for consumers to reach their banks," Mr. Feige said.
Fiserv is already interconnected with automatic teller machine networks across the nation.
"That is no different than interfacing to this project," Mr. Dalton said. He has seen the pilot project's prototype in action; and pronounces it "simple as cable." As in cable, a small box on top of the TV set controls the interactive television functions.
While Time Warner has met with several Orlando-area banks as well as some large banks, Fiserv is the only financial data company it has held discussions with. Any formal deal will likely be inked in January or February, Mr. Feige said.