Bank of America wants to bring the same customer service that FedEx offers for packages - tracking, pricing options, delivery choices, alerts, and online signatures - to the world of payments. It's no small aspiration. At most banks the payments data necessary for this level of customer interaction are trapped in the back office and can't be pushed out to where customers can use it. To change that, BofA has tapped Fundtech's Global PAYplus-Services Platform.

By breaking down the silos between the front and back office, the Global PAYplus-Services Platform creates a payments hub that integrates full payments functionality into corporate customers' online experience, enhancing self-service, streamlining workflows and increasing straight-through processing. "The vision is to use payment as a differentiator, to add services that wouldn't otherwise be possible," says Michael Sgroe, president and COO of Fundtech. "The principal goal is to become an indispensable element in the life of the business partner."

Milton Santiago, Bank of America's portal strategy and treasury eCommerce solutions executive, describes the Fundtech product as "very innovative, very leading edge." He says the RFP process was a massive undertaking; Fundtech impressed by being "the only one with code in a truly service oriented model."

Using FedEx as an example of how to mine back office data, Sgroe points out that back office shipping data had little value until it was made available to the end user; then it became a core part of the competitive offering. In the case of payments, there are various ways a bank can settle a payment and various costs associated with each of those options. With Global PAYplus-Services Platform corporate clients can make routing and pricing decisions for themselves.

"SOA allows for more nimble and agile tools. All these interactions and features are pushed upstream into the hands of clients," Sgroe says. And with clients more closely involved with the payment transactions, there are fewer exceptions and lower costs.

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