Corillian Adapting Software to Work with Smart Card for Windows

Hibernia National Bank is joining the select club of U.S. banks that are testing the smart card waters.

Together with its on-line banking vendor, Corillian Corp., the New Orleans-based subsidiary of Hibernia Corp. is planning to issue about 30 cards to customer support employees in December. The cards will serve as user-authentication tools for access to customer data.

If all goes well, Hibernia said, in the first quarter it will extend the system to securing on-line access to the accounts of some of its 23,000 home banking customers.

With Microsoft Corp.'s help, Corillian has been adapting its Voyager system to work with Smart Card for Windows, a year-old extension of the computer giant's ubiquitous operating system. Twenty-six financial institutions use Voyager, but Hibernia will be the first to test the upgrade.

Smart cards are "one of the new pieces of technology that I think in the next six months or year will really take off, and we want to make sure we understand the technology when it does take off," said Thad Hymel, vice president of distributed systems at Hibernia. "Down the road it really has some major implications for the bank."

The cards with computer chips will make authorized users' credentials portable, so Hibernia employees will be able to work from home or other remote locations. Mr. Hymel said such new capability is in line with the bank's desire to deliver more services by personal computers.

Once customers have the cards, Hibernia plans to incorporate them in additional services, such as on-line loan applications, Mr. Hymel said.

Plans for the customer trial are still being formulated, he said, but it is likely to include the sale of remote card readers at a discount. One device Hibernia is considering is SmartDisk Corp.'s Smarty, which is shaped like a diskette and enables a chip card to be inserted and read in a PC disk drive.

Like other companies and industries exploring smart card technology, Corillian and Hibernia are wrestling with an infrastructure problem. American Express Co., with its recently introduced Blue smart credit card, is offering plug-in readers free through January and for $25 thereafter.

"Hibernia is going to be looking to do consumer pilots where they can get people to have card readers at home, but I don't want to underestimate the challenges as an industry to getting every cardholder to have a reader," said Matt Cone, a former Microsoft official who is chief marketing officer at Corillian.

Corillian, which is based in Beaverton, Ore., said that many of its customers are interested in chip technology, and that the company wants to be ready to meet any demand that develops as home banking gains in popularity.

Voyager clients "will have the option of using smart cards for authentication and will be able to easily build Web applications for moving value onto stored value cards," said Ted Spooner, Corillian's president and chief executive officer. "Voyager will support the full range of services for the Windows smart card."

Michael Dusche of Microsoft, product manager for Smart Card for Windows, said the technical framework gives Corillian customers "the ability to deliver smart card support using the world-class tools of the Microsoft platform."

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