Electronic Data Systems Corp. has developed a way to help banks establish a presence on the Internet so they can provide secure access to their customers for home banking and bill payment services over the growing worldwide network.
The Plano, Tex.-based technology firm, owned by General Motors Corp., already provides home banking services to financial institutions through Interactive Transaction Partners, a joint venture with U S West and France Telecom.
Using the Interactive Transaction Partners platform, banks can offer home banking and bill payment services to customers through touch-tone phones, personal computers, or screen phones.
Through two new services, WebIt and NetIt, banks processing electronic transactions through the joint venture will also be able to offer customers access to the services through the Internet.
The World Wide Web, the multimedia portion of the Internet, will serve as the gateway to the services.
Banking customers will also have access to shopping via the Internet through EDS' relationship with First Virtual Holdings Inc., a provider of secure payments over the Internet, enabling consumers to pay for goods using credit cards.
EDS' role in these transactions is to transfer account information from the buyer to the merchant over its private network.
The development of the new services fits with EDS' strategy of providing banks with multiple access channels to customers, said Joe Brownsted, managing director of Interactive Transaction Partners.
With ties to the Internet and electronic commerce, the services may also help to attract greater support from large financial institutions, which observers say is needed to position the joint venture as a major player in the emerging home banking market.
Tom Malin, executive vice president of the EDS card processing services group, said the Internet provides opportunities for banks to serve the increasing number of merchants moving to do business on-line.
So far, only 12 financial institutions have signed up to offer home banking services on ITP's platform. That number includes Salem Five Cents Savings Bank and a unit of Comerica Inc., both of which plan to begin rolling out services this year.
According to Edward Reynolds, senior consultant for interactive multimedia in EDS' communications industry group, the WebIt and NetIt services provide secure pathways from the Internet to a bank's home banking services.
Consumers will access the services through a bank's home page, which EDS offers to create and maintain.
Both WebIt and NetIt offer the same services, although, with WebIt, the Web site is maintained at an EDS facility, whereas a NetIt link is maintained at the bank's location.
To do home banking transactions, customers are taken off the Internet and placed onto EDS' private network, where all transactions are secured with encryption, Mr. Reynolds explained.
If banks desire, they can also tie into their home pages information on how a customer can get a First Virtual account to do home shopping, he said.
A third new service, WebIntellect, serves as a marketing tool by providing Web activity measurement and analysis. The service provides banks with a "click stream" or trail of where customers go and what types of information they request.
The service looks for relationships in the data, correlating traffic in one area with other types of activities, which aids marketing efforts, said Mr. Reynolds.
Customers showing interest in two areas, for example, could lead to a bank bundling those services into a single offering, he said.
As part of its aggressive promotion of its home banking platform, Interactive Transaction Partners has also been working to align itself with several makers of consumer finance software, including Meca Software's Managing Your Money, and Computer Associates International Inc.'s Simply Money.