With a new chief executive officer hoping to quickly build marketing momentum, Home Account Network Inc. has repackaged its Internet banking software.
Noted for its use of the Java programming language in a system it has sold to only one bank-First Tennessee Bank of Memphis-Home Account Network has broadened its offering into what it calls the Canopy suite.
It includes a 2.0 version of server software using the widely accepted Open Financial Exchange, or OFX, protocol, plus a variety of "client" programs that run on a variety of consumer computing devices.
A premise of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java is that programmers should be able to write programs once and have them work anywhere. At financial institutions that offer home banking, consumers could make transactions using anything from a Web browser to a cellular phone.
Officials at Charleston, S.C.-based Home Account are banking on their Java-based universality credo to set them apart from the crowded field of companies developing OFX systems. These allow customers of financial institutions to connect to their accounts using personal financial management software such as Intuit Inc.'s Quicken or Microsoft Corp.'s Money.
"The basic transaction server is only a first step, and there are a number of companies that are focused on that," said Charles A. White, the newly named CEO who came from MSFDC, Microsoft's joint bill-processing venture with First Data Corp.
"Banks need a whole lot of other capabilities that are not in place," Mr. White said, and "Home Account has spent a lot of time thinking about the broader problems" and challenges that the Web poses for financial institutions.
He said the company's "philosophy is to have a full spectrum of software that lets customers of financial institutions transact their banking business, gather financial data in one place, analyze it, get advice, and take action."
Besides the Canopy server, Home Account's suite includes both Java- and HTML-based computer screens for consumers, as well as the Canopy Advisor 2.0 financial analysis and planning tool.
The new HTML version (the acronym refers to hypertext markup language, the standard World Wide Web software code) includes templates that let financial institutions customize transactional Web sites.
The Advisor software permits customers to calculate net worth, cash flows, and asset allocations. In turn, these consumer decisions can be tracked by the Canopy server and compared to existing financial institution data bases.
Home Account is about to close several deals that would take it beyond the $13.3 billion-asset First Tennessee, including a contract with one of the top 10 banking companies, said David J. Brewer, chief technology officer of the two-year-old company.
With the ability to handle 108 OFX transactions per second, he claimed, Home Account's server surpasses those of rivals Corillian Corp., Innovision Corp., Edify Corp., and Security First Technologies.
Mr. White said he has no difficulty making the transition from being pro-Microsoft to pro-Java, though Microsoft and Sun are arch-enemies.
"We are pretty much platform-independent at Home Account," Mr. White said, "and Microsoft's Internet Explorer is very good for Java-based applications."
Though it has an affinity for Java, Home Account did not use it in developing Canopy because of reliability concerns.
Forte Software Inc. of Oakland, Calif., supplied software development tools for the C++ language instead.
"They started with Java but found that they couldn't go anywhere because the products that surround the Java language just aren't mature enough," said David O. Taber, senior vice president of marketing at Forte.