In a move expected to be consummated later this year, Harris Bankcorp in Chicago plans to consolidate its online banking for consumer, small business and corporate services onto a single platform through S1 Corp.'s new enterprise online banking suite.
Putting all three customer segments into the same service bucket is a rare, but sought after, upgrade for mid-tier and large banks. Many are looking to add customizable online banking features, improve the user's experience and cut back-office information technology costs.
Landing the $68 billion-asset Harris is a coup for S1 and its newly launched enterprise online banking platform technology, one of several revamped Web banking offerings major vendors have rolled out since last fall.
S1 Enterprise vice president of marketing Mark Moore told U.S. Banker that Harris signed on for the single platform to give the bank a "flexible environment" to shift around specialized products in order to "tailor the experience" and customize Web service and product offerings across the different segments. "Our focus is on having personal banking and business banking on a single platform," says Moore, and "that is a core part of [Harris'] focus."
The deployment for Harris, the U.S. banking division of BMO Financial Group, will also include the extension of many online-enabled cash management offerings, such as image-enabled positive pay, exceptions handling and payment approvals, into a business mobile service offering for smartphone users. "They're looking to use a number of different solutions of ours — S1 Personal Banking, business banking, corporate banking, mobile and payment warehouse," says Moore.
A spokesman for Harris declined comment on the relationship or the new deployment. The deal has been in place since at least January, and S1 formally launched enterprise online banking in April after merging its personal and business banking systems.
Besides the product differences between consumer and business banking — simple budgeting tools for retail, complex cash management specialties for corporates — converging the operations of either have usually been hindered by banks' organizational issues. Service, sales and support for retail and commercial have sprouted up in separate divisions. There are also turf wars, where the ownership of client relationships is still tethered to departments.
But more unified platforms appear on the horizon. Vendor upgrades are coming with new Web 2.0 technologies that allow for more customizable features and improved user interfaces. They embrace open architecture for simpler integration into a bank's general ledger systems.
Over the last six months, online banking platform vendors like S1, Fiserv, Online Resources, Harland Financial, and Intuit/Digital Insight have opened the flow of customization by revamping platforms using interactive rich Internet applications and splashy graphics that resemble popular Web 2.0 consumer sites, like ESPN.com — with no pop-ups or static arrays of browser windows.
Customers across all business lines are expecting more interactive capabilities with Internet banking. Small businesses, for example, have become enamored of the Mint- or Wesabe-like personal budgeting tools without having to take off the menu corporate cash management features. In turn, why should retail accounts be so limited, asks Patricia Hines, a wholesale banking research director for TowerGroup. "Why shouldn't individuals be able to send international wires?"
In a report last fall, Celent lamented the lack of feature sets like account-view "dashboards" and Web 2.0 tools for corporate banking, which could use more customizable options to add functions, such as multi-currency options, supply chain finance and automated compliance.
As those arrive in next-generation systems and banks get a better scope on customer needs, another transformation will likely occur, according to Hines: banks will be able to target platform operations based on the account activities of a business, rather than simply its size.