Lucent Technologies will provide a telephone voice-response system for remote banking and bill payments to financial institutions served by Visa Interactive.
The AT&T spinoff's first customer under the agreement with Visa will be UMB Financial Corp., a $6 billion-asset banking company based in Kansas City, Mo. UMB operates 130 branches in the Midwest.
UMB expects to have the voice-response system operating within a month, said Dennis L. Triplett, executive vice president of its retail banking division.
Currently, a customer who wants to pay bills by telephone must be transferred from UMB's call center to Visa Interactive, the remote banking arm of Visa International. If that customer wanted to return to UMB, he would have to hang up and dial the telephone banking service again.
The new system "sounds a lot more seamless to the customer," Mr. Triplett said. Callers will stay inside the voice-response system at the bank.
Using the technology, UMB will transmit data as needed to Visa Interactive without having to maintain a long-distance telephone line for bill payments.
For now, Lucent Technology's system only recognizes the signals of a touch-tone telephone. The next version of the product is expected to be able to identify customers by their voices, said Kenneth Pilecek, manager of Lucent's banking services.
Lucent, based in Basking Ridge, N.J., is using voice-recognition technology developed by Bell Laboratories of Murray Hill, N.J. The system has a 2,000-word vocabulary and the ability to learn new words from the system's users, Mr. Pilecek said.
With the Lucent system linked to Visa's electronic banking network, customers have access to such features as advance-payment scheduling and notification when balances fall to a designated level.
It is the first electronic banking service offered by Lucent Technologies. The company is also developing technology for Internet-based banking call centers and for video kiosks that would connect to multimedia call centers.
The company already has an Internet call center product that connects to a bank's Web page. In the current system, the customer schedules an appointment with a call center operator over the Internet. At the appointed time, the operator calls the customer.
The new call center technology will allow the customer and call center operator to communicate directly over the customer's PC.
Steve Boalt, global director of Lucent's financial marketing, said the new multimedia product will provide "at each branch, the video and visual aspects of banking that customers would like to have."