State Street Corp., Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and Union Bank of California are the latest big banks to develop cash management services that use browser technology.
BankAmerica Corp., Chase Manhattan Corp., Citigroup Inc., and Norwest Corp., among others, have committed themselves to moving much of their cash management services from Windows-based applications to the newer Internet- based technology.
These banking companies are in the vanguard. A June study from PSI Global of Tampa said that 69% of banks that did not already offer Internet- based cash management services planned to do so.
Browsers such as Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator and Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer simplify product distribution and support by eliminating the need to mail software to customers in diskette form. Corporations can gain access to their banks' services through private networks using standard Internet protocols.
"It's cheaper," said Michael Marselli, corporate product manager at PSI Global. "It immediately takes banks out of the software business. That is the lure of it."
George K. Bird 4th, State Street's executive vice president of global cash management, said the move to browser technology is "another example of our push to become a leading provider of integrated cash management products and services."
The company's corporate customers will soon be able to originate automated clearing house payments through their browsers. Several hundred corporations are already using a browser-based information reporting service that State Street introduced a year ago.
The Boston banking company licensed software from Politzer & Haney of Newton, Mass., to develop Prime Meridian Browser ACH, which is in the final stages of testing.
State Street said it expects eventually to move away from the private network configuration and make corporate services available directly over the public Internet, driving down network connection costs.
"Security and reliability for the user" still need to be addressed, Mr. Bird said. "We are not there, as an industry."
Toronto-based Canadian Imperial plans to introduce browser-based software that would let corporations gain access to balances and other information and initiate electronic funds transfers. The browser package would be integrated with spreadsheets and accounting software.
The offering expands on an Internet-based file transmission service that Canadian Imperial launched in June to let corporations send documents to each other on-line.
Canadian Imperial teamed up with IBM Canada Ltd. and FICS, a Belgian software company with an office in Charlotte, N.C., to develop the system, which is expected to become available next April.
FICS and IBM plan to work together to sell software and integration services to other banks in North America.
"The world of banking for business is changing," said Ross McKay, a vice president at Canadian Imperial. "Customers are demanding more choice of access points and choice of service and electronic commerce solutions."
Union Bank of California this week introduced a Web-based cash management service that lets customers initiate stop payments, look up paid checks and account reports, and move funds among accounts. The bank is mostly owned by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd.