Radio frequency identification technology has been getting a lot of attention from bankers as a way to power contactless payment cards, but the industry now is putting its weight behind another initiative: using RFID to tag computer servers and other assets in data centers.
The new approach could save bankers money as they conduct the quarterly data-center audits required under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and a new standard from the Financial Services Technology Consortium on tagging data center equipment could be applied to other industries, experts say.
The consortium, a New York industry-backed research organization, announced last week that it had published requirements for vendors to comply with the standard, which is in the final comment process and expected to be ratified this month.
John Fricke, the consortium's chief of staff, said tagging is an issue because financial companies continually install new equipment and retire older devices over a cycle of two to five years.
Bankers have found that by using RFID rather than bar codes, he said, "they could reduce the time and the cost by about 90%."
Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. have found the issue urgent enough to tag each device in their data centers, and Wells Fargo & Co. is close to completing a similar project, Mr. Fricke said.
Other companies also feel the pain, he said. "Last June, 10 banks came to the FSTC and said, 'We need some standards for RFID.' "
Bill Conroy, a senior vice president at B of A and its infrastructure optimization executive, said that the Charlotte company expects significant savings from having equipment arrive with the tags, and that it would ask its vendors to pre-notify B of A about each unique tag by way of electronic data interchange to further automate the inventory process.
"Server, router, storage, and other hardware suppliers that comply with the FSTC standard will be rewarded with a larger share of our orders," Mr. Conroy said in the consortium's announcement.
Mr. Fricke said the standard should encourage more vendors to tag their equipment and other industries to use RFID. "From the suppliers' point of view, they don't want to tag it one way for one bank, another way for another bank, another way for a car manufacturer, another way for a hospital."