Members of the National Association for Bank Services, a group of data processing providers that meets to discuss technology issues in banking, have agreed to turn their exclusive club into an open forum for sharing ideas on how to better serve banks.

The association, which has consisted of only bank data processing companies for 22 years, has opened its membership to all financial technology providers.

To reflect its new focus, the membership has changed its name to the Association for Financial Technology.

Orientation Planned

Representatives of association's board of directors will meet with new members at an orientation at the organization's fall meeting, which will take place from Sept. 21 to 23 in San Antonio, Tex.

More than 50 financial data processing companies are part of association, including Electronic Data Systems Corp., the Bisys Group Inc., Fiserv Inc., M&I Data Services Inc., and Computer Services Inc.

Voting members have always been limited to core processing providers that perform deposit and loan accounting functions.

"This narrow focus was fine in 1972, when the association was formed," said Bisys' J. Robert Jones Jr., vice president and program chairman of association. "But today, it excludes a lot of technologies banks use, such as branch automation and imaging."

The association decided to match the evolution of its clients by broadening its scope and opening its membership to organizations that provide other technologies to financial services institutions.

Focus on Growth Areas

"For the first tiem we're focused on growth areas in today's banking environment," said Mr. Jones, referring to electronic banking, bill payment, mutual funds, and annuities.

The association's fall conference will consist of sessions, led by industry experts, on a variety of topics.

An overview on the growth of electronic banking, its acceptance by customers, and the ability to create profits for banks will be presented, as well as a panel discussion on the next step in branch automation. Other topics include economic trends affecting community banks and a regulatory update.

The association is based in Westerville, Ohio.

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