Shared Financial Adding Software that Runs on Unix

Shared Financial Systems Inc., Dallas, which makes electronic payment software for banks' credit card and teller-machine network operations, is developing programs that use the Unix operating system.

Unix software, usable on a wide variety of hardware, is growing in popularity as banks shift to "open" systems that may include equipment from many makers. A large number of vendors now offer Unix, and the resulting competition has kept prices low.

Change in Approach

Most computer systems now used by banks are "closed" - they have proprietary operating systems that allow computers to work only with other systems made by the same company.

In the past, Shared Financial's software was designed to run on Stratus computers running the company's proprietary operating system. The computers, which have the ability to run continuously, even if a part breaks down, are used by many banks for operations that require high availability, such as automatic-teller networks.

Shared Financial decided to create new software because banking customers have slowly begun to install open systems in regional processing sites and in departments in a move to distribute computer processing.

Widespread Use

Many banks and credit card companies use Shared Financial's electronic payment software. The company has 260 installations worldwide.

"So much of the processing power in banks has been centralized, but now with expense reductions, lots of banks are consolidating branches," said Carol S. Meador, director of corporate communications at Shared Financial. "The use of the Unix platform for distributed processing is becoming more popular."

In the Works

The first applications to be created for open systems include credit authorization and electronic draft capture. The software will be available on Stratus' XA/R FTX-2 series computers and IBM's System/88 and Risc System/6000 AIX products.

Shared Financial said the software is ready for testing by users at so-called beta sites. No banks have signed up yet, but many customers have expressed interest, the company said.

No Prices Disclosed

General availability is set for the first quarter of next year. Share Financial did not release prices for the software.

Shared Financial also announced it would market specialized software that will help banks and other software companies to develop their own Unix-based electronic payment software for computers from International Business Machines Corp. and Stratus Computer, Inc.

Separately, Source Data Inc., a Charlotte, N.C. maker of loan recovery software, said that IBM will jointly market its automated loan recovery and agency tracking system on the RS/6000, a Unix-based computer.

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