Software that a Nynex Corp. unit is developing to reduce risk in electronic payments has drawn mixed reactions has bankers who have seen an early version.

Bankers evaluating the product said it would be the first of its kind sold by a software vendor. It could help banks improve control over their customers' account activity, from wire transfers to credit cards, they said.

"I was quite impressed," said June St. John, assistant vice president and a product manager at Barnett Banks Inc., Jacksonville, Fla.

Ms. St. John said that Barnett would either design own software or buy a system from a vendor such as the Nynex unit, Stockholder Systems Inc. The company will probably decide within 60 days whether to use the Stockholder software, she said.

Price Questioned

But for banks that have already developed their own risk-management software, the new program, from Stockholder Systems, Norcross, Ga., may not be worth the price, some bankers said.

An executive at a super-regional bank who has seen a demonstration of the software, and who requested anonymity, said the product could help many banks improve risk management. But he added that, while the software has some features his own institution's self-developed risk system lacked, "there really isn't enough value added for us to cost-justify it."

Officials of AmSouth Bancorp., Birmingham, Ala.; Connecticut National Bank, a unit of Shawmut National Corp., based in Hartford, Conn.; Mellon Bank Corp., Pittsburgh; PNC Financial Corp., Pittsburgh; and Norwest Corp., Minneapolis, have also evaluated the new software, said Beverly Kennedy, a Stockholder Systems vice president.

The product, which has not been named, should be ready for delivery next year, she said.

The software is expected to help banks manage transaction risk by creating a central repository, or electronic library, with up-to-date information on all of a customer's financial relationships with the bank holding company, Ms. Kennedy said.

Automated Cross-Checking

Many banks, including Barnett, use manual procedures to do such cross-checking. Automating the procedures could reduce risk and help banks avoid potential losses from payment services for financially shaky companies.

Problems with electronics payments are rare, but for example, Security Pacific National Bank and Wachovia Bank of North Carolina could lose up to $2.1 million from a botched 1991 electronic payment to a now bankrupt tax-payment processor, Hamilton Taft & Co., San Francisco.

Ms. Kennedy said that Stockholder expects to charge less than $500,000 for the risk-management software. customers that buy an early, trial version are being asked to pay $250,000. Stockholder expects to sign up trial customers by early next month, Ms. Kennedy said.

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