PHOENIX -- Syntellect Inc., a developer of voice-response systems, is in the final stages of testing Bankworks, a personal computer-based telephone banking system.

According to Rita Dearing, a program manager at the Phoenix-based company, BankWorks draws on the custom work Syntellect has done for more than 300 institutions, including Wells Fargo & Co., Citibank, and First Chicago Trust Co.

"We've built up a repertoire of applications," Ms. Dearing said. "We took our knowledge base, created a transaction matrix, looked at what functions get repeated over and over again -- in order to develop a stand-alone product" for banks.

To provide financial institutions with a high degree of flexibility in developing their voice processing systems, Bankworks is offered in modules. "A bank can enhance functionality when they want to according to their plans," said Ms. Dearing.

3 Modules to Be Introduced

The modules range in price from 5,000 to $9,000, with discounts for purchasing two or more. Three modules will be introduced during the first week of November: deposit accounts, loan accounts, and an automated teller machine/branch locator.

With the ATM/branch locator, a customer can use the keypad on the phone to ask the system the location of the nearest branch or cash machine. Bankworks is also programmed to let customers know which branches are open on Saturdays.

In January, Syntellect will introduce additional modules, including a merchant activity component designed to provide credit card verification, as well as an investments module.

Syntellect's investments module will provide information on an array of products, including certificates of deposit, mutual funds, money market accounts, and annuities.

"We carefully analyzed what questions customers ask the most often," said Ms. Dearing, "The investment module will provide key pieces of information, including maturity, interest, interest year-to-date, and balance."

Customers can purchase Bankworks with either a male or female voice; neither has a regional accent. Should a bank prefer a home banking system with a recognizable accent, Ms. Dearing said that Syntellect provides the option for a bank to record its own voice track.

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