The number of banks that let customers do transactions over the Internet could dramatically expand through an agreement between Visa International's remote banking arm and the software development subsidiary of Security First Network Bank.
Under the agreement, announced this week, Visa Interactive will make use of the same software that the software unit, FivePaces Inc., designed for Security First's Web site. Security First is an Internet-only bank that was among the first with a transactional Web site.
Although more than 500 U.S. banks have a presence on the World Wide Web, only a handful of their sites let users check balances or make account transfers.
Visa Interactive already provides non-Internet transaction channels to more than 90 financial institutions.
"We see the Internet as a great opportunity for our members," said Brent Robinson, senior vice president of Visa Interactive. "The addition of FivePaces as an Internet provider enhances our menu of remote-access solutions for financial institutions."
Huntington National Bancshares last week announced that it had licensed the Security First software package developed by FivePaces. The software, Virtual Bank Manager, relies on technology developed by Hewlett Packard Co. for the Department of Defense.
Customers of Visa Interactive client institutions can currently obtain remote access to their accounts through a panoply of devices and services, including screen phones, call centers, and PC banking software. Web transactions will be possible by the end of the year, said a spokesman for Visa Interactive.
"Banks that are already hooked up to Visa's communication protocols can easily add another channel and synchronize their databases," said Charles W. Ogilvie, president of FivePaces. "A customer can use a debit card and then get on the Internet and see the transaction reflected in the account."