Three midsize banks - Centura Banks Inc., Regions Financial Corp., and Whitney National Bank - have signed to use a Windows version of Electronic Data Systems Corp.'s Sellstation branch automation software.
Their plans reflect industrywide efforts to help branch employees sell.
At many bank branches, stand-alone computer workstations at the customer service desks are giving way to networks of personal computers that let bank platform officers make interactive product presentations to customers. "We want to get all the technology we can into the hands of our branch professionals," said William Ringler, vice president of information systems at $17.6 billion-asset Regions Financial, which is based in Birmingham, Ala.
Regions Financial, with 290 branches spread across the South, is converting a branch system from Olivetti North America to the newly released Windows version of Sellstation. "The Olivetti system was an older technology," Mr. Ringler said. Microsoft Corp.'s Windows is more flexible, he said.
The new system, which should be running early next year, "makes the branches more functional and gives the staff more of a marketing orientation," Mr. Ringler.
When the conversion is complete, each Regions Financial branch will have eight workstations. The bank will run Windows NT at the server level and Windows '95 on the front-end PCs.
Centura, which is based in Rocky Mount, N.C., was one of the first users of Sellstation. It is in the process of upgrading to the most recent version.
In addition, Whitney National, a $3.2 billion-asset institution in New Orleans, has agreed to convert from a DOS-based system to Sellstation, according to a statement by EDS.
Consultants said Windows-based software applications will dominate branch automation for the next few years because of their ease of interaction with other software.
"Banks are looking for more universal applications," said Robert Landry, a consultant at the Tower Group in Wellesley, Mass.
The newest versions of Windows "are more stable and have better functionality," he said, than the older DOS- or Unix-based systems once common at banks.
Branch automation lets platform employees make referrals to their banks' brokerage programs by doing preliminary investment profiles for walk-in customers.
Automation can also speed loan qualifications by linking credit officers directly to credit bureaus while a customer waits.