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1997 BAI Retail Delivery Conference: Serving banking's new consumer

The mood was electric at the Bank Administration Institute's (BAI) Retail Delivery Conference held in New Orleans, Dec. 1 to 5. All eyes were focused on the changing payments systems market and the evolving consumer landscape. The convergence of technologies and operations within banking and KM as a concept were abuzz.

BAI is the premier professional organization devoted exclusively to improving the competitive position of its banking constituents. Through strategic research, educational programs and its member needs program, BAI is the authority in banking.

The Retail Delivery Conference is BAI's biggest annual show with a wide breadth of vendors representing technologies like automated teller machines (ATM), workflow, call center, loan processing, Net banking and data warehousing.

Most unexpected was the fact that imaging, workflow, E-forms and EDM applications were all over the show. It is clear that imaging technology is proliferating into many different channels of information collection/delivery within banking from the ATM to automated loan kiosks and even to the call center environment. Its power as an enabler to improve service delivery, reduce operating expense and provide for overall process improvement/innovation is astounding.

Banks want to reduce the cost of operating and improve sustainable profitability. Consumers want many different ways to transact business with their institution and they want to do it economically. Mergers and acquisitions are driving up the ante for marketshare and the lines of delineation between the banking, securities and insurance industries are disintegrating. Banks must do all of the above and remain positioned to operate lean. Banks are trying to get out of the brick and mortar business and capitalize on the consumer's want for multiple delivery channels and improved service.

NCR's bank of the future

NCR (Dayton, OH) has developed a concept of the bank of the future that serves customers at all levels of the enterprise. NCR has coined its vision as serving the "Invisible Customer." In its model, the branch, ATM, Internet, personal financial management software, self-service kiosk and traditional check processing all represent conduits through which bank customers transact business. Therefore, banks today must support more options, more cost-effectively. To effect this, NCR has built an enterprise vision around leveraged technology that is unique to the industry. At the heart of the vision lies image, workflow and data/image management technologies.

So, whether you buy into NCR's branded vision or some hybrid of it, you can see that the technology provider market must develop and offer technologies that enable and effect that strategy. And, it can't all come from NCR.

There are technology providers that are stepping up to the challenge of leveraging EDM, image capture and workflow to enable their part in the big picture. In reviewing their offerings, it is obvious where it is all going.

At Retail Delivery, NCR took its vision and laid it out on the show floor. The company had image-enabled Persona Series ATMs that captured the image of a single item deposit and gave back a receipt complete with an image of the check just deposited. NCR showed a grocery store environment equipped with self-service check-out, where a check was image-captured for an ACH transaction. Images were available at the mock call center's desktop from ATM capture, or image item processing. It also had an image-enabled automated loan kiosk utilizing Affinity Technology Group's (Columbia, SC) Virtual Bank System, which provides consumer, small business commercial, home equity and credit card product origination, approval and disbursement.

On another side of the booth NCR showed its smart card banking strategy and systems, automated commercial image-enabled banking products and its Web-based product delivery. Of course all of that overlaid its future architecture, image and data repository strategy and data warehousing capabilities. Unlike anyone else at the conference NCR painted the big picture. A key to its ability to string all of that together is its cross-platform capabilities, depth of banking knowledge and middleware product.

NCR believes that the convergence of document, check and remittance processing into an enterprise repository is real and it has positioned itself to serve banking clients from the top down. Currently it controls the middle tier of the bank players and is fast encroaching on the top tier $50 billion-plus layer. Thus, look for its focus to be in that camp. Most recently some of its wins in the image portion of its vision have been institutions like Union Bank of California, UMB Bank, Regions Bank and KeyCorp.

Affinity Technology

Next to confession, applying for a loan at a bank is just about as somber. Affinity Technology with its vision of the virtual bank says, "Forget that." Using the power of the Web and the NCR Persona series of self-service kiosks, it is putting the mechanics of loan origination, approval and disbursement at the consumer's fingertips. No matter what the product need is, the client is centric to the delivery of services.

Affinity's vision is about bringing it all together using its E-xpertLender lending platform and its DeciSys/RT decision and approval system via a Web interface or a self-service kiosk. Going to school on CheckFree's model of "we build it, we own and you get to use it for a price," it can offer banks concentrated value with minimal risks and large potential for rewards. A key to why that works lies in the industry stats. In today's general world of lending, 30% of all applications get approved, 30% get declined and the balance are on the fence. They are referred to as exceptions. In that stage of the process the underwriter needs to clarify issues with an applicant who has been classified as an exception, to give the final yes or no. Two primary scenarios exist.

The Web. You need a car loan so you point your browser to www.coolbank.com and its an Affinity Enabled Bank. You fill out the application and submit it electronically. Your form is processed through DeciSys/RT and the system gives you a reference number. Later you check to see if you're approved or in some cases, you may get instant or E-mail notification. If you're an exception, you call a telephone number to chat with an underwriter. If approved, you're given a reference code and told the location of the nearest branch or kiosk. You show up at the branch, give your ID and reference number, sign the pre-printed paperwork and you get a check.

If you go to a kiosk for completion, you present your ID information, enter your reference number and the system presents the loan document images to you to review. Upon your approval, it collects an electronic signature and applies it to the loan document set. A neat feature of the kiosk delivery mechanism is that when you are signing, a digital camera captures you in the act and likewise captures your smiling mug as you think about spending the money. Both are applied to the printed loan document set, which is for your records, and onto the disbursement check for your protection. The document images are then electronically submitted to the bank.

The kiosk. Same approach except we do everything at the kiosk. If I'm an exception, I converse with the CSR or underwriter via the video phone system.

Offering one of the many tools showcased in the knowledge management realm, Folio (Provo, UT) has leveraged its proven search and knowledge management capabilities into the financial services space. Applying its technology to applications such as corporate policy management, HR policy management, banking regulations, in-house employee directories, training information, performance measurement data and audit reports, Folio has clients such as Bank of Boston, Wachovia, Citibank and Compquest.

Jetform's (Falls Church, VA) story is simple. Leverage the messaging backbone and deploy forms-based workflow across the enterprise. And it's doing just that. With client success stories like BankBoston, Bank of Montreal, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, Jetform has proven that KIS (keep it simple) works and delivers tangible value.

Showing its QuickDeposit high-speed POD system and QuickRemit remittance processing system, Mitek (San Diego) doesn't just play in the OEM game. Long known for its accuracy and flexibility, Mitek provides software services for OCR, ICR, legal amount read, courtesy amount read and barcode symbology. It supports multiple products, provides development toolkits and is available in a breadth of North American, European and Asian languages.

Giving away free copies of MS Money, Microsoft (Redmond, WA) had its premier partners in one big booth displaying their wares. The printed MS Backoffice Solutions guide to the pavilion was impressive, showcasing over 30-plus partners. The guide was segregated into seven major categories: application and infrastructure support, accounting and administrative applications, ATM, document management, call center, Internet banking and branch automation.

The next BAI event, the annual Transaction Processing Conference, is coming up March 24 to 27 in New Orleans.

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