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FSTC Project Targets Web Services

FSTC works to establish Web services standards for corporate banking.

With the support of leading U.S. financial services companies and NEC, the Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC) has embarked on a project to develop a set of secure and reliable Web services for corporate banking.

The FSTC project brings together Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wachovia, NEC and its U.S. subsidiary Niteo Partners, and Sun Microsystems, to determine the viability of using Web services to exchange corporate customer and account data in a secure manner over the Internet. When the project is completed, a set of services will have been built to demonstrate the secure exchange of corporate working capital data.

Leveraging open standards like IFX and BAI2, these services will manage the flow of balance and account transaction activity between financial institutions and their customers. This project will also verify the validity of the platform-agnostic promise of Web services, by demonstrating its features within a multi-vendor environment.

The project lays the foundation for using open Web services standards for interoperability of financial services among financial institutions, their customers and service providers, said Bill Jetter, senior vice president of global e-commerce product development at Bank of America. "It furthers Bank of America's goal of providing seamless, flexible integration of our treasury management services with our business clients."

Web services are the next set of innovative technologies supported by all the major technology providers for transacting over the Internet. While many financial institutions exchange data on the Internet today, Web services technologies promise to allow enterprises to both leverage existing investments and achieve greater standardization and improved connectivity with less technical and operational complexity than existing methods.

The first phase of the project, already complete, focused on system interactions with corporate treasury data across heterogeneous development platforms, namely .NET and J2EE. In addition to the foundational Web services standards of Web Services Description Language (WSDL), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), and Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI).

Ideas under consideration for the project's second phase include moving the phase 1 deliverables into a customer pilot operation with treasury workstation and portal vendors, extending the functionality of phase 1 to include new service operations for cash management (e.g., payments), extending existing support for reliable messaging, adding Web service monitoring/management functions and additional security features. The next phase of the project will be open to contributions from all FSTC member companies.

The proof of concept will produce standardized WSDL-based services and a reference implementation for multi-bank cash management reporting that participants can use for partner and customer integration planning. To incent further standardization in the industry, project participants will consider contributing the cash management service descriptions to the financial standards community.

"This project provides us a unique opportunity to collaborate with other institutions and technology providers," said Glenn Dumond, vice president, treasury and securities services, global enterprise architecture group at JPMorgan Chase. "We are using this project to validate the use of Web services as a secure delivery mechanism for our clients."

Added Keith Harris, vice president of retail integration at Wachovia, "The project allows us to work on broad, industry issues facing the deployment of Web service-based financial applications while at the same time guiding our internal development and deployment activities."

By resolving issues of reliability, security, and standardization, the project stands to spur the adoption of Web services in wholesale and retail cash management, said Michael Versace, managing director of financial services at Niteo Partners.

Noted Zachary Tumin, executive director of FSTC, "FSTC expects that the results of this project will be leveraged by participating institutions and technology providers in the development of the next generation of data exchange and business intelligence solutions."

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