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Bank One and Microsoft Announce Software Products

Bank One and Microsoft introduce two packaged software products.

Bank One and Microsoft have introduced two packaged software products, one aimed at consumers and the other at mid-tier businesses. The products are the first fruit of a $30 million joint development agreement that the parties entered into last year.

The agreement calls for Bank One to advertise and sell products on Microsoft Network (MSN) and to integrate its small-to-mid-size business offerings with Microsoft's Great Plains financial software. Bank One also has agreed to use the Microsoft .NET alerts service.

The consumer product, called Bank One Money Manager, is an online money management and account aggregation tool that's patterned after Microsoft Money 2002 Deluxe. The software links accounts at over 2,000 financial companies, and includes online bill payment and financial planning capabilities.

The mid-tier business product, called Bank One Card Solutions, combines Great Plains with Bank One's commercial card product to create a customized application for converting paper-based transactions into electronic ones. "The direct link to Microsoft Great Plains solutions gives customers a seamless experience," according to Dub Newman, executive vice president and head of commercial card at Chicago-based Bank One.

The joint agreement stemmed from meetings last year led by Bank One's chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, and Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, on how to extend the relationship between the two companies beyond advertising and software purchases. The relationship doesn't fit the usual mold of an outsourcing deal or consulting arrangement between a bank and a software company. "It's more of a collaborative, iterative approach," said Bill Rielly, VP of the consumer Internet group at Bank One. "It's really unprecedented."

In addition to the agreement itself, Bank One has been exploring the use of Microsoft technology throughout its lines of business, including retail banking, commercial banking, its First USA card unit and Paymentech, its merchant acquirer.

Bank One Money Manager illustrates how far the two companies have progressed. "We ended up with a broad-based relationship that includes multiple business units within each company," said Rielly, who works out of Bank One's new offices in Redmond, Wash., near Microsoft's headquarters.

Although versions of Microsoft Money are likely to be sold by other institutions, Bank One is allowed to sell it for $20, a steep discount off the regular price. "We wanted to price it at a level where we thought we could drive a high level of adoption," said Rielly.

Bank One Money Manager stores data on the customer's PC. "It's a storage model that our customers are comfortable with," said Rielly. "As that evolves, there very well may be Web services that Bank One offers that are built on a model other than local storage."

Users of the software don't have to be Bank One customers, but those who are will enjoy fully-integrated access to their financial information. In either case, Bank One gains a direct, bank-branded channel. "We have the ability to deliver content on an ongoing basis with our customers," said Rielly.

Initially, all Bank One Money Manager users will receive the same content, based on the bank's market research. Later versions will provide customized information. "The plan is to develop content that can be integrated into the actual financial planner," said Rielly. "There are interesting opportunities with alerts and notifications, and Bank One is working with Microsoft to develop functionality built on the .NET Web services platform."

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