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CIBC Kicks Off Business Site

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce launches Canada's first business banking site that provides cash management services on a single, Internet-based platform.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has launched Canada's first business banking site that provides cash management services on a single, Internet-based platform, thanks to technology from S1.

When the bank embarked on the project about a year-and-a-half ago, it searched for vendors that could help it build an integrated platform that would allow businesses to do everything from cash payment reporting to sending electronic payments and processing payroll.

CIBC found that S1 best suited its needs in terms of building out the platform, said Steve Webster, vice president of business deposits and payments at Toronto-based CIBC. "We believe them to be a leader in the field." The platform was too costly for CIBC to build itself, he added.

Built atop S1's Open eFinance architecture, the CIBC system allows businesses to access their accounts through a browser. Employing open standards, the system is written in Java and deployed on Unix hardware using IBM's AIX operating system and DB2 database.

The system can reduce the risk of internal fraud. Businesses can build in security protocols at different levels, from sign-on to transaction creation, payment authorization, and transaction history review. Up to five people can be authorized to approve payments. The system provides each user with a 16-digit ID and a personal password, and user activity is tracked, audited and logged.

One of the biggest challenges the bank faced in designing the system was creating the "permissioning infrastructure," said Webster. Another was integrating the system with the bank's different legacy systems.

Yet another challenge was achieving performance levels that customers have come to expect. Some clients use dedicated mainframe-to-mainframe connections; others use PC-to-mainframe. "Going through the Internet you have very different performance challenges that didn't exist before. That proved to be more of a challenge than anyone expected," said Webster.

An added complication was the need for the system to be bilingual and accommodate both French and English users, which required additional customization. CIBC continues to fine-tune the system, modifying things like firewalls.

So far, customer response has been favorable, aided by the increased use of e-mail and the Internet by individuals and businesses. "Doing task management banking over the Internet isn't a huge leap," Webster said.

The CIBC rollout comes as a number of recent surveys suggest that Canadian businesses are looking for an Internet cash management solution. A study by Carreker Corp. and GartnerGroup found that 92 percent of large Canadian companies expect to use Web-enabled cash management services in the next 12 to 24 months.

Most businesses in Canada rely on a proprietary DOS- or Windows-based banking system accessed using a dial-up modem, or on older technology, such as magnetic tapes. In retail banking, dial-up systems are virtually extinct.

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