Microsoft launches experience Banking initiative; names new preferred acquirers

Source: Microsoft Business Solutions

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is demonstrating its commitment to the banking industry with the launch of experience Banking, an industry initiative announced today at the BAI Retail Delivery Conference & Expo.

The initiative is designed to help banks think in new ways so they can differentiate their brand and increase market share and profitability. Banks that deploy solutions from Microsoft and its partners can change the customer, employee and operations experience.

Microsoft provides the technology to make mission-critical applications easier to integrate and more agile, at a lower total cost of ownership. Microsoft's partner-based solutions help financial institutions leverage the value of existing systems and technology investments, respond more rapidly to changing market needs and competitive pressures, and increase employee satisfaction and productivity.

"The flexibility of Microsoft® technology means you can adapt your applications as quickly as the business changes and pave the way for future innovation," said William Hartnett, general manager of Financial Service Strategy and Solutions at Microsoft. "Microsoft's vision is to help transform the banking experience, rather than to simply improve customer service."

"The key to successful banking, for all parties, is to have the necessary and appropriate information at hand so banks and their customers can interact effectively without turning the experience into a cold, meaningless transaction," said Jerry Silva, senior analyst in the Delivery Channels practice at TowerGroup. "With customer information readily available in a user-friendly manner, employees spend less time searching for information and more time with the customer. Better technology allows bank staff to be what the customer desires -- human -- which also improves employee satisfaction and productivity by freeing employees to focus on the customer experience.

Partner Program

The breadth of Microsoft's partner program, which includes the industry's leading independent software vendors, systems integrators and hardware providers, allows banks to choose a solution that is right for their business needs. Experience Banking is being launched with the active support of industry partners that are committed to delivering solutions and services that move banks forward.

This initiative includes partner solutions that run on Microsoft Windows Server System(TM), the .NET Framework and the Microsoft Office System. Participating partners include ACI Worldwide, Alogent Corp., ARGO Data Resource Corp., Corillian Corp., Fincentric Corp., HP, Jack Henry & Associates Inc., NCR Corp., NetEconomy, Siebel Systems Inc., Symitar and Unisys Corp.

Key Areas of experience Banking

Microsoft helps banks take a balanced approach to three key areas of their business that will help them differentiate their brand to increase market share and profitability: the customer experience, the employee experience and the operations experience:
  • Customer experience. Customers expect convenient and consistent service from the multiple bank channels they access, including the branch, call centers, ATMs and the Internet. Banking solutions based on the Microsoft platform can integrate information from many sources, creating a seamless experience across all channels. Meeting customers' increased expectations helps banks change the customer experience and gives them a significant advantage in the marketplace.
  • Employee experience. Productive and satisfied employees are essential to a positive customer experience. Familiar, easy-to-use technology helps employees learn faster, which in turn reduces training time and costs.
  • Bank employees need ready access to a complete view of customer information; however, this is challenging because information often resides on disparate systems. Microsoft-based solutions help bank employees conveniently access data and gain better insight into customer data. Giving bank employees a 360-degree view of the customer leads to better decision-making, an improved cross-selling ratio, and increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Operations experience. Microsoft is committed to providing financial institutions with a platform that is reliable, scalable and secure to help keep their systems available 24x7. Partner solutions based on Microsoft technology are designed to integrate with banks' existing systems and provide the flexibility and agility banks need to more quickly and cost-effectively implement enterprise applications such as solutions that respond to Check 21 legislation for electronic check processing and meet the legal requirements of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and Basel II.

    Separately, Today at the BAI Retail Delivery Conference & Expo, leading companies announced their support for experience Banking, a Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) initiative that helps banks change the customer, employee and operations experience. With experience Banking, banks can differentiate their brand and improve their competitive position by responding more rapidly to changing market needs and customer expectations, and by improving employee productivity.

    Software, hardware and system integration partners are developing mission-critical banking solutions that align with the initiative and are based on Microsoft's platform. "Through experience Banking, Microsoft and our partners are committed to delivering systems and tools that help banks address increased customer expectations and strengthen their brand," said William Hartnett, general manager of Financial Service Strategy and Solutions at Microsoft. "With the depth and breadth of our partner community, including leading banking industry partners, banks have access to a wide range of technology solutions that meet their needs while laying the foundation for future innovation."

    Experience Banking includes partner solutions that run on Microsoft® Windows Server System(TM), the .NET Framework and the Microsoft Office System. The Microsoft technology makes mission-critical applications easier to integrate and more flexible at a lower total cost of ownership.

    Solution partners that announced their support for experience Banking include the following:
  • ACI Worldwide. More than 40 billion times a year, ACI software is used to process online banking transactions. Founded in 1975, ACI pioneered the development of applications and networking software for online transaction processing. Today more than 500 customers in 75 countries use ACI software.
  • Alogent Corp. Alogent is a financial services technology company providing payment processing solutions that enable banks, billers and outsource processors to reduce costs, accelerate timelines and improve quality in check and item processing. Alogent's Sierra suite of solutions helps banks adapt to Check 21, check truncation and paper-to- electronic transformation.
  • ARGO Data Resource Corp. Since 1980, ARGO Data has been providing best-practices technology and architecture, and empowering top financial services companies to automate retail delivery and lending systems. ARGO integrates all delivery channels and lines of business with solutions for Sales & Service, Teller, Lending (consumer, business and indirect), Contact Center, and Investments and Insurance.
  • BearingPoint Inc. BearingPoint is one of the world's largest business consulting and systems integration firms. BearingPoint's March global CRM survey of financial services executives, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd., found that banks have spent a good deal of money on CRM, but very little on examining the bank customer's experience. Microsoft and BearingPoint are aligned in their interests in delivering experience Banking systems and solutions that can help companies enhance their customers' experiences
  • Corillian Corp. Corillian is a top provider of online banking solutions to leading financial institutions. Corillian's proven solutions enable financial institutions to deliver innovative services enterprisewide, across multiple delivery channels and multiple lines of business.
  • Fincentric Corp. Fincentric is a leading provider of core retail banking and customer value management software to the global financial services industry. Fincentric's Wealthview family of products helps financial institutions leverage customer knowledge to improve sales and service, and develop profitable customer relationships.
  • HP. HP is focused on helping people apply technology in meaningful ways to their businesses and personal lives. Its annual R&D investment of nearly $4 billion fuels the invention of products, solutions and new technologies to better serve customers, create new markets and deliver the best customer experience.
  • Jack Henry & Associates Inc. Jack Henry is a business strategy enabler for integrated, enterprisewide automation. Its mission is to support financial institutions with sophisticated, technology- driven solutions tailored to their goals. Jack Henry's client-centric solutions blend personal service and state-of-the-art functional capabilities and technology to provide expertise in every discipline inherent in the banking industry.
  • NCR Corp. NCR is a leading global technology company helping businesses build stronger relationships with their customers. NCR's ATMs, retail systems, Teradata data warehouses and IT services provide Relationship Technology solutions that maximize the value of customer interactions. Based in Dayton, Ohio, NCR employs approximately 29,000 people worldwide.
  • NetEconomy. NetEconomy, founded in 1993, is a leading provider of risk monitoring solutions, automating the detection and prevention of financial crime for financial institutions worldwide. A privately held company, NetEconomy is committed to providing the best software, services and expertise to help its global customer base minimize risk, maximize revenues and protect shareholder value.
  • Siebel Systems Inc. Siebel Finance provides customer-centric sales, marketing and service functions for retail finance organizations. It is a multichannel solution that delivers a comprehensive view of customer relationships across multiple product lines and business units, enabling financial services organizations to provide a personalized customer experience across all channels.
  • Symitar. Symitar, a Jack Henry company, is a business strategy enabler for totally integrated, enterprisewide automation. Symitar's client-centric solutions serving more than 600 credit unions blend unmatched personal service, sophisticated technology and fundamental capabilities, in-house and service bureau operating environments, and expertise in every discipline inherent in the credit union industry.
  • Unisys Corp. Unisys is a worldwide information technology services and solutions company providing consulting, systems integration, outsourcing, infrastructure and server technology with precision thinking and execution in more than 100 countries. Unisys banking solutions address key areas including enterprise payments, paper-to-electronic transformation, multichannel integration, identity theft and anti-money laundering.

    Separately, Microsoft Business Solutions today announced it is adding availability of comprehensive payment processing for businesses that use Microsoft® Business Solutions Retail Management System 1.2.

    In addition to Citi Merchant Services, businesses that use Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2 and have an Internet connection will have access to fully integrated card-processing capabilities from BA Merchant Services LLC, Paymentech and Wells Fargo Merchant Services.

    Developed for small and midsize independent retailers, Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2 is an easy-to-use, affordable way to automate single- or multiple-store retail businesses.

    The three new preferred acquirers and Citi Merchant Services, which in 2003 began providing services to merchants using the solution, will offer fully integrated credit and debit processing to retail merchants using Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2 with Service Pack 2 installed. Thanks to the agreements announced today, merchants who use Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2 will no longer need to acquire and install costly middleware, such as standalone payment applications, which are typically used to integrate payment processing. Moreover, merchants who use the solution will no longer need a credit card terminal or dedicated phone line for transaction processing.

    Additional feature benefits include native integration for payment processing support from within the product. This includes setup and configuration of the merchant activation information and integrated settlement for credit and debit transactions. With competitive rates for merchant services, streamlined point-of-sale processes and integrated payment processing, Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2 will result in more efficient operations, reduced operating and labor costs, and increased customer satisfaction. The preferred acquirers also are offering customer service representatives who are specifically trained to assist businesses using Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2.

    "By working closely with our preferred acquirers, we have significantly broadened our customers' options when it comes to easily achieving integrated payment processing with Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2," said Joseph Corigliano, director of business development at Microsoft Business Solutions. "Merchants that want integrated card processing included in Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2 now will be able to simply set up an account with one of four industry-leading acquiring companies. These additional choices further differentiate Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2 as a premier technology solution of choice for small and midmarket segment retail merchants."

    Microsoft Retail Management System 1.2 underwent extensive internal testing to help ensure that debit and credit card transactions will be accurately processed through each of the preferred acquiring companies announced today. In addition, Microsoft Business Solutions has taken steps to make sure that each Microsoft Retail Management System preferred acquirer has established sales and support models that will meet the specific needs of merchants who use the solution.
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