IBM banks on S1 alliance

With competitors Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems in mind, IBM announced Thursday an expanded alliance with Atlanta-based software provider S1 Corp. to help banks bolster their consumer-oriented, online retail banking and trading services.

The wider alliance will result in more "out of the box solutions" for online financial services, said Mark Greene, general manager for IBM Global Banking in White Plains, N.Y.

This consumer-oriented extension of S1 and IBM's prior relationship reflects the changing nature of retail banking, Greene said. Twenty million Americans go online to manage their personal finances, and consumers are requiring banks to provide one-stop, integrated services that encompass brokerage, bill payment, wealth management, and insurance offerings, he added.

"The banking industry is in the middle of an ongoing e-business revolution," Greene said. "This is central to what the banks are doing to remain competitive."

Alliances such as this are needed because "this is too big a problem for any one company," Greene said. The greater emphasis and use of more standards-based technology also facilitates a multivendor approach to e-business initiatives, he said.

The global agreement will bring together S1's Consumer Suite of eFinance applications with IBM's pSeries eServer hardware, WebSphere application server, DB2 Universal Database, and IBM's Global Services consulting, Greene said. The combined offerings have undergone extensive pre-integration testing, he said.

The agreement enables IBM to jointly sell and market the S1 product set, and also allows for further product integration and the establishment of a solutions center to give customers access to IBM's S1 Consumer Suite experts for consulting, customization, and integration services.

In April 2000, IBM aligned itself with S1 to jointly sell S1's Corporate Suite of Applications to banks that need to reach out to corporate clients with online cash and asset management services.

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