Midland Bank Plc yesterday introduced a completely new bank, Firstdirect, to the UK market – but it is a bank with a difference. Firstdirect is the UK’s first bank based solely on personal contact over the telephone and will operate – round the clock, seven days a week – as a separate division of the […]
Midland Bank Plc yesterday introduced a completely new bank, Firstdirect, to the UK market – but it is a bank with a difference. Firstdirect is the UK’s first bank based solely on personal contact over the telephone and will operate – round the clock, seven days a week – as a separate division of the Midland Bank, providing customers with a full service, including cheque and savings accounts, personal loans, mortgages, insurance and bill payments. Additionally, it offers competitive rates of interest and cheque account customers receive an overdraft facility and an all-in-one UKP100 cheque guarantee, cash machine and Switch debit card. Customers can call Firstdirect 24 hours a day at local rates and are connected immediately to one of the 150 trained Banking Representatives at the central operation centre in Leeds. A comprehensive security system is in operation, but wouldn’t be secure if Midland described it. Research carried out for the Midland group by MORI indicated that a banking service of this kind would interest 27% of customers. Extensive testing using prototyping and workshop techniques has been carried out on the different computer systems used by Firstdirect, which can be grouped into three types: the Call Centre which utilises a sophisticated Front End Banking System to give instant access to customer’s details; a main banking system which operates the accounts and provides access to the automatic teller machine network; and third party support systems that support ancillary operations like card and mortgage process-ing. The transaction processing systems already existed and proved relatively straightforward to amend, but the Front End system was more difficult to develop as the branch had to be removed completely from the operation and direct acc ess to customer data had to be made possible. It is understood that Datapoint’s Automatic Call Distribut ion System, ACD86 is used with the Edge telemarketing software developed by Cerritos, California-based Coffman Systems running on a dual Ultimate 7200 Pick system from Bull HN Information Systems is used at the front end. A similar system using the Datapoint Call Distribution system, with the Edge software run ning on NCR ADDS Mentor Pick supermicros is used in the junk telephone call-making operation set up by the Reed Business Publishing arm of Reed Internation al Plc (CI No 1,012). The new accounts will be man aged by a DB2 database on the bank’s IBM 3090 hosts.