The financial services division of ICL Plc aims to help high street banks to get their services straight into people’s homes with HomeView, a customised interface that also has Internet access. Although the software is available, ICL has not given precise details of how the product will link with existing banking systems or the Internet. […]
The financial services division of ICL Plc aims to help high street banks to get their services straight into people’s homes with HomeView, a customised interface that also has Internet access. Although the software is available, ICL has not given precise details of how the product will link with existing banking systems or the Internet. This is mainly due to the fact that the company has yet to sell HomeView to a bank and until it does, the product remains something of concept. We have created the framework. We now want to work in collaboration with leading banks, said Brian Bold, marketing manager for customer banking. He added that lots of banks had seen the prototype and were impressed. Apprently a US and a Finnish bank have shown interest in the product. Using three-dimensional graphics, HomeView provides a user interface – similar to ICL’s Den hand-holding user interface for personal computers – to either home banking or home shopping, as well as Internet access, but the aim is to license it initially to banks to enhance existing home services, or to offer a fast route into home banking for those that have not yet written their own customer interface. The product has been designed to link users’ personal computers, via modem, to a bank’s computer system, enabling them to pay bills, order cheque books and so on. It will use the bank’s existing password security systems, but for additional security, the system can be used with a Gemplus SA Smart Card and reader. The card, which has ICL’s own operating system on it, will identify which transactions the user is authorised to carry out, using an encrypted data system. It will also hold some commonly-used items of information about the user, so that these can be transferred automatically each time a transaction is carried out.
Interactive television service
Alternatively, it may be offered as an interactive television service, sent into the home via the cable network, and using a set-top box. The interface is a representation of a home the user walks through, selecting a particular item in the home to link into various services. For example, clicking the mouse on the cheque book on the study desk would link into the bank to pay a bill; or for the home shopping, the screen is a kitchen where clicking on a wine bottle would link through to supermarket chain J Sainsbury Plc’s home page on the Internet, to order a crate of wine. Hooks are in place within the software to provide a video conferencing facility using ICL’s TeamVision conferencing software. The idea is that eventually, advice could be obtained directly from an expert, for example on pensions or insurance policies, by selecting the appropriate item in the on-screen ‘home’, and then holding a video conference with the bank’s pensions advisor. However, TeamVision currently works over the faster but more expensive ISDN telephone lines, which means it is not yet ready for use in the average home. ICL is also looking at collecting lifestyle information from HomeView users, to create services tailored to the user’s specific requirements or interests. Sounds like an advertiser’s dream, but ICL said that the service would be more geared to providing helpful advice and information, such as reminders on getting holiday insurance when a holiday booking is made using HomeView’s link into the Internet. However, National Westminster Bank Plc, which is testing home banking at the Colchester and Cambridge interactive television trials, said that at this stage it is taking a softly, softly approach to find out when, why and how customers use the home banking service. But it added that it feels it is too early to think about customer profiling. This will depend on when the critical mass for home banking arrives – probably not for at least five years. The NatWest interface is not as advanced as ICL’s, being pictures linked to numbers, where the user selects the appropriate number. The company said it will be setting up HomeView trials throughout the country in the next few months. Although it had talked to
Online Media Ltd about participating in the Cambridge trial, the company felt that with only 250 users, the trial was not really big enough. It claimed to be currently talking to various cable providers, banks and retailers to set up its own trials.