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September 30, 2009updated 04 Apr 2017 4:17pm

Fundtech powers Bank of America

Just as Fedex allows the shipper to choose from a variety of tiered shipping options, then easily follow the package online from doorstep to doorstep, Bank of Americas new portal harnesses service-oriented architecture (SOA) to allow clients to choose the most advantageous route for payments, then append transaction details to email alerts notifying the recipient of the incoming payment.The payments hub will handle transactions for a wide range of cash-management customers, from small and mid-size businesses to large corporate and trust clients all over the world Cindy Murray, global banking and wealth management e-commerce executive for Bank of Americas Global Corporate & Investment Banking division, told EPI.Murray said the hub will allow BofA to consolidate multiple platforms that the bank operates from, including those of Merrill Lynch, but also LaSalle Bank, which Bank of America bought from Dutch bank ABN AMRO Holding in 2007

By Charles Davis

Bank of America (BofA), its subsidiary Merrill Lynch and payments software developer Fundtech have joined forces to build an online payments hub that borrows heavily from courier giant Federal Express’ (Fedex) philosophies of tracking and consumer choice. 

Just as Fedex allows the shipper to choose from a variety of tiered shipping options, then easily follow the package online from doorstep to doorstep, Bank of America’s new portal harnesses service-oriented architecture (SOA) to allow clients to choose the most advantageous route for payments, then append transaction details to email alerts notifying the recipient of the incoming payment.

The payments hub will handle transactions for a wide range of cash-management customers, from small and mid-size businesses to large corporate and trust clients all over the world Cindy Murray, global banking and wealth management e-commerce executive for Bank of America’s Global Corporate & Investment Banking division, told EPI.

Murray said the hub will allow BofA to consolidate multiple platforms that the bank operates from, including those of Merrill Lynch, but also LaSalle Bank, which Bank of America bought from Dutch bank ABN AMRO Holding in 2007. LaSalle had a portal similar to the one BofA is now launching, she said, but it was not built to handle the volume that the bank’s payments business generates.

“In 18 months we’ll have gone from seven different applications handling payments to a single portal,” she said. “This will allow customers to personalise their payments dashboards, provide them with a single repository of payment information, and alerts for payments awaiting approval. It’s a huge step forward for us.”

Bank of America will use the hub to streamline its internal systems, including those of Merrill Lynch, which it acquired this year. The hub is designed to support consistent processing for all payments regardless of channel, including payments initiated online or by telephone, Murray said.

Bank of America is building its payments hub using the Global PAYplus Services 

Platform from Fundtech of Jersey City, New Jersey. George Ravich, Fundtech executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, said that Global PAYplus allows the hub to provide incredibly detailed reports of transaction details to BofA clients through emails.

“This is picking up on a huge new trend out there, which is taking a lot of information from the back office and bringing it to the front office and monetising it,” Ravich said. 

“This is the type of product that fulfills the promise of service-oriented architecture, and it demonstrates that payments are not commoditised, and that you can differentiate the payments product offering.”

Murray said that one of the strengths of the new payments hub will be the aggregated remittance data, which will allow Bank of America to provide advisory services to clients.

The hub from Fundtech is part of a company-wide evolution to a services-based approach that transforms all of Fundtech’s transaction banking products into an integrated suite of SOA services including payments, cash management, financial messaging, and financial supply chain, Ravich said.

Fundtech has developed a single shared-services framework that is platform-independent, based on an open architecture and XML-based data model, ensuring compatibility with bank-developed and third-party SOA-based services.

In what Fundtech calls STP@Source, clients are engaged in the validation and enrichment of payment transactions, resulting in fewer exceptions and lower cost. Clients are empowered to make routing and pricing decisions resulting in a faster and more responsive service.

The online hub would be available in the first half of 2010, Murray said, adding that the rollout would begin with large-value international payments, then low-value payments outside the US, before moving to domestic payments.

The hub will support consistent processing for all payments regardless of channel, provide faster and lower-cost payment processing, enhance flexibility and improve response times to new opportunities, and allow other advanced functions.

“We will be able to drive integration among common payments processes, react more swiftly to evolving standards and regulatory changes, and leverage our payments capabilities to gain efficiencies for both clients and the bank,” Murray said. “Online clients will be able to monitor payment status in real time, and the new system will be able to select the best way to process payments based on pricing and urgency,” she said.

Citi joins the trend

Cash management and electronic payments were also the focus of Citigroup this month, as the other US banking giant announced its CitiDirect BE (for ‘banking evolution’) cash management platform, which includes such advanced online capabilities as user-generated content and a video channel.

The portal is available now to more than 300,000 users worldwide, mostly multinational corporations, along with government agencies and small and mid-size businesses in some markets.

Citi’s Global Transaction Services announced a multiyear initiative with Microsoft to support CitiDirect BE, which will serve its corporate, financial institution and public sector clients and also will be optimised for the white-label business model.

Building on the CitiDirect Online Banking platform first introduced in 1999, CitiDirect BE will provide a new diverse set of functionality beyond traditional transaction management and reporting. It will include capabilities for sophisticated analytics and user-generated content, a media/video channel as well as Citi’s innovative Electronic Bank Account Management offering.

CitiDirect BE said that in addition to the new features it will make these tools available via multiple delivery channels that corporate clients require, including a web portal, à la carte web services, straight-through connectivity via SWIFT or the Internet, as well as mobile devices.

In addition to enhanced online training and user support, CitiDirect BE features extensive video-based content created by experts across Citi’s 100-plus country network which provides users with a central repository of unique, insightful and relevant information on critical topics in treasury and trade services. 

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