NOTICE OF COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL IN DISCLOSURE
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to financial transaction systems, and in particular, to an integrator, i.e., a system and process that allows customers to access a full range of global financial services using a variety of access points. More particularly, this invention relates to the architecture of a global standard messaging service that permits rapid communication among worldwide users of the service as may be desired by industries relating to the transfer of finances and demographic data. Furthermore, the invention relates to the architecture of a communications network as may be required by the banking industry in obtaining customer demographic information, processing this information and relaying back changed customer demographics as is often required by financial service providers. In addition, the present invention: assists in the creation of homogeneous service from heterogeneous components; facilitates easy ‘plug 'n play’ of new products and services; presents interfaces to distribution points and service provider components that will be stable in the face of infrastructure changes; simplifies complicated financial transactions involving demographic data; provides very high levels of integrity and reliability for the end-to-end fulfillment of business requests; and enables applications to communicate the appropriate level of business language be it customer oriented, product oriented and the like.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In recent years, financial institutions have become increasingly diversified. Banks, for example, now offer a wide variety of products and services not previously available. These new products and services fall into two broad categories—new technologies for interacting with the financial institution and new financial services or “products” offered by the financial institution.
From the customer's point of view, there are certain access points (or, from the bank's perspective, “distribution points”) through which the customer may access the bank's services. Historically, the principal access point was a teller. But recently, there has been a proliferation of automated access points including the now ubiquitous automatic teller machines and customer activated terminals (ATMs and CATs) and, more recently, screen phones, personal computers configured for banking, personal digital assistants, voice response systems, smart cards, teller workstations and banking staff terminals. Technology in existence today allows bank customers to access their banks from any place at any time and offers tremendous efficiencies for the bank. However, to achieve these benefits, customers must be willing to use these automated alternatives to human tellers. One way of encouraging use of automated systems is to make the systems as user friendly as possible. To this end, automated systems should be able to process business language requests such as “How much money do I have in the bank?”
A business problem results from a business transaction request along the lines of “show me all the funds I have in the bank” or “move $100 from my checking account to my savings account” or some similar statement that shows up at the distribution or access point. From the bank's point of view, these business language requests must be processed by discrete “service providers” that handle check withdrawal authorization or mortgage loan processing or securities transactions, for example. These service providers are typically not capable of handling business language requests. The service providers tend to specialize. For example, a bank may have a mortgage processor, a securities processor and so on. Many banks outsource certain services, such as securities. As a result, none of these individual systems is aware of or cares about the relationship, i.e., the fact that the customer has both the checking and the securities relationship with the bank. Another example is the transfer of money from checking to savings. If checking and savings are handled by discrete service providers, one service provider wants to know “debit $100” and another service provider wants to know “credit $100.” The service providers don't really care about the relationship or what the source or destination of funds is, the providers only care about one direction of the transaction. In short, there is a GAP between the access or distribution points and the service providers. There is need for a system and process that bridges this GAP, i.e., something in the middle that has awareness of how to balance the whole thing together.
In addition, different service providers and access points can't speak with different protocols or languages. One understands screen formats and another one understands messages according to other protocols homegrown or otherwise. There is a need for a way of normalizing or flattening them all out to common language so they can interact with each other.
Financial institutions have also begun to offer a broader range of traditional banking accounts as well as investment and financial services. This ordinarily requires even more service providers.
There have been previous efforts to integrate financial services. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,424,938, to Wagner et al., discloses an interface system for a plurality of payment networks providing each user with a display of data necessary and applicable to complete a desired transaction. The interface system is accessed from a remote computer terminal and is disclosed for use in monetary transactions. In addition to providing a display, the system also allows the remote access user to perform transactions within the accessed account. The Wagner et al. preferred embodiment is summarized in 10 of FIG. 1, wherein payment networks including the Federal Reserve Bank FEDWIRE network 16 and SWIFT network 20 are accessed by a bank housing a central computer 12. In addition, the central computer also provides access to the networks to customers having computers 28 with communications capabilities.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,126,936, to Champion et al., discloses a computer interface to a plurality of banking users. The interface comprises an information management system for a disclosed use in investment banking. The system, as summarized in FIG. 2, provides banks, brokers, and remote modem users with access accounts for deposits, investments and the like. Although disclosed primarily for investment purposes, the system is intended to be ‘goal oriented’ according to particular markets to be invested in. Therefore the system provides some market demographic information (as may be related to the investment) to the user.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,455,407, to Rosen, discloses an electronic banking system comprising electronic money and customer demographics to be exchanged electronically among banks and clearing houses. Customer accounts of any user bank can be accessed and manipulated according to information entered from a remote location. A summary of the preferred embodiment is provided in FIG. 1. The monetary system can be accessed remotely and in person.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,025,373, to Keyser, Jr. et al. discloses a remote banking terminal controlled by a host bank. Account information and financial services, although controlled by the host bank, are made available to the authorized customer. In addition, banks and related financial institutions other than the host bank can be provided with the remote banking terminal for access to account information.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,231,569, to Myatt et al., discloses remote banking access to customers. The bank accounts are accessed by ‘credit card’ styled cards containing customer information on magnetic strips. The remote locations are then provided with customer demographic information including account funds and credit information. The remote locations are then provided with authorizations to credit moneys that are then debited to the customer account.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,177,342, to Adams, discloses a transaction approval system. The system verifies to remote users information as to customer demographics. This information may include financial and credit information. The customer demographics are available to the end user only in a read-only format and does not provide for direct customer account manipulation beyond authorization.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,496,991, to Delfer, III et al. discloses a database management system wherein pre-authorizations of monetary transfers are obtained from clients to initiate monetary transfers into other accounts. Verification of transfers are remitted to the sender. Although containing some customer demographics, the information shared with the user of the system is limited to the account and the potential for a monetary transfer. In addition, the manipulation of accounts is limited to credits and debits.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,283,829, to Anderson, discloses a system for banking via the telephone. The system includes verification of authorization of the client user and normal banking services. Although this system provides some customer demographics to authorize clients, the demographics are limited to authorized users to ensure that the customer controls access to the information.
The prior art references described above differ from the instant invention in, among other things, concentrating on the transfer of funds in payment networks rather than customer demographics as a product. As such the systems use different selection logic software/hardware than required by the instant invention.
In addition, the present invention is also directed to a data model that reflects the structure of a customer's relationship to the bank. The traditional marketing approach of banks has been to try to enroll customers in new accounts, typically checking or savings accounts. Then, when the bank offers additional financial products or services, the bank tries to cross sell new accounts to customers having existing accounts with the bank. Often, banks can offer special pricing based on a customers “relationship” with the bank. In this context, “relationship” can refer to a customer's own accounts with the bank or the accounts maintained by family members or close relatives. For example, it may be advantageous to the bank to offer special pricing to the in-laws of very wealthy customers even if those in-laws might not qualify for special pricing on their own.
One barrier to traditional cross selling of new accounts and relationship pricing is the inability to identify certain relationships that might exist. In a large financial institution, for example, separate systems are typically maintained for the various products. Thus, it is readily apparent that a customer that has a low savings balance also has a large investment portfolio with the bank. In addition, the customer must repeatedly provide the bank with the same data. This is very inconvenient and inconvenience is a significant obstacle in marketing of financial services.
Financial service is very much an inertia business. Once a customer opens an account, he or she is unlikely to change that account because of the effort involved. Most people don't shop for financial services. Instead, something in a customer's life occurs to cause a customer to make a change or be open to a change. There are moments in life when inertia is overcome; either by moving, death, formation of a family, a customer gets so angry at something that the customer decides to make a change, or some other event occurs. Thus, at the moment a customer opens an account they are open to new components, but it is difficult to open a customer up again. For this reason, cross selling financial services is very difficult. Once a person has a set of accounts, then something's got to happen in their life to cause them to open up another account.
To overcome these obstacles, banks now try to build a relationship with the customer rather than opening stand alone accounts for the customer. Studies have shown that as a customer's relationship with a bank broadens, the customer's balances increase. As a consequence, there is a need to truly understand the relationship of a customer to the bank.
There have, of course, been attempts to provide linked account structures in the past. The Citicard account, introduced in 1976 and 1977, was the first account that allowed four or five accounts to be mechanically linked together. A simple transactional account, short term savings, day-to-day savings, and 90-day savings, checking and checking plus line of credit were all linked in the Citicard account. Over the next ten years, other banks copied this approach and began offering “linked accounts,” which are essentially transactional banking accounts with some saving components and perhaps a line of credit—a very traditional banking product.
Another significant development was the asset management accounts offered by certain brokerage firms. These accounts offered a plurality of securities components in a single account. The brokerage firms were not, however able to offer traditional banking services. One example is Merrill Lynch's cash management account (CMA). Aspects of this account are described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,346,442 to Musmanno; U.S. Pat. No. 4,376,978 to Musmanno; U.S. Pat. No. 4,597,046 to Musmanno et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 4,674,044 to Musmanno et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 4,774,663 to Musmanno et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 5,270,922 to Higgins. The account offered by Merrill Lynch was limited to securities transactions and did not include full banking products.
Similarly, when a customer opens a brokerage account, there is no need to open a separate account for trading equities or for trading fixed income.
The next development in the evolution of Citibank's account was the so-called asset network account that included a full range of brokerage services and, in addition, full banking services. This form of account originally known as FOCUS has become known as the CitiGold Account. This account, like brokerage accounts, was intended for sophisticated investors. The central feature of the account was sweeping funds into a money market account on a daily basis. Such an account is not, however, suitable for a broad market account that includes unsophisticated investors. The CitiGold was an elite account intended for sophisticated investors.
The CitiGold Account system introduced the idea of integration and consistent preseuntations across the entire range of customer access points, including ATM machines, automated voice response systems, phone operators, staff screens, home banking on a computer, home banking on a screen phone, etc. In other words, in every contact with the financial institution, the customer sees the same presentation of the account and the same capability to do the transactions.
Another step in the evolution of the Citibank account was the CitiOne account, introduced in the early 1990's. This account permitted linking of transaction accounts, certain traditional banking accounts and bank saving accounts so the customer could access all these accounts. In some regions the CitiOne account included securities or loan services such as line of credit services.
With the CitiOne account, customer's accounts could be linked together randomly so that the financial institution's different products and services could be linked together and appear on a customer's statement. This was done on an ad hoc basis depending on a customer's desires. The basic features available in the United States were checking, day-to-day savings, and insured money market accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) and credit cards.
The next step in the evolution was the Citibank Money Management Account (CMMA), introduced around January 1993. The CMMA allows customers to link separate accounts and to perform a wide variety of financial transactions including traditional banking activities, brokerage activities and loan activities. Again, individual customer accounts could be linked to form an ad hoc mixture of product features. The system categorized those features within categories such as “your money in the bank,” “securities,” “borrowing and loan,” “credit cards” and the like. Among other things, the CMMA allows banking customers the convenience of “one-stop” shopping. Efforts were also made to provide consistent presentation. For example, on the screen phone and in personal computing banking, the top menu was made to look like the same menu on an ATM machine. However, after the initial screen, the systems diverged.
Notwithstanding the opportunities offered by the CitiOne and CMMA accounts, there is still significant room for improvement. Specifically, the present inventors recognize that while some of the infrastructure is in place, the understanding and concept of a single account that includes all of these features has not yet been achieved. The accounts were still linked on an ad hoc basis and customers were required to open up individual accounts. This required effort in educating customers about these accounts and in selling these accounts.
As with technological advances in remote delivery products, these new accounts offer the possibility of realizing improved customer services and significant operating efficiencies and reduced cost. Again, however, the potential benefits to be obtained from using an integrated financial system such as the Citibank Money Management Account have not yet been fully realized.
As noted above, the present invention is also directed to a data model that reflects the structure of a customer's relationship to the bank. To anticipate a customer's needs and support targeted marketing, a service provider must know its customer. Knowing one's customers is also important for improved customer service, another proven way of getting and keeping new customers. Since truly understanding a customer's relationship with a bank becomes more difficult when the number of customers increases and the frequency of each customer's contact with a particular employee decreases, the size of a large financial institution's customer base can present an obstacle to some marketing efforts. In the financial community today, a large financial institution may have several million households and customers each with a unique set of accounts. The data available for these households, customers, and accounts is so massive, that it has heretofore not been fully used for marketing campaigns.
In an effort to deal with a large customer database, businesses traditionally maintain customer records. In some cases these records are in the form of simple paper records, but recently electronic records have become common. Originally, separate data storage was used for each electronic record keeping application. Thus, each department in a financial institution, for example, would have a program that created and maintained records needed for its purpose. The problem with this approach is that information must be extensively duplicated. For example, a customer's name and address might appear in separate files in several separate departments.
There are other problems with application specific data storage. Since a customer's information is entered in more than one file, any change in status must be entered into each file, often by different people. Over time the accuracy and uniformity of the data deteriorates. In addition, the use of application specific data storage requires more data entry and more storage space.
The concept of a database, introduced more than twenty years ago, has come a long way toward eliminating these problems. In a database, data is stored in a central location so that there is no duplication of data. Database management programs are used to manage databases. Examples of currently available database management programs include DB2 (for larger databases) and dBase (for personal computers).
Typically, a database management system (DBMS) is used to manage the creation, storage, access, updating, deletion, and use of a database. A typical DBMS creates databases and their structures; provides the means for the control and administration of the data in the database; provides the means for users and application programs to access, enter, modify, and manipulate the data in a database; provides a report generator; provides “ad hoc” query facilities; provides reports to management on who accessed the database and what activity was performed; provides reports to operators on hardware utilization, status of current users, and other monitoring data; and provides automatic backup and recovery routines for the data in databases.
Multiple-user databases present several additional challenges. These include maintaining system performance as the number of users increases, controlling concurrent access of data, maintaining security, and administrating the database.
Attempts to build and use customer databases have a variety of limitations. In a general sense, these limitations fall into two distinct categories: limitations in the sources and quality of data input into the database and limitations on one's ability to search and retrieve data from the database. In some cases these limitations work in opposition to one another. For example, as one improves the size and quality of a databases, searching and retrieving data from the database becomes more difficult.
Full service financial institutions typically offer consumers a wide variety of financial products, including traditional deposit, investment, loan, and mortgage accounts, as well as a variety of financial services, including credit cards, brokerage, direct access, business access, checks as cash, telephone bill payment, and safety check. In addition, financial institutions now typically offer access to financial services through a variety of means, including automatic teller machines (ATMs), customer activated terminals (CATs), screen phones, personal computers configured for banking, personal digital assistants, voice response systems, and smart cards, as well as traditional human bank tellers. Information from these diverse sources provides an opportunity to obtain an unusually complete picture of a customer's relationship with the financial institution. Thus, the ability to store and retrieve this wealth of data in a meaningful way has enormous commercial potential. Despite this commercial potential, there remains a need for a system and method for assembling a comprehensive database from these diverse sources and retrieving information from the central database in a meaningful and practical way.
There are several deficiencies in currently available systems and methods for assembling customer financial data and retrieving information for use in marketing and customer service systems. To begin with, conventional systems do not allow access to a customers' entire relationship with the financial institution or complete demographic information about the customer (i.e., the customer's “profile”). Basic information about existing customers is frequently not available or even recognized as being related to the customer.
Thus, there remains a need for an improved integrated global communications network and data model that integrates customer information and makes the information accessible from remote locations.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
One object of the present invention is to provide an integration facility that can take business level request at a fairly high level, from a variety of vehicles and decompose them to a smaller data level requests that are understandable by a variety of service providers. The integration facility bridges the GAP by decomposing business language requests into data level commands.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and process that allows a bank to truly understand a customers's relationship with the bank. Since this involves real banking transactions, accounts cannot be linked based on inference, but rather there must be some authorization before the accounts are tied together.
Another object of the invention is to provide a data model that reflects the structure of a customer's relationship to the bank and the customer's profit and services they had tied in with the bank to allow the bank to tie together, for example: the fact that the customer and the customer's spouse jointly own certain things; the customer's spouse owns certain things in their name; the customer's children have certain things in trust with one or the other or both of the parents and the bank could tie the customer all together in various ways to give the customer the advantage for pricing the customer's account and give the customer advantages for any information from their point of view.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an integration facility that supports identical data bases located in different cites in real time so that transactions are posted physically in real time on two or more separate, geographically spaced apart, central databases.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a system and method for standardizing and householding information from internal and external sources into a centralized database of a financial institution to allow the institution to better understand each customer's relationship with the institution.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a system for efficiently assembling and retrieving information from a centralized database containing a high volume of financial and demographic data to allow the institution to better understand each customer's relationship with the institution.
These and other objects are achieved by the present invention which provides a global communications network that integrates customer information and makes the information accessible from remote locations. The system includes a comprehensive database assembled from diverse sources and means for retrieving the information from the central database in a meaningful and practical way. The system includes several levels of access communications as well as built-in flexibility so that it can be accessed by a variety of remote systems of varying degrees of complexity and languages.
The system of the present invention enables development of a closer relationship between customers and the bank by providing vast quantities of information to the consumer group and business group users. In more detail, the system of the present invention accesses both traditional customer demographic information, such as name, account number, and other identifiers in addition to other demographic information such as legal ownership, statement packaging, and liability and asset pricing. The demographic information is to be kept in repositories that support pending transactions as well as coordination of account information.
The ability to store “pending” transactions is particularly important. The “pending” ability enables a “corporate memory,” such that the prospective or current customer of the bank may initiate a conversation at one touch point (e.g., on the phone), and then resume the conversation at the point it was interrupted, at any other touch point of the bank, at any point in time.
In the global deployment, the system of the present invention will be accessible to customers and bank employees through branch systems, ATMs (CATs), screen phones, Personal Computers or other devices while using only a single identifier such as a card or PIN. The system of the present invention will also make data available based on other customer's information, such as account number(s), name, and social security number. The system of the present invention will allow customers to be provided with easy “one-touch” type financial services while providing disparate businesses with an integrated customer services resource that provides greater demographic information about customers which, in turn, makes service delivery more efficient.
Technically, the system of the present invention is an enterprise wide operational customer information system built on a distributed UNIX platform using Oracle to manage the databases. The system includes standardized messaging infrastructure for efficient processing of all transactions between different systems using high performance multi-tier parallel message routing. The system has the ability to manage both asynchronus and synchronous processing. The system can take one message, split it into multiple messages and send all resulting messages at once. Responses are then processed on all available information without necessarily waiting for all data/messages to respond.
The messaging service infrastructure includes a two tier routing structure. Primary routing occurs within the delivery system interface to expedite simple transactions that can be sent directly to the core application or other servicing system. Message standardization coding is not usually required for these transactions. Complex transactions are intended to be sent through the system, whether or not they require a database lookup or not. The system workflow manager determines the appropriate system applications, depending on the message, and those applications create the necessary additional messages required for communication with multiple core applications or servicing systems to complete the transaction request. Message responses are then processed by the appropriate system application and the aggregated response is returned to the delivery system via the interface.
The core application and/or servicing system interfaces preferably “wrap” legacy systems by providing specialized message management for each system. This wrapping functionality theoretically minimizes any customization or enhancements to these older mainframe systems. Significant functionality can eventually be built into the system to effectively bypass individual legacy systems. Although, the system need only provide very limited additional functionality. The system infrastructure provides a platform within which multiple system management objectives can be optimized.
In accordance with another important aspect of the present invention, the integration facility preferably supports identical data bases located in different cites in real time. Thus, transactions are posted physically in real time on two or more separate, geographically spaced apart, central databases. The central databases are always kept in lockstep so that even if one central database is destroyed the system can continue to operate without interruption. A commercially available product such as Reliable Transaction Router (“RTR”) from Digital Equipment Corporation can be used for this purpose. Of course, other systems could be used. Oracle could be used as described hereinafter or some other dbms such as IBM's DB2 could be used without altering any of the features of the present invention. Alternatively, it is possible to port from UNIX to IBM's MVS operating system on another set of hardware.
Preferably, the system is 100% customer available, no matter what happens so that the bank can turn off one central database for maintenance and because another site replicates the central database, things keep on going unaffected.
The system also provides means that allow the distribution points and service providers to be configured to understand that there are multiple places where they could get information. Preferably, this means is in the form of software for controlling existing computers used at the distribution points and service providers. Home based PCs used in the system, for example, have the capability of dialing to multiple telephone numbers that go different places. Cash machines are on a dual network and they select whatever circuit happens to be available. In the case of teller stations or work stations, the workstation themselves go through a gateway server in each branch. So actually it is the gateway server that is capable of accessing the different databases.
The system permits simultaneous processing of transactions and includes a store forward mechanism so that if the data center is off line for maintenance, the system ques up the transactions and when the central database is back online, the system processes the transactions so that the central database catches back up very quickly.
In addition, the system allows the customer to interact with a financial institution that provides a variety of services through many different means including automatic teller machines, screen phones, voice phones, personal computers, branch tellers etc. without having to learn a new system. The system always provides a consistent business level consumer interface. The system preferably allows the customer to perform all transactions around the clock and around the world. In this way, a customer may choose whether to visit a bank in person, call the phone, or use a computer, the services available are all the same without altering the customer's experience. Every access point is just another window into the financial services accounts.
Because the system is fully integrated, it provides operating efficiencies and cost reduction. This, in turn permits the financial institution to pass cost savings along to the customer which, in turn, strengthens customer loyalty and promotes relationship building. In effect, the present invention promotes a cycle of increased efficiency and cost savings that benefits both the financial institution and the customer and tends to bind the customer to the financial institution more closely in a way that benefits both the customer and the financial institution. From the financial institutions point of view, the system, by offering the customer advantages, promotes customer loyalty and relationship building.
In the preferred embodiment, the central databases store, in two (or more) separate locations, information from various businesses and markets within the financial institution. The central database may include information concerning existing customer financial information, information from outside sources, and demographic information about existing and potential customers. In the preferred embodiment, the central database is housed in a mainframe computer and includes a large repository of financial and demographic data. Information is fed into the database from a variety of sources, including business and credit card feeds from the financial institution for each product and service offered by the institution, and feeds from outside vendors. The outside vendor feeds preferably include all publicly available demographic information, phone numbers, addresses, tax and property records, and so forth.
The data from these sources is stored in a uniform format. For this purpose, a uniform storage or householding algorithm, a name and address standardization process, and a merge process may be used. In addition, the information is preferably maintained in the central database in a three-tier hierarchy so that it can be accessed selectively at household, customer, and account levels. A given household may have one or more customers, and each customer in a household may have a number of different accounts.
Thus, the central database serves as a single central repository for storing all customer related information throughout the business. As described hereinafter, the central database can be used for a wide variety of customer service, financial analysis and marketing purposes. Among other things, the system includes several integrated components that are used to view customer information and manage customer contacts and relationships. Relationship management components support a comprehensive sales process. The system provides a relationship profile that allows appropriate staff members to view household and customer account and balance information both in detail and summary form.
While a single central repository for storing all customer related information throughout a business offers significant potential, the database is necessarily so large that certain problems arise. For example, the present inventors recognize that a database of this size cannot practically be directly searched. Thus, in accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the system of the present invention includes means for allowing users to build programs for searching the central database.
The relationship profile component of the customer information system of the present invention allows appropriate staff members to find and view household, customer, and account level information. The relationship profile component shows current and historical financial and behavioral information about the total relationship of the household or customer with the financial institution. It contains information on individual accounts owned, how customers do their banking at the financial institution, and whether they are managed by a particular personal banker. The relationship profile component provides a sales preparation tool that displays all the information available about the customer, the customer's relationships to other customers, and in-depth account information on all accounts owned by the customer and/or the entire household.
Information is available in the relationship profile component in detail as well as in summary forms. In combination, the information in the relationship profile can be used to gauge the depth of each banking relationship in order to better prepare for sales and service conversations.
The present invention comprises a network structured service architecture that rapidly relays information from one end user to another located anywhere on the world wide network. The end users are located at distribution points which relay information to and receive information from the network. Information requests are relayed from a distribution point to a logical router which determines whether the request is simple or complex.
Upon the determination of a simple request, the request is routed by the network to the appropriate service provider that can satisfy the distribution point's request. Information relating to the satisfaction of the request is then routed back through the network to the originating distribution point.
Upon the determination of a complex request, the request is routed to messaging service agents, which consult script and workflow data model rules, send one or more messages to logical services which determine which service provider is appropriate to receive the complex request. The complex request is then routed to the appropriate service provider which performs the request. Information relating to the satisfaction of the request is then exchanged between the distribution point and the service provider until the request is satisfied.
A system journal is maintained of all requests, simple and complex, the network routes between distribution points and service providers for the purpose of satisfying audit, legal, regulatory, customer service requests, and the like.
Finally, the network communicates with a replication data center. A data replication center includes an electronic storehouse for data necessary to perform the simple and complex requests. In addition, the center includes a duplicate storehouse to ensure that the network is always provided with the data stored in the storehouses, especially in the event of an electronic failure to a storehouse or the supporting and accessing electronics.
Thus, the present invention provides a global communications network for use by a financial institution. The global communications network includes a plurality of local area networks; a plurality of distribution points for allowing access to the global communications network; a plurality of service providers for providing information in response to data level commands; and an integration facility for decomposing high level business language requests into data level commands that are understandable by the service providers so as to allow end users located at distribution points to relay information to and receive information from the network.
The integration facility includes:means for determining whether an information request is simple or complex; means for receiving information requests from a distribution point and relaying information the requests received from a distribution point to the logical router for determination of whether the request is simple or complex; a router for routing simple requests to a service provider that can satisfy the distribution point's request; means for generating a message relating to the satisfaction of the request; a router for routing messages relating to the satisfaction of the request back through the network to the originating distribution point; a plurality of messaging service agents, each messaging service agent including means for consulting script and workflow data model rules, and sending messages to logical servers which determine which service provider is appropriate to receive the complex request; means for routing complex requests to messaging service agents, which consult script and workflow data model rules, send one or more messages to logical servers which determine which service provider is appropriate to receive the complex request; a router for routing complex requests to the appropriate service provider which performs the request; means for allowing information relating to the satisfaction of the request to be exchanged between the distribution point and the service provider until the request is satisfied; means for generating a message relating to the satisfaction of the request; a router for routing messages relating to the satisfaction of the-request back through the network to the originating distribution point.
The global communications network of the present invention may further include means for maintaining a system journal of all requests, simple and complex, that the network routes between distribution points and service providers.
The global communications network of the present invention may also include a replication data center in communication with the network. The data replication center preferably includes: a plurality a geographically separate electronic databases for storing data necessary to perform the simple and complex requests; means for posting transactions in real time on each of the plurality of the geographically separate electronic databases so that the electronic databases are always kept in lockstep.
The global communications network of the present invention may further include a public network having a firewall that includes means for limiting access to the public network to authorized users. The network of the present invention preferably allows a customer to directly connect to the public network through the firewall using a computer modem and also includes a remote delivery server for providing access to the integration facility of the global communications network's banking products and services and means for allowing a customer to directly connect to a remote delivery server using a computer modem, wherein the customer is provided with a messaging scheme that is identical to the messaging scheme the customer would receive from an in-branch connection with the integration facility of the global communications network.
The global communications network of the present invention may further include a plurality of financial institution branch systems and a branch server and a branch router for routing messages to and from integration facility of the global communications network such that the integration facility of the global communications network is in electrical communication with the financial institution branch systems. The branch systems may further include a branch network and a plurality of branch services connected to the branch network the services, including a printer, an automated teller, a customer activated services terminal, a staff workstation and a terminal server, express deposit devices, teller work stations, greeter workstations and investment consultant work stations. Preferably all branch services share a common local area network and are located within a branch of the financial services provider such that each of the services enjoys access to the same computer financial applications; related computer applications; and common routes and servers to the integration facility of the global communications network.
The present invention also provides a process for decomposing high level business language requests into data level commands that are understandable by the service providers so as to allow end users located at distribution points to relay information to and receive information from the network. The process includes the steps of: receiving information requests from a distribution point and relaying information the requests received from a distribution point to the logical router for determination of whether the request is simple or complex; routing simple requests to a service provider that can satisfy the distribution point's request; generating a message relating to the satisfaction of the request; routing messages relating to the satisfaction of the request back through the network to the originating distribution point; decomposing complex requests into one or more messages; determining which service provider is appropriate to receive the complex request; routing complex requests to the appropriate service provider which performs the request;exchanging information relating to the satisfaction of the request between the distribution point and the service provider until the request is satisfied;generating a message relating to the satisfaction of the request; routing messages relating to the satisfaction of the request back through the network to the originating distribution point. The process may also include the step of posting transactions in real time on each of the plurality of the geographically separate electronic databases so that the electronic databases are always kept in lockstep.
The above mentioned and other features and objects of the invention, and the manner of attaining them will be best understood by reference to the following description of an embodiment of the invention, when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings: