BANK-CENTRIC SERVICE PLATFORM,
NETWORK AND SYSTEM
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to a bank-centric network identifying a bank as a central service provider to a customer and is designed to provide user access, presentation and gateway functions that permit a customer to communicate with product providers through a financial institution. The network is customer-accessed and associated with a conventional bank or financial institution and provides conventional financial information, products and services offered by a bank and is a gateway to other "non-bank" information, products and services via a banking service platform. More particularly, a banking service platform is provided that includes a client server interconnected with the centralized information processor of a conventional financial institution or bank and a customer operable transceiver to provide access to bank and non-bank products, while maintaining a bank as a focus of the customer's affinity.
BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE
An increasing number of people are demanding more convenience to access various types of consumer services, including banking, bill paying, shopping, travel and other products and services. Catering to the demand for added convenience in banking services are ATMs, direct deposit and banking by telephone and mail. Financial institutions are now seeing competition from a host of new non-financial institution competitors, ranging from investment firms with expanding menus of services to software manufacturers, which have sought to position themselves as primary providers of financial services via electronic access. Financial institutions may continue to hold the money, but these new non-financial institution competitors seek to control the customers.
The banking industry, reacting to this transformation of the competitive environment, has hurried to established electronic connectivity with customers—in some cases choosing systems quickly without sufficient consideration of the strategic value or long-term vitality of the particular technology involved. Even though some of these systems seem to offer "control" of customer relationships, they leave much activity in the hands of a third party provider that is not a financial institution, and these systems actually weaken the relationship link between the financial institution and its customers.
There is a need for a system that enables financial institutions to retain control of customer relationships and customer loyalty and identification with a bank yet enables the customer to use the most advanced technology available. The present invention provides such a system as a bankcentric service platform. The banking service platform is a unique, fault-tolerant, scalable distributed computing environment that puts advanced technology directly into the control of the financial institution, with the same plug-andplay efficiency of third party non-financial institution options. With the present invention, the financial institution, and not a third party non-financial institution provider, is the central focus of the customer's relationship and the bank becomes the perceived and actual provider of financial information, products and services to the customer; and the customer's bank becomes the branded gateway to a plurality of banking and non-banking information, products and
services, that, but for the gateway, would not otherwise be offered by the bank.
In present third party provider systems, the customer calls the third party to do his/her banking; and because the third 5 party owns and manages a facility to enable the customer to obtain electronic services via the third party, the third party becomes in effect the customer's "bank." The relational affinity of the customer's actual bank with which the customer has an account fades in the customer's view as the
10 third party service provider becomes identified as the first relationship the customer uses to initiate transactions.
The banking service platform of the present invention allows the financial institution to own and manage the system and to control and manage the flow of information
15 between the financial institution and the customer. The relationship between the financial institution and the customer is direct and personal. The present invention also allows the financial institution to become a gateway identified with the bank name to non-banking information, prod
20 ucts and services.
A banking service platform is provided that enables access by a customer at a remote location to financial information, products and services maintained by a bank at
25 a central location. The banking service platform includes a central information processor at the central location of a bank, which, ordinarily, is the bank's master computer. The central information processor includes data storage files relating to categories of bank financial information, products
30 and services and an access gateway to other providers (non-bank) of financial and non-financial information, products and services. Customer operable transceivers at remote locations send and receive communications to and from the central information processor through a client server that is
35 operatively interconnected to communicate with the transceivers and the central information processor. The client server handles processing and transmitting communications to and from the customer operable transceivers. The client server enables a customer using the transceiver to access and
^ control items within the categories of financial information, products and services maintained in the data storage files of the central information processor and the financial and non-financial information, products and services of other providers accessible through the gateway.
45 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an overall system flow chart of the bank-centric service platform of the present invention. FIG. 2 is an overall system flow chart of a network service 50 platform embodiment of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
INVENTION AND THE PREFERRED
55 FIG. 1 is an overall flow chart showing, in general fashion, the interrelationship of certain functional and operative components of the banking service platform, generally designated 10. The banking service platform 10 includes a client server 30 in front of the financial institution's main
60 frame computer or central information processor 20. The banking service platform 10 is networked with other platforms, even those installed in different operating environments to provide a gateway 40 to traditionally non-bank products and services. The banking service platform 10
65 connects to the financial institution's existing databases through a software wrapper around the financial institution's existing system(s), that may be a main frame, distributed