Sybase Inc continued its push into the financial services market yesterday with the announcement of the first beta version of its Financial Server application, a customized, off-the-shelf application platform designed exclusively for the banking, securities and insurance industries. The database vendor announced the product strategy back in June and yesterday unveiled three versions of the server, including Sybase Financial Server RDP (Retail Delivery Platform) for the banking industry, Sybase Financial Server STP (Straight-Through Platform) for the securities industry and Sybase Financial Server IAP (Insurance Agent Platform) for the insurance industry. Testing will begin now and end in May, Sybase said. Michon Schenck, VP and general manager financial services, worldwide said the first application to be tested, the solution for the banking industry, was designed to optimize transactions and communications between the consumer and his or her bank across any channel; the web, a two-way pager, a mobile cell phone or a desktop application. Users can dial into the bank over the internet from any of the above devices and request information about their financial status, order a money transfer, request a statement and so on, without having to speak to a bank representative. The software will take the input and hand it off to all internal systems to process it. she explained. Taking the example of a pager, Schenck said it would possible to dial into the bank and request your bank balance and to have the figures on screen within seconds. This is the new millennium of banking. In the old days, banks used to give customers incentives, like toasters, to get them into a branch, she said, but in today’s new mobile and electronic world, toasters aren’t going to cut it. Banks need a to make customers come to their web site. She said it wasn’t yet sure how banks would offer the service but she envisaged a scenario where a mobile device would be given away for free and the customer only charged anytime he or she used the service. As well as convenience for users, having an off-the-shelf alternative to custom in-house development will save banks time and money, Schenck added, and it means customers won’t get roped into a proprietary solution. In the next series of testing, scheduled to begin in early April, Sybase said it will add the Financial Information eXchange (FIX) protocol to the second edition of its financial server, STP (Straight-Through Platform), designed for the securities industries. The company will add FIX as a result of a recent licensing agreement with Javelin Technologies, a front-runner in FIX technology. FIX is a messaging standard for the real-time electronic exchange of securities. It enables straight-through-processing for equities trading environments and trade routing networks including online brokerage firms and financial institutions. Sybase declined to give any details about the third version, Financial Server IAP, other than to say it plans to add support for the insurance industry standards such as O-Life and J-Life later on this year. Sybase also announced that Silicon Summit Technologies Inc, a developer of Java-based trading applications for the securities industry, has agreed to integrate its order management system into Financial Server. Schenck said it was the company’s vision to attract more and more application vendors to integrate their products also. Sybase Financial Server, including STP and RDP, is scheduled for general availability in the second quarter and pricing will be announced at the time of the release.
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