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VALLEY AND VENTURA COUNTY BUSINESS | VENTURA COUNTY
REVIEW

Internet Services Provider Digital Insight Takes Aim at Banks

December 17, 1996|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Paul Fiore spent five years as chief financial officer of the AT&T Employees and Federal Credit Union.

So it is not surprising that in 1995, when he co-founded Camarillo-based Digital Insight, a provider of home banking and other Internet services, the business had a distinctive credit union slant.

That was 16 months ago, however, and now, having made a significant impact on the way credit unions handle electronic banking, the company is taking aim at banks. Digital Insight has announced a partnership with S2 Systems Inc., a Dallas company that supplies banking software to 300 banks worldwide.

"These banks still have a choice of what [Internet provider] they want to partner with," Fiore said, "but in many cases this will make us the preferred solution."

Digital Insight designs web sites and provides other Internet services that allow banking customers to do a variety of transactions over the Internet. These transactions include calling up account balances and histories, transferring money between accounts, paying bills and accessing stock quotes and portfolios.

The company partners with software providers to serve the financial community. Through alliances with XP Systems Corp. of Moorpark, Symitar Systems of San Diego and Users Inc. of Valley Forge, Pa., Digital Insights already provides web site services to about 120 credit unions with access to more than 700 additional institutions.

Of the 120 that have the web site service, 28 have a home banking operation. That is more than half of the 51 financial institutions worldwide that provide Internet banking services to their customers, according to Online Banking Report, a newsletter that tracks developments in electronic banking.

"This is our first demonstrated effort to expand beyond the credit union market. This really takes us into a larger area of financial institutions," said Fiore of the agreement with S2 Systems, whose clients include the Bank of New York and 85% of all banks in Chile.

"The strategy is to develop partnerships with companies that already sell software to banks," he said. "We expect to add both domestically and internationally. We want to do really well here, to prove ourselves, but there is a tremendous market internationally and there are not many companies serving the market."

Jim Bruene, editor of Online Banking Report, said Digital Insight made quite a splash when it was founded and is continuing to be a leader in the electronic banking industry.

"There's no one company that has a huge impact, but in terms of a piece of online banking and web site building, they have really advanced the art," Bruene said. "I thought they really hit the idea of what a web should be. They were a little bit ahead of the curve," Bruene said.

As recently as March, he said, credit unions were providing only basic information over the Internet.

"They were already loading all the brochures and the annual reports, but there wasn't any way to navigate around it," he said. "Digital Insight correctly looked at what a financial institution should offer their customers--rates, prices, product information--and offered simple navigation and a lot better-looking way to do it."

Bruene said that by working with S2 Systems and other software companies that serve banks, and by providing such services as Internet checking account transactions, Digital Insight is again among the pacesetters.

"They've got a nice base to build on and now are adding value-added services," he said. "That's what is going to be provided in 1997, and that's what the consumer is looking for."

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