Financial Industry's Top Technology Minds Gather in Tulsa

Article excerpt

The financial industry's leading technology officers have gathered in Tulsa to discuss tomorrow's data processing and security needs.

The Financial Services Technology Consortium provides the mechanism for financial institutions, and the technology companies serving them, to come together and work out solutions to challenges facing the sector.

Created in 1993, the think tank's development parallels the growth of the Internet, electronic banking and check imaging - three issues that continue to demand its attention. Since Sept. 11, 2001, its focus also has fallen upon lines of economic and national security, including requirements under the Patriot Act to help track down terrorists.

Donald T. Parker, chairman of the consortium and executive vice president and chief information officer for BOK Financial, noted its members include competitors that by design should be at odds with each other. But they also enjoy strong mutual interests fed by market forces.

We play a unique role in the country and the economy that causes us to work together, he said.

Last season's hurricanes brought several such issues into focus.

After the devastation of Katrina, Whitney Bank in New Orleans witnessed a large number of its customers relocate to Houston. Rodney D. Chard, Whitney's executive vice president for operations and technology, found he lacked the computers, personnel and other tools needed to keep up with his customers.

Everything Rodney needed I had in Houston, Parker said, referring to the BOK subsidiary Bank of Texas. But Parker didn't know about Chard's problems until it was too late to help.

Such stories have spurred the FSTC to consider a more proactive role in responding to events. At present, it provides more analysis for future planning and resiliency than immediate response needs.

But even in emergency situations, competition enters the mix.

After seeing the devastation of Katrina, the threat of Hurricane Rita spurred evacuating Houstonians to withdraw most of the cash from BOK's Transfund automatic teller machines. As BOK loaded a bunch of money on a plane bound for the Bank of Texas - just in front of the slowing, curving storm - the Houston staff noted their streets had emptied.

So rather than place the cash into a safe, that Friday BOK replenished its ATMs, even as Rita headed toward the Louisiana border for a Saturday landing. That allowed Bank of Texas to reopen most of its branches on Sunday, even as most competitors were still tracking down evacuated employees.

Efficiency and fraud

About 30 financial institutions - which run the FSTC - and 70- plus technology companies participate in the organization, seeking collaboration as threats to electronic commerce grow both more sophisticated and international. …