Liberty Bank

Article excerpt

INTERNET BANKING COMPLEMENTS LONG SERVICE HISTORY

Established in 1825 as Middlerown Savings Bank, Liberty is a mutual bank with 28 banking offices throughout central and eastern Connecticut, and $1.4 billion in assets. By making banking services more readily available, Internet technology enhances Liberty's relationship with the community it has already served for many years.

With LibertyLink, the bank's 150,000 customers can log in through Liberty's home page, http://www.liberty-bank.com, and perform transactions over the Internet. For instance, they can view an account's balance or transaction history, transfer funds, place a stop payment on a check, or perform an inquiry by check number, amount or date. They can even pay their bills.

In addition, since LibertyLink is fully integrated with Liberty's telephone banking system, a customer who completes a transaction over the phone can go to the Internet and instantly see a record of it there.

DECISIONS TO MAKE

Before Liberty launched its Internet banking initiative, branches had begun to report that a growing number of new customers were asking about electronic banking. "Basically it was rime to get on the bandwagon," says Turtle. "At some point you can't afford not to-if you want to attract new customers.

In early 1997, Liberty established committees to evaluate its online banking options. Turtle was among the bank employees drawn from the technology, personal banking, marketing and finance divisions as part of the initiative.

One big decision was whether Liberty should offer real-time account access or go with off-line batch processing. While choosing the real-rime option may have added to the implementation and integration challenges, Tuttle has no doubt the extra effort was worth it. "No matter what channel you use to do your banking-branch transaction, telephone or Internet-the system updates immediately," she enthuses. 'And we're hoping that will sell our system over a competitor's."

Another decision was whether to implement a proprietary-based or an Internet system. While other banks in Liberty's market were starting to come Out with their own electronic banking solutions, the services they offered were all proprietary.

Liberty chose an Internet system in part because of the greater convenience it offers customers. As long as they have an Internet service provider, Liberty customers can access their accounts from wherever they are-at work, at home or on the road. By contrast, proprietary customers are obliged to use the computer where the proprietary software resides.

In addition, Liberty didn't want to have to send our disks or worry about whether customers' computers met minimum standards. A proprietary system could potentially mean a support nightmare, the bank realized. Its Internet-based system, on the other hand, requires no distribution and minimal maintenance. "If we make a change," says Turtle, "we have to do it only one time and every customer gets it."

While customers' security concerns might he more easily alleviated by a proprietary system-given the direct connection between user and bank-state-of-the-art firewalls provide the Internet system with an equally high level of security.

BEHIND THE SCENES: THE TECHNOLOGY

Having decided on product type, Liberty needed to get outside vendors involved. Integrating LibertyLink with the bank's other systems required the collaborative efforts of HTI, Edify and Unisys. HTI performed the integration between the Edify server and Liberty's mainframe software (EDS/Miser of Orlando, Fla. …