At Phoenix's Republic, One PC Runs Five Dumb Terminals

By Strachman, Daniel | American Banker, November 7, 1994 | Go to article overview

At Phoenix's Republic, One PC Runs Five Dumb Terminals


Strachman, Daniel, American Banker


THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM calls for each banker to be assigned a personal computer, but Phoenix's Republic National Bank has found that for its teller automation system at least, it's better to share.

Republic, a single-branch community bank with $34 million of assets, has found it can have a high-fimction teller system without the costly expense of installing a networked PC for every branch worker.

In early 1993, the bank found that its existing teller platform was becoming outdated and needed to be replaced -- fast.

"Our existing system was no longer being produced, parts were rare, and service was very expensive," said Kyle Curtis, vice president and cashier. "The old system was not giving us the opportunity we needed to grow or use new technology to make the operation more efficient."

The solution the bank found was a branch automation system that runs on a single PC linked to dumb terminals, in a so-called "multi-user" environment. It permits a number of tellers to process transactions and obtain account information simultaneously. Last year, the bank installed a PC-based, multi-user operating system from Concurrent Controls Inc., teller terminal hardware from Southwest Financial Systems Inc., and application software from Easy Systems Inc.

"We looked at several other systems and found that this offered us the most for the money and gave us room to grow:' he said. "Having a personal computer-based [software] platform was very important for us and [the multi-user design] gave us exactly what we were looking for at the right price." However, this sentiment would not be echoed by most banks, according to Richard Crone, senior manager for financial services at KPMG Peat Marwick in Los Angeles.

"In today's world it does not make sense to use unintelligent workstations," he said. "The big winners in the industry today are those institutions which are able to harness the processing power of the personal computer and run with it.

"Using a system to emulate DOS-based personal computers is the old way of thinking," he continued. "The real oppommity is the creation of seamless interfaces between core operations and the teller platforms, adding value by putting transaction data at the front line." Mr. Curtis does not see it that way.

"By installing the system and teller terminals, we were able to gain direct access to the programs residing on the branch processor with less expense," he said. "It gives us the diversity and flexibility [by paying] a single fee, as opposed to a long-term maintenance and hardware contracf' for running an all-PC network.

Republic spent approximately $23,000 to install the five teller terminals and the software and be fully operational.

Mr. Curtis said it would have cost the bank approximately $4,000 per teller station plus a yearly maintenance fee of $,2000 to set up and maintain a local area network. "We found that by going with a terminal emulation system, we will save money in the long rim and have the foundation to build on as we grow," he said.

One of the features the system offers -- which the bank has found useful -- is its ability to move data back and forth to its host computer. Republic has installed a link between the branch processor and its outsourcer -- Fiserv Inc.'s data center in Oklahoma City. …

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