Home Financial Network Offers Web Software
Kutler, Jeffrey, American Banker
Home Financial Network Inc. is moving to home banking's ultimate frontier.
The Westport, Conn., company, known for the simplified approach that others have dubbed "home banking lite," is offering versions of its HomeATM software for the Internet.
Home Financial president Eric Jacobsen demonstrated the product extensions, known as Internet ATM, last week during the Bank Administration Institute's
Retail Delivery '96 conference.
Mr. Jacobsen said he expects to roll out the software to banks by the second quarter of next year.
"We always knew we would have an Internet version," Mr. Jacobsen said last week. It took time because of the complexities and security vulnerabilities of the Internet, and because Home Financial set high standards for duplicating the "look and feel," speed, and other features of its flagship programs, HomeATM Banking and HomeATM Bill Pay.
"We didn't want to have to use qualifiers, such as that the Internet product would be slower or more expensive or less graphically pleasing," Mr. Jacobsen said.
"We want to be the first ATM on the Internet," he said, admitting he was "taking a poke" at a rival, Security First Technologies, that advertised itself as the first bank on the Internet.
Whether over the Internet or conventional phone links to personal computers or laptops, Home Financial is pursuing a "middle and mass market" strategy. With easy-to-learn screens modeled after automated teller machines, it hopes to help banks attract consumers who are not drawn to the more sophisticated money management programs of Intuit Inc., Microsoft Corp., or the bank-owned Meca Software Inc.
The "lite" strategy, which some of Home Financial's competitors are also pursuing, could significantly widen the appeal of home banking, according to Synergistics Research Corp. of Atlanta.
Anne Morgan Moore, president of the market research firm, released a survey at the BAI conference indicating that 17% of consumers with annual incomes above $15,000 would consider using a "lite" appliance - perhaps a small PC or stripped down, "thin client" network computer - for home banking. …