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Netscape wins over Citibank

In its largest deal ever with a major bank, Netscape signs a licensing pact with Citibank for worldwide deployment of Netscape's software.

In its largest deal ever with a major bank, Netscape Communications has signed a licensing pact with Citibank for worldwide deployment of Netscape's e-commerce, server, and browser software.

Citibank, one of the world's largest financial institutions with operations in 100 countries, will use Netscape's software as the infrastructure for e-commerce sites, intranet, extranets, and also to host applications for bank customers.

"Our goal is to extend our global reach," said Ed Horowitz, Citibank's corporate executive vice president. "This allows us to accelerate the delivery of new services with both our corporate and consumer customers."

Horowitz said the deal will boost Citibank's use of electronic data interchange (EDI), which performs automated online e-commerce and financial transactions between computers without human intervention. Netscape's software will not be used in the user interface of Citibank's Direct Access home banking service, but it may be incorporated into the back-end as new services are added.

New services based on Netscape technology will be launched by the end of the year, Citibank said.

At today's announcement, Netscape also showcased a new buzzword. Enterprise service provider, or ESP, is CEO Jim Barksdale's catch phrase for "the next generation of the Internet."

"We've seen a trend evolving that IS organizations within companies feel demand that they're an Internet service provider," Barksdale said. "It puts new requirements on them since they're dealing with many thousands or millions more customers than in the past." ESPs may host applications like email not only for their customers but for customers of their customers, requiring directory and security services as well.

The two companies declined to reveal the dollar value of the deal but indicated the license covers Netscape's ECXpert family of e-commerce software, its Application Server (built with technology acquired last year from Kiva Software), the directory server from its SuiteSpot server family, and browser technology from its Communicator offering.

The deal does not include any enhanced exposure for Citibank on Netscape's NetCenter Web site, but both sides indicated additional elements may be added to the contract.