Tech Industry

Sybase, Intuit target home banking

The two companies unveil a partnership to pursue financial institutions as customers and to make their financial software work together seamlessly.

Sybase and Intuit today unveiled a partnership to pursue financial institutions as customers and to make their financial software work together seamlessly.

The partnership boosts Sybase's efforts to move into new server applications in the financial sector, specifically its Financial Server announced last month and due to ship by the end of the year. That strategic direction comes as software companies like Sybase see growth in the database software market slowing over the past year.

For Intuit, the nonexclusive deal gives the marketer of top-selling Quicken personal finance software an entry into Sybase's customer base in the brokerage and banking industries. Analysts said Sybase remains strong in the financial services industry, despite a series of financial setbacks, and a furious onslaught from rival Oracle.

"We are working together to extend connectivity between financial institutions and their customers," said John Chen, Sybase CEO.

Both Sybase and Intuit said they will devote engineers to making Sybase Financial Server and Intuit's client software interoperate smoothly. Chen said the agreement also will produce consulting revenue to Sybase from financial institutions.

"If a financial institution wants an end-to-end solution with Intuit and Sybase products deployed in an integrated and seamless practice, we'll cooperate to make it easy," said William Harris, the Intuit executive vice president who will become CEO on August 1.

"This joint commitment will give financial institutions greater confidence in delivering Internet-based retail financial products to their customers," Dale Kutnick, CEO of the Meta Group, said in a statement. "This alliance further substantiates our view that financial institutions will require more robust solutions to provide customers online access."

The deal also is a major boost for the Open Financial Exchange (OFX) protocol, which describes how financial information is exchanged both between consumers and their banks and between different banks or financial institutions.

Sybase's Financial Server will support OFX, as will competitors' software. Sybase also will start an OFX certification program to help financial institutions make their systems OFX-compliant. Financial Server also will support the Financial Information eXchange (FIX) protocol for real-time securities transactions and two life insurance industry protocols.

Chen said Sybase will pursue similar vertical applications in the telecommunications and health care industries.

"This is the first example of how we're going to position Sybase as a high-value [provider]," Chen said. "We expect to see business pick up, especially on the Internet."

Sybase Financial Server is based on its Jaguar CTS (component transaction server) technology for Web-based transactions.

Rival Oracle is developing technology, code-named Tribeca, for banks to offer online bill presentment, which lets consumers view their bills on Web sites.

Proposed last year by Intuit, Microsoft, and CheckFree, OFX is merging with a separate protocol called Integrion Gold, pushed by IBM and large North American banks in the Integrion joint venture.