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Korean Bank Rolls Out Online Service

Hanvit Bank decides to implement account aggregation service from 724 Solutions.

Hanvit Bank, Korea, decided to implement an account aggregation service from 724 Solutions, but not before the company agreed to a rather unique product adjustment.Hanvit is one of six government-owned banks slated for privatization pending successful restructuring.

The latest release of 724's aggregation software includes technology from CashEdge, Milpitas, Calif. Called e-Clips, the software aggregates banking and brokerage information along with news, travel miles and e-mail accounts, and also provides a financial dashboard, personalized actionable alerts and mobile access.

Furthermore, 724 Solutions' LiveClipper tool allows users to aggregate specific elements of their favorite pages. "You can actually make up your own desktop, with the sports headline from one site and the news headline from another," said Thom Hounsell, director of aggregation and alerts for 724 Solutions. "We generally find that it's used by people that have a particular piece of information that wouldn't be 'commonly' important-but it's important to them."

At most installations, the aggregated data either resides on the bank's server or in a hosted environment. But customers of $57.8 billion Hanvit Bank aggregate information from their own PCs. "Korea has got a very different environment than most in the world," said Hounsell. "Aggregation has to be on the client."

This requirement for client-side aggregation stems from fundamental differences in security protocols between Korea and elsewhere. Internet banking applications for consumers typically use Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Instead of SSL, mandatory Korean government standards call for Internet banking applications to use the 128-bit SEED security protocol announced in 1999. "At that time, ITAR International Traffic in Arms Regulations was restrictive and DES Data Encryption Standard was not reliable for security," said Joo-won Jung, senior researcher at INITECH, Seoul, South Korea. "So SEED was developed and used as Korea's mandatory cipher."

SEED (not an acronym) typically operates through an ActiveX plug-in for Internet Explorer, the predominant browser software. Although Java and Netscape implementations of SEED exist, banks prefer to secure their sites with ActiveX. "We've augmented e-Clips with some of the local technologies to help with the issues around ActiveX," said Hounsell.

Because of the ActiveX authentication method, 724 Solutions couldn't implement its usual server-based solution. "If the banks are using these ActiveX controls, there aren't a lot of other options," said Hounsell. "It would be hard for a server technology to emulate the client behavior."

In other words, the server doesn't fish for information to display in the browser window but rather teaches the browser how to fish for itself. "We wouldn't say it's part of our standard product set to store it at the client, though," said Hounsell. "That's our least standard implementation to date."

The Korean marketplace is particularly suited for innovative online banking products. Approximately 6.7 million Korean households have Internet access (42% of total households) according to research from NetValue Korea, an Internet survey firm. Of those, the Ministry of Information and Communication reports, about five million households have broadband access.

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