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FSTC AND MERIDIEN FORM ALLIANCE

The Financial Services Technology Consortium recently announced that Meridien would create original research for its membership of banks and technology companies.

The Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC), a Chicago-based not-for-profit organization serving the U.S. financial services industry, recently announced that Meridien Research, based in Newton, Mass., would create original research for its membership of banks, technology companies and other industry stakeholders.

"Meridien will bring clarity to help our membership understand what our issues are," said Zachary Tumin, executive director of the FSTC.

For Meridien, influencing the development of new technologies seemed to be a logical extension to their research efforts. "We're doing research on e-signatures, and they're building protocols for e-signatures," said Deborah Williams, a Meridien analyst.

The joint venture helps Meridien by giving them access to the key technology players in the financial services industry. In return, Meridien analysts will contribute their expertise by writing research reports, participating in discussions and hosting Web chats.

FSTC members include representatives from 12 of the largest U.S. banks, including Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Member banks pay FSTC annual membership dues on a sliding scale based on size, and project fees for participation in specific initiatives.

Current projects include "FAST Aggregation," the design of a technical model to establish a standard, interoperable data channel between financial institutions and aggregation services; and "Automated Imaged Signature Comparison," a review of check fraud detection technologies.

FSTC projects all operate in the "pre-competitive space," said Tumin, thus forestalling antitrust concerns that might normally result from having a dozen top competitors in a room discussing core business issues.

Member banks that sign onto a project have to make a formal commitment to participate and to come to terms with the intellectual property issues that may arise. "Boundaries need to be carefully laid out," said Tumin. "We like to own the IP intellectual property to protect it on the behalf of the industry."

The FSTC currently holds patents on "electronic funds transfer instruments" and on a markup language used to process electronic documents such as electronic checks and mortgage applications.

For more information on the Financial Services Technology Consortium, contact: http://www.fstc.org

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