Countrywide switches back to NCR for systems update

Countrywide Bank is working through the final details of a large contract with NCR after originally deciding to run with Hewlett-Packard. The bank, an existing NCR customer, is modernising its systems and, at the same time, taking care of its year 2000 issues. Chief information officer Ron Hooton says lengthy discussions were held with both vendors. 'Originally, we thought the HP solution was more attractive - then we changed our preference."

Countrywide Bank is working through the final details of a large contract with NCR after originally deciding to run with Hewlett-Packard.

The bank, an existing NCR customer, is modernising its systems and, at the same time, taking care of its year 2000 issues. Chief information officer Ron Hooton says lengthy discussions were held with both vendors. "Originally, we thought the HP solution was more attractive — then we changed our preference.”

That first preference for HP led to what was effectively a letter of intent, though HP managing director Bob Cattell says only that he had correspondence with the bank. Hooton says the original NCR solution didn’t look achievable in the time frame. Sources say it was a lot broader than the bank was seeking and would have cost around $40 million.

HP had proposed porting the core Infinet system to an open systems platform. Infinet was bought by Countrywide from FNS 12 years ago and has been heavily customised since. “When you’ve been customising for 12 years, it tends to lose its charm and attractiveness,” says Hooton, who was appointed to the role in February, replacing David Taylor. The HP solution is said to have been costed at around $14 million.

NCR subsequently offered FNS’s more modern software, Banks, which is widely used. Hooton isn’t prepared to discuss at this stage what hardware platform NCR has suggested. He expects a final decison to be made within the next few weeks.

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