The ASB Bank plans to use 128-bit encryption technology when it launches its Internet banking service some time this year — after originally promising it would be up and running by last August.
MIS chief Garry Fissenden cannot yet say where the bank has sourced its encyption technology but confirms it has been looking at both home-grown products and overseas technology from the United Kingdom and Europe.
The bank launched an Internet banking pilot involving several hundred staff last April. It had been expected to finish by August but Fissenden says the pilot is still running, largely because of the bank’s attempts to solve security issues in the light of US export restrictions on encryption technology.
He says the bank considers anything under 128-bit to be too easy to break.
“There have been too many documented cases of it actually being broken into, so we’ve been concentrating on getting that issue solved.”
He believes customers can feel secure with the encryption technology the bank will use.
“We will be going with what we believe is state of the art: 128-bit encryption. That’s really all you can do.”
Fissenden says the rest of the Internet banking issues have been relatively easy to deal with.
“There are lots of other issues associated with it, but in reality there are millions of people doing lots of things over the Internet at the moment, and it’s easily managed.”
The bank has already had a large number of inquiries through its home page from customers wanting to know when it will be able to offer Internet banking. Although he cannot say exactly when that will be, Fissenden says the pilot is due to finish this year.
The introduction of Internet banking is likely to be “sooner rather than later”. The trial has involved several hundred ASB staff.
There will be no further trials before the system is made available to customers. The features available on the pilot were almost identical to those available on ASB’s interactive voice response product.
For the pilot, ASB is using the Edify Electronic Workforce system distributed by Parkers’ Edge.
Parkers’ Edge has, with Cardinal Networks, linked the ASB Web page to the bank’s Linc software running on a legacy mainframe Unisys host.
Fissenden says it would be a brave person who predicts banks would ever disappear because of this kind of technology.
“But it is fairly certain that the role of the bank branch will change.”