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Methods in Electronic Retail Cash Handling using Advanced Network Technologies

Objective

MERCHANT is in the banking and finance domain of the RACE programme, with the aim of studying the impact of IBC on electronic fund transfers. The importance of fast and reliable cross-border payment systems, transparent to the card-holder, is indeed crucial for speeding up the establishment of a true common market and for facilitating the free movement of persons within Europe.

Merchant's main objectives have been therefore to:

. study the impact of IBC on ERP
. provide the RACE community with ERP-specific requirements regarding IBC service primitives (functions, performance, cost),
A study has been made of the impact of integrated broadband communications (IBC) on electronic funds transfer. It has been found that the present evolution of the telecommunication services and the actual splitting and distribution of bank processing that is being carried out, leads to an infrastructure based on many individual architectures.

5 deliverables were produced. The final deliverable covered the implementation of a demonstrator and the analysis of its results with a view to future trends in the areas of open architecture, user interface, network management and security.

The architecture contributes to the building up of a new generation of ERP systems, that respect the role, independence and responsibilities of each existing ERP actor.
Technical Approach

The project has studied how IBC can lead to new applications and to the enhancement of existing ones. With analysis of the European ERP state-of-the-art as a starting point, and user requirements as a direction of development, the project addressed the following areas:

. ERP system architecture
. security and network management techniques
. user interface and terminal issues
. a specific environment with the possibility of one multi-usage card.

A validation of the architecture chosen for the infrastructure was achieved by holding a seminar for potential users, and running a demonstration in Italy, to prove the success of technical choices. These choices rely on existing standards and emerging technologies, IBC being not yet available.

MERCHANT relies on an open architecture, whereby new applications are independent to each other and to the terminals. Thus, service providers have a real possibility of innovation.

Key Issues
Based on its work, MERCHANT has made the following observation:

Present evolution of the telecommunication services, and the actual splitting / distribution of bank processing that is being carried out, lead to an infrastructure based on many individual architectures. The main elements that will contribute to a successful system at the disposal of several market sectors are:

. distributed intelligence.
. guaranteed services provided by a powerful and efficient networks,
. multi-service terminals, reliable and easy to use.

MERCHANT's architecture is aligned with each of these elements for success.

Expected Achievements
Five deliverables have been made. The last one covers the implementation of a demonstrator and the analysis of its results with a view to future trends in the areas of open architecture, user interface, network management and security.

Expected Impact
The MERCHANT architecture should contribute to the building up of a new generation of ERP systems, that respects the role, independence and responsibilities of each existing ERP actor.

Coordinator

Sligos SA

Participants (6)

Alcatel/ISR
France
BRITISH TELECOM PLC (BT)
United Kingdom
Computer Industry Research Unit
United Kingdom
Address
2 Dove Street
NR2 1DE Norwich
SWIFT
Belgium
Sixcom Olivetti Group
Italy
Sociedade Interbancaria de Servicos
Portugal