News Release

First e-Bank Implements Internet Banking Applications over Cisco Infrastructure

MANILA, Philippines -- 30 August 2001 -- In its aim to
Aug 30, 2001

MANILA, Philippines -- 30 August 2001 -- In its aim to become the preferred financial services provider in the country, First e-Bank, the Philippines' first financial institution to advocate Internet and cellphone banking, is deploying a Cisco-powered end-to-end network to all its 60 branches nationwide. The project will be completed by September.

"I've always been a firm believer of Cisco since the company started in the Philippines (in 1995)," said Primo B. Aguas, First e-Bank's Chief Information Officer. "Cisco has the technical capability to deliver the solution that we want in a quicker and more cost-effective way. The core retail banking solution that we're looking at now is going to be Web-enabled so the Cisco network is going to be key to its successful implementation."

First e-Bank was looking to upgrade the legacy systems it installed five years ago. "A lot of the things we wanted to do we could not using the systems we had in place. The equipment was just obsolete and we could not replace it. So to drive the bank forward, we needed to implement a robust network infrastructure coupled with new retail deposits and loans system that was both web-designed and future-proof," he added.

First e-Bank considered two other networking hardware vendors before deciding on Cisco, running several benchmark tests on the speed of transmission of files. The Cisco solution, consisting of 3600 and 1750 series routers with voice modules, easily transmitted the test files more than twice as fast as that of the nearest competitor. In terms of capacity and quality of service, Aguas said that Cisco solutions had the capabilities that the bank desired using regular high-speed lines. "Compared with the two other suppliers, Cisco came out ahead," he said.

"We are very practical and prudent in the technology that we acquire, so the solutions we select have to be tried and proven. Considering my experience with Cisco, the tests fortified our belief that Cisco is the right solution partner," Aguas added.

With the upgrade to Cisco, First e-Bank intends to improve communications among its employees and customers.

"The Internet should be looked at by organizations as a way of improving processes, communications and information dissemination, and reducing costs. For us, we don't have to print policy manuals, memos, and updates anymore. We just publish it on the Web, and the branches can access the information instantaneously," Aguas said.

Another benefit derived with Cisco's networking solution is improved communication between the bank's branches in terms of tellering and inquiries especially after the implementation of the new Core Retail Deposit and Loans System. Aguas explained: "If a teller has questions about a particular function, he or she can send the email inquiry directly to us (at the head office) or to the solutions provider who has a 24-hour global help desk. As a result, we can immediately respond to their query. Our tellering solution in the future is going to be Web and browser based and it will make full use of the Cisco infrastructure."

Voice over IP will also greatly reduce the bank's expenses by allowing branches to call each other as well as the Head Office over First e-bank's Cisco network as if it were a local call, maximizing the use of the leased line.

Said Noel Rivera, country manager of Cisco Systems Philippines: "First e-Bank's innovative network and Internet banking implementation is an excellent example of how the Internet is impacting businesses today. By creating a seamless communications infrastructure linking up its head and branch offices, First e-Bank is empowering its employees with timely and relevant information. This enables the branch offices to improve the customer experience tremendously..In addition, First e-Bank is now able to offer value-added services that few other banks can offer," he added.

One such service is the free use of Internet kiosks in each branch to enable clients to conduct Internet banking even if they do not have Internet access at home or in the office. The kiosks will initially be deployed in key urban cities and will be eventually rolled out to all First e-Bank branches nationwide.

"Some banks maintain 40,000 to 50,000 Internet accounts. For us, it's just a matter of penetrating that market and offering the right products and services. Fifty percent of the Philippines' population are 19 years and younger. This is the computer-literate segment of our market, and two, three or four years from now, these will be the same people who will use technology in their banking needs and work, and so they are part of our target market," said Aguas.

Because of the cost-effective benefits afforded by a Cisco end-to-end network, First e-Bank figures it will be able to receive full payback on its investment in less than a year simply by cutting the time of file transmissions as well as telecommunications cost-savings.

"File downloads that would have taken 30-minutes on our old system now takes only 10 minutes. So you're already saving time and improving staff productivity," said Aguas.

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