XML cracks TV banking service

Egg is to launch an interactive television service after an intensive six-month development project

Egg is to launch an interactive television service after an intensive six-month development project

Nick Huber

The online banking service, available through Sky TV from next month, is the first example of a major financial services company delivering services over interactive digital TV.

Time to market was cut by using common XML-based standards to link Egg's existing back-office and Web infrastructure to the new channel of interactive TV.

The IT system for the Open Interactive service was developed by Egg's current e-business supplier Vignette. Stuart Evans, Vignette's field architect, explained, "When you have the basic architecture for Web banking and security you can deliver electronic services to different channels."

Customer information requests are sent from the set-top box to Egg in an encrypted XML format, using the Internet data transfer standard HTTP.

Egg already uses Vignette software to update Web content on its financial services and pull customer information from its back-office systems. "Instead of talking HTML with a browser we are talking XML with a set-top box," said Evans.

The onset of Interactive TV could force banks to make changes to their back-office systems, warned Evans. "Banks in the UK don't do real-time balances but stress may be put on back offices to do real time bank balances."

Egg's television banking service

The new channel, interactive digital TV, will be available through Sky's Open Interactive service. Customers will use a special keyboard or the traditional remote control to access their accounts. Information is encrypted twice into a public key and then symmetric key. It is then transferred to Egg via the XML data transfer standard. Vignette software co-ordinates the transfer of customer information. The service uses a four-layer architecture with Netscape Web servers on the front-end.

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