IBM-Apple—a Pivotal Partnership


IBM and Apple’s new hardware-software development alliance could benefit community banks

By Kathryn Jackson Fallon

New Software Tools of the Trade

Security Management Portal

Diebold Inc. in North Canton, Ohio, has added data analytics and workflow management to its security management portal. The company reports that the new functions to the SecureStat system enable banks to more effectively analyze and manage security-related systems and activities from a single, centralized dashboard interface.
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Security for Digital Payments

Billing and payments software developer TransCentra Inc. in Norcross, Ga., has introduced anti-money laundering security features to its remote deposit capture and lockbox services software platforms. The company says its software better distinguishes money orders, cashier’s checks, personal checks and business checks to reduce manual reviews of riskier transaction items. The system can also automatically flag riskier items according to each bank’s own business rules and logic.
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What’s this? A collaboration between IBM Corp. and Apple Inc.? While a relationship between the progenitors of Siri and Watson may have been unthinkable back in the 1980s when new kid Apple was poking fun at IBM’s staid PC image, today it is a done deal.

Now a working alliance announced in July could ensure that the iPads and iPhones that community bank employees use can have the latest software and anti-fraud protection from IBM.

The alliance is based on combining the strengths of both companies. Apple has the innovative hardware engineering know-how, and IBM has the enterprise and big data and analytical expertise, maintains Glenn Finch, global leader for technology and data for IBM Global Business Services. “That’s why it makes so much sense for us to partner with Apple,” he says, “because the thing that they have, we don’t have, and the thing that we have, they don’t.”

The initial plan behind the new alliance is for IBM to build 100 mobile business apps to be used on Apple’s iOS devices. Several of these apps could perform sophisticated analytical tasks that could boost the use of information by a variety of industries, including the financial industry. Various business apps are still in the early development stage, but IBM’s collaboration with several large financial firms could in the near future lead to three to five possible new business applications that might benefit community banks, Finch says.

While still under development, the business apps likely would be designed by IBM to provide better connectivity and enhanced security. For instance, the companies could try to raise the analytical sophistication of security software to flag and question why a customer’s account is asking for wire transfers for the first time.

Another new high-profile area of potential benefit to community banks from the Apple-IBM alliance is how the companies plan to work together to address financial fraud. IBM will be attempting to apply its computer security expertise to help harden Apple’s mobile devices against data theft. Broader challenges the companies also are addressing together include making it harder for cybercriminals to obtain financial data from Apple devices as well as ensuring that any data they might somehow steal would be rendered worthless to them.

“Bring those two partnerships together,” says Bob Griffin, IBM’s general manager of threat and counter fraud solutions, “and that’s game-changing. That’s rule-changing.”

Kathryn Jackson Fallon is a financial writer in New York.