Gulf Area Banks Beef up Security with Wireless Encryption System

ERF Wireless encryption solution being deployed with Motorola's broadband technology

ERF Wireless said that its specialized data encryption solution is being deployed along with Motorola's wireless broadband technology by banks in Gulf Coast states to upgrade bank branch financial transaction and data processing capacity while preventing service interruptions caused by hurricanes and other natural disasters.

As recently as July, the company noted, Iberville Bank became the fifth multi-bank branch operator in the region to launch an encrypted wireless financial network that interconnects the bank's headquarters and processing center with its 11 branches in southwest Louisiana. Previously, the bank had leased numerous land-based data transmission lines to link its facilities dotting a 500-square-mile area.

The secure, point-to-point wireless financial network, which is the backbone for all the bank's retail ATM network, teller systems, and other financial transaction data transmissions, also transports digital images of checks and financial documents from the various branches to a central processing center. Two key elements make up the network: CryptoVue, a patent-pending proprietary data encryption system with biometric controls developed and deployed exclusively for high-security networks by ERF Wireless, combined with Motorola's Canopy wireless broadband technology.

"The combination of CryptoVue and Canopy provides a unique solution for the banking industry while raising the prospect for other information security-conscious industries that could benefit from such a combination," said Craig Newman, a market development manager with Motorola's Networks and Enterprise business. Canopy solutions are part of Motorola's overall broadband approach to total coverage which includes its MOTOwi4 portfolio of innovative wireless broadband solutions and services that create, complement and complete IP networks.

John Burns, a banking technology expert and now CEO of ERF Wireless' Enterprise Network Services subsidiary, explained how digital images of checks -- not the actual pieces of paper -- are transported from place to place for settlement. Until just a few years ago, the original paper check had to be physically transported back to the payee bank for payment. That meant engaging ground and air couriers to hand-carry cancelled checks to the respective issuing banks -- a costly venture considering the actual cost of transport. Compounding that cost, however, was the cost of float -- the time during which the bank that cashed the check does not have access to the funds and the interest income that otherwise could be generated while in possession of those funds. Check processing centers operated by the nation's Federal Reserve Banks and numerous privately operated check processing correspondent banks situated along the route of the returning check were able to short-circuit some of the negative effects of float, but not entirely.

"For most banks, the technology of choice has been leased frame circuits or T1 lines to their remote locations," said Burns. "But telco circuits are expensive and they do not have the capacity to support the growing volume and complexity of present-day bank transactions and the new digital applications being deployed. And as we learned here last year with not one but two powerful hurricanes, land circuits don't stand up very well to high winds and flood waters. Many telephone and cable circuits were down for weeks -- some even months. And the one lesson we all learned is that people are very clear on what they need in a hurricane situation: water, ice, food, communications and access to their money."

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