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Mobile Banking Takes on New Meaning

A Federal Government research and development grant offered to Sydney telecommunications company Soprano Design will help further develop a software application to allow mobile phone owners to access banking services with a higher level of security and at a fraction of the cost of existing distribution channels.

Soprano Design’s project, the SOPRANO InCommerce Mobile Electronic Commerce Application Environment, will be further funded by a $188,598 R&D Start grant offered by the Federal Government’s Industry Research & Development Board.

When finalised, SOPRANO InCommerce will allow mobile phone users to perform secure e-commerce transactions using the next generation of WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) phones that link mobile devices with the Internet. Bank customers can check their account balances, pay bills and transfer funds while traveling in a taxi or relaxing in the park simply by following message prompts on the handset screen rather than cumbersome and more expensive mediums such as voice-prompted telephony or the Internet.

Soprano Design’s SOPRANO InCommerce enables mobile phone users to access stock trading, ticketing and betting services as well as information on news, sport, weather and Stock Exchange prices.

Through the use of industry security standards, the R&D is focused on ensuring that a WAP application environment will support privacy, integrity, authentication and non-repudiation, all of which are critical in providing confidence to the banks and their customers in using such services.

The chairman of the IR&D Board, Professor Don Anderson, said today Soprano Design’s software would put Australia at the forefront in an industry that was constantly demanding innovation to survive in a very competitive market.

“There has been a lot of research conducted in this field but no one has yet come up with the ideal solution,” Professor Anderson said. “Soprano Design has a strong track record in R&D and the Board believes the project will have particular benefits for time-pressed businesspeople, especially small business operators.

“There will also be a reduction in the banks’ operating costs and a flow-on benefit for telecommunication carriers.

“Once the final project enhancements are delivered to the marketplace it will prove yet again that Australia has a great many innovative companies doing world-class R&D. However, more of these companies have to commercialise their R&D to help build a strong economy and foster jobs growth.”

Dr Richard Favero, managing director of Soprano Design said: “Our being awarded this grant will assist us to further enhance our SOPRANO InCommerce product and increase the range of services available to Australia’s seven million mobile phones. Our product provides access for customers who have increasingly mobile lifestyles to critical, time sensitive, confidential banking and information services wherever they are and at whatever time of the day.”

The R&D Start Program, administered by AusIndustry, provides funding for Australian companies to undertake R&D and related activities and aims to increase the number of R&D projects with high commercial potential, foster innovation in Australian business and encourage greater commercialisation of outcomes from R&D projects.

More information on the R&D Start Program and other Federal Government assistance measures can be found on the AusIndustry website at: www.ausindustry.gov.au

Soprano Design, founded in 1994 by Dr Favero, is the leading provider of value-added services for mobile networks using SMS, SIMToolkit and WAP to telecommunications and services companies in Australia and South East Asia.

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