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October 13, 1997


Laser Soft eyes global market for ProBanker

The Madras-based Laser Soft Inc, jointly with Tata-IBM, is targeting the global market for the former's banking solution, ProBanker.

The total branch automation software will be ported on AS\400 platform from the present Novell Netware environment. "Our application will be marketed by Tata-IBM as a total solution," said B Suresh Kamath, CEO, Laser Soft.

Laser Soft is one of Tata-IBM's 10 'partners in development'. "We have a
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policy of tying up with many indigenous software makers whom we help migrate to the AS\400 platform at the lower end. This way we also achieve a higher penetration for AS\400 systems," said Nipun Mehrotra, general manager (AS\400 and networking), Tata-IBM.

IBM will market the product in Singapore, Vietnam and Sri Lanka where it has a presence.

Laser Soft also has a tieup with the Singapore-based Thakral Computers, which will market the combined solutions in all the 26 countries where it has a presence, such as the US, the Europe and most of the Asian countries.

"The price at which we are offering the AS\400 version will be around $15,000 for 10 users and $1,000 per node. Thakral may have its own margin of around 30 per cent," said Kamath.

Laser Soft wants to target the middle level of the solutions market. For instance, in the US, the high-end solution could go anywhere up to $600,000 with low-end around $15,000.

Tata-IBM will also market the solution in India through its marketing network as Laser Soft has no marketing arm. In India, the solution will cost around Rs 500,000 per branch and could be lesser depending on the number of branches.

The current Novell Netware version costs under Rs 400,000 per branch.

The company will also port Prophesy, its solution for trade finance and foreign exchange, on the AS\400 platform.

"AS\400 systems are ideal for the kind of quasi-centric solutions we want to provide in the global markets," said Kamath.

Banks in India have distributed database (in their various branches) as opposed to the US where the database of the different branches of a bank lie at a central location. This factor becomes crucial in interbranch transactions which is the logical extension of TBA. A quasi-centric solution will interconnect some of the important branches of a bank.

"Also there are 'service shops' or small units of a bank where one can do all the day-to-day transactions. These have to be inter-connected with the headquarters and other branches. Also, the more centralised the solution, the more efficient and faster is the decision making and monitoring at the headquarters level," said Kamath. For these purposes the AS\400 is highly scalable and powerful with its cluster configuration.

According to industry estimates, the banking solutions market in India is worth around Rs 2.5-3 billion with major players such as TCS, Infosys and the US-based Kindle. The 12-year old Laser Soft, with a turnover of Rs 20 million claims a share of under 5 per cent and hopes to push it to 15-20 per cent in an year's time.

The company recently got a $75,000-contract from the Vietnam-based Mekong Bank for implementing its Novell Netware version in five of the bank's branches. The solution has been enabled with a multi-currency option.

By early next year, Laser Soft hopes to make a Windows NT version and also make its solutions Web-enabled.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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