The concept of forming industry consortiums is older than most carriers' legacy systems. Typically, technology consortiums form when companies that are dissatisfied with the IT options that are available to them-and the lack of association muscle to change the status quo-come together to share ideas and to shake up the market.Although consortiums usually form under the umbrella of a unifying theme, they unfortunately can be torn apart by bitter infighting. My favorite example of this is the Integrion Financial Network, a consortium of 16 major North American banks and IBM Corp. which formed in 1996 to develop the technology backbone to support online banking. The banks invested a reported $4 million each for ownership in this for-profit company.

At that time, banks believed their fledgling online banking programs were in danger of being controlled by technology companies, specifically bank processors and software companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Intuit Inc. The Integrion banks partnered with IBM to develop a platform that all members could use to support online banking transactions, bringing huge volume that could save each bank substantial processing fees, they believed.

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