Bank of Montreal plans to combine online services, both in-house and hosted, to deliver detailed maps and other information, including e-mail addresses of financial specialists at specific branches and perhaps even photos of the staff, to customers.
Pritesh Gandhi, the senior manager of online and enterprise strategy at the Toronto bank, said it expects to introduce its map-based locator service in January, using Microsoft Corp.'s Virtual Earth technology in conjunction with in-house data.
"We were able to mash up a few cool things for the user," Mr. Gandhi said in an interview last week.
For example, Bank of Montreal will be able to update branch changes in real time, using in-house data, he said. "We have branch closings and openings all the time," he noted.
The Virtual Earth locator is to replace multiple search tools and locator maps that the bank uses now to help customers find automated teller machines; branches; and sites that offer services such as mortgage specialists, investment advisers, and financial planners.
Bank of Montreal's locator is to include features that banks have not offered before, such as personal contact details for the mortgage specialists and investment advisers in individual branches, Mr. Gandhi said. "You can actually e-mail a contact" directly from the locator.
In the next phase of the locator's rollout, planned for later in 2009, Bank of Montreal plans to include photos of some staff members.
Bank of Montreal is starting a mobile-optimized site at the same time, and both the desktop and mobile versions will be available in English and French in Canada and in English and Spanish at its U.S. unit, Harris Bank in Chicago, Mr. Gandhi said.
Microsoft says Virtual Earth also is used by large financial companies including Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo & Co., and Visa Inc.