The real threat to successful banking in the 21st century is not rapid technological change, high interest rates, delinquent loans or whether computers embrace the year 2000 before the year 2000. The question is whether banking becomes customer-centric or degrades products and services into anonymous commodities.

Leaders in the next century will succeed by addressing the hearts and minds of their customers, interweaving value with substance and honoring the reality of customer satisfaction. If products continue to "flatten," then price and short-term promotions rule.

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