Chase Manhattan Corp. is joining the growing number of big banking companies going wireless.
The company is expected to announce today that it plans to start using Tantau Software Inc.'s wireless Internet technology early next year.
Once connected, Chase's wholesale and retail customers will be able to transfer data to and from any Wireless Application Protocol-enabled cellular phone, laptop computer, or personal digital assistant using any wireless carrier.
Chase Capital Partners, the unit responsible for developing joint ventures with Internet companies, made an undisclosed equity investment this year in Tantau, which is based in Austin, Tex.
Ameet Patel, senior vice president of Chase.com, the division that negotiated the new contract, said Chase selected Tantau because its platform offers security and allows other applications to be added to it.
"In the financial services domain and a lot of the areas in the wireless domain, I think security is maturing, but it's really not in place," Mr. Patel said.
Peter Klante, vice president of marketing for Tantau, said the software lets Chase maintain a direct link with customers, rather than sending transactions through a service provider's portal.
The software sits behind the bank's own firewall, providing a high level of security, he said. "The transactions that leave the handset remain encrypted all the way into the enterprise. It doesn't go through anybody in the middle."
Denis O'Leary, head of Chase.com, said the platform will help Chase seamlessly integrate its wired and wireless online transaction infrastructures and "provide the most secure and convenient banking experience to our customers."
While wireless capabilities have become standard among brokerage firms, banks have been slower to get on board. Bank of America Corp., Bank of Montreal, Citigroup Inc., First Union Corp., Royal Bank of Canada, Wachovia and Wells Fargo & Co. offer wireless account access. First Internet Bank of Indiana introduced the service Wednesday.