Over the last decade, banks around the world have developed "alternative distribution"-a range of channels beyond traditional branches and the mail through which a bank can communicate with its personal and small-business customers and vice versa.

The first alternative channel was the automated teller machine, followed by the telephone, and now the computer. There are others, such as smart phones, specialty branches (workplace, supermarket, mobile), kiosks, and interactive television, but they are basically variations on a theme.

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