Janey A. Place, a noted technology strategist who has worked at Wells Fargo & Co. and the former NationsBank Corp., now is trying to steer Mellon Bank Corp. down the e-commerce path.
"I don't see any banks having a cohesive, coherent, well-orchestrated, and integrated electronic commerce strategy," Ms. Place said.
She has taken an executive vice president position that was newly created by Mellon's chairman and chief executive officer, Martin G. McGuinn.
Other major banks are establishing such high-level posts. First Union Corp. last month named David Carroll to a similar position, overseeing Internet, telephone, and other alternative delivery strategies.
Ms. Place's job is to ensure "coordination across the business lines and prioritize what we are going to do first," she said.
Topping her to-do list is developing new products, including electronic bill presentment. Mellon was among an early wave of banks to test a system from Transpoint, a joint venture of Microsoft Corp., First Data Corp., and Citigroup.
Last year Mellon introduced Web Bill-Paying and Bank-by-Web, which let customers pay bills and manage checking and savings accounts.
Ms. Place indicated she would work to develop Internet products for $50 billion-asset Mellon's cash management division.
Business-to-business electronic commerce will become extremely important, she said, because it can let companies reduce costs while lengthening their reach.
"Besides improving efficiency, the Internet allows huge improvements in reach, risk, self-service, and customization," Ms. Place said.
Mellon's strengths, she added, are its customer relationships. "We'll look at electronic commerce to reduce our costs and improve our efficiency in business."
One of Ms. Place's assets is that "she is not a banker," said William M. Randle, executive vice president of Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio. They were both members of the Banking Industry Technology Secretariat's advisory group, a panel of senior executives who report to BITS directors such as Ms. Place's former boss, Bank of America Corp. chairman Hugh L. McColl Jr.
Ms. Place understands "the digital revolution and its impact on information-based organizations," Mr. Randle said.
For the past six months Ms. Place, 53, has headed her own payment systems consulting company, DigitalThinking.com.
"It was an opportunity to take a hiatus and get the broader experience that comes from consulting," she said. "It really did set me up to do what I'm doing now."
DigitalThinking.com did work for BITS, for a larger consulting firm, and several Internet start-ups. Ms. Place remains chairwoman of DigitalThinking.com and is on the boards of two Internet firms, MultiNet and VideoGate.
In 1997 and 1998 Ms. Place was chairwoman of the Financial Services Technology Consortium, a big-bank research forum. From 1990 to 1994 she was senior vice president in charge of direct banking strategy, research, and development at Wells Fargo.
"Wells Fargo was a real pioneer in allowing its customers on the retail and commercial sides to access information via the Internet," Ms. Place said. "That was also true of NationsBank before its merger with Bank of America, and so there are a lot of capabilities there."
Ms. Place reports to Mr. McGuinn and Allan P. Woods, Mellon's vice chairman and chief information officer.
She said firms that will succeed in the Internet economy have to develop the necessary tools. Key words for the future are competitiveness and flexibility, she said.