ATLANTA - In the second part of a yearlong study of banking on the information superhighway, the Bank Administration Institute and Boston Consulting Group are offering a road map.
The report, due to be released today at the institute's Retail Delivery Systems conference, takes an educational tack toward high-tech alternatives and the pitfalls for unwary bankers.
The 68-page document includes chapters on customer behavior, legislative and regulatory issues, "the economics of delivery," and ways of getting started.
An earlier installment, summarized in the first chapter of the final report, was designed as a wake-up call to senior bank executives who are not familiar with the convergence of technologies that make cyberspace banking possible.
The authors describe the final installment of "The Information Superhighway and Retail Banking" as "a more specific planning and decision- making framework for individual institutions, with an emphasis on customer segmentation, the economics of on-line delivery, and the strategic options to be considered by bankers."
Grounded in the principle that new modes of delivery are an industry imperative, the study describes the likeliest on-line customers as desirable ones for bankers to pursue.
While the report stops short of hard-and-fast judgments or counsel on some of the industry's more perplexing issues - such as whether to partner with nonbanks like Microsoft Corp. - it underscores the need for the industry as a whole to compete and to set technical standards.
"We believe that the banking industry must take collective action to meet the powerful wave of competition that is developing in electronic commerce," Richard C. Hartnack, vice chairman of Union Bank and the incoming chairman of the BAI's Center for Banking Issues and Strategies, wrote in the foreword to the report.
"Ultimately, bankers, vendors, and industry groups will find it necessary to join forces as this broad-based assault unfolds," he said.
Much like the first half of the study, part two calls for immediate action and warns that banks' complacency could allow nonbanks to "cherry-pick their most valuable customers," according to Thomas Wurster, a vice president at Boston Consulting. Mr. Wurster and another vice president, Bobby Mehta, led the team that prepared the study.
Mr. Hartnack urged senior bank managers and strategic planners to take heed.
"A lot of people are relegating this to lower levels in the organization," he said, adding that many view the topic as too complex, unfamiliar, and risky, with little short-term payback.
"The speed of a lot of these changes tends to be overestimated in the short term," Mr. Wurster said, "but severely underestimated in the long term."
"Our sense is that events are happening much faster than we would have anticipated," said David Van L. Taylor, executive vice president at BAI.
Alternative delivery technologies may not have an impact at the branch level as quickly as some may think, he said. In the early states, the personal computer is most likely to "cannibalize other channels" like the telephone.
While banks retain an "incumbency" advantage over new competitors, "the people who know about payment systems are really outside the banking industry," Mr. Mehta said.
The consultant added that it is often overlooked how the "regulatory structure is undermining the strength of the industry." The authors called for collective political action to counter nonbanks' advantages.