WILLIAM M. RANDLE Senior vice president Huntington Bancshares Columbus, Ohio BILL GATES' STATEMENT, "Banks are dinosaurs, they can be bypassed," has a degree of validity to it. Microsoft and other technology companies understand several things better than most commercial bankers - information, networks, and distribution. Mr. Gates' observation that banks are dinosaurs could become true if in fact the industry does not take note of the challenge. A failure on the part of banks to recognize this threat will result in the loss of control of the payment system, as well as the loss of control of the core customer relationship. The issues with regard to the payment system and control of the customer relationships banks now enjoy extends beyond the challenge offered by Mr. Gates. As an industry, we must maintain control of the payment system and guard against any network - including our own credit card association - that would reduce our core customer relationships to a globally branded commodity. Mr. Gates has actually done the banking industry a service by pointing out our weakness and providing a needed call to action.
*** JOSEPH S. PENDLETON 3D Senior vice president Meridian Bancorp Reading, Pa. GATES' REMARK ANNOYS MANY BANKERS because it is so painfully close to what we already know: Forcing short-term performance improvement by cost cutting and outsourcing is the plodding path to our demise. I know I can survive and evolve into a crocodile, but that makes me an ugly remnant in a world dominated by another order. The strange light in the East, becoming brighter every day, is really the combined reflection of all the PC monitors, TVs, and screen phones being bought by the American consumer and used for interactive services. We can choose to perceive it as a guiding light to the new paradigm of financial service delivery. If we don't, it just may prove to be the onrushing comet that spells our extinction.