After reading the Dec. 21 issue of American Banker I felt compelled to send you my thoughts on the Viewpoints column by consultant Tom McGrath ["Internet Banking's 'Early Movers' Get Mauled on Street," page 12].

Mr. McGrath appears to be the epitome of banking alarmists. He draws a rather broad conclusion with little evidence to support his claim.

He states at the end of the column that "so far the only certainty in the world of Internet Banking is that large losses can be incurred in very short order." I would argue that while this may be true, it is most certainly not the only "certainty in the world of Internet Banking."

I feel that he only points to the largest, best-known examples of failure, and that his final conclusion has nothing to do with the "early movers" idea that he seemed to start with.

Without early movers there are rarely mainstream adopters. The people and companies who have taken these hits do so in large part for the advancement of banking, which has largely been left in the dark ages when it comes to technology and computing.

It is precisely the alarmist reactions by people such as Mr. McGrath that continue the stoke opposition to technology among bankers. As a banker who deals on a daily basis with technology, I am disappointed to see his views so skewed - and to see American Banker run an article that, in the least, lacks evidence to support the argument.

While there have been some failures among early adopters of technology in the banking arena, I think it is safe to say that such is the case in nearly any field. There were most certainly failures among companies that were early adopters of computers, yet today our companies depend upon them.

There are many conveniences that were not always the success that they are today. We need to be able to look past the start-up and see the future. Conducting electronic transactions over the Internet has huge cost benefits compared to person-to-person or even ATM or telephone transactions. Internet banking, and the first few failures, are the first steps in the direction that will take the industry into the 21st century.

Noah Wilcox
E-commerce director
Grand Rapids State Bank
Chicago

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