Mr. Bjorndahl is chief operating officer of Senscom Inc., San Diego.
To the Editor:
We must take issue with a guest column in your publication on May 19, "Wireless Banking: Who Wants This Revolution?" [page 16], written by banking consultant Tom McGrath.
Mr. McGrath laments that the delivery of financial services through the wireless Internet channel is perhaps ill-founded, lacks a breadth of interest among everyday consumers, and represents a possible expense burden for those choosing to enhance their competitive position with customers through wireless delivery.
As the technology partner to the first financial institution to complete a full-scale rollout of wireless access to all of its customers, we disagree with Mr. McGrath's point of view on all three counts.
To the idea that the delivery of financial services over wireless means is ill-founded, one only need look at recent research from PSI Global, which shows that over one-third of U.S. households rely primarily on remote banking channels as the primary means of obtaining account information. This includes call centers, voice response devices, and the Internet. Wireless access is a natural extension of a trend that has grown this population from 26% to 36% over five short years.
Almost no one would argue that both businesses and consumers want greater and more immediate access to information about everything affecting their lives. The wireless Internet is transforming information from a "voice-centric" means of communication into a digitally enabled anywhere, anytime, "information-centric" medium - and at a fraction of the cost for legacy-style customer communication channels.
Not only will the wireless Internet be used for quick access to information about their finances, it will become a preferred means to quickly check airline schedules, movie listings, weather predictions, and other information-based activities. As with other new services based around convenience, the most "time-constrained and information-constrained" individuals will find wireless of immediate benefit, followed by millions of current "call-centric" banking customers.
Other bank channels can benefit from the introduction of wireless Internet access. Last year more than 10 billion ATM transactions were performed, more than 1.5 billion of these capable of being done on the wireless Internet channel (balance inquiry, funds transfer, transaction history) without the customer doing anything more than using the wireless Internet option.
Hopefully, few bankers will succumb to the rear-view-mirror analysis of Mr. McGrath. Early results would indicate that there are many forward-thinking individuals and institutions that see the wireless Internet as a logical vehicle for financial services in this new millennium.