Marine Midland Bank is expanding its customer information kiosks to include at least two information centers that will provide stock market data from the World Wide Web.
Marine Midland Investment Services will open its first market data kiosk in a branch on New York City's Park Avenue in mid-August, a bank spokesman said, to be followed by another in a branch it operates in the city's Chinatown.
The Buffalo-based bank, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings PLC, already uses kiosks for other investment product applications. But this is the first to use Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 and a seamless connection via the Internet to several stock market data sources.
Although people using Marine Midland's "StockXpress" kiosk receive information in a near-instantaneous on-line mode, there's no hint that they're "surfing" the Net. That's because the bank is using a touch-screen that connects customers to any one of several information sites on the World Wide Web.
The developer of the application is Atlanta-based HomeCom Communications, an Internet start-up company that went public about three months ago.
Marine Midland "wanted something that could stand alone and be very user-friendly," said Ben O'Dell, HomeCom's product manager for the Marine Midland application. "The (kiosk) doesn't look like a computer at all except that there's a monitor on the unit. People who use it don't know they are on the Internet."
The Marine Midland unit uses a custom-browser that Mr. O'Dell created, while stock market data is provided by the Data Broadcast Co., New York.
"We developed the kiosk for customers who frequent our Park Avenue location," the bank spokesman said. The second StockXpress will go down on Canal Street in a Hongkong bank branch." Marine Midland operates the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank branches in New York.
Mr. O'Dell said he is experimenting with translating the text on the Marine Midland kiosk into Cantonese, the most widely spoken dialect in New York's downtown Chinese community. "It's not as difficult as it seems," he said.
Turning the kiosk and the application into a transaction terminal is something that can be accomplished should the bank want it, Mr. O'Dell said. Right now, according to the Marine Midland spokesman, the bank is only offering information.
Mr. Jedlicka is editor of Bank Mutual Fund Report, a sister publication of American Banker.