Emphasizing something other banks have made a low priority, KeyCorp announced Wednesday that customers wherever it operates can get real-time account information through all types of channels.
For example, an ATM deposit will register immediately in balance information obtained from a branch or call center or by modem, the company said.
Because KeyCorp uses a single computer platform in all the states it serves, even a traveling customer who withdrew money in New York and checked the balance on the way home at the Cleveland airport would get the updated sum.
KeyCorp, with nearly 1,000 branches in 14 states and 2,600 ATMs in 17 states, said it believes no other first bank provides consistent real-time information nationwide across all banking channels.
But a spokeswoman for First Union Bank said it has been offering that capability since the early 1990s through its Emerald deposit system.
Other banks, such as BankAmerica Corp., post information to accounts several times a day, a spokesman said.
"It does give Key a competitive advantage," said Octavio Marenzi, research director at Meridien Research Inc. in Needham, Mass. "It's much nicer to have consistent balances and information across all channels."
Analysts, however, questioned how many customers would take note of the multichannel service and how the bank could reap revenue from it. Other banks have not placed a high priority on uniform delivery, Mr. Marenzi said.
Businesses, which tend to contact their bank several times a day using several channels, would probably be more interested in this service than consumers, said Seamus McMahon, executive vice president of First Manhattan Consulting Group in New York.
"In order to turn this from an interesting thing to a big thing, KeyCorp needs to think about what valuable services they can offer to the attractive segments that will get them more fee revenue," he said. "Or they will need to get some customers to consolidate more business at KeyCorp because they feel more comfortable managing their money on a real-time basis."
KeyCorp officials said they placed a high priority on immediate account updates because customers found it confusing to get varying balances when they used different banking channels.
"As we evaluated customer needs, we thought they'd want real-time information," said Michele A. Seyranian, senior vice president for virtual distribution at the $76 billion-asset bank, based in Cleveland. "We know our customers are multichannel users."
KeyCorp, which mostly serves the northern half of the United States, is not planning an aggressive marketing campaign to introduce the service.
It will notify customers on the Web and in statement inserts.
The service coincides with the launching of KeyCorp's Internet banking program, called Key2Your$+Internet. The bank delayed full-scale deployment of its Internet service until it could handle real-time transactions, Ms. Seyranian said.