Bank One Corp. nearly doubled its on-line banking clientele this month, by buying First Chicago NBD Corp.-but it is far from through.
Only 2% of Bank One's eight million retail customers bank with it over the Internet, said Bruce Luecke, president of interactive delivery services. The goal for 2000 is 15%, he said.
Twenty thousand Internet customers are expected to join its current 180,000 by yearend, Mr. Luecke said.
The growing popularity of the Internet makes him confident that customers will embrace on-line banking, he said.
Mr. Luecke spoke on a panel here last week at a small-business banking conference sponsored by American Banker and Robert Morris Associates. About 400 people attended.
Linda Weber, a senior consultant with American Management Systems, said banks have to offer a compelling reason to go to their Web sites. One such draw would be the ability to receive and pay bills on line, said Ms. Weber, who formerly ran CoreStates Financial Corp.'s Internet banking program.
Charles Wendel, president of Financial Institutions Consulting, said Americans have shown their willingness to use the Internet if it has something that interests them. He offered as an example the tremendous number of hits received by the Web site that published Kenneth Starr's report on President Clinton last month.
There was a lot of discussion at the conference about segmenting customer groups.
Robert Naegle, senior vice president of AT&T Capital Corp., said his company found a niche lending to small businesses that many lenders will not touch: restaurants.
AT&T has a division called FranchiseOne that only lends to restaurant franchisees.
With this narrow focus on one customer segment, Mr. Naegle said his company has become an expert in the area of lending to eateries. "The generic market is too large and too diverse," he said.
Many lenders, Mr. Naegle said, perceive restaurants as risky credits. But AT&T concluded they can also be very viable customers, particularly the operators of multiple national franchises, such as Burger King or Denny's Restaurants. These businesses need loans for general business reasons, real estate, construction, and equipment. They also lease equipment. AT&T will lend up to $25 million to a restaurant operator, he said.
Mr. Naegle noted Americans' growing appetite for eating out. More food is sold out of restaurants than grocery stores, he said. Grocery stores account for only 26% of all U.S. food sales, he said.