must love him. The Microsoft Corp. chairman's 1994 remark that banks are "dinosaurs" resonates wherever bankers gather to discuss their future, and that is happening a lot - most recently at the Banking in Cyberspace conference sponsored by American Banker in Scottsdale, Ariz. Mr. Gates, in absentia, was at center stage as some 300 people continued the debate over his true motives, over whether he is really intent on putting bankers out of their misery. While the bankers agonize, no group stands to prosper more than the Bank Administration Institute. Its Retail Delivery Systems Conference, already the hottest item on the annual bank meeting calendar, is three weeks away, with Mr. Gates himself heading the list of speakers. By the time of Mr. Gates' scheduled appearance Dec. 5 in Atlanta, the anticipation might be at a level approaching that of the Windows 95 launch in August, albeit on the single-industry scale.

*** Taking the flak - and a few catcalls - for Microsoft at the American Banker gathering Nov. 3, financial services manager Matt Cone hopefully proclaimed the beginning of the end of bankers' antagonism. Mr. Gates' performance will end it, Mr. Cone suggested, without giving away details of the planned message. Mr. Cone was self-deprecating and contrite. He removed his sport coat to reveal a target on his back. He acknowledged "major PR snafus," including the dinosaur comment. While fielding questions he held up a toy shield. He left a free copy of Money for Windows at everyone's seat. Referring to the 19 banks that offer on-line services to personal computer owners with the Microsoft software, he said, "I'm confident our partners are pleased with the way Microsoft listens to their needs." But based on shows of hands before and after his talk, there was no discernible change in the number of bankers who perceived Microsoft as a threat.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.