The first members of a new trade group, the Interactive Television Association, are banks.
One is Meridian Bank of Reading, Pa., which has been testing several technologies for delivering banking services to the home.
The other is the State Bank of Fenton, Mich., a $180 million-asset institution that has been "on the leading edge of what community banks can do with interactive services," said Dale Reistad, executive director of the Interactive Television Association, known as ITA.
Mr. Reistad said several other organizations are concluding paperwork that will lead to public disclosure of their membership in the group, which recently opened its doors in Washington.
He is also putting together an interim board of 15 people, each from a different industry. The banking director is Joseph S. Pendleton 3d, Meridian's senior vice president for electronic banking. Other industries being targeted include direct mail, cable television, and software companies.
The fact that the first dues payers - a standard membership costs $2,000 a year - are banks may stem from Mr. Reistad's extensive ties to the industry. He was once chief of automation at the American Bankers Association, founded the research firm Payment Systems Inc., and is a past president of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.
Mr. Reistad also formerly worked for Eon Inc., which is promoting interactive television for banking and other applications. Meridian and State Bank of Fenton have entered into program-development alliances with Eon. Both want to be prepared for whatever home banking system consumers desire, whether based on phones, computers, or TV.
"We are pursuing interactive delivery regardless of channel," said Carolyn M. Spicer, senior vice president of State Bank. "We already have a lot of customers who have presubscribed" for interactive TV banking.
She said belonging to the association will allow her to keep up with industry developments and legal issues. For lobbying, the group is relying on Concord Associates Inc. of Washington.
The ITA's president is Andrew Sernovitz, a consultant in the interactive television industry. Peter C. Waldheim, a specialist in direct marketing and fund-raising, is vice president for public policy.
As executive director, Mr. Reistad is preoccupied with building membership.
"Studies I have done for Eon and subsequently indicate that interactive services will be banking's next big delivery system breakthrough," Mr. Reistad said in a telephone interview. Whether the customer's home device is a screen telephone, card-reading terminal, a computer inside the television, or a TV embedded in a personal computer, "I think banks will flock to this kind of technology platform," he added.
"It hasn't been hard to convince bankers that interactive services are in their future," Mr. Reistad said. "It is harder convincing them that they don't have all the expertise and research they will need to understand and function in this increasingly complex environment."