Wells Fargo & Co.s stagecoach, which used to move money around in lower-tech times, has been reincarnated as a high-tech touring bus promoting Internet banking.
A 45-foot-long WellsFargo.com bus is traveling the same routes the stagecoach did in 1852. The bus is outfitted with 18 Internet terminals people can use to open online accounts, trade stocks, and apply for home equity loans, credit cards, or retirement accounts.
Its a way for us to bring the bank out to customers, and technology out to the Wells Fargo community, said Martha Smolen, senior vice president for Internet services at Wells Fargo. Its the next stage of anywhere-and-anytime banking.
The bus will also be used to train and recruit employees, she said. Wells is not the first financial services firm to take to the highway to promote its Internet services. In January 1999, E-Trade Group of Palo Alto, Calif., came out with an E-Mobile traveling classroom whose passengers included Ben Stein, a star of Comedy Central. (Oscar Meyers wiener on wheels may have been the first such ad vehicle.)
Wells bus began its voyage last Thursday in Eugene, Ore., and then traveled to Seattle, where it stopped at the University of Washington. The rest of the route will include parts of Interstate 5, the Oregon Trail, and the Lewis and Clarke Trail.
The bus initially will stay mostly within Wells area of service. It will stop for as long as local bank offices desire, from a few hours up to a week. Its a tool for our branches, which are talking to customers, so its up to them how long they stop, Ms. Smolen said.
The branches will provide most of the staff at each stop, though the bus will carry a small group of traveling employees.
The original stagecoach in 1852 was a symbol of the fastest way to move money around, and the bus is symbolizing the same quick way to bring the Internet to the people, Ms. Smolen said.