CAROLYN SPICER Senior vice president The State Bank Fenton, Mich.
CLEARLY, THE ADOPTION of interactive television for the delivery of financial services will prove to be a necessary and critical component of any long-term retail banking strategy. Regardless of whether you view it as a defensive weapon to combat nonbank assault on your customer base, or as a marketing tool to compete for consumer loyalty in an electronic marketplace, the technology will play a vital role in determining the future competitiveness of your bank. Interactive TV offers the greatest chance to close key gaps that presently exist on-line with respect to the sex and age of users and will also create opportunities for banks to scale down costs associated with remote banking applications.
Early interactivity will likely utilize dual, behind the interface transport technologies. For example, customer messages will be transported to the bank via hybrid communications link, with banking content being switched back to the consumer via cable-defined channel.
Technologically speaking, interactive TV will require extension of existing processing infrastructure via advanced telecommunications transport systems. Successful implementation will additionally support sophisticated content tailored to meet the more diverse expectations of tomorrow's on-screen computer. Initially, ITV content will more closely resemble teleconferencing than data display currently associated with on- line banking services delivered via PC banking and Internet platforms. The content will consist of on-screen consultive selling and problem solving with a bank representative being invited into the home by the consumer via ITV. More advanced applications will support this type of content using media server technology which has the capacity to create animated graphical images of people to "stand in" for financial service reps. *** DALE REISTAD Chairman and chief executive Interactive Finsys International Alexandria, Va.
IT'S A MATTER OF TIMING. Right now, the emphasis seems to be placed on PCs and screen phones. And the interactive television opportunities are rather minimal at the present time. But that could change dramatically because of the resources of the media industry and so on.
So you could go from a situation in which PC home banking is moving along at a fairly slow pace with nothing happening with interactive television to an overnight breakthrough or two in which everyone wants to go with interactive TV. Now when and where those breakthroughs take place, and what resources are then put behind them, is the big question mark.
But if a bank today in Topeka, Kan., wants to install interactive television to do home banking there is probably no opportunity there because the cable company or the telephone company hasn't moved ahead with an infrastructure to support it. So right now, they'll say, we can't do that yet. We'll put that on the table and we'll do that in three or four years when that infrastructure is in place. And right now, we can move ahead with screen phones, PCs, or even existing touch-tone telephones. *** JOSEPH S. PENDLETON 3d Senior vice president Meridian Bancorp Reading, Pa.
WE'RE BELIEVERS IN PERSONAL COMPUTERS for home banking. But we don't think they are going to satisfy everybody that we'd like to convert from a branch user to a non-branch user.
And we think that interactive television can fill a lot of the gaps. It has a lot of basic appeal to the population, specifically the technophobes. The problem with ITV is that it is not here today. But when it is, we think it's going to make a big impact in the way retail bank services get delivered. *** ANDREW G. DeMEO Vice president National Westminster Bancorp Jersey City
THE FUTURE FOR HOME BANKING over interactive TV or on-line computing networks must permit customers to do more than just service an account and pay bills. A broad range of capabilities will be possible given the powerful attributes interactive computer-based networks possess and the visual richness of the medium.
Natwest is taking a broad approach to delivering financial services over interactive networks. We see the need for our customers to be capable of identifying their needs, understanding which solutions meet their needs, placing orders, and servicing their accounts. These capabilities will be available in our traditional delivery channels including branch and ATM network, telephones, and various emerging delivery technologies.
Our interactive-TV mortgage service is very successful. We are converting initial customer conversations into applications at an unusually high rate. The service's success is attributable to our strong focus on the customer experience when using interactive networks rather than the technology itself. *** PAUL M. LAMBERT Director, interactive services Barnett Banks Inc. Jacksonville, Fla.
THE ADVENT OF FULL SERVICE NETWORK interactive television represents the introduction of broad band data delivery into the home. In-home broad band data delivery presents enormous processing, presentation, and interaction capabilities to an entire nation of TV-literate, entertainment-driven consumers. Eight out of 10 consumers purchase or subscribe to a given technology for its entertainment value. If consumers are receptive to enhanced interaction with TVs (or whatever device ends up in the living rooms of America), the traditional design and function of home banking services will need to be reengineered to function in an entertainment- oriented environment. *** RICK COMANDICH Senior vice president U.S. Bancorp Portland, Ore.
WE BELIEVE IN OFFERING consumers a wide variety of choice in how they conduct banking. This means building multiple channels, so consumers can pick the one they like. In theory, we would offer banking through interactive TV, because some consumers will prefer it when it becomes an economically viable channel.
In reality, because we do not have an infinite budget to build numberless channels, we have to prioritize. Interactive TV is low on our priority list for technological, financial, and marketing reasons. We believe many more consumers will want to use PCs as access devices for remote banking. PCs are becoming even easier to use as they become more functional. We also believe that a device, like a PC, used for both work and play is more likely to be successful as a medium for banking than a device, like a TV, used for entertainment.