Efficient on-line banking with integrated approach

PERSONAL computer (PC) banking is beginning to converge with the increasingly popular phone banking service in order to provide a more efficient mode of on-line banking services to the public.

The integration of both PC and phone banking will be particularly evident in Malaysia, as many rural families still cannot afford to own a PC, said Hewlett-Packard Sales (Singapore) Pte Ltd's emerging markets program manager of computer systems organisation of Asia/Australasia Kapi Attawar. Hence, he believes, the integrated approach for on-line banking, which will be provided through public kiosks, can offer an alternative mode to on-line banking for users who do not have access to PCs at home.

"For the next few years, we will witness the integration of these two banking channels through special arrangement by the local Internet service providers (ISPs) and the telephone companies."

He was speaking to Computimes in an interview held in conjunction with the recent HP Synergies '97 conference in Singapore. Attawar foresees these convergence in technologies to occur in stages over a period of time. He said the public should expect to see the emergence of the integrated on-line banking service by the year 2000. "However, it will change the business model of these telephone companies, especially in terms of how they charge their customers," he said.

"For example, charges for phone usage are normally based on the distance to which you made the call and the length of the call, while charges for Internet usage is based on the length of the connection," he explained.

According to him, the new model will be a value-based business model due to the integration process. As for adoption of this service, the rate at which integrated on-line banking will emerge, varies at different parts of the world.

So far, the first integrated on-line banking (to merge both PC and phone banking) undertaken by HP was implemented five months ago for a bank in Germany known as Gries & Heissel, he said.

HP, Attawar said, is also working with a few other banks in this region, including one in Malaysia.

However, he declined to disclose further details on which bank the company is working on.

"In the current on-line banking system, there is no integration between our telephone system with the computing systems. Therefore, by placing these kiosks that provide the integrated banking services, it will serve to expand a bank's coverage of their on- line banking customers," he said. He assured the integration does not end there. "As Internet technology slowly matures, the different on-line banking services will integrate further and bring us to the next generation of on-line banking," he said.