Branch Banking Coming Soon to a PDA Near You

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By Dan McDonough, Jr., The idea of having a bank in your hand sounds a lot more interesting than it really is. In the case of the latest mobile application, it does not mean you get the whole bank, it just means you have access to an electronic teller. “Bank,” in this case, is a verb — not a noun. So if you are broke, “Bank In Your Hand” still is worthless. Nevertheless, the idea that you could bank from a wireless device is intriguing. That idea is what a coalition of companies hopes to capitalize on with a new “Bank In Your Hand” — a complete software/hardware device for, well … banking. Blueice Research, Compaq Computer, Infovention and Intel jointly developed the device, which they said is the first all-in-one mobile banking application. The companies said “Bank In Your Hand” will be demonstrated at the Intel and Compaq booths at the Networks Telecom trade show in Alvso, Stockholm, from September 24th to 26th. Building a Better App Wireless banking is not new. A number of brokerage houses offer trading and banking via PDAs (personal digital assistants) or mobile phones. Wells Fargo even is ramping up to offer all of its services through secure wireless devices. But the idea of a complete wireless banking system is novel. “With ‘Bank In Your Hand,’ we want to show that there is a system on the market today that really makes it possible for banks to be available wherever, whenever,” Blueice Research chief executive Anne Hane said. Each of the companies involved in the partnership contributed a bit of expertise: The system runs on Compaq’s iPAQ Pocket PC — equipped with WLAN (wireless local area network) connectivity and a GPRS (general packet radio service) module — and Intel’s StrongARM processor. System security was engineered by Blueice, which contributed its Multipass security system. Financial applications company Infovention developed the banking interface application. Prospects for Growth Mobile banking is one application that analysts believe will drive Wireless Data growth. In February, Wireless NewsFactor reported on prospects for wireless financial services, noting a prediction that the number of wireless financial services users worldwide will climb to 150 million in 2004 from 10 million in 2000. And that is a conservative estimate. Ask the ARC Group where things are headed, and its prediction is even rosier: By 2004, ARC Group said it believes the number of wireless banking users will reach 331 million, compared with 62 million wireless users for trading services.



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