By Zack, Jeffrey
American Banker , Vol. 160, No. 194
Senior vice president
The State Bank
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.
Chairman and chief executive
Interactive Finsys International
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
WE'RE BELIEVERS IN PERSONAL COMPUTERS for home banking. …