Banking Industry Branches out with Home Pages on the Web

Article excerpt

The Arizona Republic

Competition for our banking business is starting to take place out in cyberspace. So far, I have found five banks that have home pages on the World Wide Web, but I imagine there are others. And there will be even more before long.

Of the five I have looked at, Norwest seems to be the furthest along in its high-tech efforts. But Bank of America, CitiBank, First Interstate and Wells Fargo are not doing too shabbily either.

Of course, true banking by home computer still has some obstacles to overcome. Security of transactions is one thing a lot of users will have trouble becoming comfortable with. And there still are a lot of folks who prefer dealing with people to dealing with distant and non-human technology _ as the slow acceptance of automatic tellers in some areas has shown.

Nonetheless, by getting on the Web, banks are making it clear they see the direction information technology is moving and that they must be moving with it.

All five home pages offer a variety of information about the usual banking services, including personal finance and various kinds of loans. The quality of graphics varies widely, but that's not surprising among Web pages. It's quite likely all four home pages will be undergoing changes as users express their opinions.

Bank of America (located at http://www.bofa.com) offers a look at the community services it provides, such as volunteer programs and philanthropy. However, its graphics aren't all that exciting.

Wells Fargo (located at http://www.wellsfargo.com) plays on its Western history with a stagecoach scene, horses and all, on its opening page, and follows up with other Western-themed graphics on succeeding pages. But it also takes a stab at being "with it" by advertising "We're Wired to Lend $2 Billion to Small Businesses during the Next 12 Months. …