Electronic Commerce: B of A to Test Toronto Firm's System for Wireless Banking

Article excerpt

The nation's largest bank seems to have bought into a Toronto company's vision that sales of wireless communications devices will explode in the next three years.

Bank of America announced last week that next year it would begin testing software from the company, 724 Solutions Inc. The software is meant to let users to conduct personalized banking, brokerage, and electronic commerce over wireless devices such as cell phones, pagers, and 3Com Corp.'s Palm devices.

Two-year-old 724 Solutions said it expects that more financial services companies will want to offer access to banking and brokerage account information over portable devices. It has targeted that market exclusively.

Nothing is more likely to inspire customer loyalty than letting customers look at stock and brokerage accounts from wherever they want, said Greg Wolfond, founder and chief executive officer of 724 Solutions.

Bank of America, which has $614 billion of assets, is 724 Solutions' first U.S. customer. The software maker's only other announced customer is Bank of Montreal, which is already testing the software in Canada and plans to roll it out at its U.S. subsidiary, Harris Bank of Chicago, and at Bancomer of Mexico, in which it has an equity stake.

Mr. Wolfond said that one reason he is bullish on wireless is that 20% of the U.S. population use wireless telephones. When markets in Europe and Asia-Pacific hit the 20% point, wireless communications escalated, he said.

International Data Corp. has projected that the number of non-PC devices able to access the Internet will increase to 55. …