Magazine article American Banker

Analyst Tests Rights, Wrongs of PC Banking as Customer of 15 Banks

Magazine article American Banker

Analyst Tests Rights, Wrongs of PC Banking as Customer of 15 Banks

Article excerpt

The quality and ease of computer banking programs are as scattered as their pricing, according to an analyst surveying the field.

Lawrence Cohn, who follows big banks for PaineWebber Inc. in New York, has opened accounts at 15 institutions to see how good they are at personal computer banking and bill paying.

Just two months into his project, Mr. Cohn did not want to talk about definitive conclusions. But he did offer some observations about the programs' economics and functionality.

Citicorp earned high marks for its software, though it has hardly changed in a decade. Mr. Cohn called it the "clunkiest" but most reliable.

"It's the only one where they sent me the disk, I stuck it in the computer, it worked, and I've never even called them for help," he said.

"It's slow, it's not at all intuitive, there are a zillion other products out there that are much more obvious to use, but-by God-it works each and every time."

By contrast, Wells Fargo's high-tech offering caused Mr. Cohn headaches. It was "enormously difficult to set up, and I have subsequently spoken with a whole bunch of other people who have had all of the same problems," the analyst said.

The problem was that Mr. Cohn's computer didn't come loaded with the designated encryption technology.

"Wells has a location on its home page that says it will download it, but I haven't met anybody who has successfully done so," Mr. Cohn said.

He ended up asking the San Francisco bank to mail him the software. Before the disks arrived, he bought a new version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which included the proper technology. …

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