Bank of Boston Announces Plan for Home Banking in New England

By Crockett, Barton | American Banker, October 16, 1992 | Go to article overview

Bank of Boston Announces Plan for Home Banking in New England


Crockett, Barton, American Banker


Bank of Boston Corp. entered the home banking fray on Thursday, saying it would offer retail customers a juiced-up telephone made by Northern Telecom Inc.

The announcement makes Bank of Boston one of a handful of banks offering customers the ability to execute a wide range of transactions by pressing keys on a special phone.

Bank of Boston obtained exclusive banking-industry rights to market the Northern Telecom device in New England.

It will compete against similar offerings, including one jointly marketed by Huntington Bancshares Inc., Columbus, Ohio, and American Telephone and Telegraph Co., a major rival of Canadian-owned Northern Telecom in the communications equipment market.

Full-Scale Launch a Year Off

Edward O'Neal, Bank of Boston's group executive for New England banking, said the bank would begin testing its service in a few months with a few hundred customers.

A full-scale launch is slated for late 1993.

Mr. O'Neal predicted that the

home banking service would eventually be used by thousands of New England consumers and would help Bank of Boston increase market share.

"I think there is real competitive advantage in providing customers with this kind of access," Mr. O'Neal said.

He added the Bank of Boston hoped to make a profit from service fees, though fee schedules have not been set.

The track record of home banking has been mixed since the advent of more primitive services using standard telephones in the 1970s.

Those programs met with initial success, especially among thrift institutions that used them to gain entry into transaction-account services, but their popularity fizzled by the mid-1980s.

PC Approach Was Tried

By that time, bankers and other providers latched onto the home computer as a supervisor vehicle for banking transactions, account inquiries, and bill payments.

But these products attracted a small following, primarily among computer enthusiasts, and many were deemed failures.

One example was the Pronto service of Chemical Bank in New York. Mr. O'Neal, a vice chairman at Chemical before he joined Bank of Boston in August, said he made the decision to pull the plug on Pronto because its revenues did not justify the costs. …

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