Developments to Watch
MAKING HOME BANKING AN EASIER SELL
Home banking may be set for a comeback, judging from its success at Baltimore's Maryland National Bank. One key is how the technology is packaged. No personal computer is needed, just a special telephone that sports a miniature version of an automated teller machine's display. That's fitting, since the phone talks to the same data network that serves real ATMs. Anyone familiar with an ATM has no problem using the phone for anything an ATM can do--except dispense cash. The technology was developed by Online Resources & Communications Corp. in McLean, Va., and has just won a patent.
Another factor is cost. After a consumer buys the ATM phone for $80, Maryland National charges home bankers only $6.95 a month. That's cheaper than mailing checks if you pay 20 bills a month, which is the average among users. Close to 5,000 customers signed up in the first six months, says Online Resources President Matthew P. Lawlor. "That's unheard of in home banking," he adds, drawing on experience. Before founding Online Resources, Lawlor headed home banking at New York's Chemical Bank.EDITED BY OTIS PORT