Why German Banks Are Waiting By The Phone

As rivalry grows, "telebanking" could bolster the bottom line

Busy professionals the world over have a tough time coping with personal chores. In Germany, with its draconian shop-closing laws and antediluvian banking customs, it's a nightmare. But Peter Engelhardt, a Berlin tax official, and his wife, Ingrid, are using technology to avoid long lines at teller windows and carve out more quality time. Since opening an electronic banking account six months ago with Berliner Sparkasse, a regional savings institution, they've been using their home computer on weekends to manage their money. Says Engelhardt: "It's fast and comfortable."

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