Table: Lessons from E-Banking's Front Lines

Start Early: Nordea launched PC banking in 1984 and the first glimmers of mobile-phone banking in 1992, when customers could check their bank balances remotely. This let Nordea work out the kinks early.

Keep it Simple: To boost security, many banks require customers to install special smart-card readers or software before banking online. Instead, Nordea uses Internet browsers and a password system. "Customers hate extra installations," says e-banking chief Bo Harald.

Be a Cheapskate: Nordea has spent $18 million on its Finnish Net-banking initiatives, vs. hundreds of millions at other banks. Nordea saves money by using off-the-shelf software and tapping existing staff to build the e-bank.

Leverage Bricks: With 9 million existing customers, it costs Nordea little to lure clients to the Web. Rival Net-only banks spend $225 to win a new account. And because customers like having a branch when they need it, Nordea can charge more for the combined services.

Be Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary: Harald prefers starting with simple services and expanding. Nordea, for example, introduced online consumer loans two years ago but just recently added online mortgages.

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