The Future of Online Banking, Circa 1994

10.23.07 | Online Banking | 0 Comments | by junger

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Remember what life was like before the Internet? Banking was definitely different, but the pieces for today's financial infrastructures were slowly being put in to place.

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I recently stumbled on a 1994 New York Times article looking at the future of banking ("Into Banking's Future, Electronically").

The article gets a number of things right about banking today — but it was published a couple of years before the Internet became a mainstream service.

Amazing!

The predictions are pretty accurate, with the main points that banks will close many branches and services will be automated.

But because the Internet wasn't available for everyone, banks were looking to use telephone service to interact with their customers. Huntington National Bank, which prepared for the market shift by closing branches, spent more than $25 million to create an interactive banking tool.

These include a 24-hour telephone service with bank staff, an automated telephone service for balances and bill paying that responds to spoken instructions, and a two-way video telephone so customers can see the banker who is helping them open an account at an unmanned branch.

The bank has also spent several years trying to develop, so far unsuccessfully, a telephone to rent to its customers that has a computer screen that displays account information. Still, it hopes that within a year, the device will be available to customers for a rental fee of less than $20 a month.

What does that sound like? Online banking, of course.

I love reading these type of articles — from 13 years in the future — to see just where people thought the market was going.

But despite the Internet's lack of presence in the lives on 1994 consumers, banks were preparing for today's online banking — even if they didn't realize it.

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