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WAP driven Mobile banking - order of the day

May 25, 2000

`Banking through a mobile’ seems to be the new mantra doing the rounds of the technology savvy new generation private sector banks. Close on the heels of the launch of wireless application protocol (WAP) enabled mobile banking by the `click and brick’ company, ICICI for its banking subsidiary ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank on Wednesday became the second new generation private bank to offer WAP enabled mobile banking service to its customers. So far, the later was offering this facility through short messaging service system (SMS). The move towards new technology banking will bring cheers to the customers of both the banks as it will make banking much more simply and hassle free. The new technology will help these two visionary banks to establish themselves as `a one stop anywhere banking shop’. It will also give a fillip to their retail business, as the customers will be able to transact through their cell phones. The general view is that the WAP enabled banking will take some time to penetrate the Indian markets. As WAP enabled services can only be provided to customers through very high cost select instruments, it will be difficult for the banks to provide these services to the masses currently.

ICICI bank has tied up with Orange and Airtel to offer WAP based mobile banking service whereas its competitor has entered into an alliance with I-flex and Orange.

Mobile banking and e-commerce using the WAP technology allows secured on-line access of web-using mobile devices as opposed to using the short messaging service technology, which works on e-mail, thereby entailing a time lag.

ICICI will shortly launch a wide range of personal financial services on WAP including personal banking services, online information tracking of utility bills, travel and ticketing information. The WAP solution offered by ICICI includes enhanced security mechanisms as compared to short messaging system (SMS). The services available will include online balance updates and details of the previous five transactions conducted by the customer.

The new system would also enable an ICICI credit card holder to check outstanding balances, payment status, cash and credit limits and details of the last three transactions. The ICICI Infotech Services Ltd. has provided the technology, design and software solution for the WAP project as well as implementing it.

Last month, ICICI started offering real time stock quotes for its customers which was followed up by an automated teller machine (ATM) and branch locating facility for WAP-enabled phone users.

The tie-up will allow Orange subscribers, who are also ICICI Bank account-holders and ICICI credit card holders, to track their personal finances on the mobile phone. This is for the first time that the financial institution has extended m-commerce services to the ICICI credit card holders besides the bank customers.

The HDFC bank’s WAP driven mobile banking service will enable its customers to access their bank account and conduct financial transactions on the Orange phone screen. Additional facilities like pay of electricity and mobile phone bills, inquire about pending bills of companies, finding out the status of a cheque will be available to customers.

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