RealTime IT News

Leading Bank in Sweden Moves to WAP

Handelsbanken has launched a test period for selected customers to try its wireless e-banking services based on the WAP technology.

Handelsbanken is the largest commercial bank in the Nordic region. IBM Sweden is one of several companies joining the test period for the WAP-based offerings.

Selected customers can use a WAP phone to receive general market and personalized stock information over the Web. Beginning early next year, the bank will roll out the interactive aspect of the service, which will allow customers to access more information, such as account overviews and transactions, as well as money transfers and stock trading.

The new services will initially work on the new WAP phones from Ericsson and Nokia. At a later stage, the services will be adapted to other types of phones as well.

"If you thought the Internet made an impact on the world, just wait until WAP-services, like the one from Handelsbanken, become widespread. You can only attract so many people to PCs, but wireless is regarded as almost limitless," said Lars O Gronstedt, vice president of Handelsbanken.

Handelsbanken thinks that WAP, the de-facto global standard for enabling Internet communication and advanced telephony services on digital mobile phones, pagers, personal digital assistants and other wireless devices, will by year 2003 have around one billion subscribers around the world. They also predict that more than half of mobile devices shipped between now and then will be WAP-enabled.

If customers take to the WAP phone offerings, then banks may cut the costs of operating the current number of branch offices.

IBM Sweden is responsible for design, programming and integration of the WAP application. IBM also delivers the development tools and software for transforming data from the bank's computer systems. Nokia delivers the server that handles the communication between the banking computer system and the customers mobile phones.