Every day, bankers get bombarded by statistics and grand predictions of the latest hot technology. Some of these “hot” ideas, like interactive television and “push” technology, never seem to pan out. Others, like the World Wide Web, seem to come out of nowhere.
For bankers and bank technologists, it’s important to put every number we hear into perspective. Statistics quoted in the “thousands” and “millions” tend to exaggerate the impact of a technology. Therefore, I have scoured the Net and research journals to provide Gonzo readers with a quick scan of how folks are really using new technology and delivery channels. The figures have been listed in descending order, starting with the fact that there are twice as many credit cards as people in the United States. Here goes:
When prioritizing our strategies and initiatives, it’s important that we keep these types of relative numbers in mind.
E-mail and mobile phones are two simple technologies that continue to explode in usage. E-mail will definitely turn out to be the “killer app” for wireless Internet. Electronic tax filing also appears to be a focused, simple application that has a clear benefit (get my money faster!).
Online brokerage shows steady growth that banks should fear, even with the recent stock market fallout.
Online banking growth is explosive, but it still will only be used by 25% of all U.S. households in 2003. Meanwhile, there will soon be 100 million debit cards in U.S. consumers’ hands.
New buzzing technologies like wireless Internet, broadband, account aggregation and smart cards still represent such a very small portion of the population. Bill payment is just plain stuck in the mud.
There are almost as many insurance agents in the United States today as there are online insurance customers. There are more bank tellers today than wireless banking users.
Other interesting numbers to me were:
There are many lessons to learn by tracking “big picture” technology usage numbers like these. Bankers should use this type of research with senior managers and the board to set technology priorities and determine when to jump headfirst into a new technology. The key is not being too late or too early to the new technology party. -sw