When the discussion turns to early adopters of technology, names like Chase Manhattan Bank and the Credit Suisse Group arent frequently mentioned.
Thats why those financial institutions, along with their blue chip competitors, are eager to embrace wireless technology, says John Mennel, director of product marketing at 724 Solutions, formerly Tantau Software.
"Our customer is typically someone in the CTOs [chief technical officers] office in a retail bank, who has been through the Internet revolution" and seen what happens to banks that didnt quickly embrace online banking, Mennel says. "This time around, people are very receptive."
Tantau, which was acquired by Toronto-based 724 Solutions in January in a $375 million all-stock transaction, has developed a wireless Internet platform that allows bank customers to access bill paying. brokerage, e-commerce systems and retail banking via cellular phone or other wireless device.
The Tantau platform transcends the "WAP [Wireless Application Protocol] gap," the space when encryption software moves from the Internet to the banks servers, causing a brief period when transactions might have security problems. The platform also uses the banks databases, Internet applications and servers, so the bank doesnt have to change systems.
"We focus on areas where wireless will always be different from the Internet," Mennel says, noting that people who use wireless devices are generally more interested in completing transactions rather than browsing.
724 Solutions is planning to launch the Tantau wireless Internet platform outside of the financial world this year, with emphasis on m-commerce transactions, where shoppers can charge an item directly to their credit cards and can pay their bills via a wireless device.