Amid the ongoing debate over the wireless Internet — its either the next big thing or a another bust in the making — a growing number of major companies and financial organizations have begun quietly rolling out mobile applications and services.
Besides early adopters Bank of Montreal and its Harris Bank subsidiary, several major financial institutions have made early-stage commitments to wireless. Chase, for instance, is preparing to provide retail and wholesale customers with the ability to carry out banking transactions over personal digital assistants and cellular phones.
Bank of America, Citigroup, Wachovia and Wells Fargo are also launching mobile offerings, and the brokerage industry is following suit. Credit Suisse has been offering its 23,000 customers of Youtrade, its online brokerage service, the capability of buying and selling securities by mobile phone since last fall. More recently, Charles Schwab & Co., Quick & Reilly and Suretrade have come out with their own wireless trading services.
Not surprisingly, the airlines are using wireless to let customers check arrival and departure times and buy tickets over mobile phones. American Airlines has been developing wireless services for more than a year, while Delta Air Lines has two mobile pilot projects in the works.
Probably the most widespread corporate use of wireless to date is in sales force and customer relationship management automation. CRM software vendor Salesforce.com counts BroadVision, Siemens and Texas Instruments among its customers. Oracle claims that more than 6,000 enterprises, including Deloitte Consulting, KnightRidder.com and World Energy Exchange, are managing their sales activities using OracleSalesOnline.com. The free online service provides businesses with Oracles sales force product via the Net.