Feature

Woolwich roll-out doubt due to lack of Wap mobile phones

Woolwich's wireless application protocol (Wap) roll-out could be seriously affected by a lack of Wap-enabled telephones on the market.

Antony Savvas

The bank is trialling a Wap service among 100 customers who are using Nokia 7110 phones to carry out day-to-day banking transactions, including paying bills and account enquiries.

Woolwich wants to roll out the service nationwide from April among hundreds of thousands of its customers, but Woolwich manager of e-commerce Janette Winter admits the plans are dependent on securing enough phones.

Winter also admits that Woolwich has not decided how to sell the phones to its customers.

Technology partner Vodafone is supporting the 100 people participating in the trial on its network.

The Woolwich service can also be supported on the BT Cellnet and Orange services, but there is no guarantee that these operators can obtain enough phones in the numbers Woolwich wants.

It is understood that BT Cellnet has so far only secured 15,000 handsets for its Wap service, and Orange is still experiencing problems with supply after initially launching a Wap service last year with no phones to sell.

Winter says Woolwich has not ruled out selling the phones itself. Despite using Nokia's servers to support the service, Winter admits that the phones are not guaranteed because they come from a different division of Nokia.

While partner Vodafone plans the first high-speed general packet radio service roll-out for data by the end of the year, Woolwich has no current plans to take advantage of this, so its customers may not be able to pay their bills as fast as other banks' customers.


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This was first published in February 2000

 

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