First Direct customers will be able to check their account balance, view transactions and move money with a Wap phone from this summer, writes Caroline Davis
Interest in the mobile internet banking service has surprised the online and telephone bank, with several thousand requests from existing customers.
"The reality is that Wap is slow - it's like the Internet eight or nine years ago," says Jonathan Etheridge, First Direct's head of e-futures. "We expected the early adopters to be technical gurus. But 48% of those who were interested don't even use PC banking."
The Wap service is part of First Direct's plan for multiple channel banking, where customers will be able to access their accounts via Wap, TV banking, telephone or the Internet.
It will run on the same HP Web servers that the Internet Banking service currently uses. First Direct uses ICL's Lifestyle financial system to interface between its host servers and the various types of client devices.
To access the service, users need a Wap phone which supports 128bit encryption, although the bank says it will do a "low or no cost" deal for customers.
First Direct already offers a mobile phone banking service, which it launched in April 1999. This uses the short messaging service (SMS) to alert customers of account transactions and provides mini-statements on up to three accounts.