A distant dream?

Chennai: Fidelity Investments kicked off the wireless revolution in the financial services industry by introducing the wireless-accessible trading service to its clients for the first time way back in 1998. But in the last four years, an estimated quarter of a billion dollars investment in the retail wireless banking and brokerage solutions have not been able to bring the shine as expected.

Reports say that only one-half of 1 per cent of all mobile phone subscribers are taking advantage of these wireless services. Though Asia and Europe are moving up, the US has been left behind in the mobile and wireless technology adoption race.

Celent Communications LLC managing director Octavio Marenzi says the number of wireless financial services users is expected to reach 80 million worldwide by 2004, but only about 3 per cent of them will be US users.

Moreover, the wireless effervescence is visible only in larger financial institutions while the small and mid-sized firms are not seen in action. Reports say only four of the top 10 US banks (Bank of America, First Union, Fleet Bank and Wells Fargo) and four of the top 10 US securities houses (Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, Charles Schwab and E*Trade) launched retail-mobile services since 1998.

Though wireless and mobile technologies failed to make commercial success, they have been able to attract attention as effective communication tools for financial institutions. Celent reports say wireless use for communication purposes within the financial services arena has zoomed up to 80 per cent among the top 25 securities firms on Wall Street.