Web 2.0: A Quantum Leap for Wholesale Banking

25 July 2008

Although they have been slow coming out of the gates, banks will recognize the need for change and will completely alter their online experiences over the next three years. Web 2.0 will redefine the small business online banking and cash management space, according to a new report, Web 2.0: A Quantum Leap for Wholesale Banking from Celent, a Boston-based financial research and consulting firm.

Key findings of the report include:

• During the next two years, banks on the Web 2.0 adoption journey will face numerous hurdles. Banks will begin to differentiate themselves as they succeed or fail at crossing these frontiers.

• Given how quickly development techniques are evolving, banks are having a difficult time deciding which AJAX framework to choose (examples of frameworks include Backbase, Mootools, Prototype, jMaki, etc.). The evaluation process can take time because there are multiple factors to consider (e.g., performance, compatibility, security, etc.).

• Any change or upgrade that takes place on the IT side at a financial institution is subject to a thorough security evaluation. From the AJAX framework, to RSS, to the type of information divulged within a blog, banks will go through a rigorous process to ensure that their offerings are secure.

• The banking industry is going through some challenging times, and as such, IT budgets are constrained. This has an impact on new projects, particularly those that don't show a strong ROI. Although major upgrades to online banking solutions will provide a competitive advantage, they will get off to a sluggish start.

• Software vendor releases are not ready yet. Quite a number of banks (particularly the midsize or small banks) rely on software vendor solutions for their small business and cash management offerings. Upgraded releases from vendors will only begin to hit the market in late 2008, with the majority showing up in early-mid 2009.

• Banks will, however, overcome these hurdles. A handful of early mover banks are starting to show signs of next-generation offerings. Celent believes that a great opportunity exists for one or more vendors to stand out from the pack by demonstrating a differentiated Web 2.0 user experience. It will take a good 12-18 months before we begin to see cutting-edge business banking sites complete with Web 2.0 elements. Regardless of the delays, Web 2.0 solutions will finally begin to emphasize the customer experience, usability, and navigation while allowing customers to take care of their core banking requirements.

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