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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

First Hawaiian Bank to offer TV services

By Frank Cho
Advertiser Staff Writer

With consumers spending more time in front of the television than ever before, First Hawaiian Bank is planning to offer Hawai'i's first TV banking system later this year.

The system, expected to be available by the end of September through Oceanic Cable's digital service, will allow users to check balances, transfer funds and view recent transactions.

"Customers want choice. We have made the effort over the years to give customers different ways they can bank," said Mark Taylor, vice president of home banking for First Hawaiian, a subsidiary of Honolulu's BancWest Corp.

But security issues surrounding the system remain and could delay the planned launch, Taylor said.

The software the bank plans to use to send account information over Oceanic's cable network to TV screens is still being developed by Orlando, Fla..-based Prasara Technologies. Reston, Va.-based Intelidata Technologies Corp., which helped build First Hawaiian's Internet service, is also involved in the project.

Taylor said consumers would need a user name and password to access the encrypted bank data, preventing unauthorized users from seeing customer account information.

"We are not going to rush to get it out by a certain date if we are not comfortable with the security," Taylor said.

First Hawaiian is building its TV banking network from its Internet banking service rather than developing a new system from the ground up.

The new bare-bones banking service will have few graphics, with the exception of First Hawaiian logos, and probably have the look and feel of familiar TV commands, Taylor said. Customers will use a typical TV remote to control arrows and select commands.

"It's going to be a pretty simplistic interface. At this point, we are trying to launch it, make sure it works, is secure and convenient and go from there," Taylor said.

In the program's first phase, customers will have access to bank, credit card, consumer loan and mortgage accounts. If successful, the service may later add insurance, investment and bill-paying services, which are more complicated.

While First Hawaiian does not expect the majority of its customers to use TV banking, it hopes the service will grow in popularity.

Of Oceanic's 260,000 subscribers, only about 60,000 use the digital service, and not all of them are First Hawaiian customers.

"The ball really is in the court of First Hawaiian Bank," said Kit Beuret, a spokesman for Oceanic Cable.

Oceanic already has an agreement with Pizza Hut that allows its digital subscribers to order pizza on its own channel, Beuret said. The cable provider also plans to launch a Karaoke-on-demand channel.

About 26,000 First Hawaiian customers who already use the bank's Internet product can use the same user name and password to access the TV banking service, Taylor said.

Development of television banking has been in the works for the last year at First Hawaiian, Taylor said.

Frank Cho can be reached by phone at 525-8088, or by e-mail at fcho@honoluluadvertiser.com.