Banks reject WAP : beginning of the end?

Banks are shying away from WAP, thanks to the once-hyped medium failing to catch the eye of users.

ANZ has dropped the WAP pilot that it started with Telstra, and has reportedly excluded WAP applications from its development program based in Bangalore.

According to a spokesperson for ANZ, a lack of user demand for mobile Internet banking spurred the move, together with a preference for the telephone as a means of managing the equivalent of Internet banking transactions.

However, the bank has not closed the door on WAP entirely, noting that if there were to be a renewed interest in mobile banking in the future, it would still be "well positioned" to be able to roll out the technology.

Westpac is also taking a similar view of WAP, and although it is still offering WAP services, it admits that the technology has fallen well short of expectations.

Kevin Powell, head of consumer banking, e-commerce, at Westpac, said that although the company only ever saw WAP as an "evolving, intermediate technology" that would provide impetus for the move into next generation technologies, it was also expected the technology would take off far more than it did.

Westpac launched WAP services with both Telstra and Optus in mid to late 2000, and at present, around 500 users per month use the service. Powell concedes that although it's not "nothing", the figure is "not significant", and has led Westpac towards a decision of "not actively promoting or developing [WAP] further".

Telecommunications analyst Paul Budde believes this is the beginning of the end for WAP, which he dubs a "hyped up technology that nobody really wanted".

"I think that for most, WAP is on hold. They were all enticed by various operators to do something and the operators made it very easy for them, cost-wise, to set up a trial, but interest in WAP has dwindled to close to zero - nobody is seriously looking into WAP at the moment," he said.

Budde believes the trend towards open networks and Internet-based applications has squeezed WAP out of the picture.

"It's highly unlikely that WAP is moving any further - it will just slowly die," he said.

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