Habib Bank launches HBZpda

Habib Bank AG Zurich has introduced a personal digital assistant (PDA) web banking service to enable its customers to access all of the bank’s e-services through their handheld devices.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  June 18, 2003

I|~||~||~|Habib Bank AG Zurich has introduced a personal digital assistant (PDA) web banking service called the HBZpda to enable its customers to access all of the bank’s e-services through their handheld devices. The HBZpda, which is an optimised mirror image of the bank’s secure internet banking service, HBZweb, allows users to carry out various financial activities such as fund transfers and utility bill payments.

“HBZ’s adoption of PDA technology is revolutionary, and will help drive the adoption of PDAs as the perfect device for wireless transactions in the Middle East,” says Amer Farid, assistant vice president, HBZ. “As our customers become increasingly mobile, they are demanding 24 hour management of their accounts wherever they may be worldwide. These new services offer over eighty user driven options at your fingertips with the highest security in the region,” he adds.

The HBZpda service works on the same principle as all of HBZ’s other electronic delivery channels. Therefore, customers can use their existing HBZweb login to access the service on their PDA. The bank adds that it took it only 48 hours to implement its delivery channel because the service uses the same secure infrastructure as HBZweb, which took several months to fully implement. More importantly, Habib Bank has been able to offer such services within very short timeframes because of its revolutionary hplus architecture, which has been designed to enable the bank to port future services and upcoming devices onto it with ease.

“This time, we did not have to make any changes to the backend because the backend is powered by hplus. This unique architecture enables us to add new delivery channels on the fly with minimal changes. It was almost like tuning a TV set for a new channel, because hplus allows for such modular integration,” explains Farid.

As a result, HBZpda simply needed to be integrated into the existing HBZweb service. The only the bank faced was how to provide a user-friendly display so that the information could be easily seen on the PDA. “PDAs generally have small screens. So, one has to really see how information can be displayed on it in an optimal way thereby allowing ease of use,” Farid continues. This again has been made possible because the hplus architecture enables properties such as managing the screen size to be configured on each new connector.

||**||II|~||~||~|The integration of HBZpda into HBZ’s web services has cost the bank nothing to implement, says Farid. “The entire e-banking infrastructure and security in particular existed prior to the launch of HBZpda; therefore there was no cost other than two man days of work,” he adds.

The solution, which was tested on a Palm device, was implemented by the hplus team. Within the 48-hour timeframe, the hplus team configured the device and created a PDA dedicated web site.

Currently, 58.35% of the bank’s credit and 48.57% of its deposit customers are using the service. “Many in the financial services industry see huge opportunities for using wireless technologies to create innovative new ways for customers to manage their personal wealth. Evidence of this comes from the wireless trading services being offered in North America and Europe. Wireless devices, particularly PDAs, are becoming the most popular devices for conducting mobile banking,” says Farid.

Looking forward, Habib Bank AG Zurich is looking at maximising the potential of wireless access to offer its clients yet more personalised services. “With wireless access, we will be able to stay in touch with our clients wherever they may be, thereby allowing HBZ to advise clients of critical decisions in real time and providing them with the tools to make their own decisions, all within a secure environment,” he adds.

The bank has plans to gradually unveil more products this year including an electronic locker service.||**||

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