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Wilmington Trust debuts mobile banking as CRM tool

Wilmington Trust has launched mobile banking services to provide its clients with the ability to manage their finances any time and place that is convenient for them. 

Wilmington Trust tapped VeriSign Inc.?s Messaging and Mobile Media division to provide its customers with access to banking information, such as ATM and branch locations, personal account information and recent transaction history via text message. Mobile banking has become an indispensible CRM tool for financial institutions.

?We want to ensure that clients can interact with us in the way that works best for them,? said Rebecca DePorte, senior vice president of personal financial services at Wilmington Trust, Wilmington, DE.

?Thus, we have a breadth of channels: We have branches, telephone banking, online banking, ATMs, mobile ATMs, a mobile small business team that visits our clients wherever they are and now mobile banking,? she said.

?We?re all about giving our clients options that best meet their needs and preferences.?

Wilmington Trust was founded in 1903 as a banking, trust and safe deposit company by DuPont president T. Coleman du Pont.

The company?s first merger occurred on 1912 with the acquisitions of the First National Bank and the National Bank of Wilmington & Brandywine, making it the largest bank on the East Coast.

In 1971, it became one of the founding members of NASDAQ and moved its listing to the New York Stock Exchange in 1999.

Now, the bank has 72 branch offices in the U.S. and is up to speed with the 21st century with the roll-out of its mobile banking services.

Wilmington Bank stressed that the target demographic for mobile banking is wider than many people assume.

?The target demographic is anyone who has access to a mobile communication device and who would like to have the flexibility to bank with us through that device,? Ms. DePorte said.

?I think it?s risky to assume that only people of a certain age?that is, young people?or a certain lifestyle?such as people who travel all the time?will be the right demographic for such a channel,? she said.

?The only commonality that is safe to assume is that those who use Wilmington Trust?s mobile banking functionality will all have access to a mobile device and will find it convenient to bank with us in that manner.?

VeriSign claims to be the largest SMS aggregator in North America. It saw a 96 percent increase in mobile banking messaging traffic on its platform in 2008.

VeriSign is currently working with six out of the top 10 largest banks in North America, three of the top five credit card issuers, as well as online payment and remittance service providers.

VeriSign is selling its messaging business to Syniverse Holdings Inc. for $175 million in cash (see story).

?After the close of the Syniverse deal, it has been business as usual?nothing has changed on our end for the most part,? said Amit Bhojwani, general manager of mobile enterprise services, messaging and mobile media at VeriSign, Mountain View, CA. ?Wilmington Trust approached us to help them launch their text-message-based mobile banking services, and that?s what we?ve helped them do.

?We do this for a very large number of financial institutions in North America and beyond,? he said.

?We?re giving their users the ability to check their balances via text messaging, get alerts if their balance is low or any other changes they?d like to know about, we enable that for Wilmington Trust.?

Consumer awareness of mobile banking is growing. VeriSign is seeing adoption rates as high as 10 percent of the total users that the service has been made available to, and as low as 2 or 3 percent.

?The worldwide adoption curve for mobile banking ties into mobile adoption in general,? Mr. Bhojwani said. ?We see text messaging as pretty much available on any phone today, as it?s not device-specific or carrier-specific.

?We see the highest adoption in SMS, followed by the mobile Web, followed by downloadable client applications,? he said.