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The Online Finance 40: Banking
Profiling: Sanjay Gupta of Bank of America Corp., Kevin Kessinger of Citigroup and Clyde Ostler of Wells Fargo & Co.
Consumer and Small Business
Bank of America Corp.
Last years rank: 2
Last year Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, North Carolina, reaped the rewards of its $35 billion, 2005 acquisition of credit card giant MBNA Corp. of Wilmington, Delaware. BofA increased its online subscribers by 44.9 percent, to 21.3 million; its number of online bill payers by 52.1 percent, to 11.1 million; and the average number of bills it processes by 17.5 percent, to an average of 41.6 million a month. Overseeing the banks bustling web site, which is so busy it ranks ahead of Wikipedia.com in popularity, is Sanjay Gupta, who is quick to point out that most of the features of the site have become available on the go at bankofamerica.mobile.com. "Pretty much anything you can do at your PC, you can now do on your phone," says Gupta, 38. He also sings the praises of the new check-imaging capabilities at many of the banks 17,000 ATMs. No deposit envelope is needed; customers just punch in their pin numbers and slide their checks into the feeder. The ATM tells them how much the deposit is for and prints a receipt with an image of the check right on it. "Weve seen a 50 percent increase in the deposits on those machines that have the feature," he says.
Chief Operations & Technology Officer,
Last years rank: 6
During the past year Citigroups chief operations and technology officer, Kevin Kessinger, has been focusing his attention on reducing the complexity and scope of the firms IT operations as part of a company-wide cost-cutting initiative (which includes the layoff of 17,000 employees, announced in April). Citi earmarked four data centers for closure but Kessinger, 53, shuttered 10 centers, resulting in a 19 percent reduction in data center usage. At the same time, a new IT global framework was developed with an eye toward eliminating redundancies and replacing legacy systems. Kessinger predicts the new system will lower Citigroups operating costs by $2 billion a year by 2009. However, the focus on cost-reduction doesnt mean the company has stood still. Last year it launched CitiDirect, an online bank that allows consumers to open an account in less than 10 minutes; the service attracted almost $10 billion in deposits in its first nine months. With this new distribution channel, Citis online banking presence grew significantly in 2006: overall initial sales were up 1,129 percent, total accounts funded rose 466 percent, home equity loans were up 577 percent, online transactions rose 28 percent, and paperless-statement enrollments increased 103 percent.
Group Executive Vice President and Head of Internet Services,
Wells Fargo & Co.
Last years rank: 4
Clyde Ostler, head of Internet services for San Franciscobased Wells Fargo & Co., believes that the best way to entice customers to online banking is by making the banks Web site as user-friendly as possible. If we can make the site easy, that will result in more sales, says Ostler, 60. One of his recent innovations has been to position the bank as a personal online-data repository for all things financial; Wellss Web site, for instance, will store a customers check images for seven years. And while other banks have worked hard to educate clients on the risks of identity theft, Wells Fargo has put the onus on itself. Our approach is to do all of the necessary security behind the scenes and take responsibility ourselves for that, says Ostler. We give a 100 percent guarantee to the customer if anyone should move their money. The strategy seems to be working. Last year Wells Fargo increased its online customers by 29.2 percent, to 9.3 million users, who logged on to an average of 65 million online sessions a month.
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