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The Internet Unplugged: e-banking Where ever and Whenever You Want

Handelsbanken and IBM to deliver complete set of banking applications for wireless devices

October 6, 1999 (Stockholm, Sweden) In a part of the world where 60 percent of the population carry cell phones, the largest Nordic bank, in a strategic partnership with IBM, is the first bank to show a working WAP application.

Handelsbanken today announced that it plans to extend its existing Internet banking service beyond the PC to a variety of mobile devices. The new service will, in a nearby future, allow the banks customers to access stock information in different forms, account information, transfer money, buy and sell stock and even pay bills anytime, anywhere. The new service is based on the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), which is an open industry standard for mobile Internet services, and in the first phase it will be delivered via Nokia's and Ericsson´s new WAP-enabled smart media phone.

The bank also announced that the bank's financial advisers and selected customers will take part in test phase of the service, which begins today. This means that they will be able to receive general and personalized stock market information on their WAP-enabled telephones. The bank provides them with Nokia's and Ericsson´s smart phones.

"As fast as advances in technology and wireless communications are extending the Net to a new generation of portable devices, we want to deliver the kind of services that will allow our customers to use them to make their life easier and more productive," said Lars O Grönstedt, executive vice president of Handelsbanken. "Thanks to pervasive computing technology and services from IBM, we can begin today to leverage the rapidly expanding delivery channel for WAP-enabled applications and use it to offer our customers more robust services."

Each of the two companies provides a critical element in the new service. Handelsbanken is offering their customers a unique opportunity to use wireless banking services. But for Handelsbanken this particular WAP-based service is only a small part in the bank's overall strategy that will lead to a broad range of banking services allowing their customers to conduct banking business when, where and how it suits them best.

IBM is providing the application development tools and specialized software, which translates the information from the bank's back-end system into a highly condensed form that can be sent to a mobile phone. In addition, IBM will provide project management, design and programming skills to the overall project. Nokia is providing the server through which the information is sent on the wireless network, as well as the state-of-the-art phones that will receive it. (See editor's note for more detail.)

"Today's announcement illustrates the impact pervasive computing technology will have on everyday life, and it's importance to the banking industry," said IBM's Sweden Country General Manager Lars Stanghed. "IBM is developing and delivering the essential technology and services that will enable consumer devices, like WAP phones, to connect to remote networks and trade data in a safe, reliable way."

Works with WAP

All of the wireless e-banking services from Handelsbanken will be based on WAP, the de-facto global standard for enabling Internet communications and advanced telephony services on digital mobile phones, pagers, personal digital assistants and other wireless devices. By 2003, analysts estimate that the number of wireless subscribers around the world will pass the one billion mark. They also predict that more than half of mobile devices shipped between now and then will be WAP-enabled. Because WAP is an open standard, it can work on any type of wireless device or wireless network. It gives manufacturers, content providers and service providers a common global platform to build on, and it offers consumers a broad array of services.

"If you thought the Internet made an impact on the world, just wait until WAP-services, like the one from Handelsbanken, become widespread," said Lars O Grönstedt. "You can only attract so many people to PCs, but wireless is regarded as almost limitless."

During phase one, to begin this month, the bank will provide selected customers with a WAP phone and begins delivering market and personal stock information over the Web. Beginning early next year, the bank will roll out the interactive piece of the service, which will allow costumers to access more information, like account overviews and balances, as well as actually initiate transactions, like transferring money and buying stocks.

IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. IBM's Pervasive Computing unit has responsibility for creating e-business solutions that leverage the new class of connected client devices such as handheld Internet appliances and screenphones. A key part of the team's mission is furthering the adoption of open industry standards for pervasive computing to help customers easily access and act on information whenever and wherever they may be. IBM Sweden has 2 500 employees and a turnover 1998 of 7.8 billion SEK. IBM can be found on the Web at http://www.ibm.com.

Svenska Handelsbanken is a universal bank with the Nordic region as its domestic market. Svenska Handelsbanken offers the whole range of banking services: traditional corporate banking services, investment banking and trading as well as services for private customers including life insurance. With SEK 930 billion in total assets at 30 June 1999, Svenska Handelsbanken is the largest commercial bank in the Nordic region. At the same date, Svenska Handelsbanken had 470 branches in Sweden, 16 in Norway, 15 in Finland and 3 in Denmark. Additionally, there are units in other parts of Europe, Asia and the USA. Handelsbanken has 8,500 employees, and employee turnover is very low.

Editor's note - details regarding the new technology

Handelsbanken's Internet bank is more than two years old and has approximately 150.000 users. It offers functions like bill payments, account overview, money transfer, stock trading and bill presentment, or "e-giro services". Extending that functionality over the Internet to pervasive devices presents a considerable challenge of sending and presenting it in a way that makes it useable on a wireless telephone screen.

IBM will provide transcoding software that takes the bank's data and translates it into eXtensible Markup Language (XML), a format that can be presented on Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) enabled devices, such as Nokia's and Ericsson´s WAP phones. This language allows streams of data to be defined and presented as individual objects such as stock information. Since there may be more data than can be displayed on one screen, it is converted into a series of screens, analogous to a deck of cards. The user can scroll through these to access all the information in a meaningful way.

The resulting WML (Wireless Markup Language) content will then go through a WAP server and be transmitted over the wireless network to WAP phones where users can either review or act on the information. IBM is a major contributor to the development of both the XML and WML standards that enable this presentation and is developing security mechanisms for data transmitted in this way.

In addition, Handelsbanken is evaluating a future oriented IBM programming model and a solutions platform based on Internet/web and pervasive technologies as the basis for a new architecture that will address all aspects of the bank's IT requirements. This is a high performance, cost-effective infrastructure that will, over time, support all of the bank's business processes.

For more information please contact:

Lars O Grönstedt, Deputy CEO
Ph. +46-8-701-1000

Lars Lindmark, Communications Manager
Ph.. +46-8-701 10 367/mobile +46-70-595 85 80
e-mail: [email protected]

Lars Stanghed, General Manager, IBM Sweden
Ph. +46-8-793 10 00

Andris Zvejnieks, Communications Manager, IBM Sweden
Ph. +46-8-793 51 87/mobile +46-70-793 51 87
e-mail: [email protected]

Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen, Communications Manager, Pervasive Computing, EMEA
Ph. +47-920-80980
e-mail: [email protected]