The Challenges of the New Electronic Technologies in Banking: Private Strategies and Public Policies
Posted: 28 Jan 1997
Date Written: September 1996
The revolution in electronic technologies that has swept through the U.S. economy in the past decade has posed special challenges for the financial services sector. This special impact should come as no surprise: Information, after all, lies at the heart of the successful provision of financial services and information -- its generation, manipulation, storage, and transmission -- has been at the heart of the electronic revolution. Rapid changes in their environment would naturally have substantial consequences for the actor in that environment. Commercial banks have been especially prominent in the discussion of the consequences of the revolution. Again, this should come as no surprise: Banks are numerous: As of year end 1995 there were almost 10,000 separately chartered commercial banks in the U.S., with over 70,000 banking offices (i.e., home offices plus branches). Despite the continuing decline of banks' share of financial assets in the U.S. economy theyare still collectively the plurality group in the financial services sector. Virtually all enterprises and most individuals have some financial connection to a bank. And banks continue to be at the center of the money creation and payment mechanisms of the economy. Federal and state regulation of banks - a rough indicator of the public's special focus on and concern about banks - remains extensive, even in an era of deregulation. In short, banks continue to be prominent in the public consciousness of the financial services sector. Accordingly, a discussion of technology's impact on banking can and should maintain a broader perspective - on the industry and on the public policies that surround the industry - than would be applicable to many other industries. This paper will follow that course.
JEL Classification: G21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation