February 27, 2006

NOT THAT I EXPECT anyone (except maybe my mother) to be keeping track, but in October 2004, I wrote in this column about how my current residence, Hoboken, N.J.—just across the Hudson River from New York City—was emerging as a retail banking hot spot. At the time,

New Jersey-based retail banking innovator Commerce Bank was about to open a branch in Hoboken. Additionally, Bank of America was moving in as a result of its takeover of Fleet. Wachovia and several local institutions already had branches there. It seemed my "Mile Square City," home to a growing population of young and transient professionals—dream customers in many ways—was becoming a test case for a variety of hot banking matters, including the value of branding, the relative importance of service and convenience, and how to drive growth.

Nearly 18 months later, I don't know how the (then) new arrivals have fared, but the branch environment in Hoboken is hotter than ever, at least from a real estate perspective. In the past year, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and PNC each have opened branches on the same block near my apartment, where HSBC also is opening a huge branch in what previously was a movie theater. Other entrants to the market since I wrote the 2004 editorial are Washington Mutual and North Fork.

The funny thing is, I never see any customers in these branches. So it remains to be seen if anyone is winning—besides the realtors.

In this issue, Bank Systems & Technology launches three new, related departments: Payments Watch, Channel Watch and Risk/Compliance Watch. The transformation of enterprise payments, maximizing channels to drive growth and dealing with an environment of increasingly complex risks and regulations are among the most critical issues facing the banking industry today.

With these new columns, the BS&T editorial team will be able to drill down (via analysis, profiles, research and case studies) into the challenges, best practices, news developments and leading players driving activity and change in these core areas of banking. What (or who) is hot and what's not in the areas of payments, channels/distribution and risk/compliance? Please e-mail me at kburger@cmp.com and tell me what you think.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & ...