April 24, 2003

Not even the vast Pacific Ocean can slow down the latest account aggregation service from Japan's largest bank.

Called WealthPalette, the service allows selected customers of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi to aggregate financial accounts located within the institution as well as those of its U.S. affiliate, Union Bank of California. The service also collects information from three other major banks, nine brokerage companies, three credit card companies and two life insurance companies in Japan.

Hosted by Tokyo-based AccountOne, WealthPalette has been introduced in a pilot program with about 5,000 of the bank's best customers. "We've started with the mass-affluent type of customer-people who have a balance at our bank and are also rather active in using our online banking service," said Makoto Shibata, research director at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

Certain high-flying customers can use the service to take full advantage of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi's global footprint. "We offer a service called California Account, where if our customers would like to open an account in the U.S., we can support them," said Shibata.

After assessing the results of its pilot program, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi will decide whether to keep WealthPalette as a premium service for select clients or to embark on a full-scale deployment.

The core of the WealthPalette service is TekPortal, an account aggregation system from Teknowledge, Palo Alto, Calif. TekPortal enables customers to check balances and view graphic representations of their portfolios. The system provides e-mail alerts when a balance goes above or below a specified level. Although the system doesn't perform actual transactions, it stores IDs and passwords of other accounts for rapid entry to other financial sites.

This month, the bank plans to move ahead with several new features and capabilities, including portfolio analysis and asset allocation tools for the self-directed investor. Customers who prefer to work through an adviser can still use the aggregated information. "Automated tools and human advice elements are the things that we are trying to implement next, to see how customers would use them or how they react," said Shibata.

However, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi doesn't plan to take an early lead in providing mobile phone access to its aggregated account information. "We're a bit skeptical about whether it's easy to go through all of the different account balances and details on a small cell-phone screen," said Shibata.

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