Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 18 Number 2 2001 pp. 133-156

Retail Bank Services Strategy: A Model of Traditional, Electronic, and Mixed Distribution Choices

Byers, Reynold E and Lederer, Phillip J

ABSTRACT: Design of a retail banking distribution strategy is an important issue in that industry. This paper shows the effect of new electronic distribution technologies such as PC banking on the choice of a bank's distribution strategy. We present a competitive model of distribution strategy choice, including heterogeneous consumers and banks, that allows a rich variety of customer preference and technology cost parameters. Sensitivity analysis shows how several parameters affect the competitive outcome. This analysis suggests that changing consumer behavior and attitudes, instead of banks' cost structure with new technologies significantly affects the bank's distribution strategy choice. If the segment of consumers that prefers PC banking remains small relative to the segment that prefers branches, then there will still be a market for specialized branch banks. Branch banking without PC banking services will be a viable strategy until the segment that prefers PC banking grows larger (amounting to about 40 percent of all transactions). Banks offering both branch and PC banking services can prevent successful and profitable entry by virtual banks (Internet banks offering only PC banking services) as long as the segment of customers that prefer PC banking remains relatively small (less than two-thirds of all transactions). Beyond this fraction, virtual banks will be profitable. This analysis suggests that it may be a long time (if ever) before virtual banks turn a profit.

Key words and phrases: automated teller machines, ATM, banking industry, branch banking, channel selection, distribution channels, electronic banking, financial services, PC banking, retail banking