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Abbey National bins WAP, Digital TV banking

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Abbey National has joined Halifax in ditching its WAP-based mobile banking service. It is also scrapping its digital TV service.

In a letter to customers the bank said: 'As a valued user of our e-banking service we are sorry to inform you that from June 30th we will no longer provide this service through our Digital TV and WAP channels. Following a review of our on-line services we have decided to focus our efforts on continuing to deliver and further improve our popular Internet e-banking service.

"This means the e-banking service on the Sky, Telewest and NTL digital television platforms, as well as on Orange and O2 WAP mobile phones, will no longer be accessible after 30th June 2003."

A spokeswoman for the bank confirmed that it is dropping its Digital TV and WAP channels in order to put more resources into Internet banking. Of the 1.6 million registered users of the Abbey's Internet banking services "very few, it would be measured in low thousands" ever used either Digital TV and WAP-based banking, she told The Register. With little customer interest in expensive-to-maintain channels, it makes more sense for Abbey to focus it efforts elsewhere, she added.

Meanwhile this week's news of the demise of Halifax's WAP banking channel has brought a tear to the eye of one of its former developers, Dan Sullivan, who writes:

I was part of the illustrious performance testing team that tested the WAP app for the Halifax, and a great team it was too. We went through 9/11 together, for a start, and we all paid the price for the end of the .com boom.

Yes, the WAP app caused us some hassles, but it worked, and we helped it end up that way. OK, the volumes we tested it for were, in retrospect, wildly optimistic - but it felt right at the time, and the lack of 'Halifax WAP stuff falls over' stories on El Reg tells us we did a good job.

I was even one of the very few who used it - I had a Halifax account and a phone that could do WAP - and I was enough of a geek to use it.

Unfortunately for WAP, the real web became too widespread. Now, I can browse the web from my P800 from outside a bar in Barcelona, or inside a pub in Halifax. Ditto my WLAN-enabled IBM Thinkpad. WAP had it's window, and it's gone.

I'm sure the rest of the performance testing guys from the Halifax Copley Data Centre will join me in raising a glass to the little service that could, didn't and won't again.

Adios, WAP.

French developer Rounin Boyd writes to let us know WAP shortcomings for the UK banking sector were repeated on the continent.

WAP is a disaster 'cos it sits on top of GSM data calls, which are extremely unreliable and only do 9600 baud. I've played with it over GPRS too and it's just too painful to use.

In a former life, at SFR [a sort of French version of Vodafone] ,I was involved in their HDTP [now WAP] mobile project. It was not 'pretty'.

These are only some of the reasons why WAP will never work. I predict 3G will 'crash and burn' too. ®

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