SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 23, 2004--Washington Mutual, Inc.
(NYSE:WM), one of the nation's leading retailers of financial
services, today announced that the U.S. Patent Office has issued a
patent for the company's retail banking approach and several more are
pending. This is the first patent issued in the country to describe a
full-service branch concept.
Specifically, U.S. patent No. 6,681,985 describes Washington
Mutual's retail banking stores as places that "create a welcoming and
inviting environment for a customer" and are "in sharp contrast to
traditional bank branches." Instead, they have been "transformed into
a more retail-like environment."
According to the patent's description, embodiments of the
invention include the teller towers which remove the traditional
barrier of a teller line and allow easier interaction between the
customer service representative and the customer. Also described were
the circular or oval layout of the retail banking stores, the
concierge desk where customers are greeted and guided to the
appropriate service area, and a kids' play area included in many of
the company's stores. Further noted was the access to online banking
through wamu.com and bank employees who are hired for their high sales
aptitude in order to cross-sell the company's financial products.
"Washington Mutual has transformed the banking experience," said
Sandra Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association,
which earlier this year recognized the company's branch concept as
being one of the Top 40 best retail "stores" in the world. "It has
taken an industry that was once considered staid and has successfully
infused it with a customer-centric retail environment. The retail
banking stores have become the model for other financial institutions,
as well as other retailers."
Karen Curtin, senior vice president of innovation and customer
insight at Washington Mutual, noted, "The patent reflects our vision
of creating America's leading retailer of financial services. We
listened to what our customers wanted and developed our retail banking
stores accordingly. Ultimately, we believe Washington Mutual is
revolutionizing how financial services are delivered to individual
consumers and small businesses -- or those 'everyday people' who make
up most of the population."
Since the company introduced its new retail banking concept in
2000, it has opened more than 840 new and remodeled stores in its
long-standing markets, such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles,
while expanding into some of America's largest cities such as New
York, Chicago and Atlanta. Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg, Fla., will be the
company's newest retail banking market in 2004.
Washington Mutual recognized for innovation
Washington Mutual has been recognized for its innovation and
retail banking strategy, both nationally and internationally. Fortune
magazine announced that Washington Mutual was the No. 1 rated company
nationally in the innovation category as part of its 2004 Most Admired
Companies list, and the company was named the "Best Retail Bank --
Americas" in the Lafferty International Retail Banking Award announced
About Washington Mutual
With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a
retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of
products and services to consumers and commercial clients. At March
31, 2004, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $280.77
billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 consumer
banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, and financial services
offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are
available at www.wamunewsroom.com.
CONTACT: Washington Mutual
Sheri Pollock, 206-377-2138
SOURCE: Washington Mutual