AOL and Banks Sign New Online Agreement

Cementing an existing deal that has helped lead to one of the Internet’s most heavily-visited sites, America Online (NYSE: AOL) and five leading U.S. banks announced multi-year marketing agreements Monday.

The agreements make Bank of America, Bank One, Union Bank of California, Citibank and Wells Fargo key components in AOL’s Banking Center, itself a key ingredient of the company’s Personal Finance Channel. Some 5.7 million subscribers use the channel, the company says, generating a record 135 million quotes in a single day recently.

AOL’s Banking Center offers its subscribers, as well as Compuserve members, access to a wide range of full-service banking facilities. The company first launched the banking center in 1996, teaming up with Inuit and Visa Interactive and a host of U.S. banks.

“Online banking is potentially one of the most convenient and appealing functions we can offer in the personal finance space,” said AOL senior vice-president Jonathan Sacks.

Banking Boom Predicted

AOL says that recent studies of the use of online banking by consumers makes the current agreements with the banks a worthwhile endeavor. Over 90% of private banks say the Internet impacts their business, the company cites, and a recent study predicts that 24 million U.S. households will be banking online by 2003. Like all predictions, there are caveats lining the winding road

However, AOL has been out in the forefront of developing online banking and other financial services for its 17 million members. In 1998, it signed a multi-year deal with Intuit in which the software developer agreed to provide much of the content for AOL’s Personal Finance Channel. Intuit guaranteed AOL payments of $30 million over 3 years, including $16 million on inking the deal.

Last October, AOL subsidiary Compuserve signed an agreement to include the services of Bank Rate Monitor on its personal finances channel. The company is one of the leading resources of retail financial information. It offers data to rates and fees from more than 3,000 banks and credit unions across the country.

Wind At Its Back

America’s leading interactive services company is heading into the milleneium with some momentum. In April, it announced that it had achieved record revenues for the third quarter of 1999 of $1.3 billion, up 66%, and that its membership growth had also broken a milestone. Fresh off its merger with Netscape, the company now has two Internet services with a combined total of nearly 20 million members and several Internet brands, including Netscape Navigator and Communicator.

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