By the end of the year, customers of the nation's sixth largest bank will never need to visit a branch again.
First Union National Bank--based in Charlotte, North Carolina, but with branches from the Florida Keys to Connecticut--announced yesterday at the annual meeting that it plans to offer full banking services by Christmas. First Union customers will be able to open and close accounts, take out mortgages, apply for lines of credit and loans, and pay bills online.
"We anticipate significant interest based on the number of emails we've gotten," bank spokeswoman Marianna Sheridan said. Sheridan noted that the bank, with 11 million customers on the East Coast, already offers some services through its Web site. "More people have applied for credit cards online than at the most-trafficked branch," she said.
First Union will probably be one of many banks that will offer full online banking services this year. "We'll see a lot more of this at the end of the year," said Carl Lehmann, senior research analyst at the Meta Group. "There are probably 40 bank holding companies that are piloting various financial services over the Net."