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BNP, LibertySurf Promote Online Banking Site

The Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) has linked up with the free ISP LibertySurf to promote its year-old online banking service BNPNet.

"We've signed a partnership agreement for a combined offer of our services, but these will remain independent," said Carole Liscia, a spokesperson for LibertySurf.

In advertisements appearing in French newspapers, BNP, France's second-largest bank, offers free two-month trial subscriptions to BNPNet, with the deal available to BNP customers who sign up for LibertySurf before September 20.

BNP said it had some 65,000 BNPNet subscribers, which it hopes to expand to 100,000 by years' end. By comparison, the bank's Minitel service has 350,000 customers.

Topping the still-growing pack of 14 free ISPs operating in France, LibertySurf reportedly has at least 130,000 subscribers for its service, which offers its subscribers unlimited e-mail addresses, hosting of Web pages up to 25MB and local-call access throughout France.

The ISP's bandwidth is 300 megabits, which will increase to 600megabits by year's end, Liscia said.

LibertySurf also has partnerships with Darty, an electronics and home-appliance chain, But, a home-appliance and furniture chain, and the cosmetics company Sephora .

"We have three to four more partnership agreements in the works, in particular with Castorama, a do-it-yourself store chain," said Liscia.

BNPNet, which normally costs FF45 per month (US$7.25), allows customers to consult their accounts online, download statements into Money, Quicken or Excel, and make electronic payments and stock exchange orders, the company said.