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Co-operative Bank to go Online With Smile

The Co-operative Bank is planning to launch its Internet banking facility at smile.co.uk on October 28.

The new bank will offer a full range of accounts, including current, student, and savings accounts, together with loans, credit cards and other services.

"If you have a smile current account, you'll enjoy even better rates on our credit cards and savings accounts," says chief executive Mervyn Pedelty in the site's pre-launch pages.

"And you'll be able to apply for them all online, quickly and simply with just one form. You'll get a decision via our private, secure messaging area almost immediately, followed by another message with your account details the next working day."

The Co-op's online bank will allow customers to handle all transactions by themselves over a secure connection. The bank is quick to point out that its security arrangements have received "a number of major endorsements" but it warns that it cannot be responsible if customers are careless with their security codes.

On credit cards, smile will be offering a 5.9 per cent APR until April 30, 2000, a competitively low rate of interest. On current accounts, smile will pay interest of 4.07 per cent when the customer is in credit -- and offers a "fee-free" £500 ($800) overdraft.

Endeavouring to create the happiest of identitities for itself, smile is branded to appeal to people who prefer to avoid that oppressive atmosphere, which, despite makeovers, stills lingers in many of the UK's older banking outlets on the high street.

Two weeks ago, another European online bank dubbed first-e raised 45 euros ($46 million) in preparation for its launch. The site, a subsidiary of Dublin-based enba, is currently operating under the banking license of Banque d'Escompte and is offering accounts initially in the UK.



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