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Account Manager Inks Deals with Yahoo!, Wells Fargo

Account aggregator VerticalOne Corp. cashed in Wednesday by inking deals with industry leaders Yahoo! Inc. and Wells Fargo Inc.

Acknowledging the online banking niche as a space with great growth potential, the S1 Corp. subsidiary agreed to offer its account aggregation service to Yahoo!'s and Wells Fargo's users.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Using VerticalOne's information infrastructure, Yahoo! customers will be able to obtain their banking, credit card, investment and other financial account information on Yahoo! Finance. Wells Fargo will integrate the aggregator's services on their site later this year.

For VerticalOne, the deal is a way to bring its customers to the bank at single source points with great brands. Meanwhile, the portal and bank titans will benefit from being able to offer their users complete financial services packages with VerticalOne.

Piper Jaffray analysts predict the number of consumers who use aggregated financial services will rise from approximately 800,000 in 2000 to nearly 4 million by 2002.

Richard Bell, director of Internet banking research at financial services consulting firm TowerGroup, said the deal makes sense for the companies, and that Yahoo! wants to be a "financial services portal in terms of providing a home locus for consumers."

"Most consumers have multiple service accounts," Bell explained. "What the aggregator does is pull all of those together, which makes it more convenient for the customer."

Bell said he believed online banking will grow, and not necessarily for just affluent customers. He said the current figures of 18 percent of the U.S. participating in online banking is exaggerated because companies who report that are taking into account the number of accounts -- not the number of actual households committed to online banking.

"VerticalOne is just getting started," said said Gregg Freishtat, chief executive officer of VerticalOne. "We have taken the first step in enabling consumers to manage their busy lives, and by working with Yahoo!, we're continuing to innovate and lead this industry with even greater aggregation functionality and transaction services."

Though a purveyor of the online financial services in 1995, Wells Fargo has been looking to improve its interactive tools for customers, which makes its deal with VerticalOne particularly attractive.

"Our Web-savvy customers with multiple online accounts are tired of having to log on to a myriad of sites to manage all of their financial and personal information," said Catherine Graeber, senior vice president, Consumer Internet Services at Wells Fargo. "Wells Fargo recognizes the potential to provide the convenience of consolidating a customer's financial information, without sacrificing security or privacy.

Yahoo! and Wells Fargo join VerticalOne's 20 other leading portals and destination sites in offering the free service to consumers, including AnyDay.com, CNBC.com and the GO Network.