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American Express Takes Banking Online

American Express Co. is jumping into the online banking arena with the launch of Membership B@nking for personal, small business and corporate accounts.

The company late Thursday unveiled Membership B@nking, which offers many of the same features as brick-and-mortar banks, including money market, checking and savings accounts, CDs and credit products. It is operated jointly with Centurion Bank.

Special features include competitive interest rates, free unlimited electronic bill payment and check-writing for checking accounts, ATM surcharge rebates and 24-hour customer service. Customers will also get an ATM card that can be used at more than 94 percent of the ATMs in the United States, the company said.

Joining other financial institutions online, American Express said it wants to tap into the growing numbers of online bankers. According to International Data Corp., more than 6.5 million households bank online in the U.S. and that number is predicted to grow to more than 32 million by 2003.

"American Express is the first national brand to offer competitive rates on banking products through the Internet," said Ruediger Adolf, senior vice president, Strategic Planning and Business Development at American Express. "Membership B@nking gives consumers high value from a name they know and trust."