Citigroup has launched a new Internet banking service that offers accounts with higher interest rates in a bid to attract more US customers to its Web banking channel.
The Citibank Direct online banking service will offer a 4.5% interest rate on its e-savings account, with no minimum balance required and in some cases no monthly fees. The maximum online account balance is $250,000.
The move is an attempt by the banking group to compete with high-yielding online accounts offered in the US by rivals such as ING and HSBC.
The account, which must be opened online, is being promoted on the Yahoo! Web site. However, any customers opening the account via the Web will also have to agree to open a linked chequeing account.
The bank's existing 2.5 million US customers who already have chequeing accounts will also be able to sign up to the Citibank Direct account, so long as they do so via the Internet.
The bank says the new service features real-time decision-making and identification verification and allows customers to open an account in less than 10 minutes.
In addition to Citibank Direct, the bank says it plans to open 100 new branches and launch a mobile phone banking service, called Citi Mobile, later this year.