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BofA Online Customers At 12.4M

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Bank of America has increased the number of its online banking customers to 12.4 million, the largest number of retail checking customers of any U.S. bank either online or offline. This represents a 72% rise from a year earlier, it said. About 5.6 million bank customers now pay their bills online, 75% more than last year, it added. The bank said a survey showed that most people that use online banking do so because of the 24-hour access to information and services.

More Borrowers Turn To ARMs

NEW YORK-Adjustable rate mortgages will comprise about 35% of the market by year end 2005, up from 19% last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Interest-only loans in which homebuyers pay just interest for a set period of time are driving the growth, said Douglas Duncan, the association's chief economist. Kim Castrup, vice president of product development at SunTrust Mortgage, said adjustable rates now make up as much as 70% of Suntrust's residential portfolio.

Anti-Laundering Expenses High

MIAMI-Bankers are making big efforts to keep up with anti-money laundering and bank secrecy legislation as law enforcement scrutiny rose following the 2001 terrorist attacks. Saskia Rietbroek, executive director of the Miami-based Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, said bankers fearful of potential negative publicity are ''swimming upstream'' to meet regulations. Consultant KPMG International said anti-laundering costs rose 60% over the last three years and will rise another 40% this year. Celent Communications estimates banks will spend $11 billion on anti-laundering consultants, training and software between 2002 and 2005.

Tips On Savings Look Familiar

NEW YORK-Buying in bulk, sticking to basics, seeking products that are available from more than just one vendor, limiting number of suppliers, accurate purchase forecasting and in-person negotiations can all help lower costs for smart cards, according to a survey of card issuers by CardTechnology magazine, an affiliate of The Credit Union Journal. The magazine also said that while smart card prices have fallen 15% per year since 2001, prices of some corporate cards won't drop as fast and may only decline 5% from 2004 to 2006.

'Multi-Use' Loans Surge

QUEENS, N.Y.-The $2-billion Flushing Savings Bank, has improved its earnings by offering a loan that is part multi-family and part commercial real estate. The loans are used to finance buildings that usually have a small retail establishment on the ground floor and residential units above, and that can yield up to 150 basis points more than regular mortgages.

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