USAccess Bank, the Internet subsidiary of Central Bank USA Inc. of Louisville, Ky., is seeking growth by tapping into the teenage market.
Late last month it began offering its banking services through DoughNet.com, a Web site launched in June for on-line shopping by teens. The seven-month-old bank, with $100 million of assets, hopes to build lifelong financial relationships with the teens who come to the site.
"This is a full-service site that attracts kids," said David Pierce, chief executive officer of USAccess Bank. "They won't need to go elsewhere. This will be their first bank, and there will be a simple migration for them through DoughNet to bank with us through college."
Amy Hamburg, senior vice president of marketing at USAccess Bank, said San Francisco-based DoughNet "is doing a great service for teens by giving them financial management skills when they're young."
"We feel confident that we can hold on to them when they want to get student loans or their first house," she said.
To promote the service, DoughNet Inc. is depositing $10 in every new account opened with $50, and $20 in accounts opened with $100.
The company is about to launch an on-line marketing campaign and will combine traditional and nontraditional marketing with event marketing.
The alliance, though not exclusive, is a first for USAccess. It is also the first with a bank for DoughNet, which is talking with foreign banks about setting up similar services in other countries, said Ginger Thomson, its president and a co-founder.
DoughNet.com aims to give young people "a passport to financial education," Ms. Thomson said. "We have full integration of shopping, donating, and housing your money in one interface."
With a $50 minimum deposit, teenagers can open two accounts, SaveDough and SpendDough. Their parents can make deposits into the accounts by transferring money from an existing account, making a credit card payment, or mailing a check.
"Teenagers can then shop within the DoughNet environment," said Gailyn Johnson, DoughNet's chief operating officer, who led Wells Fargo & Co.'s Internet banking effort in 1995. "DoughNet tracks spending purchases, so it would be difficult to overdraft on this account," she added.
DoughNet.com has 41 merchants on its site, including Amazon.com, Reel.com, CDNow, Jcrew.com, ShopSports.com, and Alloy Online. It has also signed six nonprofits organizations to which teenagers can donate money or volunteer their services. These include Rainforest Alliance, Save the Children, and Youth Service America.
"We want teenagers to get into the practice of savvy financial management," Ms. Johnson said.
At the end of August, DoughNet.com and UV115, a trendy e-commerce site for teens, created a $1,000 "Pass the Buck Fund" to let teenagers determine how it should be distributed to DoughNet's nonprofit partners. Votes will be tallied at the end of September, and the fund will be split among the organizations according to the voting results.
DoughNet employs 50 and has received $9.5 million in venture capital funding.
USAccess has "several thousand customers so far," according to Mr. Pierce. It offers on-line deposit products, direct lending, discount brokerage services, and free bill payment.
Most of the nation's 31 million teenagers have never known a world without computers. According to Teenage Research Unlimited, 81% of teenagers have used the Internet, and 65% use it regularly. Last year teenagers spent $141 billion on themselves, mostly using money from parents, gifts, and jobs. They spent $250 million on-line, the research firm said.
Merrill Lynch estimates that 70% of teens have savings accounts, and that in all they save about $20 billion a year.