Keystone Financial Inc., a $7 billion-asset banking company based in Harrisburg, Pa., is replacing its indirect auto loan program with an Internet-based service.
KeyBuy is meant to help in choosing a car, financing the purchase, and trading in the old car. The service is available over the Web or by telephone.
"We're focusing on developing relationships," said Peter Frikker, KeyBuy director. "We're trying to educate consumers and help them with this transaction."
Many banks are interested in on-line auto financing, said Robert Goodwin, senior vice president at Killen & Associates, a Palo Alto, Calif.- based consulting firm.
About 30% of all new vehicles, between 1.6 to 2.5 million autos, will be financed over the Internet within the next five years, Mr. Goodwin said.
The largest Internet auto loan service, he said, is run by Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corp. of Irvine, Calif., which offers financing through Chase Manhattan Corp., KeyCorp, and Triad Financial Corp.
Auto-By-Tel offers a link to AutoSite, which provides information about new and used vehicles.
KeyBuy provides an unusual breadth of services, Mr. Goodwin said. Few companies provide lists of cars tailored to a client's specifications, and such a feature could provide a competitive advantage.
"Customers will look for a one-stop shop," he said. "The more convenient it is, the more it will be used by the intelligent browser."
Since Sept. 1, KeyBuy has had 600 inquiries through its Web site and telephone number. Some 100 loan applications and 75 auto reports were generated, according to Mr. Frikker.
Through KeyBuy, would-be buyers can enter detailed information about the type of car they would like. KeyBuy then provides a list of new cars that match the request.
A detailed report about each car, including the manufacturer's suggested retail price and the invoice price, costs $3.95 and can be ordered on the Web site.
Information about trade-ins and new cars costs $30 for up to three reports.
Users can order information about new cars over the Internet but must call KeyBuy to request trade-in material. Reports are sent by mail.
People also can apply for a loan on the Web site, keyfin.com. The cost of the car reports is refunded to people who take a loan from Keystone.
In the future, KeyBuy users will be able to locate dealers who sell the kind of cars they want. The Web site will also offer information about leasing new cars and disposing of used.