Chase Manhattan Bank was one of the last big retail banks without an Internet offering. No more.

This week it officially inaugurated an Internet version of Chase Online Banking. Like the dial-up alternative, it is free. The bank said it has enrolled 400,000 customers for on-line banking since 1997 and is still adding 1,000 a day.

"The full functionality of the new product is essentially the same" as the older one, though the "graphical user interface has been revised," said Bruce Zimmerman, senior vice president of national consumer services, who is responsible for emerging channels.

Chase Online Banking will now deliver real-time account data to consumer and small-business customers at any time over the Internet. They can transfer money between accounts, pay bills electronically, and e-mail customer service representatives.

"It has become increasingly rare for a big bank not to have a full- fledged Internet offering," said Christopher Musto, senior analyst at Gomez Advisors in Concord, Mass. Among the top 20, PNC Bank Corp., U.S. Bancorp, and Bank of New York Co. have yet to introduce Internet bill payment.

But $365 billion-asset Chase "is in time for the customer acquisition battle," Mr. Musto said. "In 1999 banks and other firms will try and win customers through the strength of their Internet banking.

"Chase will be learning," the analyst added. "Its biggest competitors- with solid, integrated offerings-will be more aggressive, without stumbling as much."

"We are very happy with the timing of our Internet-based banking product," Mr. Zimmerman said. "Our goal is to satisfy customers with what they want, when they want it, and not make splashy headlines."

Customers want on-line banking but are "not particular about whether it's on an extranet or the Internet," he said. Chase introduced a product combining both concepts "because of the mobility factor."

Chase is relying on the Electronic Banking System software of Edify Corp., and bill payments are processed by Checkfree Corp. Bill presentment is to be built into the system in the second half, Mr. Zimmerman said.

The Internet launch is being accompanied by an advertising and marketing campaign in print and broadcast media and on Web sites.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.