Finally, Citicorp appears ready to energize its long-dormant home banking program.
Sources said the bank will buy 1,000 screen phones in the first quarter of next year from Philips N.V., the giant Dutch electronics concern. Moreover, Citi plans to lease another 100,000 phones from Philips over the next 12 months.
The bank's Enhanced Telephone, a phone with a screen and keyboard for conducting routine banking transactions from home, was originally tested in 1990 with 300 customers. But development of the project was stalled by the economic woes that overwhelmed Citicorp.
The company, to be sure, has modified its once grand plans for the phone, dubbed ET. With limited development dollars to invest in risky or long-term projects, Citi has developed closer partnerships with Suppliers and scaled back marketing.
In the short term - the only term Citicorp now focuses on - leasing is much cheaper than outright purchase. The company is also said to be negotiating with Lotus Development Corp., which has formed a joint venture with Philips, to help it sell the screen phones to customers.