Citibank said it will begin by midyear to offer home banking via personal computer to customers of its Chicago-based thrift affiliate.

Customers who bank at any of the 52 offices of Citibank FSB will be able to use a desktop or laptop computer to transfer funds, check balances, view checking activity for the previous two months, and get stock quotes. Other options will include paying bills, making securities transactions, ordering travelers checks, and linking; accounts.

Citibank, Citicorp's lead bank in New York, has been offering an on-line personal computer service for 10 years, under the name Direct Access. An upgraded version of the software, called Citibank Right At Home/Citibank on the Personal Computer, will be distributed to Chicagoans free of charge, with the first two months on-line also gratis.

After the tryout period, the cost to the consumer will be $9.95 a month for unlimited usage.

Universal Software

The software works with all standard PC operating platforms including DOS, Macintosh, and Windows. The software supports modem speeds of up to 9,600 baud.

"Part of what we offer customers is access and control over their money any time, anywhere, any way," said Citibank spokeswoman Maria Rullo. "Citibank on the computer is another way for our customers to do their banking."

A customer service group will be dedicated to home banking. available seven days a week, 20 hours a day at a toll-free telephone number.

Chicago will be a showcase for Citibank's home banking strategy in another sense: As announced in November, Citibank will be the initial banking provider to users of screen telephones being deployed by Ameritech, the Chicago-based telephone company.

Citibank this week signed a contract with Philips Home Services of Burlington, Mass., to use the Philips P100 enhanced telephone for delivery of financial services to the home. Demonstrations are to begin in about 10 Windy City branches in the next couple of months.

The idea, said Ms. Rullo of Citibank, is to break into the mass market that personal computers do not yet penetrate. The screen telephone gives non-computer users access to a similar range of via a device that doubles as a telephone.

The phone has a liquid crystal display screen for text and has a pull-out keyboard. Customers insert a card with an embedded computer chip to gain access to banking information. The system is as easy to use as an automated teller, said Paul Chapple, a Philips spokesman.

The high-tech telephone costs $639 when ordered directly from Philips, but Citibank customers will receive a discount. They will also be able to lease the phones on a monthly basis. The pricing details are still being worked out.

Aiming for 8 Million Homes

When Ameritech last fall announced its plan to begin one of the first mass rollouts of screen telephones, officials said they aimed to get the purchase cost below $200. According to Tina Park, a telecommunications analyst with the Yankee Group of Boston, eight million households will have screen telephones by 1997.

Roy Frangione, a Citibank vice president who was demonstrating the screen phone at the recent CardTech/SecurTech conference in suburban Washington, said the bank was within weeks of releasing the product gradually through one group of branches at a time in New York State. The pricing was to be $50 up front, plus a flat $15 monthly charge, with the first two months free.

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