Compubank is offering Web-enabled televisions in an effort to win Internet banking customers.
To get the TVs, which are worth about $700, people must sign up for a Compubank checking account and Internet access from NadaPC of Los Angeles, the provider of the Web TVs.
The offer is the first of many to come as the Houston bank targets Web-savvy people who do not need to be convinced of the value of online banking, said Jonathan H. Lack, the bank's executive vice president of marketing and planning.
"We realize that we can't educate the market about the Internet like America Online or larger, national bricks-and-mortar banks can," Mr. Lack said. "So we work with the people who already understand the value and cost savings of Internet banking, versus someone who is still learning how to dial on the Internet."
Mr. Lack said he expects the bank's core market will be attracted to a "best of breed" service that combines Web banking with Internet access.
Customers must sign a three-year contract at $21.95 a month for the Internet service. The checking account is free.
The Interactive Communication Entertainment Boxes, or iceboxes, can be used to watch television, play CDs and DVDs, or surf the Internet. They were created through a partnership between NadaPC, CMi Worldwide Inc., and Samsung Electronics Co.
The promotion is to run well into next year, said Brent Schwartz, director of affiliate sales and management at Compubank. The bank and NadaPC plan to run similar promotions next year with different Internet products, such as wireless devices.
Octavio Marenzi, managing director of Celent Communications of Cambridge, Mass., said he doubts that people would actually use their Compubank accounts after the initial signup. Consumers may want the device, and the Internet access, but they do not necessarily want an online banking account, he said.
"By forcing people to sign up with checking accounts that they don't necessarily want, people will have very low balances," he said. "It's two very different decisions. It's not a natural fit."
Compubank is not the first Web bank to push accounts through partnerships with providers of other services.
NetBank announced an agreement last week with Intuit Inc. under which copies of the personal financial management software Quicken 2001 automatically put the bank's icon on users' screens. Users who click on the icon are sent to NetBank's new-account application, and those who open accounts get a $50 credit.
USABancshares.com customers who open an account get a free year of Internet access through EarthLink Sprint.
"We will see more of this as these banks find new ways to bundle their services into Internet devices," said Christopher Musto, director of financial research at Gomez Advisors, a Lincoln, Mass., e-commerce consulting firm.