First Union Corp., emphasizing the increasing importance of telephone banking, has mounted an aggressive campaign in Georgia to sign up new accounts exclusively through its telephone bank, known as First Union Direct.

First Union National Bank of Georgia has been running ads in Atlanta newspapers offering new customers $50 to open an interest bearing checking account over the phone. The offer comes with one important caveat: Customers must maintain a balance of at least $1,000 for 90 days to claim the bonus.

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