Huntington National Bank on Sunday became one of a handful of banks to offer transactional services through the Internet.
People with World Wide Web access and a Netscape browser can now open accounts on-line with the Columbus, Ohio-based bank and use those accounts to pay bills through the Internet.
The Huntington Bancshares unit hopes the service will attract depositors from around the world.
"The marketing will be targeted toward existing computer users who understand the PC and how to get to the Internet," said William M. Randle, senior vice president and director of marketing for the holding company.
Hundreds of banks have sites on the Internet's World Wide Web, but only a few have interactive features.
Wells Fargo & Co. last year became the first major bank to open its Web site to banking transactions. Security First Network Bank, the recent spinoff of Cardinal Bancshares of Kentucky, followed soon after.
Huntington, an investor in Security First, used that bank's software and security system on its own Web site. The security system relies on Virtual Vault, a product created by Hewlett Packard Co. for the Department of Defense.
Most banks delving into home banking want their customers' computers to dial right into bank computers, instead of routing through the Internet. Huntington is taking the opposite approach; it offers no direct-connection home banking product, and does not plan to.
"Rather than the model for PC banking where the client did most of the work," said Huntington's Mr. Randle, "the model we're pursuing is the Internet or Web browser model, where most of the work is done on the server and not a great deal is done on the client."
By yearend, Internet surfers should be able to open certificate-of- deposit, money market, and brokerage accounts through Huntington's Web site as well as apply for Visa and MasterCard accounts, Mr. Randle said.