1st Union Readies Web-Based Business Banking

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - First Union Corp. is preparing a service that will let corporate customers, including small businesses, do their banking on the Internet.

The country's sixth-largest bank is testing Web Invision, a site that will be added to its home page on the World Wide Web, over the next 60 to 90 days with about 20 businesses, said Ed Link, vice president of the cash management division of First Union.

Once the site opens, businesses should be able to check their balances, access summaries of credits and debits, and, ultimately, place stop-payment orders, Mr. Link said.

First Union is also considering adding automated clearing-house transactions to the Web site, which should open by yearend, he said. Ahmanson to Use Small Bank for Processing

LOS ANGELES - H.F. Ahmanson & Co. has tapped a community bank to process checks for the small-business customers of its subsidiary, Home Savings of America.

Home Savings, which this month picks up 61 former First Interstate Bank branches, is one of several large California thrifts trying to attract more business from small companies.

The outsourcing arrangement is intended to ease the assimilation of the First Interstate branches into Home Savings, officials of the two institutions said in releases.

"Home Savings will have one less thing to deal with as it goes through the complex task of absorbing the new branches into its sizable network," said Charles O'Hara, senior vice president and manager of central operations at Los Angeles' Imperial Bancorp., which received the contract.

Given its retail background, Home Savings is unaccustomed to dealing with the volume of checks involved in small-business operations, Mr. O'Hara said. So it looked to outside vendors.

Small-business checks gathered at Home Savings branches will be bundled and sent to one of Imperial's two processing centers in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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