Citicorp has entered into a comarketing agreement with a Virgin Group affiliate in the United Kingdom to offer its customers Internet access.
Citibank in the United Kingdom is offering PC banking customers a year's subscription to Virgin Net, an Internet service provider that is part of Richard Branson's Virgin empire. The service starts July 1 and would cost about $235 if not part of Citibank's banking package.
Virgin Net is one of the fastest-growing ISPs in the United Kingdom. Launched in November 1996, it has 115,000 customers.
Citibank introduced its consumer banking service in the United Kingdom in 1995 and has only five branches. About 85% of the customers are served by telephone. Ten thousand use PC banking software that Citibank introduced in April 1997 and plans to evolve into an Internet service at the end of August.
Customers can already obtain information from the Web site but will not be able to use it for transactions until the Internet banking service comes on-line. Customers can use other ISPs, but Virgin Net has "preferred" status.
Peter Wilkes, marketing director for Citibank's global consumer bank in London, said it is the first bank to offer Internet access to all qualified customers. Competitors have tested "with a limited customer base," he said.
Customers with $50,000 or more of household income qualify for the service if their salaries are deposited directly into the bank or they maintain a balance of $3,260. Those who make less can still qualify by depositing $16,300.
They get PC banking and a 12-month subscription for Internet access, which includes electronic mail and access to Virgin Net's on-line entertainment, news, and education features.
Citibank's advanced development group, headed by corporate executive vice president Edward Horowitz in New York, was involved in the negotiations with Virgin Net. Mr. Wilkes referred to the group as "our global support team."
Citibank has also started an Internet banking service in Germany and is scheduled to roll out similar services in Belgium and Spain in late August.