Bank of America's winning bid of $3 million for rights to the name "" is not the highest price paid for a Web domain name. was sold for a record $7.5 million, and fetched $3.3 million. An auction for may exceed $30 million, according to, a research company.

The moves are part of a strategy to capitalize on electronic commerce and its effect on financial services, a Bank of America spokesman said, adding that is a domain name "that you have one chance in a lifetime to get."

The spokesman said that though will remain the company's primary site he expects that will gain a customer base throughout the United States and Canada. "We think this address gives us a chance to reach more people and more customers," he said.

The sale is another unexpected way the Internet is producing profits.

"I got lucky," Marcelo Siero, the seller of, told the San Jose Mercury News. Mr. Siero, a computer consultant and electrical engineer, bought the domain name as a marketing tool for an on-line connection service that went out of business. Upon hearing the price paid for, Seth Werner, chairman of, quipped, "Maybe we should sell our name and raise some capital."

HomeSide Lending of Jacksonville, Fla., used to own the domain name Last year it sold the name to a Dallas company for "more than $1 million," said Daniel T. Scheuble, chief information officer at HomeSide. It bought for "less than five figures," he said. "Obviously we feel pretty good about the tradeoff."

"It's a very valuable name," Mr. Scheuble said of But HomeSide's strategy is not to have a retail brand name but to process and service loans for others that do, so the Web address "had more value to someone else."

"I don't think we'd pay $3 million for a domain name," said Tiffany Kelley, a spokeswoman for E-Loan. "The return on investment might not look good."

Bank of America officials, however, said they feel the investment will pay off. The company also owns 5% of E-Loan, an Internet mortgage and auto lender, and a stake in 724 Solutions, a financial services software developer.

" will give us an additional channel to market our loans and enable us to develop new value propositions that reach millions of new individuals and small businesses," said Ken Lewis, president and chief operating officer of Bank of America.

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