First Union Corp. announced an agreement with Villanova University to link campus smart cards to checking accounts.

The suburban Philadelphia university, which began issuing smart cards last year and has 11,000 active student, faculty, and staff cardholders, is letting First Union add banking functions that could appeal to many students.

The cards, called Wildcards because the school's mascot is the wildcat, are made by Gemplus Group and printed with the cardholders' photographs to serve as identification as well as payment cards.

For the electronic purse function, up to $100 of value can be loaded for vending machine, laundry, and photocopy purchases on campus. The cards will also have magnetic stripes for processing other payments at the school's bookstore and other merchants in the area.

First Union, the biggest banking company in southeastern Pennsylvania since its purchase of CoreStates Financial Corp., hopes to attract students as customers. This fall it is to install five automated teller machines and a branch on campus and will provide other electronic services to the institution.

"The campus program helps us establish the primary relationship with the student-customer," said Mike Love, vice president of First Union relationship access products. "Once we get the primary relationship, we can bundle other products to meet their needs."

The package is much like one that the Charlotte, N.C., banking company put together last year for Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. Of the 1,600 students there, 90% opened First Union accounts.

The card technology at both institutions was provided by Cybermark, a joint venture of Huntington Bancshares, Battelle Memorial Institute, and the Student Loan Marketing Association that concentrates on systems for closed communities.

"Our goal is to streamline processing functions and offer electronic banking products that are convenient and versatile," said Karin Steinbrenner, executive director of Villanova's information technology unit.

Because all the university's 6,100 undergraduates have Internet access, the bank is promoting Collegiate Express Checking accounts and the patented Cyberbanking service, which includes the ability to receive electronic funds transfers from parents who also use First Union.

"Colleges feel like surrogate parents with a responsibility to their students," said Mr. Love. "They want to make sure that the whole banking function-including student loans, checking accounts, ATMs, point of sale cards, and maybe installment loans-is a good experience."

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