Security First Network Bank recently announced an alliance with PSINet to provide limited free on-line service as an incentive for opening an account with the Internet-based bank.

New and exisiting customers of Pipeline, PSINet's on-line service, will be awarded four months of free service for opening an account of $100 or more with Security First.

Pipeline, based in Herndon, Va., is one of a number of computer service providers that offer unlimited Internet service for a flat fee. Security First - launched last fall by Cardinal Bancshares of Lexington, Ky. - offers no-fee checking accounts, as well as certificates of deposit and money market accounts.

Banks have long dangled free gifts - such as toasters - as part of an effort to attract new business. The free Internet service is an updated version of those incentives.

Michael S. Karlin, president of Security First, said the Pipeline giveaway would give customers unfamiliar with the Internet a chance to acquaint themselves with the on-line world at no cost.

"Right now, if you went to someone and said 'Internet banking,' they wouldn't have a clue," Mr. Karlin said.

- Steven Marjanovic and Karen Epper

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