For as long as banks have offered computer-based banking, they have agonized over how much — if anything — to charge for it.

Most banks do not charge for account access but do charge for bill payment. As more people adopt Internet bill payment, it is tempting to impose a monthly fee — most banks charge in the $5 range — to boost the Internet division’s bottom line. But fees, of course, turn customers off and probably stifle adoption of a service that is relatively cheap for the banks to offer, and which they therefore want to encourage. On Monday, Amsouth Bank of Birmingham, Ala., announced it had dropped fees for online banking and bill payment customers and will waive such fees for anyone who signs up by April 30.

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