Wachovia Corp. said Thursday that a debit-related savings product it introduced in January has attracted more consumer interest than expected.

More than 1 million people have signed up for its Way2Save product, the Charlotte company said. More than 300,000 of those participants are new customers for Wachovia, and it has attracted about 400,000 new checking accounts with the product.

Kathryn Black, Wachovia's savings director, said in a press release that participation in Way2Save "has completely exceeded our expectations." She told American Banker in January that she expected the product to attract about 900,000 customers in its first year, half of whom would be new to Wachovia.

Way2Save automatically transfers a dollar into a customer's savings account every time the customer makes a debit card purchase or electronic payment. Wachovia applies a 5% interest rate and a 5% annual bonus to the savings accounts in the first year. (The interest rates and bonus are both lowered to 2% in the second and third years, and then the account settles into "a competitive, traditional savings rate.")

In the current economic environment, "consumers want tools and education to help them save and an easy way to start saving," Ms. Black said.

Way2Save is similar to the Keep the Change debit reward program Bank of America Corp. introduced in 2005. (That program rounds debit purchases up to the nearest dollar and deposits the extra cents into a savings account, matching up to $250 a year.) B of A said last month that its program had 8.4 million participants.

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