On-line auctions of certificates of deposit will soon hit prime time, with 50 banks poised to make CDs available through MaxRate.com, a start-up company expected to announce its formation today.

The MaxRate-branded Web site, which is expected to begin operations sometime in April, will enable financial institutions to accept bids from investors across the country who will name the rate they desire on a CD. The service is intended to lower the cost of acquiring CD customers while giving banks an opportunity to anonymously offer customers they are targeting - say those in a particular age group or locality - better rates. The expectation is that banks could then cross-sell additional products to these desirable customers.

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