Providian's Web Products to Use Unit's Brand Name

Article excerpt

Though some institutions have put the kibosh on Web sites that offer products under a brand other than their own corporate name, Providian Financial Corp. is rolling out online products and services under its GetSmart brand.

The San Francisco credit card specialist on Monday started an enhanced version of its GetSmart.com Web site, which lets people solicit bids from auto, business, mortgage, and credit card lenders.

The site also offers smart cards, online bill payment, account aggregation, home equity loans, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, and small-business financial products. Some of the products and services were previously labeled Providian or Aria; others are brand new.

Providian picked up the GetSmart brand in 1999 when it bought an online lending marketplace by that name.

The company plans to promote the financial services site through television, print, and Internet ads and direct mail.

Financial institutions have had mixed results from their attempts to market products on the Web using brand names that bear little resemblance to their corporate names.

This year Citigroup Inc. scrapped Finance.com, a financial advice and aggregation site it had tested for about a year. Similarly, last summer FleetBoston Financial Corp. abandoned plans for a separate site labeled NetFriday.com in favor of one that would leverage its existing brand.

However, a handful of companies are continuing their efforts to acquire customers over the Internet without using their established brands.

Bank One Corp., for example, still offers Internet banking through Wingspanbank.com, and Bank of America Corp. still owns the rights to loans.com, a domain name it bought last February for $3 million.

Providian is employing three brands: GetSmart, Providian, and First Select, a subsidiary founded in 1998 that buys delinquent accounts from other institutions. After heavy promotion of its Aria credit cards through national television commercials, this brand will be rolled into GetSmart and totally erased this spring.

GetSmart credit cards will have the same features as Aria cards, including instant approvals, zero-percent introductory interest rates, and smart chips. …