Experian Interactive has formed Experian Interactive Media to help consumers make critical decisions that impact their financial situations with free online services. Experian Interactive Media consists of the following brands: LowerMyBills.com, which connects interested consumers with service providers that can offer competitive rates and terms; ClassesUSA.com, one of the Web’s leading higher-education portals, connects prospective students with schools offering online and traditional degree and certificate programs; ExpertsOnCredit.com provides informational content regarding credit-related topics; InstantApprovals.com, which matches consumers with the credit cards that fit their lives and Affiliate Fuel which provides Experian brands, and other external advertisers, with pay-for-performance marketing services.
Providian says its online loan marketplace, acquired earlier this year, has made significant increases in all categories. Providian says GetSmart.com attracted nearly 10 million visitors to its Web site in fiscal 1999, generating approximately 500,000 transactions for services. Providian says GetSmart.com has also significantly increased the number of financial institutions participating in its lender network to more than 120 financial institutions. The site includes offers from many of Providian’s direct credit card competitors. For fiscal 1998, GetSmart.com reported that it attracted 8 million visitors which produced nearly 450,000 transactions or completed loan applications. For 1998 GetSmart.com says it spent $13 million to drive traffic to the Web site and provided access to offers from 100 lenders. While Providian did not disclose its marketing expenses for GetSmart.com, it is estimated the issuer spent more than $20 million on Internet marketing since March of this year. Providian, which specializes in issuing credit cards to “unbanked” consumers, paid $33 million cash to acquire GetSmart.com in February of this year.
PNC Bank has entered into an agreement with GetSmart.com that will allow consumers to shop for a PNC Bank home equity loan after visiting the GetSmart.com site. This unique alliance matches a premier national lender with a popular Internet site. Now when visitors to GetSmart.com are matched to PNC for a home equity product, they will have the option to hyperlink to PNC’s online home equity loan application at http://www.pncbank.com where applications can be conditionally approved in as little as 30 seconds. The application takes only about 10 minutes to complete and it can cut down the home equity loan decision process from the typical 10 days to as little as one day. Industry research shows consumers are demanding faster response by online providers. This alliance between PNC and GetSmart combines the capabilities of each organization to meet the expectations of millions of online loan shoppers.
“The linkage with GetSmart.com is part of PNC’s overall e-commerce strategy designed to give our customers online banking options,” said James DeFoggia, vice president of consumer lending at PNC Bank. “PNC has anticipated how e-commerce solutions can revolutionize the way its customers conduct business online and has developed innovative Web-based loan approvals and speedy check-delivery capabilities.”
“PNC has some of the most advanced and efficient credit scoring technology in the country,” said Stephen Semprevivo, GetSmart.com’s president. “The addition of PNC means that loan shoppers who visit GetSmart will now have the ability to get home equity loans nationwide quickly and efficiently. We are pleased to have this respected institution become part of our rapidly growing financial marketplace.”
PNC’s alliance with GetSmart is another in a series of alliances the bank has recently entered into as part of its overall Internet strategy. The bank has also announced that it will become the exclusive provider of certain financial products for iVillage.com, the leading women’s network online. PNC also will provide financial products for CollegeLink.com Incorporated, a subsidiary of Cytation.com Incorporated (OTC Bulletin Board: CLNK) and has signed an agreement with iCat, a division of Intel, to offer small businesses an e-commerce store-building service for a nominal initial fee.
PNC’s online home equity loan is another innovative feature of http://www.pncbank.com. The site also includes online auto loan applications with 15-second responses; online bill payment; access to deposit applications; AccountLink(R), which gives up-to-the minute account information and allows the transfer of funds between accounts; and Learning Link featuring consumer information on a series of financial topics.
About PNC Bank Corp.
PNC Bank Corp., headquartered in Pittsburgh, is one of the largest diversified financial services organizations in the United States. Its major businesses include Regional Community Banking, Corporate Banking, PNC Advisors, Mortgage Banking, Secured Finance, Asset Management and Mutual Fund Servicing.
GetSmart.com is the borrower’s marketplace, providing loan information and connection to lenders, all in one location. In 1998, over eight million visitors to its popular site resulted in over 450,000 completed loan inquiries. These inquiries covered home loans, credit cards, debt consolidation products, student loans and small business financing, offered by hundreds of lenders participating in the GetSmart marketplace. Founded in 1996, GetSmart.com is based in Burlingame, California, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Providian Financial Corporation (NYSE: PVN).
Providian’s online loan marketplace, GetSmart.com, launched a national TV advertising campaign Tuesday under the theme “The Better Way To Get Money”. The first flight of TV spots will run through the end of July in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia. Providian says it will run a concurrent radio campaign to support the television spots. The company says the national ad campaign is the beginning of a long term advertising commitment to build brand awareness and to maintain market leadership. Providian also indicated the campaign is being launched in response to various initial public offerings which are being secondarily employed as publicity campaigns. GetSmart.com is a online loan service without content. Its service includes offerings of home loans, business loans, student loans and credit cards. While owned by Providian, a top ten bank card issuer and dominate issuer of subprime credit cards, GetSmart.com offers credit cards issued by other major competitors. When it purchased the web site in February Providian indicated it would use the site to locate subprime prospects among the turndowns generated by the competitors featured on the site. However this week Providian launched a suite of new card products, under the ‘Aria’ brand name, to cover all credit risk segments of the consumer market.
Providian Financial says yesterday’s acquisition of GetSmart.com is part of an aggressive push into E-commerce. The company recently acquired the ‘WebCard’ portfolio from H&R Block. Providian also announced yesterday it has formed an E-commerce division to be headed by James Rowe, a Providian SVP. Rowe will also serve as CEO of GetSmart.com. The E-commerce division will develop the GetSmart.com service, the ‘WebCard’ portfolio, Providian’s credit card Web site and its existing on-line money market account business. The company says its on-line, real-time approval for loan products will be its main attraction. Providian, a sub-prime specialist, utilizing price-to-risk credit card products, will likely use the GetSmart.com consumer database to generate leads for its broad range of loan and deposit products. In order to preserve GetSmart’s client base, Providian announced it will operate GetSmart as a stand-alone entity. GetSmart’s current client list includes such issuers as Bank One/First USA, Crestar, Norwest, American Express, Wachovia, Chase, and the Money Store. According to CardData (carddata.com), based on year-end 1998 data, Providian ranks as the tenth largest bank credit card issuer with $11.6 billion in receivables, 10.9 million gross accounts and 6.1 million active accounts. One of Providian’s largest competitors, Metris Companies, announced this week the formation of an E-commerce division.