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November 20, 2006

BofA offers Bay Area residents free wire transfers to China – East Bay Business Times:

Filed under: credit card, investing, travel — manoftoday @ 10:11 pm

BofA offers Bay Area residents free wire transfers to China

East Bay Business Times – October 31, 2006

by Mark Calvey

Bank of America and China Construction Bank are testing a service to let consumers make wire transfers to and from China without fees.

The service is available only in the United States at 110 branches in San Francisco, San Mateo and Alameda counties. In China, the service is available in nearly 250 China Construction Bank locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Liaoning and Xiamen.

The move is the latest volley in the highly competitive business of attracting and retaining retail banking customers. BofA is using its coast-to-coast franchise and investments in foreign banks to enhance its retail offerings. BofA last year paid $3 billion for a nearly 9 percent stake in China Construction Bank.

Last April, BofA and China Construction Bank announced free ATM cash withdrawals from the two banks’ extensive ATM networks in their respective countries.

In a separate move, BofA this month announced free online equity trades to customers with at least $25,000 on deposit. BofA was the first major bank to offer free online banking and bill payment in May 2002 in what was seen as a land grab during a period of explosive growth for online banking. Today BofA has the most online banking customers, with more than 20 million active users.

Other major banks may now have to up the ante in retail banking in the Bay Area, especially as Wachovia (NYSE: WB) enters the region to go up against BofA, Wells Fargo, (NYSE: WFC) Citibank (NYSE: C) and Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM).

BofA customers can wire up to $3,000 per month and $1,500 per individual transaction. Three transactions are allowed per month.

Under the program, any customer who uses one of the 110 participating Bay Area branches and who has a checking or savings account can make free wire transfers of money to any China Construction branch in China. Alternately, the China bank’s personal customers in the pilot test communities can make wire transfers to any BofA (NYSE: BAC) consumer account in the United States.

Transactions are subject to foreign exchange regulations as administered by China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

BofA’s SafeSend program, which launched nationally earlier this year, relies on strategic relationships with banks in Mexico to let BofA customers in the United States send money to Mexico without fees.

Calvey is a reporter for the San Francisco Business Times.

Source: BofA offers Bay Area residents free wire transfers to China – East Bay Business Times:

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