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BofA's Mexico Transfer Accounts Proliferating

August 18, 2004|From Reuters

Bank of America Corp. said Tuesday that the number of its U.S. accounts set up for sending money to Mexico soared 1,500% in the first half of 2004.

The increase came after the bank allowed account deposits to be immediately converted into Mexican pesos.

Previously, account holders did not know exactly how much money would be transferred south of the border until it was withdrawn with a bank card.

"Customers want to know exactly how much their loved one will get," said Eduardo Vergara, a Bank of America senior vice president.

The number of such accounts has surged since the change, which came as the No. 3 U.S. bank switched from mass marketing to a more grass-roots approach to win customers who tend to have no bank accounts and require a more personal touch and a greater sense of trust.

U.S. banks have identified the rapidly growing Latino population as an attractive opportunity. The group grew 13% between the 2000 U.S. census and July 2003, or nearly four times the rate of the total population increase, the bank said, citing Census Bureau data.

In June, Citigroup Inc. launched a credit card allowing Mexican workers in the United States to share their accounts with family and friends at home.

The binational card lets U.S. cardholders pay bills in dollars and Mexican cardholders in pesos, Citigroup said.

The card also makes it easier for people to send money across the border, it said.

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