Cyberscope

Virtual Banking: 'Here We Are, Here Is Your Money'
One of the attractions of opening up an e-business is supposed to be that it doesn't require an investment in real estate and fancy showrooms. That's what the directors of Unibanco, the big Brazilian commercial bank, thought when they launched Banco1, the country's first exclusively virtual commercial bank, six years ago. It started as a dial-up service via modem, but last year it took to the Web, added a full portfolio of services, such as loans and investment options, and renamed itself banco1.net.

So what's this pioneering Web bank's next move? Last March it announced plans to build 10 small branch offices in Rio and So Paulo. Why? A recent survey showed that even the keenest Internet junkies want to see a real live person when conducting loan negotiations and other complex transactions. "We realized it was very important for a virtual bank to show clients 'Here we are, here is your money'," president Luiz Carlos Urquiza told the financial daily Gazeta Mercantil. Even a dot-com has to satisfy the psychology of its target customers.


Mac Margolis

GADGETS
A New Tool for Couch Potatoes
You are beyond lazy. If this description fits, then you may be the target audience for Casio's new Wrist Remote Watch ($129.95; casio.com), which puts an end to the tough task of hunting around for a misplaced remote control. Now you just strap it to your wrist. The device (it's so crazy we love it) is a universal remote, able to control 20 different pieces of electronic equipment at a range of up to 16 feet. Casio also makes a watch with an integrated digital camera, one that can measure your blood pressure and another that can locate your precise whereabouts by receiving transmissions from Global Positioning System satellites. Wrist-top computing, anyone?

THE WEB
More Room for Internet Names
www.symbolics.com was the first dot-com to go live, on March 15, 1985. Today there are about 30 million registered Web addresses that end in .com, .org or .net. To relieve the crushing demand, seven new top-level domains are on the way: .biz, .info, .museum, .aero, .coop, .name and .pro. Last week registration for .biz addresses, which are for commercial use only, opened to the public, after an earlier sign-up phase for trademark holders; the domain goes live on Oct. 1. On July 25 .info opens for registration, and the company running the domain plans to activate the new URLs in mid-September. Go to neulevel.biz and afilias.info to apply. Check out www.icann .org for general information.

SURF REPORT
For People Still Addicted to Noise
Michael Goldberg, a longtime Rolling Stone magazine staffer, started Addicted to Noise, one of the Web's first music sites, in 1994. After several redesigns and buyouts, Goldberg bailed out--but managed to successfully navigate the dot-bomb crisis and become independently wealthy. His new endeavor, called Neumu (neumu.net), is an artsy oasis of music reviews, gallery exhibits and culture commentary. It's also ad-free. Feels like 1994 all over again.

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