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As National Small Business Week Begins, WaMu Launches Industry-First Instant Online Paperless Account Openings for Small Business
New Offering Underscores Commitment to Become Small Business Banking Leader
SEATTLE, Apr 21, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- WaMu (NYSE:WM) announced today that it has introduced the banking industry's first truly instant online paperless small business account opening process for small business owners. The new function gives sole proprietors the ability to open an account online in a seamless process that takes eight steps and can be completed in about 10 minutes.

"Instant online account opening is one of the ways WaMu makes banking simpler for busy small business owners," said Rich Blunck, SVP and E-Commerce division executive, WaMu. "Our efficient and seamless process frees up small business owners to focus on running their business."

According to a 2008 Business Internet Banking Study by Barlow Research Associates, among companies who use Business Internet Banking with $100K - $500K in sales, 40% indicated that the ability to open a business checking/savings account(s) online is a top priority or very important to them.

Major financial institutions that offer online account opening require customers to visit the branch or fax in signature and identification documents, and take many time-consuming steps to complete the account opening process. WaMu also offers more ways to fund the new account than competitors, including an external or internal electronic transfer, credit or debit card charge, or mail-in deposit. In addition, with a $100 opening deposit, WaMu's Free Business Checking offers customers an account with no monthly fee, no matter what their balance. Unlike many "free" accounts, with Free Business Checking business owners get unlimited check & ACH debits and credits each month with no additional fee.

Delivering on Vision to Be Small Business Leader

"WaMu's vision is to be the nation's leader in consumer and small business banking," said Frank Vella, SVP and small business division executive, WaMu. "Having already made a name for ourselves in consumer banking, our objective now is to extend our brand of products and services for which WaMu has become known to small business owners. We started with Free Business Checking, the small business counterpart to our signature WaMu Free Checking(TM), which has proven very popular. The ability to open these accounts online makes these products even more convenient."

Led by a new small business management team with more than 75 years of combined experience, WaMu has significantly expanded its business banking operation over the last 12 months by hiring more than 300 new small business representatives nationwide and training more than 2,200 store managers. The actions support WaMu's Learn, Advise, Grow small business proposition, which aims to deliver the company's award-winning retail customer service approach to small business consumers.

Vella noted that WaMu's Small Business banking group was recently recognized by J.D. Power and Associates for overall customer satisfaction, ranking third nationwide and well ahead of major competitors.

"WaMu has devoted significant resources to increasing our share of small business customers utilizing the power and reach of our broad retail distribution system," Vella said. "Approximately 10 percent of our 10 million consumer households own small businesses, so there is a sizeable opportunity available to us."

About WaMu

WaMu, through its subsidiaries, is one of the nation's leading consumer and small business banks. At March 31, 2008, WaMu and its subsidiaries had assets of $319.67 billion. The company has a history dating back to 1889 and its subsidiary banks currently operate approximately 2,500 consumer and small business banking stores throughout the nation. WaMu's financial reports and news releases are available at


Gary Kishner, 818-775-4234 (office)
Diana McSweeney, 206-500-3619 (office)