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Washington Mutual Receives Patent for Its Retail Banking Approach; First U.S. Patent Describing an Entirely New Full-Service Branch

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 23, 2004--Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE:WM), one of the nation's leading retailers of financial services, today announced that the U.S. Patent Office has issued a patent for the company's retail banking approach and several more are pending. This is the first patent issued in the country to describe a full-service branch concept.

Specifically, U.S. patent No. 6,681,985 describes Washington Mutual's retail banking stores as places that "create a welcoming and inviting environment for a customer" and are "in sharp contrast to traditional bank branches." Instead, they have been "transformed into a more retail-like environment."

According to the patent's description, embodiments of the invention include the teller towers which remove the traditional barrier of a teller line and allow easier interaction between the customer service representative and the customer. Also described were the circular or oval layout of the retail banking stores, the concierge desk where customers are greeted and guided to the appropriate service area, and a kids' play area included in many of the company's stores. Further noted was the access to online banking through wamu.com and bank employees who are hired for their high sales aptitude in order to cross-sell the company's financial products.

"Washington Mutual has transformed the banking experience," said Sandra Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which earlier this year recognized the company's branch concept as being one of the Top 40 best retail "stores" in the world. "It has taken an industry that was once considered staid and has successfully infused it with a customer-centric retail environment. The retail banking stores have become the model for other financial institutions, as well as other retailers."

Karen Curtin, senior vice president of innovation and customer insight at Washington Mutual, noted, "The patent reflects our vision of creating America's leading retailer of financial services. We listened to what our customers wanted and developed our retail banking stores accordingly. Ultimately, we believe Washington Mutual is revolutionizing how financial services are delivered to individual consumers and small businesses -- or those 'everyday people' who make up most of the population."

Since the company introduced its new retail banking concept in 2000, it has opened more than 840 new and remodeled stores in its long-standing markets, such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, while expanding into some of America's largest cities such as New York, Chicago and Atlanta. Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg, Fla., will be the company's newest retail banking market in 2004.

Washington Mutual recognized for innovation

Washington Mutual has been recognized for its innovation and retail banking strategy, both nationally and internationally. Fortune magazine announced that Washington Mutual was the No. 1 rated company nationally in the innovation category as part of its 2004 Most Admired Companies list, and the company was named the "Best Retail Bank -- Americas" in the Lafferty International Retail Banking Award announced last November.

About Washington Mutual

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and commercial clients. At March 31, 2004, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $280.77 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 consumer banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamunewsroom.com.


    CONTACT: Washington Mutual
             Mary Kelley
             206-377-6878
             Mobile: 206-459-0394
             mary.kelley@wamu.net
             or
             Sheri Pollock, 206-377-2138
             sheri.pollock@wamu.net

    SOURCE: Washington Mutual