David Bowie Opens Online Bank

Depositors in Bowiebanc.com get ATM cards, checks, a year of Bowienet service.

Rock icon David Bowie, who has moonlighted as an actor, painter,

Internet entrepreneur, video game character and magazine art director,

has quietly gone where no celebrity has gone before — he's opened

his own online bank.

"David has always prided himself on being first," said Ron Roy, one of

Bowie's partners in the online company UltraStar, which runs the

chameleonlike rocker's official website (www.davidbowie.com) and his

Internet service provider, Bowienet, as well as the new bank.

Depositors in Bowiebanc.com, as the bank is known, get ATM cards,

checks and other banking paraphernalia emblazoned with Bowie's name

and image — as well as a year of Bowienet service.

But customers won't be taking out loans from the rocker's vast

fortune. All of the actual banking operations are handled by the

online banking firm USABancShares.com, according to Roy.

Bowie and his partners hope fans will want to use the bank to express

their loyalty to the ever-changing brand that is David Bowie, Roy

said. "You've got a passion for something, you want to show your


One Bowie fan was dubious about the musician's latest venture. "I will

not join. It is too much. David should stick to art and let the

[bankers] shuffle the money around," Doni Scob, a 33 year-old fan from

Vancouver, British Columbia, wrote in an e-mail.

But Internet banking expert Christopher Musto said Bowiebanc.com was a

promising, though untested, concept. "The question is, is somebody

going to put all their assets in a bank named after a rock star?"

"The demographic of people who listen to David Bowie fits perfectly

with people who use the Internet," added Musto, director of financial

services at the e-commerce research firm Gomez Advisors.

Internet banking is a burgeoning business as a whole — 11.1

million people already do their banking online, according to Gomez

Advisors' figures.

Though Bowiebanc.com was given a deliberately low-profile launch in

late 1999, the venture already has attracted several hundred

customers, according to Roy.

And if Bowiebanc.com is ultimately a hit, other celebrities and bands

may well follow in Bowie's footsteps, Musto predicted. "What's next?

Is the Offspring gonna be the next bank? Hopefully [it'll be] them

before Limp Bizkit."

Bowie (born David Jones), whose classic hits include "Rebel Rebel"


excerpt) and "Changes" (RealAudio

excerpt) has been a pioneer in both the Internet and the

finance worlds.

In 1998 he became the first artist to start his own Internet service

provider. And in September he established himself as the

highest-profile artist to release an entire album for digital

distribution, making his album hours ... available online

before it was available in stores.

In 1997 he offered investors a chance to profit from future sales of

his back catalog by buying "Bowie bonds" in a deal that reportedly

netted him $55 million.