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
passion.”

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”
(RealAudio
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.