E*Trade, one of the United States' largest online brokers, plans to launch an online banking business in Hong Kong by the first quarter of next year. Initial services would be tailored to help stock brokerages manage assets, Asia-Pacific vice-president John Lord said yesterday. However, it hoped to introduce retail banking services for high net-worth individuals within six to nine months of the launch. These services would include certificates of deposit and time deposit products, Mr Lord said at the launch of E*Trade's new trading programme at the China Club in Central. E*Trade would inject HK$100 million in capital to qualify as a bank when the new services came online. Mr Lord said he hoped to capture an initial 10,000 to 15,000 customers. 'The role of E*Trade will not [initially] be servicing the customer, it will be servicing the brokerage companies,' he said. E*Trade was also looking eventually to offer products to the mass retail online-banking market, but he stressed that this would not take place for another two to three years. However, everything hinged on approval by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and regulatory bodies in the US. 'E*Trade's going to be very focused, we will prescreen our products and services in order to offer the one or two best products to the investor rather than just a shotgun approach offering 50 different products of which 49 are worthless to everyone.' The online broker yesterday launched its new Power E*Trade programme for active traders in Hong Kong.