Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Community Banking on the Internet

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Community Banking on the Internet

Article excerpt

While many of the country's biggest banks are still planning pilot projects to test the feasibility of banking on the Internet, a small community bank in western Pennsylvania already has half a year's experience in offering an array of on-line services. Apollo Trust Co., a $110 million bank located in an isolated valley 35 miles east of Pittsburgh, not only lets its customers handle the usual home-banking functions (looking at checking and loan balances, transferring funds between accounts, downloading statements, taking loan applications, etc.), but gives its customers free access to the worldwide Internet and to a community bulletin board.

A print ad makes the pitch: "Some banks give you a toaster when you open a new checking account. Apollo Trust Company gives you 'The World.'"

"The World" includes full access to the Internet--including the World Wide Web, worldwide e-mail, and the ability to roam cyberspace and pull in free information from government agencies and universities. Apollo Trust also offers Internet service free to high school students, to local schools, and to the town library.

But the most innovative part of Apollo Trust's leap into cyberspace is its community bulletin board, known simply as "B:". Strictly speaking, B: is not connected to the Internet at all; it's a private service offered by the Dank for use by anybody in the community--or anybody anywhere who's interested in the community. Home banking is provided on the bulletin board, not the Internet, to make it easier to protect sensitive bank and customer files from "net attacks"--raids by Internet hackers. The more than 500 local-area residents who now subscribe to B: can slip from the Internet into the bulletin board system with the click of a mouse.

B: is many things to the people in the Apollo region: it's a community bulletin board, a public forum for discussion of anything on the minds of local users, a message system, and a source of free information, games, and educational software. …

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