Magazine article American Banker

Bank R.I. Turns to Student Body for Fee Muscle

Magazine article American Banker

Bank R.I. Turns to Student Body for Fee Muscle

Article excerpt

Bank Rhode Island in Providence may have a unique solution for its fee-income woes: online tuition payments.

The $931 million-asset bank says it is on the verge of receiving a patent for a service called CampusMate that enables college students' parents to pay tuition and other college-related expenses online.

The bank has already introduced the service and a student checking account and debit card at two Providence colleges -- last year at the two-year Rhode Island School of Design, last week at Johnson & Wales University.

Merrill W. Sherman, the president and chief executive officer of the bank's parent, Bancorp Rhode Island, says it can make money by charging the parents and students who use the program and by licensing it to other banks around the country.

CampusMate, which is accessed through the bank's Web site, allows parents to pay college-related bills using either a checking account or a credit card. The service also lets parents transfer funds into a child's Bank Rhode Island account.

The bank charges $50 a year for the student checking accounts and another $45 a year for students to use the online bill payment feature. Parents, who need not be Bank Rhode Island customers, are charged a small fee for each payment they make.

Ms. Sherman said the bank has received a provisional patent number and expects final approval this year. It has already obtained a trademark for the CampusMate name. "Exporting this on a national basis is very real to us," she said.

The bank could use the noninterest income. …

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