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'No lines' bank:
Where do we sign up?
By Jonathan J. Cooper

December 3, 2005

A group of area business leaders is embarking on a unique new endeavor: Opening a bank for business clients with the idea that customers will never need to set foot inside a branch.

“I haven’t met a businessman yet that likes to go to the bank,” joked Laine Schoneberger, a partner in a Kyrene Corridor insurance and financial services firm and one of the 15 board members for the Infinity National Bank.

With that observation as the motivating factor, Infinity Bank’s board and staff are in the process of developing a system to allow businessmen to bank from their place of business. Deposits, withdrawals, transfers and all other typical banking procedures will be done from the client’s office.

Such freedom from the branch is unique in the world of business banking, Schoneberger said, so Infinity will have to develop the technology to make it happen. Most of that development will mean modification of currently accessible technology, but it could require the development of some entirely new technology.

“It’s going to be very computer driven,” Schoneberger said.

“The business owners will not have to visit our bank. They will not have to hang out in our lobbies. They will do all of their banking from their place of business. While we do have a location and it will be built to suit, it’s not built for long lines.”

Schoneberger said he thinks Infinity can prosper despite competing against mammoth banks with hundreds of branches nationwide. The key will be specialization. The bank will cater only to business customers, not offering any retail services.

“We’re going to lower our operational costs, and direct all our marketing efforts and funding to this one segment of the economy,” he said.

“(Large banks) are jacks of all trades, masters of none. We are going to be a master of business banking. We are going to actually do nothing but business banking.”

Early reaction to the project has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Schoneberger said.

“So far (local business owners) are excited. They’re very excited. They really want to do this; they’re tired of traditional banking. People are really ready for a new banking experience.”

The first Infinity branch is currently under construction on the east side of McClintock just north of Elliot Road. The board of directors is shooting for a March or April opening date, but that is dependent on approval by the federal regulatory and oversight agencies.

Applications have been submitted to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and are currently under review. In the coming weeks, OCC and FDIC officials will meet individually with the board members to discern their proficiency in banking and economic matters

“We’ve got a strong board of directors committed to making this work,” Schoneberger said. “We’re pouring a ton of capital into it. We’ve picked an exemplary staff.

“Pending anything in the application that just doesn’t meet their criteria, I don’t see any reason we wouldn’t be approved.”

As soon as the regulatory hurdles are scaled, the board will begin collecting the approximately $7 million in capital that it will need for the project.

Schoneberger insists that Infinity is in it for the long haul, and is not solely a venture to be sold to a larger corporation after a few years of growth.

“(Sale) is not the intention. I’m sure once we are profitable we will certainly be in the spotlight, and there will be offers on the table. But that’s not the intention. The intention is to be a good bank for businessmen.”




































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