Del Tonguette, former head of the Gulfnet electronic banking network, has started a consulting company.

The outspoken and iconoclastic Mr. Tonguette, 59, stepped down from Gulfnet last month when its merger with Houston-based Pulse EFT Association was completed.

He said his firm, Business and Marketing Solutions, based in Slidell, La., will mainly advise community banks about the electronic payments business.

"Every unemployed banker is called a consultant," joked Mr. Tonguette. But he said he is looking forward to the independence and "will give it my best shot."

Mr. Tonguette said he will offer his services to smaller financial institutions that can't afford high- priced consulting help from Atlanta or New York.

He said that his first call came from a sizable debit card processor, but that he expects banks to make up the bulk of his business. He will offer marketing, advertising, and promotion services.

Early in his 25-year career, Mr. Tonguette started and managed Franklinton Financial Services, a card processor that evolved into National City Processing, a unit of Cleveland-based National City Corp. He also helped launch Midwest Payment Systems and the Jeanie automated teller machine network for Fifth Third Bancorp of Cincinnati.

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