A brand-new thrift, Assurance Partners Bank in Carmel, Ind., has an even newer Web site. Assurance Partners, launched in June by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, went online last week.

The site is mainly an information resource now, though Assurance, which is owned by a group of insurance companies and was started for the express purpose of marketing mortgages and other loans through insurance agents, plans to apply within the next 60 days with the Office of Thrift Supervision for permission to offer online loan applications.

"The Web site is one of the primary means of communicating with our investors and agents," said David T. Fronek, the thrift's president and chief executive officer and a former executive of First Chicago NBD Corp.

Assurance Partners, which aims to expand beyond its central Indiana charter, is working with about 70 insurance agents. The site is also seen chiefly as a way of keeping the agents themselves informed about the thrift - which lacks a traditional branch network - and a place where they can refer their loan customers and prospects who may have questions about Assurance.

One transactional feature is up and running at Assurance Partners' site. Through its partnership with Citigroup Inc., it is offering credit card applications.

"Down the road we would hope to have a more transactional site in place," Mr. Fronek said, but "the profile of our bank is probably one that doesn't suggest that a fully transactional site is something we need."

Therefore it will not necessarily have such online banking staples as the ability to transfer money from one account to another.


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