The effort of community banks to do battle with big banks to protect their market share has always been something of a David and Goliath story. But with multi-billion dollar superregionals and money-center banks wooing corporate and retail customers with a smorgasbord of flashy electronic banking products and services, it's been looking a lot more like Goliath versus Tom Thumb.

That's why Chris Williston, president of the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT), spearheaded the "Money Xpress" project, an alliance which will provide 700 Texas community banks with Internet banking, bill payment and brokerage services rivaling those of larger banks with one exception: price. The community banks' individual entry price is $30,000 and includes Web page development, a far cry from the going rate of $250,000-about one year's earnings for a $50 million-asset bank, according to Williston.

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