Online Resources and Communications Corp.'s elimination of per-transaction fees on its Internet banking software has had mixed results.
Bank inquiries for the company's software have doubled in the last two months because of the offer, said Raymond T. Crosier, chief operating officer. But the offer, which lasts the lifetime of a contract, has also slowed the progress of sales that were nearing a close, because many banks wanted to study the offer more closely, he said.
Online Resources intends to make up the lost revenue by charging fees on such other services as bill payment and instant loan decisions, Mr. Crosier said.
"Those are the ones that consumers are willing to pay for," he said.
Only 31 banks signed up to use the McLean, Va., company's software in the quarter that ended March 31, a figure that Jeff Baker, an analyst at SunTrust Equitable Securities, called less than impressive.
A solid majority of the 10,000-plus financial institutions with less than $10 billion of assets have yet to purchase an Internet banking system, Mr. Baker said. Internet banking software vendors are thus engaged in "a land grab" for customers, he said.
Other Internet banking providers to community institutions, including Digital Insight Corp. and Netzee Inc., are selling their software to between 45 and 90 customers a quarter, Mr. Baker said.
"Online Resources is definitely not keeping pace with the growth in the industry," he said. "I have no idea why. The market is huge. They ought to be adding more than 31 a quarter."
Online Resources' customer base is comparable to those of its competitors. It has 408 community banks and thrifts as clients, against 305 a year ago.
The company last week reported a first-quarter operating loss of $5.3 million, versus a $3.1 million loss in the year-earlier period. It blamed the worsened loss on a quadrupled advertising and marketing budget. Revenue rose 109%, to $3.1 million.
Online Resources' stock closed Friday at $9.125, down 23% for the week. It hit its 52-week high, $24.50, March 7.