Thrift Charter for Bank of Internet USA

WASHINGTON -- In what may be the largest bank-naming coup since the founding of Bank of America, a group of investors received approval from the Office of Thrift Supervision on Wednesday to open Bank of Internet USA in San Diego.The institution has also laid claim to the domain name

President and chief executive officer Gary Lewis Evans said the bank has raised $14 million in start-up capital from 140 investors, and expects to grow to $250 million of assets over the next three years.

The bank's niche, he said, will be helping people to adjust to the world of online financial services.

"The 20-year-old in college is extremely comfortable with the Internet, but they also probably don't know what FDIC insurance is," Mr. Evans said. "We want to get the people who appreciate what FDIC insurance is but aren't as comfortable with the Internet.

"We are here to help people transition into Internet banking."

The bank will start off with 15 employees, in a single office in San Diego's Del Mar neighborhood. Mr. Evans said there are no plans to open branches.

Customers who come to the office to open an account will be ushered to a computer terminal connected to the Internet and guided through the same online application they would find if they opened the account from home. "It's part of what we call 'Internet Education 101,' " Mr. Evans said.

Mr. Evans, who is the former president of La Jolla (Calif.) Bank, said the bank expects to open in late May.

-- Rob Garver

OCC Plans a Course for Foreign Examiners

WASHINGTON -- In response to requests from foreign bank supervisors for American-style exam training, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is developing an intensive one-week course for its international counterparts.The course is scheduled to be given first on Oct. 2-6. It is expected to eventually be offered several times a year.

The United States is considered the Cadillac of supervision and examination training, said Susan Norris, a manager in the OCC's continuing education department. "Through this course we're really trying to show foreign examiners how we examine a bank and supervise using a risk-based approach."

In the past five years the OCC has taught about 40 foreign examiners from 20 countries. Some examiners from China are now observing a bank exam in Texas.

The OCC decided to design a course for foreign examiners because of increasing demand and problems in their taking courses geared to U.S. examiners.

"Generally, the supervisors who come here are top-notch people" from countries that want to improve their bank supervision, Ms. Norris said. "They have a high level of interest in risk supervision; it's a relatively new concept that's been proven to be the way to go."

The pilot course will introduce up to 15 international participants to analytical tools and examination procedures used in a risk-focused examination process. It will give students a chance to apply a risk-based supervisory process to exams; monitor and control the major types of banking risks; and analyze a bank's financial condition, management, and internal controls.

-- Michele Heller

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