The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is considering a request to open the first virtual national bank.

Houston-based Compubank would offer checking, savings, and money market accounts, as well as certificates of deposit and electronic bill payment over the Internet, according to an application filed by former banker Frank S. Goldberg.

"The principle behind Compubank is to create a model, which leaves out all of the traditional methods of delivery," the application states. "Compubank will be at a competitive advantage to banks with huge investments in real estate and equipment."

If approved, Compubank would become the third Internet-based institution, but the first with a national charter. Security First Network Bank was chartered as a thrift, and Atlanta Internet Bank is state chartered.

Mr. Goldberg, who would be Compubank's chief executive officer, refused to comment. From 1985 to 1994, Mr. Goldberg was chairman, CEO, and president of Security Bank, Houston. The $75 million-asset institution was acquired by Compass Bank-Houston in May 1994.

The Comptroller's Office expects to rule on the application by early June, a spokesman said.

The charter request was filed in August, but made available to the public only this week after the agency asked Mr. Goldberg for more details regarding Compubank's estimated market reach, the technology the bank would rely on, and applicable state branching and consumer laws, the spokesman said.

Because of low overhead and fixed costs, Compubank plans to offer free checking, monthly bill payments, on-line connection, and automatic teller machine access. At least initially, Compubank would not make loans.

"The creation of a new entity like Compubank, with all of the unknowns that will inevitably come with it, would be difficult enough without taking on the additional risk of making or purchasing loans," according to the application.

In addition to Internet access, the bank plans to open one customer service office.

Compubank's executive staff would consist of Mr. Goldberg, a senior customer service representative, and three other officers. Compubank plans to hire outside firms to handle its accounting, compliance, technology, and marketing needs, according to the application.

The bank's initial capitalization would be $5 million, raised through a stock offering.

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