When Northeast Bancorp (NBN) of Lewiston, Maine, decided it wanted to develop a national customer base, it launched a division within its 10-branch banking unit that would be online only and go by another name: ableBanking.
The separately branded site launched in beta mode in July; this week it had 20,000 Facebook likes.
"It's complementary to the bank," says Claire Bean, an ableBanking cofounder and Northeast's CFO and COO. "ableBanking is designed to serve a national audience. …It's a different value proposition."
ableBanking, which emerged out of beta during the summer, formally announced a new consumer product Wednesday: a high interest money market savings account that contributes some of the funds to charity.
Why go by another name? When the Northeast execs decided to expand their financial services nationally, they found the trademark to the bank's name was already taken. Even so, Bean says the cofounders just loved the name ableBanking when they discovered it was available. Plus, the team wanted a separate identity from Northeast as it's a different customer market, adds says Richard Wayne, an ableBanking cofounder as well as CEO and president of Northeast.
"As a direct bank, you want a competitive rate and something more," Wayne says. "We're trying to create a platform where deposits come in and they will be sticky. …We like being able to be charitable."
The direct-only business line touts its competitive interest rates and charity donations as two benefits of it not having to pay for the overhead of branches. Indeed, new customers will receive $25 to donate to a charity of their choice as well as an additional 0.25% of their annual balances to give to a charity every year. Consumers can open CD accounts, too. There is a minimum $1,000 deposit required of a customer to open both types of accounts.