The American Bankers Association is offering to help smaller banks build basic Internet sites on the cheap.

The service, called BankSite, is designed for community banks that would not be able to afford creating their own on-line presences.

For a one-time development and set-up charge of $2,500 and a quarterly fee of $350 for hosting services and reports, the ABA will create a bank site consisting of up to 15 pages, including a photo and logo. Banks can include directories, listings of locations, information on products and services, or tools to help customers calculate mortgage payments or interest income.

The sites built through this service are pretty much limited to text- based information - as opposed to the graphics, motion, and sound available at some of the more sophisticated corporate sites on the Internet's World Wide Web. But ABA officials said this is simply a step toward an on-line toehold for smaller institutions.

"While more and more bankers are recognizing the importance of having a presence on the Internet, many small community banks have been reluctant to pursue this option because of high costs or lack of staff expertise to develop a home page," said Richard Pamperin, chairman of the ABA's community banking council.

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