There are 637 banks in the United States bigger than Glenview State Bank, but the suburban Chicago company takes a back seat to none of them when it comes to technology.
The $540 million-asset bank considers itself a longtime proponent of technology, most recently preparing home banking and target marketing systems.
Glenview State also is one of the smallest banks in the Financial Services Technology Consortium, a high-powered group of banks and financial service providers examining high-tech banking issues.
"I think it'll be important for community banks, especially in a metropolitan area like Chicago, to investigate these types of technologies very closely," said Pete Soraparu, Glenview's executive vice president of consumer banking. "We see that it's the one way that we can differentiate ourselves from the competition among other community banks and compete directly with the larger banks."
Glenview has imaged checks for more than a year, automated loan processes, and is upgrading its existing telephone banking system at a time when some community banks are just getting around to considering that technology.
"We have to automate to compete," said president Paul Jones, whose family bought the bank in the 1960s. "But we have to have a more personal touch than what the larger institutions might do. We're just trying to get positioned to make it easier for the customers to get at us any way they want to do it."
Now, that means home banking via computer as well as establishing a system to gather customer information from all sources of interaction - including computer, automated teller machines, phone banking and personal visits - to get a complete customer picture.
The systems should be in place by June, management said.
Glenview began seriously investigating home banking in late 1994 and planned its approach last year, said Lee Bostrom, vice president, management information.
With home banking, customers' computers can dial the bank directly and execute most routine transactions, such as transferring funds and checking balances.
"Because we're a community bank and we operate in an area with a large number of major players, we have to make it convenient for our customers who work in downtown Chicago where we don't have any office," Mr. Bostrom said.
The bank expects to develop the service in the future to include additional options such as loan and deposit account applications.
Though the company has not decided on pricing, Mr. Soraparu said it will follow the industry trend of not having a general usage charge.
However, another new addition - a target marketing system from Customer Potential Management Corp., East Peoria - will compile detailed customer data from home banking and other transaction sources to let the community bank suggest additional products and services to customers.
"A lot of emphasis has been placed on cross-selling in the past and probably not enough emphasis has been placed on 'right' selling," Mr. Soraparu said. "The most important thing is to get into the customers' hands and wallets a product that they will need and use consistently."
Management declined to disclose the systems' exact costs, but Mr. Soraparu said the cost for home banking, phone, and customer management systems typically each run in the $100,000 range.
And for this bank, the money is well spent.
"There's certainly a lot of other calls on owners' capital these days," Mr. Soraparu said. "But from Glenview State Bank's point of view, none more important than this, which will allow us to compete more effectively in the future."