Online Resources and Communications Corp., manufacturer of a screen telephone for home banking systems, has won an endorsement from the Savings and Community Bankers of America.

An affiliate, SCBA Financial Services Inc., will actively promote the Online product as a relatively inexpensive way to introduce the trade group's i,800 thrift and community bank members and their customers to home banking.

The unit is marketing the program under the name "24-Hour Online Banker," and has designated Online Resources as a marketing partner.

The deal represents Online Resources' first potential group sale through a trade association.

Taking an alternative route, the Independent Bankers Association of America's IBAA Bancard affiliate recently joined MasterCard International's Master Banking program, which is not tied to any single hardware or systems option.

Online Resources, based in McLean, Va., made its mark as the principal vendor for a home banking service that NationsBank Corp. has been offering in the Washington-Baltimore region for the last two years. On-line has deployed about 5,000 of its modified telephones, and a new product, the ScreenPhone 220, is due for release later this year.

The company thus has a longer track record, in a fully operational banking system, than competing providers of screen-enhanced phones such as Philips Home Services, Northern Telecom, and U.S. Order.

Online has also generated controversy by obtaining a patent that could force other processors of consumer-initiated payments to pay it licensing fees.

"Online's service is a proven success that will be extremely attractive to our members who must compete with larger institutions that have the resources to develop their own remote banking services," said Richard G. Gray, president of SCBA Financial Services.

"Our members can offer a top-notch yet inexpensive banking and bill-paying service that will help retain accounts, cross-sell new services, and reduce processing costs associated with paper-based transactions," Mr. Gray said.

Online harps on the affordability of its service. It provides a "turnkey system" that gives banks easy entry into home banking. Its hardware pricing allows the existing device, the ScreenPhone 120, to be sold for under $100, and banks' monthly fee to be under $10.

NationsBank in Washington has been selling the phone for $79.95 and the service for $6.95 a month. The Charlotte, N.C.-based banking company has announced plans to extend its marketing throughout the Mid-Atlantic region this fall.

The ScreenPhone 120 guides customers through a transaction with menus similar to those they have become accustomed to on automated teller machines. The ScreenPhone 220 will accommodate a wider range of interactive services and telephone company add-ons like call waiting and caller ID, and will offer a optional card reader.

"Our low-cost structure and turnkey system mean the success of the service is controlled by the institution and determined by how aggressively they market its benefits, how they price it, and how they use it to cross-sell," said Robert Drennan, executive vice president of Online Resources. "And with our experience over the past two years, we are, in a position to help them evaluate all the different approaches."

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