Many observers of community banking say imposing ATM charges on other banks' customers is not just a way to raise noncredit income, but a major new battle in the war for deposits and loyalty.

Ed Crutchfield, chief executive of First Union, summed it up in an interview with USA Today. He said his bank and others with large ATM networks were tired of "subsidizing" the community banks that pass out ATM cards and tell their customers, "You can use these anywhere, so why do you need to move your account to a larger bank?"

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