Redneck Bank corrals those looking for 'funner' finance - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Redneck Bank corrals those looking for 'funner' finance

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Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 3:45 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY - For rednecks across the country, a bank is more than just where you sit when you're fishing.

Over the past couple of years, Oklahoma banker Wade Huckabay has dealt with a flood of rednecks who want to do business with him and his online Redneck Bank.

"We've had to stamp 'sold out' on some account types," Huckabay said Tuesday. New customers still can open a "flat-out free checking" account.

The Internet bank is an arm of Bank of the Wichitas, based in Synder, Okla. It's the brainchild of Huckabay, whose family owns three Oklahoma banks. The Redneck Bank name was an attempt to differentiate its website from thousands of online banking operations, Huckabay said.

The bank's home page features a braying mule, and customers access their accounts by clicking on an outhouse. The mule displays a series of comments, including "I like oats and feed, gov't bailouts I don't need."

Last month, U.S. Banker magazine highlighted Bank of the Wichitas' online strategy as a successful way to reach a niche market.

"The goal was how to create a presence on the Internet without having to spend millions of dollars," Huckabay said. "We're competing against Bank of America, JPMorgan, those types of banks."

The website "where bankin's funner!" has hit the mark as Huckabay said customers have come from all 50 states.

The launch two years ago went viral as chat rooms and various websites took notice of the unusual site, many wondering if it was an actual bank. When a story about the FDIC-insured bank ran in The Oklahoman in March 2009, demand took off, Huckabay said.

"It was probably the most stressful time in my banking career, but that's the kind of stress people pray for," he said.

About 1,000 calls a day began pouring into the bank's suddenly understaffed call center, he said. The company "knocked down a couple of walls" and hired a dozen more people to deal with customers, he said.

The Huckabay family's other banks, Southwest State Bank in Sentinel and All America Bank in Mustang, also have affiliated online banks that target customers who are patriotic or enjoy technology.

The three online banks represent more than 40 percent of the family banks' deposits and have boosted the companies' capital in tough times, Huckabay said.

"We've had banking crisis, and we've been treading water a little bit just waiting to see what was going to happen in the banking industry," Huckabay said. "A significant part of core deposits are online now."

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