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But will virtual bank have virtually no lines?

Want a peek at the future of banking services? Stop in at Huntington Banks' new high-tech branch inside Nationwide Plaza in downtown Columbus.

Ohio's not around the corner from Tampa Bay. But it's closer than you might think.

Huntington's new branch has no tellers, no big vault, no customer service representatives on hand. Instead, a customer enters one of several private booths.

Want cash or account information? An ATM is right in front of you. This teller machine even cashes your check to the nearest dollar.

Want to open an account or buy into a mutual fund? Summon a Huntington bank representative right on your two-way interactive video screen _ 24 hours a day.

Huntington has created, "at least to my knowledge, the first virtual bank anywhere in the world," boasts bank executive William Randle.

The bank says it's choosing the high-tech, high-touch style of banking to bring it closer to customers. A quarter or more of banking's customers rarely go to their bank branches to do business, and rely instead on ATMs, telephone banking, direct deposit services and other electronic banking services. That number will grow.

Huntington just happens to own a thrift in Florida and plans to buy a bank near Orlando next May, when interstate laws permit. But don't look for the bank's new branches in Tampa Bay soon. Do watch for other banks to follow in Huntington's footsteps.


Finance expert to talk

Personal finance expert Jane Bryant Quinn will be in St. Petersburg on Nov. 9 to speak at Eckerd College. "Trends for the '90s: A Crash Course in Money and Economics" will be her topic for a free public speech at 8 p.m. in Fox Hall.

Quinn writes columns for Newsweek and other publications and is the author of three books.

It's a half-century of

sentiment by Hallmark

Imagine, 50 years ago people had never heard of the slogan "When you care enough to send the very best."

Hallmark Cards Inc., celebrating the golden anniversary of its now ubiquitous slogan, recently mailed reporters a tome on the history of the slogan, the cards and the company.

Some fun facts about greeting cards:

Americans give about 7.4-billion cards a year: 1-billion for Valentine's Day, 2.7-billion for Christmas and 150-million for Mother's Day.

Women buy 85 percent of all greeting cards, except on Mother's Day, when they purchase only 75 percent.

Hallmark cards have used the work of famous artists, including Picasso, Grandma Moses, Saul Steinberg and Norman Rockwell.

Some card history: The 1950s brought the first irreverent and humorous cards as Americans laughed in the face of the Cold War; the 1970s' era of free love launched those romantic, soft-focus cards with syrupy odes; the '80s brought cards for non-traditional families: "Happy Birthday, Step-Sis."

Hallmark, in Kansas City, Mo., made $3.4-billion in worldwide sales last year. Its cards come in 20 languages and are sold in 100 countries.