bank rates

Online Bank Ascencia Quietly Shuts Down

ascencia bank logoAscencia is no longer.

We’ve been trying to figure out what happened to this online bank, which offered decent CD rates from time to time, since the link to its rates page late last month automatically transferred instead to the home page for PBI Bank.

That wasn’t completely crazy – Ascencia was a division of PBI Bank, a regional bank based in Louisville, Ky.

But the channel for “Ascencia Customers,” which led to a page titled “For former Ascencia customers only,” certainly raised an eyebrow.

Unfortunately, we’ve just concluded a week of unanswered voicemail messages and emails to PBI Bank representatives.

Fortunately, a call to the bank’s customer service line shed a little light on the situation.

This is what we know:

  • Ascencia’s accounts were merged with PBI Bank’s.
  • PBI Bank doesn’t currently sell certificates of deposit nationally but may in the future.
  • CDs purchased from Ascencia can be closed at maturity or renewed. Forms for either option are on the PBI Bank website.

Ascencia had been a top player for short-term CD rates. As recently as this fall, it offered the third-best nationally available 6-month CD.

Ascencia led that term in summer 2012.

But the parent bank faces continuing financial problems. In a November filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, holding company Porter Bancorp Inc. expressed “substantial doubt” about its “ability to continue as a going concern.”

That’s a fancy way of saying the bank doesn’t know whether it has enough money to stay in business for very long.

Porter lost tens of millions of dollars in 2012. It’s still losing money this year and is under orders from the FDIC to improve its financial condition.

We’re unsure what, if any, role the company’s money problems contributed to the closing of its online bank.

But we don’t consider this case closed and will report back on any further information we receive.

If you’re a former Ascencia customer, we encourage you to leave a comment on what you’ve heard regarding the shuttering of this online division.

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