Two California banks have launched on-line cash management services that enable commercial customers to perform a full range of transactions from their personal computers.
A new service from Bank of America, called Business Connect, gives small-business customers immediate access to balances and transaction history, and enables them to transfer funds, stop payments, make wire transfers, and perform otherr cash management functions.
The service is an improvement on an older PC-based cash management system called Business Connection that the bank has offered to corporate customers for eight years, said a bank spokesman.
This system will no longer be sold, and new customers will be offered Business Connect, which enables users to perform more transactions and produce more extensive reports, said a Bank of America spokesman.
Business Connect consists of a DOS-based software package, which uses direct-dial to access Bank of America account data directly from a customer's PC
When developing the system, the bank identified features desired by small businesses, and came up with a cash management package that is affordable and accessible even for those who may not have extensive computer knowledge, said a bank spokesman.
Help screens are available throughout the program for all functions, and there's also a system support hotline.
There is a nominal set-up fee for Business Connect, and a low monthly service charge. There are no changes for connect time.
Applications for Business Connect are available at any Bank of America branch in California.
Bank of America is based in San Francisco, with $197 billion in assets.
Wells Aims Higher
In related news, Wells Fargo Bank has introduced a new PC-based cash management service, called PC Manager. The service is targeted at large and midsize businesses - those with more than $5 million in annual sales - said bank officials.
Wells Fargo has offered banking by PC for 10 years to its commercial customers nationwide, through a DOS-based product called Information Express.
The new product runs in Windows, and less cash managers access a comprehensive set of bank account management options using point-and-click menu selections.
PC Manager allows cash managers to send and to monitor wire transfers from remote as well as central locations, to control fraud, to reconcile accounts, and to issue accounting reports from individual PCs. There's also an option to hook the system into loaded area network, so that more than one user can have access to the information.
"Banking by computer is getting easier," said Dave Kvederis, senior vice president in Wells Fargo's commercial banking group.
"Gone are the days when you needed to have someone comfortable with computers and familiar with multiple commands to pull up a report, or to issue a pay or hold order on a wire transfer. Now, with the ease of a password and pointing and clicking a mouse, cash managers can access their accounts and manage virtually all their banking transactions more simply."
An Extensive Menu
Menu choices include up-to-the-minute alerts on incoming wire transfers and potentially fraudulent transactions, commands for sending wire transfers and stop payment orders on checks, on-line inquiries of any debits and credits to the account, and multiple reports that users can download into spreadsheets. Security of they system is maintained by use of passwords and database encryption.
There is a set-up fee for the service and a variable monthly fee based on features used.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargp & Co. has $52.5 billion in assets, and provides a broad array of financial services, including operating and cash management products, to businesses throughout the United States.