Card Establishment Services Inc. and Goldleaf Technologies Inc. have developed an affordable financial electronic data interchange system for community banks.
The system, called Translink, will allow small and medium-sized banks to pass electronically formatted remittance information along to corporate customers. This is data obtained from a variety of standard formats accompanying automated clearing house transactions.
"We feel that the community-level financial institution needs to be competitive and provide services to their business customers," said Cynthia Dudley, project manager with Card Establishment Services.
Card Establishment Services, or CES, is a Melville, N.Y.-based company that in November agreed to be acquired by First Data Corp. for $680 million. It's one of the top three providers of payment and information transaction services to retail merchants. The company serves 127,000 businesses and institutions.
In an effort to expand its payments systems services, the company approached Goldleaf in May to see if the Hahira, Ga.-based company would be willing to work together to develop a financial EDI system.
The move was in response to last year's request for a low-cost financial EDI service issued by the National Automated Clearing House Association. The banking trade association asked vendors to develop a low-cost remittance delivery system for the vast majority of banks that are not EDI capable.
Using financial EDI, corporate customers can use the transmitted data to update and reconcile accounts receivable along with processing payments.
But for cash management banks, the payoff of the potentially lucrative EDI service remains unfulfilled since the vast majority of the commercial banks are operationally incapable of using EDI information sent with automated clearing house payments.
"Every financial institution in the United States should be EDI capable," said Goldleaf's chief executive officer, David L. Peterson. "Translink will make financial institutions look like heroes to their customer, while servicing a very valuable business function."
And though Nacha recently awarded the contract to an alliance between MCI Communications Corp. and Maxxus Inc., Ms. Dudley said, "My feeling is that there is opportunity in the marketplace" for Translink as well.
The basic-level Translink product will be commercially available next month. The software extracts the remittance data that is sent along with ACH payments. This data is translated into a readable form, then printed, faxed, or placed on diskettes before being sent to corporate clients to reconcile accounts receivable.
A second level of the service, called Automated Remittance Delivery, may be available within three months, depending on the market demand, officials said.
This service will allow a bank's corporate clients to dial in and obtain daily EDI remittance data from an automated fax machine or electronic mailbox.
The basic-level service is a $600 annual fee for a bank with 10 customers. Better terms are available as the number of customers increases.
Goldleaf is owned by Lowndes Bancshares, a $25 million asset bank holding company.