NationsBank Corp. has joined the growing number of banks offering PC- based account services for small-business customers.
Last month NationsBank began marketing its Business Express/PC in all nine states where it does business. The $184 billion-asset bank offered the program on four states on a trial basis in May.
"We're quite convinced the market is ready for this kind of service, and we want to get it out there as quickly as we can," said Karen Aldridge, a vice president of product development and support at NationsBank's Maryland subsidiary.
Business Express/PC, which was developed by Automatic Data Processing Inc., contains four basic features: balance reporting, account reconciliation, account transfer, and direct deposit. A NationsBank customer sitting at an IBM-compatible PC can tap into the bank's system to monitor his accounts and cash flow at any hour of the day or night.
"It lets me know where I stand every day," said Bernie Dancel, president and CEO of National Credit Counseling Services in Columbia, Md. "It's just a very helpful tool when you're running a business."
Mr. Dancel's nonprofit company provides credit counseling. One of its services is to consolidate a client's numerous bills into one: The client pays National Credit, which then disburses checks to the individual creditors.
"So we get up-to-date information, when we download every morning, as of 12 the previous evening, on all the checks that have cleared," Mr. Dancel said. "When you issue thousands of checks daily, that's important."
Mr. Dancel purchased Business Express/PC from Baltimore-based Maryland National Bank, which NationsBank acquired in 1993. Ms. Aldridge, who worked for Maryland National for eight years before the takeover by NationsBank, said the bank decided to use ADP's product in early 1993.
There are several other PC-based small-business banking products on the market. But Ms. Aldridge said Maryland National was sold on ADP's toll-free technical service and the fact that bank personnel did not have to be trained on Business Express/PC, since the user seeks ADP's help for technical problems.
Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank, which picked up the product from Maryland National, plans to market Business Express/PC through brochures, which contain an 800 number offering a free demonstration diskette, and the bank's team of 150 small-business lenders, who operate out of major markets in NationsBank's territory.
Customers have been receptive, in part because Business Express/PC helps them leverage their investment in technology, according to Ms. Aldridge. "Small-business owners are becoming more technically sophisticated," she said. "They've purchased PCs and are looking for ways to take better advantage of them."
Fred D. Anderson Jr., ADP's chief financial officer, said the product is marketed to banks by ADP's financial services group. The Roseland, N.J.- based technology company is primarily known for its payroll processing services.
"Financial services is about a $20 million business," Mr. Anderson said. "And we're a company that this year is approaching over $2.8 billion in revenues. So, it's not one of our major businesses. But certainly it's a good product and something we're committed to going forward" with.
ADP earned $289 million on revenues of $2.1 billion in the nine months ending March 31.
Mr. Anderson estimated that about 50 banks around the country now use ADP's Business Express/PC, but he declined to provide any names for competitive reasons. Many bank clients customize Business Express/PC and market it under their own label.
"It's growing very rapidly in terms of client adoption," Mr. Anderson said.