NationsBank Corp. has begun moving its corporate customers to a centralized cash management system that makes use of new interstate banking regulations.
The new system, which is being marketed under the name Customer Connection, lets large corporate customers deposit funds into a single account from any state in which the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank operates.
NationsBank officials have in effect "created a new bank for their wholesale customers," said Anthony J. Carfang, a partner with Treasury Strategies, a Chicago-based consulting company. "They've basically unplugged large corporations from all the other bank systems and put them on one central banking system."
"This is nothing short of a quantum leap," he said.
The bank declined to say how much it spent on the system. Mr. Carfang said it was probably "well in excess of the total revenues of many cash management banks."
NationsBank officials said the new system is part of a fundamental change in the way corporate cash management services will be offered by banks.
The change, spurred by relaxed interstate banking regulations, supports many corporations' efforts to use fewer banks.
Some retailers have had to deal with hundreds of banks to get all their deposits processed. A bank that can cover large regions with a single platform can help customers simplify their banking relationships, Mr. Carfang said.
Officials from several large corporations said they are interested in doing just that.
"We'd like to take advantage of this corporate platform ... in order to reduce the number of banks we have," said Vickie Roberts, a treasurer with Centex Corp., a Dallas-based construction firm. "
Centex revenues last year were $3.5 billion. It operates in 25 states and does business with as many banks.
Ms. Roberts said a platform that reaches across state lines can reduce the number of banks Centex does business with by half.
Mary Stotts, an assistant treasurer with Minneapolis-based Carlson Co., said it is looking to reduce number the number of banks is uses "where it makes sense."
Carlson, with revenues just over a $9 billion, maintains hundreds of relationships with foreign and domestic banks. Its business units include Radisson Hotels, TGI Fridays restaurants, and Carlson Wagonlit Travel Offices.
NationsBank is in a particularly good position to offer services to large nationwide companies, Ms. Stotts said. Carlson plans to use NationsBank's new system to consolidate its banking relationships, she said. "We haven't made the move to put this into place yet, but it is our intention to do so."
Multistate corporations "want simplicity, convenience, and greater efficiency in running day to day cash management," said Connie Beck, an executive vice president with NationsBank.
The interstate platform was developed over the course of a year in anticipation of regulatory changes that took effect last month.
Previous regulations made banks with presences in more than one state to duplicate their computer and information systems in each.
But last year's passage of the Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act changed that.
The law essentially allows interstate bank acquisitions, interstate branch consolidation, new interstate bank branching, and interstate deposit taking.
The last item means that subsidiaries of a bank holding company can receive deposits, renew time deposits, and close loans interstate.
Corporate operations are streamlined by managing fewer accounts in fewer banks, Ms. Beck said. Reconciliation is simplified and access to information and funds is improved.
NationsBank's new platform is designed exclusively for large multistate corporations. Several have migrated to the new platform, bank officials said, but they declined to say how many. More will be phased in during the next several months, the officials said.
The demand deposit system is the focal point for NationsBank's new cash management platform. It ties together systems for wire transfers, automated clearing house and electronic data interchange transfers, controlled disbursements, lockbox, and balance and information reporting.