Wells Fargo & Co. has joined the small crowd of banks that are knocking down interstate barriers for corporate customers.
The $109.2 billion-asset banking company announced that, effective Dec. 7, customers across its 10-state network can use a single account for deposits and payables. Currently, most customers who operate in multiple states maintain separate bank accounts in each state.
Similar programs were announced last year by NationsBank Corp. and Norwest Corp., but these were restricted to the largest corporate clients or to fewer states.
Wells, which unveiled its plan last week at the Treasury Management Association's annual convention here, said its program is open to all corporate customers with multistate operations.
"We don't know any other bank that is providing this true, seamless, interstate capability," said E. Alan Holroyde, executive vice president of the electronic commerce group at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.
Wells is taking advantage of provisions of the 1994 Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act to streamline services for corporate customers, he added.
Mr. Holroyde said the interstate depository account, dubbed WellsOne , should benefit "thousands of clients." He noted that Wells Fargo has 5,800 corporate customers that operate in at least four states and have annual sales of more than $50 million.
Paul Watson, a Wells Fargo vice chairman who oversees commercial banking and capital markets, said banks that provide smooth cash management service are building a foundation for broader banking relationship that can include lending and underwriting.
"Competition in the middle market is intensifying; you have to be a significant player in both cash management and in commercial lending," Mr. Watson said.
A Wells customer said he would welcome the change.
The streamlined depository program will "allow us to communicate to our banks with one voice, and to eliminate confusion, and misinformation with our controllers," said Terry Griesenauer, banking relationship manager for United Parcel Service. UPS, a huge shipping company, deposits $5 million a day.
Mr. Griesenauer said UPS had skimmed its bank group by 75% in the last five years. "We wanted to concentrate our business with the banks who had the power to step up," he said. "We rely on our core bank group to meet 99% of our needs."