Answer by Rick Wemmers:
There are several: first they can be a good advisor on how business customers can use the current technology. One Texas bank picked up three multi-million dollar accounts with this strategy. Second, they can link their bank tothe customer more closely. Third, they can be an information resource/support group for some businesses who just don't understand how to keep things running once started. Of course these ideas are outside the box of typical banking and may require some innovative partnerships.
Answer by Karen Garrett:
Financial institutions of all sizes must capitalize on the ecommerce efficiencies available to their customers and to the financial institution itself. The Internet does not primarily create new businesses, it generally makes available efficient and new methods of providing existing services. Business customers want real-time Internet-based reconciliation services and other cash management services. They may or may not pay any more for those servicesthan they currently pay, but competition will require banks of all sizes to eventually provide this type of service.
Banks can also generally act as "finders" for products or services and receive a fee for referrals. Therefore, a bankcould enter into an alliance with a website design firm, for example, and refer its customers to that firm and receivea fee for the referral. Banks can also provide payment processing services for websites, either as a credit cardmerchant bank or by accepting ACH or wire transfer payments for its customers with commercially enabled sites.
First published on BankersOnline.com 11/5/01