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Chris Musto, Gomez, Inc.
Chris Musto, Gomez, Inc.
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Bank of America Stays On Top Of Gomez SOHO/Micro Rankings

Bank of America shored up a weak spot by introducing real-time synchronization between ATM activity and its Web banking transaction history.

The Q2 2003 Gomez SOHO/Micro Banker Scorecard, which evaluates banks' Internet delivery of services to sub-$1 million revenue businesses, reveals a repeat winner, two significant fast movers and three new entrants.

Comparing the enhancements made by Scorecard banks to the leading demands of this customer segment, many financial institutions appear to be heading in the right direction in the development of their Internet delivery capabilities. Importantly, leading banks are focusing aggressively on bill pay upgrades and online document delivery services, among other things.

Q2 2003 SOHO/Micro Banker Scorecard highlights include:

Bank of America Wins Again

Overall Score winner Bank of America shored up a weak spot by introducing real-time synchronization between ATM activity and the Web banking transaction history, a feature now offered by more than three-quarters of Scorecard banks. Meanwhile, the bank continues to offer access within a single account management offering to both personal and small business accounts across deposits, credit cards, lines of credit and loans.

Moreover, Key and Fleet finished second and third, respectively, maintaining their ranking from the Q4 SOHO/Micro Banker Scorecard. Illustrative of the thoughtful approaches leading banks are taking, Key Bank offers immediate online banking access for existing small business customers, while Fleet presents last login information and allows customers to enter a "memo" field on outgoing bill payments that will be sent by mail.

Wachovia, National City Ascend

Both Wachovia and National City jumped five places in Overall Score due to substantial improvements in their offerings. Wachovia's improvement was driven by its decision to move forward with First Union's small business offering while making substantial user experience improvements in the bill pay area. National City, meanwhile, made a number of design enhancements that add to the security and convenience of the offering. For instance, National City now displays last login date and time information on the homepage for security-conscience users.

Three Large Institutions Come Onboard, One Departs

With this edition of the Scorecard, our methodology now uses asset size instead of commercial and industrial loan activity as minimum criteria. As a result, three new banks have joined the Scorecard. These include Washington Mutual (number 10), BB&T (number 14) and Fifth Third Bank (number 15). The strongest finisher among the three new entrants, Washington Mutual is an example of a bank offering that features tiered authority within the entry-level account management area. Meanwhile, PNC Bank's exodus from the ranking reflects the other change in Scorecard methodology: the requirement that a bank offer Web bill pay within the account management area.

Methodology Changes Reveal Cash Flow Management Differentiation

Gomez has added two-dozen additional Scorecard criteria to track in greater granularity such essential attributes as account-based alerting, bill payment and synchronization between the Web offering and other channels. These criteria point to some significant differentiators within small business banking.

For instance, bills payments that settle electronically routinely take less than five business days to be credited by the biller. But just 6 out of 17 Web banking offerings reviewed for this Scorecard both tell customers they can allow less than five business days for at least some bill payments and then back up that message by identifying which bill payments will be eligible for the shorter lead time before the customer submits the payment.

The outlook is a bright for the manager of a sub-$1 million business looking to gain convenience and control through Web banking. With the rate of online document delivery among Scorecard banks on the rise, and substantial improvements to the design of offerings at National City, Wachovia and other banks, a competitive environment has emerged in online small business banking.

Chris Musto is a vice president of research at Gomez, Inc., an Internet benchmarking and improvement strategies firm in Waltham, MA. He can be reached at cmusto@gomez.com.

This article originally appeared in Bank Systems & Technology eNEWS, a weekly e-mail newsletter. To order a free subscription, click here: http://www.submag.com/sub/by?tc=1&wp=wpdly1&pk=WMNE

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