American Bank functions under the philosophy of providing its commercial customer base the best tools possible to grow and streamline their businesses, while providing superior customer service. The community bank is fulfilling this mission with its cash-management offering that lets business customers monitor and rectify corporate accounts on a real-time basis.
Waco, Texas-based American Bank is a community bank with $243 million in assets and three branches. The institution has 75 full-time employees and an account base of less than 30,000; about five percent of that base is comprised of commercial-deposit customers.
CONSUMER APP GOES CORPORATE
Following the growing trend of online banking becoming a mainstay offering, American Bank made its leap into Internet banking in 2001 with a consumer application from Fiserv. By 2002, the bank extended its online offering to its commercial customers with a cash management solution called E-corp, an application from Information Technology Inc. (ITI), a unit of Fiserv.
Besides having a long-standing relationship with Fiserv since the 1980s, American Bank welcomed the chance to work with an established company on its e-commerce endeavors. "Creating your own customized e-commerce applications isn't only complex, but it can become an expensive proposition," says Clarence Hennig, American Bank's vice president. "And if you develop a solution in-house, you run into other issues if your developer leaves the company," Hennig adds. "With so many technology shifts, it makes much more sense to buy a solution from a proven leader."
Keeping in line with its mission to provide superior customer service, American Bank opted for a cash-management solution for its commercial customers that loosely mirrored its successful consumer online-banking tool.
"Both applications deliver information in real-time, which is an advantage over our competition," says Hennig. Real-time data is beneficial to American Bank's commercial customers, he adds, because they can obtain their cash position at any time during the day. This lets them move funds between accounts in a manner that best suits their cash needs.
E-corp is a server-based application that's integrated into American Bank's core system. As business customers log into their accounts, they can view up-to-the-minute activity, including automated-clearing-house (ACH) items received from the government and any items presented for payment at the bank, Hennig says.
The application also gives American Bank the option of designing a custom look for each client to ease navigation and account processes, including making fund, ACH, and domestic and international wire transfers, as well as electronically reviewing imaged checks and documents.
American Bank installed the E-corp application within 30 days, and it's signing on new customers daily. Since adding the integrated cash-management tool, American Bank has lowered its processing costs on some of the services it provides because it no longer needs to maintain separate systems to process incoming customer files, says Hennig.
For example, before launching the Internet-based application, corporate customers would either submit ACH files by hand or via modem, which required dial-up lines and dedicated servers. With E-corp,, customers submit their files via a 128-bit encrypted connection. The files are uploaded and processed without employee intervention. This lets the bank process more files without adding employee cost.
CUSTOMER RETENTION UP
"Feedback from our customers is phenomenal," Hennig says. "We've increased our customer-retention levels, and our users don't want to give up the service."
American Bank credits the service's success to guidance it received from ITI. "Acting on our standing relationship with ITI, they did a good job guiding us through the implementation process," Hennig says. "Their professional support was a major benefit."
With nearly a half-dozen community banks competing in Waco, American Bank believes E-corp puts it ahead of the pack. "The first thing that sets us apart is that we offer a real-time service," Hennig says.
Another important success factor, Hennig adds, is that American Bank manages its E-corp solution in-house. "We keep our customer data secure behind our firewall," he says. "A majority of our competitors have decided to outsource their Internet banking products, thus sending their customer data outside of Waco."
INSTITUTION: American Bank
ASSETS: $243 million
BUSINESS CHALLENGE: American Bank needed to provide its commercial banking clients with online account access to rectify accounts in real time.
SOLUTION: E-corp, a remote-banking application from Information Technology Inc. (ITI, Lincoln, Neb.), a unit of Fiserv.
KEY QUOTE: "Both applications deliver information in real-time, which is an advantage over our competition."
VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICAN BANK