Wells Fargo's middle market and corporate customers have been adopting the online banking channel at a blistering double-digit pace, according to Danny Peltz, executive vice president of wholesale Internet solutions and head of treasury management products and services for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. "In one of the last days of December, we did about $16 billion in wires in one day," he notes.
And what a year it was. In 2004, the bank's wholesale Internet portal, dubbed Commercial Electronic Office, received a behind-the-scenes boost when Wells Fargo launched a new underlying platform. On that platform, BEA Systems' (San Jose, Calif.) server technology allows for mass customization, so that users see only relevant functions upon sign-on.
Another feature added to Wells Fargo's ($422 billion in assets) Web portal was online sales activation. "Traditionally, customers had to contact the bank in order to add products and services," says Peltz. "Now they can add products and services at the click of a button."
Wells Fargo hopes that these ease-of-use initiatives will help the bank differentiate itself in what Peltz characterizes as a "fierce" competitive environment. "It's very difficult to differentiate yourself in a commoditized market, but we've been pretty successful at it by having the unique customer experience that's focused on how our customers do their jobs - instead of how the banks do our job," says Peltz.
Looking ahead, Peltz hopes to make his customers' jobs even easier. "Integrating more and more disparate pieces of information, and allowing our customers to act upon that information, is a key priority for us," he says.
For example, the bank is developing a "dispute management" tool to reconcile outgoing invoices with invoice returns. Already, Wells Fargo's "invoice manager" solution can create a storehouse of customer invoices, which can be used in conjunction with workflow tools to manage approvals and shipping. Now, the bank wants to offer its customers the ability to quickly handle disputed and returned invoices.
Another simplification effort comes from the Check 21-enabled ability to perform remote item capture (see article, page 13). Wells Fargo intends to deliver Internet-based remote capture in the first quarter of 2005. "It's going to allow us to accept deposits from our customers, from anywhere, and all they're going to need is a scanner and an Internet connection to do that," says Peltz.
Peltz ensured that the new service would have a user-friendly interface in line with Wells Fargo's current offerings. Furthermore, the service has to be fast. "Unless it's fast, it's not going to be adopted," Peltz says.
Finally, Wells Fargo wanted to provide a "self-administration utility" for customers to control the access of their own employees to the remote deposit service, relates Peltz.
"It all fits into our overall platform strategy, which is extremely extensible and provides a single point of entry into the bank with a common look and feel," he adds.