July 05, 2004

In a deal that will allow its small business customers to make remote deposits, NetBank (Atlanta, $4.2 billion in tota assets) will implement Alogent's (Alpharetta, Ga.) Check 21 payment and deposit automation technology platform. The real-time check processing solution, Sierra Xchange, gives small business owners and merchants the ability to scan and create images of checks at their places of business and make deposits to NetBank electronically. The solution enables intra-bank straight-through check processing and interbank exchange.

The deal is part of NetBank's strategy to eventually move from paper transactions to a completely paper-less environment, says Sonja Kennedy, director of bank operations for NetBank. As an Internet-based bank, "This is NetBank's vision," she says. "The whole paper transaction is going away, and we want it to go away. It's our vision for our customers, and the goal definitely is to make paper transactions obsolete."

Another of the bank's goals is to improve customer service. "One of our goals is to create a better service for our customers," says Kennedy, who explains that, rather than growing its customer base, NetBank is focusing on retaining its current customers by better satisfying their needs.

With the image workflow and deposit automation technology, the quality of customer deposits improves by removing the possibility for entering errors and by providing direct updates to NetBank's corporate accounts receivable systems. The deposit processing solution will enable NetBank to offer faster access to transaction information, and potentially lower processing fees. Rollout is scheduled for August.

The implementation will not only reduce the time needed to process checks, it will also make customers' funds available to them more quickly, according to Kennedy. "It is easier to clear electronic transactions on the same day or next day," she says. "We have collected funds earlier and that will save [customers] time to get access to money in their accounts. It gives them availability to their funds - and for small businesses, that is critical."

According to Kennedy, the system is installed in the small business owner's or merchant's place of business. If tech assistance is needed, customers can call NetBank's 24-hour call center for support. By utilizing Sierra Xchange, small business owners and merchants can collect, correct, balance and distribute paper, data and image transactions from all points of origination to multiple, configurable endpoints, including image archives, payment systems, ACH conversion, IRD printing and image exchange networks, the vendor says.

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