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10:22 AM
Agnes DeBlasi
Agnes DeBlasi
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Citizens Bank Provides Online Service for Commercial Clients

Citizens Bank's commercial customers finally have an Internet cash management solution to call their own. And with the elimination of PC-based software, they are plowing the associated time savings into building their businesses.

Commercial clients had been clamoring for a Web-based product ever since Citizens Bank launched Internet services for private customers two years ago. "After at least five years, our business customers are embracing the Internet," said Tony Finney, vice president of corporate cash management at Flint, Mich.-based Citizens Bank.

The bank worked with its data processor, Metavante, to create a password-protected Web-based solution. "We came up with a solution that provides the opportunity to bank outside of the traditional four walls," said Finney. "With no software tying them to their office PC, our customers can bank from any PC or laptop anywhere in the world."

Called Business Express Internet Banking and accessed through the Citizens Web site (, the system provides funds transfer, direct deposit, bill payment, account balances, stop payments, ACH and distribution capabilities and security to protect internal data.

By providing Internet access to bank services, Citizens has spared its customers the administrative hassles and costs associated with PC-based cash management solutions. "Since we no longer need to send a technician to set up each client with an interface, we expect to see our customers' expenses reduced by $60,000 or more within the next two years," Finney said.

Citizens beta tested the site with six clients for a 60-day period, with all six giving it high marks for ease of use, convenience and flexibility. Following a soft rollout with 10 clients last November, the bank experienced 200 hits within the first two weeks, and had 125 customers using it by year-end.

Citizens expects to recoup its investment in Business Express within 12 months, according to Finney. The bank declined to reveal its cost.

Within two years, Citizens plans to provide wireless access, access to loan and line of credit information, and integration with direct deposit and payroll applications. "Our current system is just a building block that we will continue to add services and products to," Finney said. "We want to allow as many options that will help our clients do better business."

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