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Citizens Trust Bank Aims Big

Citizens Trust goes toe-to-toe with the big banks using in-house image capture, online statements and branch automation technology.

Using information technology, Atlanta-based Citizens Trust intends to stay abreast of the larger financial institutions within its geographical footprint. "We're in a metropolitan market," said Willard "Chuck" Lewis, chief operating officer of Citizens Trust Bank, an Atlanta bank with $300 million in assets. "Major banks are our competition."

In order to compete, Citizens Trust Bank has implemented an image capture solution from Bisys Document Solutions, Birmingham, Ala., and has extended its contract with Alltel, Little Rock, Ark., for core systems and banking applications.

Build-versus-buy economics drove the switch to an in-house image capture solution using a Bisys Document Solutions platform and an NCR iTran 8000 for item processing, imaging and sorting. "Before, we used an outsourced service provider that did our image capture and produced image statements," said Lewis. "We found it to be very expensive to deliver that same information to the desktop."

With the new system, research that may have taken up to a week now takes mere seconds. "Anything that passes through the NCR iTran 8000, we're able to pretty much immediately pull that image up at our desktop throughout our organization," said Lewis. "Having that type of processing power is significant for our institution."

Specifically, associates at the bank have the ability to verify signatures, research statements, and view cleared checks from their own computers. "Customer service representatives will no longer need to call and request imaging-related research from another branch or office," said Iris Goodly, vice president and operations manager.

Furthermore, statement and item images can be placed on the bank's Internet site, powered by Digital Insight, Calabasas, Calif. Virtually all of the bank's customers receive check images rather than original checks in their statements, and the bank has concrete plans to encourage more of its customers to completely move to the electronic channel for customer contact. "We'd like to be able to decrease our mailing costs by getting more customers used to having their statements delivered to them on the desktop," said Lewis.

Protection against mail fraud will comprise part of the bank's marketing effort around the online bank statement. "You no longer have to worry about someone getting your bank statement out of your mailbox, or it being mailed or delivered to the wrong place," said Lewis. "If you've got it under password protection, and you can either pull it or have it pushed to you in an electronic format, you know you're the only person who's going to gain access to your checking statements."

Although only 10 percent of Citizens Trust's customer base uses Internet banking, the bank anticipates significant growth over the upcoming year.

Customers at the branch will also benefit from the bank's relentless focus on technology. Citizens Trust plans to implement a new teller application from Alltel that promises to speed up the teller lines. "Our tellers won't have to concern themselves with consignment items any longer," said Lewis. "If they need to produce a money order or a cashier's check, they'll be able to do it from their teller window."

The new system also offers protection against fraud. "All of the cashier's check numbers will be in sequential order, regardless of the bank branch that they were issued from," said Lewis. "It's a further tightening of internal controls."

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