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Kristi Nelson
Kristi Nelson
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Online Banking Plays Big In Peoria

South Side Trust and Savings Bank of Peoria, Ill., deployed a new Web banking system in an astonishing 28 days.

South Side Trust and Savings Bank of Peoria, Ill., broke a record in May, when it replaced its existing Internet banking and Web hosting service with one from FundsXpress. With 22,000 account holders, the bank was able to deploy the new system in an astonishing 28 days.

"It was our best one," said Chris Miller, vice president of sales and marketing at FundsXpress Financial Network, Austin, Texas. He credits the quick deployment to the bank's proactive approach. "When you have a bank that puts major effort behind the project and makes it a priority, we can do 28 days," said Miller.

Though FundsXpress' normal launch time is 60 to 90 days, 30- and 32-day implementations aren't uncommon. "Market share is pretty much saturated, so we're finding that we're getting more and more new sales from banks leaving existing vendors," said Colleen Dougherty, vice president of marketing at FundsXpress. "I think this is something that will be seen more often as banks change from vendor to vendor."

Why are they switching? According to Debbie Wikoff, electronic banking officer at $380 million South Side, there were a few things lacking in its existing product, which the bank had implemented more than two years ago. The biggest of those was bill pay. Although the bank had about 800 customers online, only a handful were using bill pay. "We really wanted to have bill pay available, and we just couldn't get that to work with the other system," she said.

Wikoff also wanted to offer South Side's 60 commercial customers online banking and move away from its dial-up system for services such as payroll and tax payments. "We would like to convert all of our current customers into banking online," said Wikoff. "We have not yet implemented that but we're going to in the next quarter. It will be something that's going to become available to them, and we'll ease them into that as well as our new ones."

After almost six months reviewing vendors, the bank purchased the FundsXpress Internet banking product, bill pay and cash management modules, as well as its Portana portal product.

The portal includes newsfeeds, life planning calculators, and online shopping opportunities integrated with transactional products such as Internet banking, bill payment, cash management, and online brokerage.

FundsXpress was ultimately chosen for its pricing and ease-of-use. It also helped that FundsXpress already had an interface with the bank's core processing system, eliminating many of the integration hassles.

The bank went ahead without doing a formal return-on-investment analysis, even though the new system is more expensive than the old one. "We needed the technology and features they were offering, because that's what our customers wanted," said Wikoff.

Prior to the conversion, customers were sent a letter explaining the changes, with details on how to access the new system for the first time. Wikoff chose to transition in mid-week rather than over a weekend. "We did it in the middle of the week simply because I didn't want it to go over a weekend where if people were having problems they couldn't contact us and get help."

Customers have all the services the old system provided-such as viewing balances and history, transferring funds, and making loan payments-plus some new ones. "We are now offering online statements, so they'll be able to view their statements online, as well as bill pay, which is one of the features we were really after," said Wikoff.

The FundsXpress commercial account application, when implemented, will provide those same services, as well as the ability to pay taxes online and cash management operations, including balance reporting, stop payment options, book transfers, wire transfers and ACH transactions.

South Side's marketing department is already working to recruit new online banking customers to improve cost effectiveness. Its campaigns include radio advertisements, billboards, and lobby signs.

FundsXpress is also pitching in with the recruitment effort. Its client executive team offers free marketing advice plus the ability to track success through usage reports and adoption metrics. "We go through with the bank to take a look at who's using it, what are they using and how they can improve customer adoption," said Dougherty. Those services are offered free, in addition to compliance and regulatory support.

INSTITUTION - South Side Trust and Savings

ASSETS - $380 million

BUSINESS CHALLENGE - Increase Internet banking usage among consumers and commercial customers.

SOLUTION - FundsXpress

KEYQUOTE - "We needed the technology and features they were offering, because that's what our customers wanted." -Debbie Wikoff, Electronic Banking Officer

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