Facing fervid competition, an ever-changing marketplace and customer demands for anytime-anywhere decision making, California Bank &Trust has added check image recovery to its online internally developed CalBank Network cash management product.
Digital document imaging-one of the industry's most popular technologies-grants commercial customers of the San Diego-based bank round-the-clock account access, allowing them greater ease in monitoring and managing their accounts.
"It brings that single access window to the bank for all but just a handful of our cash management needs," said Michael Campbell, senior vice president and manager of the corporate services group at CB&T, a subsidiary of Zions Corp., an $18.5 billion bank holding company. "It allows convenience, efficiency, and provides more information through a single access point. It allows us to provide more of what we like to call physical evidence of their activity."
Typically, customers waited for banks to send or fax statements to reconcile their accounts. "Before we couldn't give them that information as quickly," said Campbell.
Now the CalBank Network lets commercial customers obtain statements electronically as soon as the bank has originated them.
Check imaging will be available for balance reporting, letting customers view paid checks that cleared the night before; positive pay, including images of exception items; and stop payments for unpaid items. Customers can also retrieve images of items shown as paid and enlarge them to verify signatures and amounts, making pay-no pay decisions online. Customers can cancel dubious transactions immediately, instead of only when the bank is open, making imaging a valuable risk management tool.
"It's one of those sort of stations in your net for capturing fraud," said Campbell. "There is fraud detection software that would identify a suspect item because it fits certain characteristics. Then we have the positive pay piece from cash management that takes advantage of all those other systems and provides a customer that physical item. They can actually see the item that is suspect and that could potentially be a fraud item. Before, we couldn't provide those things because we couldn't give them an image other than faxing the photocopy of an item."
With $8 billion in assets and 99 branch offices, California Bank & Trust is one of California's largest commercial banks. It originated in 1997, the result of the merger of several banks.
CB&T first introduced its CalBank Network as a dial-up in 1999, offering it over the Internet through such browsers as Netscape and Microsoft Explorer in mid-2000. Its electronic-based services include wire transfers, book transfers, stop payments, international wires, account analysis, as well as the check image products, including positive pay, stop payments and balance reporting.
The bank has kept its cash management network flexible. Middle market and larger businesses can add services and other features to accommodate changing needs as they grow.
"You can add, you can delete options as needed," said Campbell. Basic cash management services, including imaging, cost about $100 a month but can go as high as several thousand dollars, depending on what a company opts for.
Money, said Campbell, remains the biggest challenge in running the CalBank Cash Management Network. "That's why a lot of banks hesitate to be out there on the leading edge, much less the bleeding edge, of this technology. It tends to be very expensive. Clients may say they really like it, but you just don't ever know how much of it you can sell, how you're going to sell it and who you're going to sell it to."
Despite financial obstacles, said Campbell, a cash management platform remains essential. "If you're going to be a commercial bank, you can't be without cash management. It's a requirement. In many cases, if you're after a prospect, cash management becomes as important or in some cases more important than even the credit side of the relationship."
And the CalBank Cash Management Network won't rest with check imaging. "We're always looking to add more functionality, " said Campbell. The bank will soon make digital certificates and digital signing available for what Campbell calls dollar-value transactions, which includes wire transfers and ACH settlements.
California Bank & Trust
Create image-based cash management service.
Adding an internally-developed imaging tool to its CalBank Network cash management product.
"If you're going to be a commercial bank, you can't be without cash management." -MICHAEL CAMPBELL, senior vice president
2001 CMP Media LLC. 7/1/01, Issue # 3807, page 44.