basics of Internet banking, but there are more sophisticated tools and features available online.
Leading firms strive to build customer relations, both offline and online.
With a tight focus on saving customers' time, adding convenience and
providing advice, banks are actively building automated features as well as
decision support tools that empower customers to better calculate and
financially plan life events. By providing more sophisticated tools and
features online, customers have the ability to plan, finance and control
their accounts without ever having to pick up the phone.
Here are a few of the new features that give customers more control of their
Account aggregation: Sick of remembering all your user names
and passwords for your financial accounts online? Wouldn't it be nice if
you could combine your accounts into one place? A growing number of banks
provide consumers a consolidated view of all their financial accounts from
different institutions, including credit, loan and investment accounts.
Directbanking.com, Virtual Bank and Citibank (MyCiti) are among the banks
that offer account aggregation services. Directbanking.com, for example,
will categorize bank accounts and provide a financial snapshot of all
accounts held at various institutions.
Account aggregators help save time because you don't have to trek to each
institution's Web site to determine your financial position. Still ahead
- transaction capabilities that will allow customers to transfer money from
one institution to another within the same application.
Bill presentment: Your daily mail just got lighter? How? Using
electronic bill presentment, customers can receive and pay their bills
online. Scanned bill presentment enables customers to receive their bills no
matter how they originated. Bills are then converted (digitally scanned)
for online viewing.
Once customers login to their Internet banking accounts, they can review and
pay all their bills online. Depending on the biller's functionality,
payment is sent electronically or even via mail. Advanced setup time is
necessary to ensure timely delivery and processing.
Some firms, such as American Express and Wingspan, enable customers to
electronically receive and pay their bills online, while others use the
scanned bill presentment for all bills. Bill payments and presentment is
not free for all banking accounts. Prices can be up to $9.95 per month,
depending on your banking relationship.
Personal look and feel: Now you can get banking information the
way you want it. Many banks, such as Citibank, Clarity Bank and
directbanking.com now enable customers to customize their banking experience
online by setting their account view, adding local content and creating a
personalized home page. Customized home pages enable customers to receive
their account information, change color schemes, add/remove local content
and even build stock-watch lists. Customers can also set up a daily
planner, an address book and setup reminders for important days. Other
banks, such as American Express and E*Trade bank, enable customers to
personalize their account management area by nicknaming accounts (i.e.
Planning tools and advice: Building your financial plans online
is now a simpler process, with new breeds of planning tools and calculators.
Budget creators, loan calculators and savings calculators help consumers
plan out their monthly income and expenses.
SFNB, for example, introduced a planning section to its site this quarter.
In addition to the calculator component, SFNB provides a detailed
explanation of the results computed with each of its calculators. American
Express provides consumers with a slightly different approach that helps
them build a road map to reach their financial goals. This saved document
enables customers to periodically reference their "road map" without having
to recreate it.