In the ’90’s having access to your checking and savings accounts via the Internet was practically unheard of. Today, nearly all banking institutions provide customers 24/7 access to checking and savings accounts in order to stay competitive. So what’s the next tech step for banks – particularly business banks? Total bank automation.
In January, Service1st Bank of Nevada opened its doors to customers throughout the state with a bang. The bank, which launched with more than $50 million in capital – the most recorded by a bank created in Nevada – reported more than $90 million in assets within the first six weeks of its operation.
According to President Stuart Olson, the bank’s early success can be attributed to two things: relationships and technology. “It was clear to us that, while we would concentrate on customer service as a business-oriented bank, we needed to step up the service department,” Olson said. “We knew when we opened we had to be the state’s foremost service leader when it comes to offering technology-savvy banking services.” To date, Service1st Bank of Nevada is the only bank in the state to offer a comprehensive degree of Internet-accessible cash management services to its customers.
Although Nevada’s growing business banking market is a driving force behind the banking industry’s incorporation of new technology, Olson said some banks are reluctant to change. “To implement the technology is time consuming and costly – but worth it if you’re willing to do it,” Olson said. “We knew when we opened the doors that Service1st Bank of Nevada had to adapt to technology quickly.”
The bank did just that. “Online services are in high demand by businesses,” said Michael Becknell, senior vice president and cash management officer for Service1st Bank of Nevada. “To have the ability to process remote deposits, view transactions immediately, originate deposits, make stop payments, have automated reconcilement capability and more without stepping foot inside a bank branch can have a positive and immediate impact on any business and its operating efficiency.”
Becknell and Olson, both of whom have worked in the banking and finance industry in Southern Nevada over the last 20 years, credit the Internet-based services and customer relationships to the bank’s success. The bank made Internet technology central to its corporate philosophy to accomplish several objectives: to better serve customers; cut operational costs; and manage competition. “Automation is key to any service or product a bank has today,” Olson said. “Technology has shifted from serving as a business enabler to a business driver, which is why you must think beyond the basics in technology if you want to remain competitive.”
According to Olson, today’s business banking customers don’t want to go to the bank. They want access to all their financial information at any time, any day, and that information needs to have the ability to work with a particular company’s accounting software and operational needs. But providing technology isn’t enough, which is why it’s crucial to maintain customer relationships, too.
Although Service1st Bank of Nevada spends a good portion of its time reinforcing its position as a technologically-advanced financial system provider and Internet-friendly, independently-owned bank, the bank’s team also invests time in providing instruction and guidance to customers on how to use the bank’s services. “Regardless of all the bells and whistles we provide, it still all comes down to relationships,” Olson said. “Without relationships, we wouldn’t know what the market needs in order to develop products and services, and we certainly won’t continue to grow as quickly as we have without ensuring that the relationships with our customers, board, community and others are strong.”