Improving communication can also improve business practices, as California Bank & Trust has found out.
When the San Diego-based bank fully implemented the online CBTrade system late last year it improved productivity and turn-around times, according to bank representatives.
Developed by La Jolla-based ExpresSoft, Inc., CBTrade is a Lotus Domino-based solution that has improved communication between customers and international offices to process letters of credit and other transactions for international trade clients.
ExpresSoft has developed trade services software since 1984 and currently has 10 banks nationwide that use its products.
The system is accessed through the Web and has provided customers with better access to account information.
According to Ron Kagan, president of ExpresSoft, the CBTrade system serves two main functions.
First, the system automates the bank’s back office enabling a bank to produce letters of credit, manage credit lines, and wire transactions overseas, Kagan said. Secondly, the system gives customers remote access to their accounts over secured Internet connections and facilitates overseas business-to-business transactions.
“The Internet is changing how banking is done. Banks will need to provide financing for the growing B2B (business-to-business) community,” Kagan said.
– Security Features
Security is another important aspect of CBTrade. Banking systems are carefully scrutinized and audited by the bank before being implemented, he said.
With Lotus Domino technology, ExpresSoft was able to further customize a layered approach to fit the bank’s security requirements, he said. For instance, no one has access to everything on the system.
“CBTrade is state-of-the-art banking for the Internet,” Kagan said, adding that it allows customers to perform real-time transactions and review export transactions in detail among other things.
He also said that the system is unique since it provides a seamless integration with the bank’s back-office processing. California Bank & Trust can begin to electronically process letters of credit from both the bank’s customers and their exporters immediately upon receipt over the Internet.
“That kind of seamless technology is rare these days,” Kagan said. “In the end, it benefits the B2B customer with quicker financing and more convenient access over the Internet.”
Since implementing the system, the bank has experienced a 40 percent increase in business without having to add staff, and productivity and efficiency have increased as well.
– System Improves
Mike Dunham, senior vice president of international bank, said the bank previously had only one workstation that could process letters of credit, adding that associates would often wait in line to use it. It was inefficient and unacceptable, he said.
Now, the bank can increase its current volume by three to five times, he said, adding that the system is centrally located in Los Angeles and accessible by any branch and customer through the Web.
Although the cost of the system was not disclosed, Dunham said he considered it to be relatively inexpensive, but well worth the cost.
A proposal currently before California Bank & Trust’s Utah-based parent company, Zions Bancorporation, offers to have all international transactions performed by California Bank & Trust. Dunham said that the new system could easily handle the volume.
The biggest challenge right now is shifting the image of the bank, he said.
Currently, the bank is trying to reestablish itself in the international community, Dunham said, adding that the bank is transforming itself from a community bank to an international one.
Gilbert Soria, a San Diego sales representative for California Bank & Trust, said the CBTrade capabilities are one of the first things he talks about with clients.
Although some are still hesitant to go from hard copy to electronic transactions, he said that little by little customers are embracing the system.