Monday, August 18, 2014

BofA ranks highest for small-business online experience

Bank of America has placed first on a scorecard of major lenders' online platforms for small businesses, the second year in a row the Charlotte bank has won the top spot.

The scorecard, by Web analytics company Keynote, examines the experience of small-businesses banking online -- via desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices. Keynote provided the Observer an early look at the results, which are expected to be widely distributed this week.

The annual scorecard, in its ninth year, ranks the seven largest U.S. banks for their online offerings to business with annual revenues of roughly less than $1 million each. Banks are scored in four categories: functionality; ease of use; privacy and security; and quality and availability.

Online banking has become one of the most competitive areas for lenders as they try to differentiate themselves to customers, Keynote said in a press release. Banks are especially competitive when it comes to small-business banking, a market that is "robust" and growing rapidly, the firm said.

One way banks have improved the experience for small-business customers is by integrating their small-business platforms with their platforms for regular consumers, allowing small-business customers to view their business and personal accounts with greater ease, Susan Foulds, Keynote's lead analyst for the scorecards, said in an interview with the Observer.

Some banks have not always gotten it right when it comes digital offerings to small businesses, Foulds said.

“It’s been a struggle for the banks on what to offer their small-business users," she said. "Either it was extremely consumer-focused or, at the other end of the spectrum, platforms for larger business and corporate treasury platforms where it would really take a finance degree to be able to maneuver through that.

"They are now striking the right balance, or many of the banks are.”

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo placed second, unchanged from its ranking last year.

Keynote did not provide rankings for the other banks it analyzed: Capital One Financial Corp., Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co., PNC Financial Services Group and U.S. Bancorp.