Business Value-Added Checking: Pros & Cons5 min read

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2019)

Business Checking. The basic model hasn’t changed much in, oh, forever. So, what’s new? Well, FinTechs and neo-banks are finding a number of opportunities. They’re simply cloning the existing template, while making all aspects easier, faster, less costly and more convenient.

Unsurprisingly, these companies are increasingly gaining market share. What can you, as a “traditional” financial institution, do about it? Great question. One possible solution is a Value-Added Business Checking model.

In this climate, increasing revenue, or non-interest or fee income, is vital to the health of your institution. However, unlike personal accounts where debit card use can generate interchange fees, that is simply not the case with business accounts.

Based on a similar consumer-focused model, adopted by over 600 institutions, is a value-added checking account. With this value-added account, the account holder pays a monthly fee, and in return, receives a high-value benefits package.

What’s Included For Businesses:

  • Cash flow tools
  • Data breach solutions
  • ID Theft Monitoring & Recovery (for business owner)
  • Online business loan options
  • Even discounts on healthcare, shopping, and dining…
    • All available as employee perks!

Attaching value-added benefits to your basic business checking account differentiates your institution, while generating a substantial new revenue flow of non-interest income.

So, what are the Pros and Cons of moving to this model?

Pros of Value-Added Business Checking

Here are some of the advantages of moving to the value-added business checking model:

Income

Historically, a value-added checking solution generates more income than other models. As it is simply attached to your account, your institution is free to offer other benefits, such as high-interest or relationship rewards.


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Branding & Marketing

The value-added package is a sales point for your institution, helping you stand out from the crowd. People pay for value. Consider Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify, Apple Music, and the countless subscription box services (my skin has never felt so soft!).

Differentiate

Remember the Fintechs (and non-banks)? Sorry to say, but you’re not going to outspend nor out-innovate them. However, you can differentiate and claim your share of the market. Gaining a business customer also opens the door to gaining their personal banking business as well (not to mention all their employees!).

Accountholder Value

How? Recall how many institutions use these programs…600 and growing, with several million account holders. That’s true economies of scale.

Safe

What’s the value to you of a data breach solution? Or coverage for unauthorized electronic fund transfers? To your business clients, as that card services company likes to say, “Priceless”. Conveniently, you can offer it for a lot less.

For example, the service we represent shares their entire benefit package for about $3.50 per month, per account holder. Our experience shows the ideal retail price for it all is $10.

Accountholder Loyalty

You’re all about keeping the account holders you already have. Smart plan. It’s likely your business owners will get used to (and find more peace of mind) with this helpful suite of benefits.

Historically, value-added checking sees high retention, typically around 92%.

Plus, for their own business, offering healthcare, dining, and shopping discounts can assist them in both hiring and employee retention (making your institution even more the hero!).

Reduce Institution Cost

Why do financial institutions offer ID theft and data breach protection as core benefits? Because dealing with these things costs everyone a lot of money. Banks and credit unions pay billions of dollars a year as a result of fraud, and those costs keep rising.

Fraud costs can include a range of expenses, including replacement cards, losses applied to your institution, and staff time necessary for these tasks.

Proactive efforts to protect account holders from fraud save money in the long run, and when combined with the added revenue of value-added monthly income, the savings can really add up.

Sounds great, right? Of course it does. Those are the Pros of Value-Added Business Checking! Let’s take a look at the downsides so you can decide if it makes sense at your institution.

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Cons of Value-Added Checking

Here are some of the cons of moving to a value-added checking system.

Change

It’s hard for all of us. Business owners included! This can be even more true if they are an existing free account holder that’s getting converted to fee-based. Communicating the change, benefits, and any alternate options (if desired) is key to assuring your account holder it’s all in their best interests.

Time & Resources

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These include staff training as well as any internal setup or coding for the new account type. Plus, marketing, outreach, and temporary staff to address the influx of account holder questions (across all communication channels). Additionally, a one-time setup fee, as much as $10,000, may be required to get the system going.

NSF Activation

There is a small chance that the value-added fee itself can trigger a non-sufficient funds scenario. To avoid this situation, code the system to not debit the fee if the account is below a certain level. Then, ensure an alert goes to your staff prompting communication with that account holder.

Fallback Account

Let’s imagine a scenario. Your institution currently offers a free business checking account. It gets “converted” to a value-added fee-based account.

If, after learning about the benefits, an account holder still does not want, it’s important to offer a free “Fallback” account.

In this situation, the account must be “materially different” for regulatory reasons. A simple way to achieve this is providing different perks, such as charging for paper statements or altering the fee structure when the account exceeds its free transaction threshold.

Delighting Your Business Checking Account Holders

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So happy they’ll bake you cupcakes!

Value-added checking is one way a bank or credit union can attract and retain business customers. The race to the bottom to provide free checking appears to be over, and business customers want more from their bank than just a giant safe.

Providing valuable services for a fee that delight your members/customers simply makes Business Sense.

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Want to dive deeper into the Value-Added Checking topic? Take a look at these essentials: