Online banking started as and continues to be primarily a consumer-targeted service, but the vital business banking sector is increasingly becoming a focus for banks big and small. If you're one of the millions of start-ups considering using an online bank, it can be difficult to decide which one of the local, regional or national banks will be best. In the table below, we make that choice a little easier by comparing and contrasting key features of the online offerings of some of the nation's biggest banks.
You'll see that you can do a lot of banking-probably far more than you would imagine-using only your PC and an Internet connection. And if you don't see what you need in the way of online access to banking services and information, be patient: John Hagerty, vice president of e-business applications at Boston research firm AMR Research Inc., says banks are preparing to offer online services that simply couldn't have existed before the Internet.
Can you imagine a bank that not only handles your checking account, but also supplies you with a third-party-hosted Web site and e-commerce software? That's already here. Before long, says Hagerty, banks that find instant financing for your customers' e-purchases, using online credit auctions to make sure your valuable customers get the best deal available, will be commonplace. "This stuff is just starting," he says. "Banks are realizing they can either be a commodity, or they can help make markets. Those that have foresight are choosing to facilitate commerce as opposed to just being there."
So here's our list. Note that basic business banking services are free at all these online banks, with occasional extra fees charged in some cases.