National Australia Bank is rolling out a new set of technology and financing initiatives for small and medium enterprises (SME).
The first of these initiatives, National Business Toolkit, enables SMEs to build an online presence and is available from the National's Web site. NAB says it is the first bank to provide such a service to the Australian SME market and aims to attract 90,000 users by September 2002.
Businesses can use the Toolkit to create their own Web site, register a domain name, establish an e-mail account, source their business supplies online, (electronic procurement), and access ISP and Website hosting packages. The software has been developed in conjunction with application service provider, Peakhour Australia Holdings, in which the National (through its subsidiary 02-e) made a $12 million equity investment late last year.
Further enhancements are planned for the Toolkit later this year, says the bank, including Internet banking, accounting software hire, online loan applications (personal loans, home loans and credit cards), online credit card payment service via National Secure Internet Payment Service and wealth management products (eg superannuation and protection insurance).
In a second initiative, NAB says it is to deploy a management accounting software tool - called Business Impact Scenario Tester - to its 1200 business banking managers, Australia-wide. Scenario Tester is now being used by the National's business bankers to show the impact of different financial scenarios on their customer's financial position and to improve risk profiling within the bank. A Web version is expected to come on stream in April.
Developed by the Melbourne-based company, InMatrix Technology, the software is commercially available under the Optimist 3000 brand and used by businesses, accountants, consultants and banks, worldwide. NAB took a 40% equity stake in InMatrix in November last year through its venture capital subsidiary, National Australia Investment Capital Limited.
In another move to support the SME market, the bank has earmarked up to $1 billion for lending in 2001 via a lending package called National Business Booster.
Mike Pratt, the National's chief executive officer, Australian financial services, says: "Customers are telling us they want more from their financial institution or lender. They are looking to have a broader relationship with us - one that extends beyond traditional bank products and services and enables them to embrace and capitalise on the opportunities that are emerging in new markets, particularly in e-commerce."