British banking group HSBC is reporting surging demand for its newly launched Internet and telephone-based commercial bank account, BusinessDirect, as more businesses shy away from expensive branch-based services.
During a three month trial-run, over 10,000 firms signed up for the account, and over over 3500 were first-time customers, says HSBC.
Alan Keir, general manager, HSBC Commercial Bank, says the BusinessDirect account caters specifically for businesses that don't visit branches or use cheques and cash "and quite rightly don't see why they should have to pay for services they don't use".
"We expect that almost half of Britain's 1.7 million small and medium-sized companies will want to bank directly by 2010 and with 51% of our customers already banking online, demand for this kind of service is clear," says Keir.
HSBC says the latest enhancements to its direct banking services enable customers for the first time to create or amend a new standing order and stop a cheque online. Users can also view all balances on their commercial cards as well as see current transactions and the last six months' statements for each card.
In May the bank began issuing Vasco's two-factor digital authentication tokens to business customers in the UK to provide secure access to Internet banking services. Over 70,000 'one time password' (OTP) tokens have been activated since. The bank says it expects to have migrated over 180,000 business customers to the new system by year-end.
At the end of August, HSBC opened the first of 80 out of town commercial banking centres scheduled for introduction in the next 18 months.