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I am reposting here a reply about new features at FIBI from Nicole, a FIBI representative. I thought it might be interesting for some TMF members.
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Online banking has certainly come a long way, and I feel that First IB has played a role in the evolution. We don't plan to rest on our laurels, I assure you. While the more obvious initiatives like wireless banking have gotten a lot of attention, we have also made a series of smaller enhancements designed to improve the user experience. For instance, we're finishing up an enhancement that will allow you to sort account history by description or amount in addition to the date sort we currently offer. We're also adding a user-defined "end date" for recurring bill payment transactions and a "yearly" frequency for auto-transfers. (We added yearly bill payment transactions earlier this year.) We will also be introducing wireless banking capabilities for Pocket PC users -- not this week, but soon.

Here are some quick updates/notes on other enhancements you requested:

1) Online Bill Payment tracking
As noted elsewhere on this board, Metavante is our payment processor; First IB does not process its own bill payment transactions. Currently, Metavante makes some cleared check information (the check number and date cleared) to our service provider (VIFI). This information is not currently available to First IB directly, but we can (and do) get this from VIFI when we need it.

Plans are in the works to make this information available first to bank employees. The second phase would be to make this information available to our end users, but that will be quite some time into the future, so much so that I don't even have a target date for delivery.

What we find, however, is that knowing when the check cleared is not always of much use to our customers. Say a customer initiates a bill payment transaction that is paid by check (about 60% are), and a couple of weeks later, the payee still claims not to have received the payment. Even if the customer could tell the payee, "Well, I see here that the check number was X and it cleared on MM/DD," that information may still not be enough for the payee to find the wayward payment and credit the customer's account. Ultimately, the only way an issue of this type is resolved is by giving the payee a copy of the check that cleared, which our payment processor will do if you file a bill payment inquiry with us through our website.

I do not know if Metavante has plans to offer images of cleared bill payment checks to our consumers. (At a minimum, I'd say don't count on seeing it in 2002.) As a user of bill payment, there is a part of me that likes having the payment processor take care of payment disputes for me -- less work for me! However, the control freak in me would like to see the image and handle the matter myself, so I definitely understand where our customers are coming from on this one. I personally have never had a single payment made through bill payment post late or not arrive at all (I just cursed myself, didn't I?), but it does happen.

2) Non Manual ACH deposit/withdrawals, including post date
We are actively looking into this with our service provider. We don't like the manual process any more than our customers do, believe me! Our service provider currently has a product offering for commercial/small business ACH processing that includes a "personal database" of ACH transfers so the user can select from a drop-down menu rather than key in account and routing numbers by hand. I have been told that individuals at our service provider are looking into the regulatory issues surrounding inter-bank transfers for consumers.

3) Secure bi-directional online bank mail
We have talked about this but do not have immediate plans to make this a project. We brought an email management system online earlier this year that allows us to track messages and respond more efficiently than before; however, all messages are handled through standard email and not a proprietary mail system.

Personally, and tell me what you think about this, I would usually rather receive messages through standard email because I check email constantly throughout the day. I have an account with another online bank that offers "bank mail," and I forget to check for new messages when I do go to that bank's site. Of course, I have to click into a couple of layers to get to bank mail (this other institution does not post a notice on the first screen I see to tell me I have bank mail), and I'm just not in that site too often. I use it as a forced savings and check-out-the-other-guy kind of account, so the questions I've had have never been of an urgent, transactional nature.

4) Information about holds on account
I believe this is coming. I'll have to check and get back to you on this.

5) Payee Database
Short answer: I don't think you will see this any time soon, if at all.

Long answer: Once upon a time, our service provider offered this. It was a long, long time ago, before First IB opened, and it was a something of an administrative nightmare. The database was available and customers could select from a list of existing payees or add a payee manually. Trouble is, any payee the customer added would automatically be appended to the list in the database. The address our payee displayed for some payees would not match the address appearing on an end user's bill (or the user didn't check the database), and our payment processor ended up with some outlandish number of entries for "Sears" and "American Express" and the like. I believe a representative of our payment processor told us at our last user group meeting that they're still cleaning up remains of the old database.

6) Email Alerts
I fielded this one in a response under the heading "Integration of Yodlee into FirstIB interface?" If you don't mind, I'm not going to re-type it here, simply because I've been typing for a long time, the heat in our building is inconsistent, and my fingers are starting to feel a little brittle.

7) "Upcoming features and service" web page
Hmmm...not a bad idea. I don't think we had considered this in the past. I'll have to think on this. Thanks for the suggestion!

8) Session time-out warning.
What do you have in mind? One handy feature we rolled out recently (and you may not have had this happen to you yet) is something we call SmartLogin. If you are on a certain screen in online banking and get timed out (say you get a telephone call while banking online and are distracted for 15 minutes), you'll be logged out of the system automatically. However, all you need to do is re-key your user ID and password back at the login screen, and your browser will be redirected to the screen you were on when you got timed out. We don't save the information you had entered pre-logout, but we do take you back to the same screen.

The SmartLogin has another application frequent users of ACH (or other specific features within our online banking system) would like. All you have to do is bookmark the on-demand deposits screen (rather than the log in screen). When you want to do an ACH transfer on-demand, you select that bookmark. Your browser will be pointed to the log in screen, and after you enter your user ID and password, we'll redirect your browser to the page you bookmarked, rather than the account summary, which is what you'd ordinarily see upon logging in. It's a useful tool for those of us at the bank trying to tell customers where to find things -- we can simply send a URL rather than explaining to click here, then there, then there...


I hope this helps, and I apologize if my answers ran a little short towards the end. So much to do on Monday mornings.

Nicole
First IB Marketing and Web Services
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