Bank Web Sites Neglect Small Businesses

May 30, 2001 ( - Most banks lack a convincing online banking package for small businesses, a shortfall that hinders this group from forming deeper partnerships with financial services firms, a recent survey finds.

The study, which researched the effectiveness of banks’ online services in meeting the needs of small businesses, was undertaken by Speer & Associates, Inc (S&A), a financial services consulting group.

Based on an analysis of 100 commercial bank Web sites, the study found that, while some of the largest banks in the Americas demonstrate a commitment to small business banking, many opportunities exist that have yet to be leveraged.


The study focused on six evaluation categories and measured the proportion of banks where their online offerings were up to the expectations and sufficiently met the needs of the small business segment. The business segments and percentage of successful sites included:

  • 33% cash/investment management
  • 32% access to credit
  • 19% advisory services
  • 14% revenue enhancing services
  • 36% bill payment and expense reduction services
  • 21% administration and operational assistance

S&A also found that many institutions used the Internet as an marketing tool, relying on traditional channels such as the branch, telephone or calling officer for services.

Measuring up

In addition, the survey found that:

  • Major diversified banks, or those with assets larger than $100 million, had the most compelling sites, boasting a full array of financial and value-added services.
  • The small business online offerings of large US regional banks have below average transactional functionality. Their offerings focus on marketing financial services, rather than broader value-added features and functionality.

Mid-sized institutions deliver online services to small businesses less frequently than average in all six areas reviewed. 

While they keep up with the pack in traditional services, non-retail features such as online investments, merchant processing, or escrow accounts are lacking.