Seaside National Bank & Trust
Bank takes payment processing times from weeks to days with virtual credit cards.
In October of 2006, Seaside National Bank & Trust made history when it opened its doors as the largest de novo, federally-chartered bank in the United States. Since then, they have provided their clients with private and commercial banking products and services as well as wealth management and insurance solutions that rival that of large, regional banks.
As a testament to their dedicated approach to building client relationships, they also managed to maintain the same close-knit accounting department throughout those years of growth. Within their small team of four, the facilities director was handling most of the accounts payable (AP) and vendor management. Both functions were 100 percent manual and dominated by paper check payments.
With 14 offices across the state, the process for paper check approvals was incredibly labor intensive. First, invoices needed to be sent from regional offices to the branch office for approval. Then checks were printed, circulated for signatures, and finally put in the mail for delivery. Vendors were waiting two to three weeks to get paid.
“As a financial institution it’s really hard to explain how you can have money sitting right in front of you but you can’t pay your vendor right away.” said Nicole Hulbert, Senior Accountant with Seaside.
In November 2015, the facilities director sadly passed away. Suddenly the accounting department found themselves looking more closely at their AP processes, fixed assets, and prepaid systems. They knew they needed to make adjustments on how to manage things moving forward.
They looked at a couple of different options and decided they wanted to go paperless. Not only in AP with invoices and approvals, but also with payments.
In January 2016, Seaside found the solution they were looking for in the nation’s leading financial services accounts payable provider, BankTEL Systems. Through BankTEL’s ASCEND solution, Seaside could easily automate their workflow, including integrating electronic invoicing and approvals. Within the first year they added ACH. And while it was much quicker than paper checks, it was still taking 3-5 days to process and pay vendors.
BankTEL had recently entered into a partnership with Edenred Pay bringing virtual card payments to their ASCEND platform. Seaside was intrigued with this potential integration. Their only concern was the method of communication with their vendors and clients. Their highest priority was ensuring the appropriate handling of their relationships and maintaining their reputation of quality client service.
In October 2017, Seaside made the leap. The BankTEL ASCEND Accounts Payable module is integrated with Edenred Pay’s Payment Automation Platform, so the payment process was simple. Seaside processes payments as normal within BankTEL ASCEND, and the file is sent automatically to Edenred Pay for card distribution. Now Seaside is delivering payments in one business day with virtual credit cards.
The only thing Seaside needed to do to prepare for integration was review their vendor list to ensure the inclusion of only appropriate contacts. BankTEL ASCEND allows clients to create custom reports. This made it easy for Seaside to go through their vendor list and exclude vendors that would not be candidates.
“It’s not a time-intensive process. It’s not a new module integration. It’s seamless and painless.”
Implementation included a kickoff call between Seaside, BankTEL, and Edenred Pay and the entire training process took only 15 minutes. From the initial kick off call to when Seaside was up and running was only a couple of hours.
Seaside played a large role in their own vendor enrollment process beginning with an internal communications campaign. An initial email notification went out from Seaside explaining their intention of updating records and providing electronic payments.
As of January 2018, Seaside has a 10% enrollment rate, which they consider to be very good. Especially considering its introduction at the end of the 4th quarter. This is when many companies typically focus on an end-of-year push. They also have a vendor enrollment initiative scheduled for March 2018 to contact vendors that have expressed interest or whom they know would benefit from Edenred Pay’s virtual credit card payments.
Edenred Pay offers a cash rebate on all virtual card spend, allowing Seaside to increase revenue just by paying their vendor invoices.
Time and Money Saved
Not only did Seaside increase revenue by earning a cash rebate on payments, but they also eliminated costs associated with manual labor and time, as well as materials needed for printing paper checks. “My advice to other financial institutions considering this program is to just do it. If you’re already using BankTEL ASCEND, it doesn’t make sense not to.”