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Five Benefits of “Positive Pay” Services

Five Benefits of Positive Pay Services

There are more than five benefits of Positive Pay services to your business customers. But in this blog, we focus on the top reasons community banks and credit unions must offer this important service. Let’s start by defining what is the Positive Pay service.

What is Positive Pay?

Simply put, Positive Pay is like the fire insurance on your home you hope you never have to use. For businesses, it’s their assurance that only the checks they write and only Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions they initiate will be paid by their institutions. Any checks or ACH transactions not authorized by the company return unpaid. The financial institution then files a “Suspicious Activity Report” (SAR) to alert government officials about the fraudulent transactions.

Technically, the business uploads a file with the list of checks to the financial institution. The institution matches items clearing against the authorized list and alerts the business of any discrepancies. The business then decides which items to pay or return. That is Regular Check Positive Pay. The Reversed Positive Pay, the institution initiates the list of items clearing that day. The business then tells the institution which ones to pay or return.

Below are five benefits of “Positive Pay” services and how they benefit both the businesses and institutions:

Check and ACH fraud is significantly lower.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an alert to financial institutions in February 2023 about the alarming increase of “mail theft-related check fraud.” (FIN-2023-Allert003) Financial institutions must be vigilant in identifying and reporting any activity related to check fraud. And it’s happening the old fashion way—checks stolen from the U.S. Mail!

In talking with our clients, they are also experiencing an increase in fraudulent ACH transactions. The good news is that there is help! Financial institutions can offer the Positive Pay and ACH Positive Pay services for businesses to protect them from both check and ACH fraud.

Positive Pay protects both the businesses as well as the financial institutions.

As one can imagine, implementing this service on business checking accounts can save businesses millions of dollars. In addition, one fraudulent transaction can cost a business a monumental amount of time researching and closing old accounts. Once a business experiences fraud, the institutions require them to close the affected accounts and open new ones. This creates a huge amount of work for both the business and the institution. Implementing Check and ACH Positive Pay services on the main business operating account always pays off.

Increased internal controls for businesses.

A bank client once shared that a business customer used to “pre-sign” checks and leave them with his bookkeeper. During his vacation, the owner called the bookkeeper and asked her to issue a check as a matter of urgency. The bookkeeper happened to also be out of the office. She asked her assistant to “go to her desk and open the drawer where she would find several pre-signed checks.” The bookkeeper’s assistant issued the urgent check as requested. But she also issued a check payable to herself for $3,500.00!

When the check cleared and the customer found out about the fraudulent check, he contacted the bank in a panic. Guess what? The bank was not liable for this fraud and the customer had to absorb the entire loss. The bank offered this business customer the Positive Pay service and he declined it. The business owner pre-signed a legitimate check. Therefore, although the check was not fraudulent, the employee committee check fraud. If this customer had Positive Pay, he would have found out the very next morning and the check would not have been cashed. Small Businesses are notorious for not having internal controls in place and Positive Pay forces them to implement minimal controls.

Increased non-interest fee income for financial institutions.

Financial institutions are starving for additional non-interest income and Treasury Management (TM) services precisely bring that! Positive Pay is one of many TM services that businesses can benefit from. But all these services cost money to implement and to support. Therefore, institutions should charge business customers appropriately. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Most community banks and credit unions give it away for free. They should ask their business customers if they give away some of their products to their customers. I guarantee they would say “no, of course not”!

An opportunity for financial institutions to partner with businesses in the fight against crime.

The goal for business bankers should be to become partners with their business customers. Community banks and credit unions have an incredible opportunity to do so by offering Treasury Management services to their business customers. However, bankers must receive training to understand and value each service that helps businesses succeed. TM services allow businesses to accelerate their receivables, control their disbursements optimizing their cash flow management. In addition, TM services like Positive Pay protects businesses from losing money and time due to check and ACH fraud.

There are more than five benefits of “Positive Pay” services  to business customers. I hope these top five benefits encourage your institution to share the value of Positive Pay with your business clients. They will then consider you a valuable partner in their business.

Looking for ideas to expand your Treasury Management reach to new business customers? Look into the TMClarity Framework, our comprehensive and transformative training and Treasury Management business management system that leads to greater sales success, higher margins, and increased customer retention in a competitive marketplace.

6 Reasons to Increase Your Training Budget

6 Reasons to Increase Your Training Budget

Increased employee engagement through education and training is a brilliant strategy. Yet one of the first budget items to go away in tough times is the education and training budget! Why is that? Because community banks and credit unions may not have discovered the true value of continued education and training for their employees. Below are 6 reasons to increase your training budget, or at least continue, your education and training budget during tough economic times.

1. Education and training are different. You need to do both.

Education is more formal in that your employees obtain a college degree or a specific certification in their field. Examples of formal education are a Compliance and Bank Secrecy Act Officer Certification, Commercial Lending School, Financial Management School, Human Resources Certification, Community Bank IT Security Officer Certification, and others.

Training is more informal where your employees attend seminars, webinars, workshops, or simply have one employee train another. Training ensures the standardization of your internal processes and procedures across branches.

2. Education keeps your employees’ minds learning.

The more employees learn the more they learn. In other words, as employees attend training in various areas, employees’ minds open to learn even more. Learning is a tool to keep your employees engaged in their specific jobs and also to learn about other areas of the institution they may want to move to later.

3. Continued and ongoing training creates a culture of cross-training.

The goal in cross-training everyone in the organization is for your customers or members to always be serviced, regardless of who is in the office or out. At the same time, you may find that the person who is cross trained actually performs the duties better than the incumbent. This is good to know in case the employee in that job leaves the organization. You then have an automatic backup already trained. Make sure to add in everyone’s job descriptions that cross-training is part of their jobs so no one can say they didn’t know that learning or doing somebody else’s duties was not part of their job.

4. Education and training create a pipeline for succession planning.

When everyone knows somebody else’s job, they may share their interest in someday doing the other job at some point. Or, at a minimum, they will enjoy performing the other person’s job as a backup and not feel inadequate during that person’s absence. The cross-training culture naturally creates a pipeline for succession planning because the leaders can take notice of who performs each job best. Similarly, cross training opportunities create career paths for everyone.

5. Continued education and training result in a culture of engagement.

A culture of cross-training produces a culture of employee engagement. Employees appreciate that the organization invests in them to train them and give them the tools necessary to succeed in their jobs. Even if they end up leaving, they will never forget that you provided these opportunities to learn. But most likely, they will want to stay to continue learning. Their increased loyalty may lead to new potential career paths they didn’t plan without the additional training.

6. Tracking education and training results in increased credibility with your regulators.

And as an added bonus, when regulators see a robust education and training program, it shows your commitment to investing in your employees, which results in a more safe and sound institution. The more trained your employees are the less errors they will make with account holders. That in turn leads to increased customer satisfaction and potentially higher profits for your institution.

I hope this blog encourages you to keep your education and training budget, and hopefully increase it, during tough times. Employee engagement is a retention strategy. And you can attain increased employee engagement through education and training.

Books by Marcia Malzahn