Running on Empty

Running on Empty

As Originally Published in Inc. Magazine

Running on Empty
A quick look at a bank online service that warns small-business owners when their accounts are dwindling.
From: Inc., Dec 1996 | By: Hal Plotkin

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Banks

At a focus group run by Terri Dial, a Wells Fargo Bank vice-chairman, to develop a new on-line service, small-business participants were talking about a test screen that warns users that they’re overdrawn. One participant said, “I want to know my balance is too low before I write the check. What this thing really needs is a gas gauge.” “It was such an obvious solution that we had to go with it,” says Dial. Now small-business owners can monitor their accounts in real time and be forewarned of dwindling cash balances before they bounce a check, by using Wells Fargo’s Business Gateway, a new on-line Windows-based banking service.

Wells Fargo is hoping the service will help it work profitably with small businesses, a group shunned by many financial institutions. Sharing information electronically can reduce the number of human-resources-draining calls and visits to branch offices. “There’s usually no real reason to visit or call the bank,” Dial notes, “if you already have a branch right on your desktop.”

About the Author /

hplotkin@plotkin.com

<p>My published work since 1985 has focused mostly on public policy, technology, science, education and business. I’ve written more than 600 articles for a variety of magazines, journals and newspapers on these often interrelated subjects. The topics I have covered include analysis of progressive approaches to higher education, entrepreneurial trends, e-learning strategies, business management, open source software, alternative energy research and development, voting technologies, streaming media platforms, online electioneering, biotech research, patent and tax law reform, federal nanotechnology policies and tech stocks.</p>