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Bank Outsources E-Commerce

Branch Banking & Trust, the nation's ninth largest financial holding company, said its new electronic commerce service will automate payables and receivables and allow customers to communicate electronically on any software platform they choose.
Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T) is launching an integrated payables and receivables services for its customers, and will outsource e-commerce functions to GXS (formerly Global Exchange Services Inc.), which will provide the infrastructure for the offerings.

BB&T said it is the ninth largest financial holding company in the nation with more than $107 billion in assets.

The new electronic commerce service will automate payables and receivables and allow customers to communicate electronically on any software platform they choose. "For customers making payments, this will reduce manual entry and streamline processes, so they won't have to worry about three separate transmissions or formats as they did in the past," said Mark Schuch, BB&T's vice president of treasury management, on Friday. "It will work similarly for receivables. We can consolidate to one file format and send to our client so they don't have to worry about three separate feeds in multiple formats."

Those multiple application-specific formats include SAP, Oracle, or JD Edwards, or industry-specific electronic file transfer formats (EFT) such as EDI, CIDX, PIDX, RosettaNet, or AS2. The offering is being made possible by a service offered through GXS. The service provider works as a network work hub that will allow BB&T's customers to transmit data on any software platform. GXS software converts the information into readable formats.

Moving to standardize processes will enable BB&T's customers to send one file transfer containing multiple payment types, such as automated clearing house (ACH), wire, and check payments.

B2B managed service providers are emerging as a viable and effective option for enabling B2B e-commerce within and across trading partner communities, according to the research firm Yankee Group.

"The next phase is Web payments and activities to allow clients to receive remittance data on the Web, so they can print or download to an Excel spreadsheet," Schuch said. "Many of these customers now use faxes, but want a simple method to receive information electronically."

BB&T customers will have an option to access a secure Web site, log in, and view remittance data. Schuch hopes to begin testing the Web portal service between January and March.

There are an increasing number of financial institutions that are expanding their use of B2B e-commerce technologies to better serve business clients, according to Steve Keifer, GXS vice president of industry solutions and product marketing.

"We would have had to develop a proprietary system, but [by] outsourcing the function we can implement customers in weeks as opposed to months," Schuch said. "We hope this will save our customers money, too, because it will reduce their manual efforts."