Another business site was launched on the Internet last week, this time by the Bank of Scotland and BT. The companies have partnered to target IT consultants with an on-line banking service and communications package.
Called Business Solutions - www.totalbusinessonline.co.uk - the site promises to "simplify business life and bring cost savings" to small- and medium-sized businesses by offering a range of services including on-line banking, business information and advice, training courses and discount travel.
Explaining the bank's decision to target those in IT with its joint venture, Colin Ewen, director of Direct Business Banking at the Bank of Scotland, says that a "huge chunk" of the division's clients are self-employed computer consultants for whom saving time and money is important. "Our research reveals that business banking can cost small businesses on average £1,000 per year. Using this service however, those costs can be reduced to virtually nothing, providing the consultant's bank balance is around £5,000 a month," he says.
According to Ewen, the Internet business banking service offers users an on-line cheque account, free electronic transactions, overdraft facilities, asset finance, business insurance, debt recovery, cashflow finance and a 24 hour telephone helpline.
Furthermore, he adds, interest rates are competitive, and range from up to 1.5 per cent on balances of £5,000, to 3.75 per cent on balances between £5,000 and £25,000, and 4 per cent on amounts over £25,000 but less than £50,000. Balances between £50,000 and £100,000 earn interest at 4.25 per cent, while 4.5 per cent is paid on amounts over £100,000.
Future additions to the site include a business "health check" service and an on-line accounting package.