In a business anything done financially affects cash eventually. Cash is to a business is what blood is to a living body. A business cannot operate without its life-blood cash, and without cash management, there may remain no cash to operate. Cash movement in a business is two-way traffic. It keeps on moving in and out of business.
The following is a list of services generally offered by banks and utilised by larger businesses and corporations:
Account Reconcilement Services: Balancing a checkbook can be a difficult process for a very large business, since it issues so many checks it can take a lot of human monitoring to understand which checks have not cleared and therefore what the company’s true balance is. To address this, banks have developed a system which allows companies to upload a list of all the checks that they issue on a daily basis, so that at the end of the month the bank statement will show not only which checks have cleared, but also which have not. More recently, banks have used this system to prevent checks from being fraudulently cashed if they are not on the list, a process known as positive pay.
Advanced Web Services: Most banks have an Internet-based system which is more advanced than the one available to consumers. This enables managers to create and authorize special internal logon credentials, allowing employees to send wires and access other cash management features normally not found on the consumer web site.
Armored Car Services: Large retailers who collect a great deal of cash may have the bank pick this cash up via an armored car company, instead of asking its employees to deposit the cash.
Automated Clearing House: services are usually offered by the cash management division of a bank. The Automated Clearing House is an electronic system used to transfer funds between banks. Companies use this to pay others, especially employees (this is how direct deposit works). Certain companies also use it to collect funds from customers (this is generally how automatic payment plans work). This system is criticized by some consumer advocacy groups, because under this system banks assume that the company initiating the debit is correct until proven otherwise.
Balance Reporting Services: Corporate clients who actively manage their cash balances usually subscribe to secure web-based reporting of their account and transaction information at their lead bank. These sophisticated compilations of banking activity may include balances in foreign currencies, as well as those at other banks. They include information on cash positions as well as ‘float’ (e.g., checks in the process of collection). Finally, they offer transaction-specific details on all forms of payment activity, including deposits, checks, wire transfers in and out, ACH (automated clearinghouse debits and credits), investments, etc.
Cash Concentration Services: Large or national chain retailers often are in areas where their primary bank does not have branches. Therefore, they open bank accounts at various local banks in the area. To prevent funds in these accounts from being idle and not earning sufficient interest, many of these companies have an agreement set with their primary bank, whereby their primary bank uses the Automated Clearing House to electronically “pull” the money from these banks into a single interest-bearing bank account.
Lockbox services: Often companies (such as utilities) which receive a large number of payments via checks in the mail have the bank set up a post office box for them, open their mail, and deposit any checks found. This is referred to as a “lockbox” service.
Positive Pay: Positive pay is a service whereby the company electronically shares its check register of all written checks with the bank. The bank therefore will only pay checks listed in that register, with exactly the same specifications as listed in the register (amount, payee, serial number, etc.). This system dramatically reduces check fraud.
Sweep Accounts: are typically offered by the cash management division of a bank. Under this system, excess funds from a company’s bank accounts are automatically moved into a money market mutual fund overnight, and then moved back the next morning. This allows them to earn interest overnight. This is the primary use of money market mutual funds.
Wire Transfer: A wire transfer is an electronic transfer of funds. Wire transfers can be done by a simple bank account transfer, or by a transfer of cash at a cash office. Bank wire transfers are often the most expedient method for transferring funds between bank accounts. A bank wire transfer is a message to the receiving bank requesting them to effect payment in accordance with the instructions given. The message also includes settlement instructions. The actual wire transfer itself is virtually instantaneous, requiring no longer for transmission than a telephone call.
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