According to the report, titled "Becoming a Trusted Advisor: The Evolution to Bank of America's Small Business Online Community," only recently have banks begun considering the unique needs of small-business customers. Now, to woo this lucrative segment, banks are developing online banking applications specifically for the small business, and are offering products such as remote deposit, health savings accounts, payroll cards, and online payroll. By using both innovation and a strong understanding of small-business pain points, Bank of America has been able to not only differentiate itself in the marketplace, but also continue to grow small-business revenues. The launch of Small Business Online Community, an unbiased social networking site powered by Bank of America in which small businesses can share ideas, get expert advice and learn from each other, illustrates the bank's desire to be more than simply a provider a banking products and transactions but instead, a trusted partner and advisor.
"Banks need to use innovation to set themselves apart from their competitors in today's challenging small-business banking marketplace," says Christine Barry, research director for Aite Group and author of this report. "Bank of America serves as a good example of a bank that continues to think 'outside the box' by applying its knowledge of small-business needs to the creation of new products and services. Those banks not willing or able to follow a similar approach will find it increasingly difficult to retain existing customers and grow their businesses in the future."