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R-G Premier To Offer Pooled E-Statements
A Philosophical Crusade
July 15, 2003
WASHINGTON -- A year after introducing consolidated account statements for its banking customers, R-G Premier Bank in Puerto Rico plans to take the concept online.
"People are getting used to doing electronic transactions. The next step will be receiving electronic statements," said Ivan Belez, the senior vice president of operations at R-G Premier.
The bank was already using Papyrus Document System software from the Austrian company Isis Papyrus Group to offer consolidated paper statements. R-G Premier added the electronic capability this month and has begun to beta-test it with employees, Mr. Belez said in an interview Friday. If the test pans out, it will start offering online statements to retail customers next month. The Web service will be marketed mainly through newspaper advertising.
He predicted a surge of activity on the bank's Web site. "That brings a lot of traffic to the site just out of curiosity," he said. "I have to be sure the site will support the traffic."
R-G Premier began offering consolidated statements last summer to reduce its mailings, Mr. Belez said.
In a dozen years it has grown from a $40 million-asset bank to a $6.1 billion-asset holding company -- R&G Financial Corp. of San Juan -- running separate mortgage, insurance, and investment operations for 500,000 customers. The profusion of products and services led to a surge in mailings, Mr. Belez said.
"It benefits the customer not to receive six different envelopes," he said. The average customer has three to four different bank products. The software can produce statements in multiple languages as well as a variety of targeted marketing messages. Some are seasonal, such as pitches to finance summer vacations, while others can be triggered by the status of accounts. A customer with a large checking balance, for instance, might receive an offer for a certificate of deposit, he said. "It needs to be intelligent enough to send a pertinent message to a particular customer."
R-G Premier produces statements in-house throughout the month. One of the challenges of using the software to offer consolidated paper statements was deciding which day of the month to send a statement to each customer, since different accounts have different closing dates.
"The trick is how you reconcile all the different deadlines of your statements," said Alfredo Rodriguez, the vice president and a principal of Caribbean Software Group, a San Juan company that works with the bank. "Sometimes you need to make some kind of compromise." At the start, Mr. Belez said, R-G Premier sought to consolidate everything into a single statement. "Then we realized you might have some accounts that you don't want combined." A husband and wife may have a joint checking account but separate retirement accounts.