Top 10 digital banking features preferred by small businesses

Are your digital banking offerings and features meeting the needs of your small business members? Are they attracting new ones? Alkami commissioned a research study in Q2 2023 with the goals of:

  • Identifying and understanding key pain points in the small business banking experience
  • Measuring interest in small business banking features
  • Identifying future trends and priorities for business banking

What we found might surprise you.

Here, you’ll find a recap of the top features small businesses want from digital banking and key takeaways and opportunities for credit unions.

The top 10 digital banking features preferred by small businesses

The survey revealed small businesses are most interested in banking solutions that focus on availability, efficiency, transparency and control. The top ten features they most covet, in order of importance are:

  1. Instant payments: Small businesses want payments that can be sent 24/7.
  2. Dual control for activities and transactions: This gives control over high-risk transactions by requiring approval from another authorized employee.
  3. Payee advanced notification of payments: It allows for visibility to all upcoming payments for payees to better manage their cash position by knowing about expected, upcoming payments.
  4. Ability to request limit increases: Flexibility to request payment or disbursement limit increases and have immediate notifications and visibility to the progress of these requests.
  5. Premium sub user management experience: Dual authorization on transaction submission is the most important feature in managing other users’ roles, access, actions and controls. 
  6. Digital business account opening: The ability to open a new account mostly or completely online.
  7. Card controls: Instant issuance of a company debit or credit card upon account opening from the financial institution.
  8. Business financial insights: Visibility to business health and performance with personalized suggestions for improvement.
  9. Multi-wire uploads and submission: Easily transition payments from one account or institution to another to increase payment efficiency.
  10. Multi-entity banking: Visibility across business and personal bank accounts a business owns with a single login.

Key opportunities and takeaways for credit unions

Speed of payments is essential. Speed is ranked very high on small businesses’ list of banking priorities, but their satisfaction with the current speed of their banking ranked low. Now is the time to focus on this capability.

Technology will grow in importance. Small businesses are already experiencing market shifts in artificial intelligence automation, data and online experiences as a result of digital transformation. But true digital transformation is a marathon — or maybe something longer — certainly not a one-year sprint.

High Net Promoter scores = marketing gold. The study revealed that 68 percent of respondents were very likely to recommend their financial institution. Use that high Net Promoter Score in your marketing, touting your happy members.

Opportunity to convert personal accounts to business accounts. The study showed that 39 percent do their business banking via their personal accounts, and an additional 30 percent have done so in the past. Reach out with the benefits of opening a business account in addition to their personal account. Review your business account fees and opening process to find efficiencies that may make opening a business account more attractive.

Small businesses want their financial institution to reach out with relevant offers. The survey found 86 percent want suggestions for loan products and pre-approved loan offers, and 88 percent want financial wellness tips based on the financial institution’s understanding of their financial health and needs. The market is there, waiting for you to take advantage of it.

Most small businesses are open to business loans with any type of financial institution. The top barrier to loans with smaller institutions is based on product perceptions. The majority of survey respondents, when presented with all types of institutions and asked about their likelihood to consider applying for a business loan with them in the next 3-6 months, answered that major national banks and regional or community financial institutions (RCFIs) were nearly equal in likelihood, both beating out online-only banks. As a follow up to those who said “probably would not” or “definitely would not” to RCFIs, 36 percent of those said they lack the products or services the business needs.

Through this survey and careful analysis of the data, we can conclude that small businesses are generally satisfied with their banking experience. However, there is an opportunity for financial institutions to grow their accounts, increase product usage and attract new small businesses by focusing on providing a top-of-the-line digital banking platform, and by utilizing marketing campaigns that educate small businesses on the benefits of banking with small to mid-size financial institutions.


SOURCE: This survey included participants from 400 small businesses in the U.S., all of whom worked full-time or were self-employed at businesses with fewer than 300 employees and who were involved in the company’s lending and banking decisions.

Learn more about Alkami’s Business Banking Solutions.


Contact the author: Alkami

Contact the author: Alkami

Kristen Bryce

Kristen Bryce

Kristen Bryce is the Senior Product Marketing Manager at Alkami with expertise in commercial banking, treasury management, and security and fraud protection. She specializes in integrated go-to-market strategy execution and ... Web: Details