Running a small business is hard. Finding the right bank shouldn’t be.

We’ve been on both sides of the table, 25 years running a small business, 5 years working in a bank, and 25 years advising banks on their digital retail banking and lending services.

For much of that time, we’ve kept a list of digital features that small businesses can benefit from. Here is the latest iteration of what should small business owners should look for in a bank (digital or traditional).

Must-have features:

  1. Email/SMS customer service (extended business hours)
  2. Bullet-proof fraud protection (no cap in maximum dollars*)
  3. ACH/electronic payments*
  4. Bill payment*
  5. Two-factor authentication
  6. Immediate funds availability (with limits)
  7. Customizable alerts
  8. Downloadable transactions (common file formats)
  9. Fraud transaction scans
  10. Wire/real-time transfers*
  11. Mobile app
  12. Mobile deposit capture
  13. Long-term (5+ years) transaction/statement archives
  14. Sortable/searchable data
  15. Debit card

Should-have features:

  1. Invoicing/bidding with embedded payments*
  2. Lifetime statement/transaction archives
  3. Dedicated banker(s) you know by name
  4. Card processing*
  5. Overdraft protection*
  6. Positive pay for all items
  7. Credit/charge card*
  8. Weekend customer service
  9. Enhanced customer service*
  10. Enhanced security*
  11. Access on/off switch
  12. Custom permissions (for third-party access)
  13. Basic accounting features*
  14. Feeds/integrations to major accounting services*
  15. Expedited dispute resolution*
  16. Transaction annotation
  17. Daily statement delivery (email)
  18. Transaction filing system
  19. Transaction display prioritization (shows most important transactions first)
  20. Three/four-factor authentication for large transactions
  21. Annual transaction and account summaries
  22. Automatic deposit sweep features
  23. Credit monitoring/alerts (personal, family & business)*
  24. Unlimited deposit sub-accounts
  25. Emergency security contacts (“break glass in case of fraud”)*

Nice-to-have features:

  1. Invoice financing*
  2. 24/7 customer service*
  3. Commercial lending*
  4. Commercial insurance*
  5. Equipment financing*
  6. Rewards
  7. Transaction feed
  8. Business dashboard*
  9. Employee expense management*
  10. Customer management features (basic)*
  11. Payroll features (basic)*
  12. Tax features (basic)*
  13. Automated savings plans
  14. Interest on deposits (bonus if pegged to independent standard)
  15. International transfers/remittances*
  16. Deposit locks (requires second-party authentication to release)*
  17. Token-based account access option*
  18. Account aggregation of other financial institution accounts*
  19. Preformatted forms*
  20. Credit options for your customers (e.g. buy-now-pay-later lending)*
  21. Messaging integrated with billpay & invoicing*
  22. Buyers’ assurances (e.g., ecommerce seal of approval)*
  23. Business credit information hub (access to Dun & Bradstreet, Cortera, etc.)*
  24. Aggregated loan management dashboard (monitor credit from all sources in one dashboard)*
  25. Virtual safe deposit box to store important documents*
  26. Premium/VIP client service option*
  27. Virtual card numbers*
  28. Advanced accounts receivables tools*
  29. Advanced bookkeeping/accounting tools*
  30. Receipt capture/upload*
  31. Cash deposit via retail network (eg. GreenDot)
  32. Crypto exchange/safekeeping*

*Extra fees and service charges could be assessed