HERNDON, Va., Feb. 2 -- In a remarkable example of the country's movement to electronic payments, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage will process nearly 88 percent of its customers' payments electronically in the first quarter of 2004, compared with 81 percent by paper in the first quarter of 2000. In recognition of its accomplishment, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage will receive Nacha's 2004 George Mitchell Payments System Excellence Award. The award presentation will take place at Nacha's PAYMENTS 2004 conference in Seattle, Washington on March 22.
"Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has a long-standing commitment to enable its loan customers to make their payments when, where and how they choose," said Jerald Banwart, vice president of payment operations at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. "We offer our customers a full spectrum of payment options to meet their individual needs."
"Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has conclusively demonstrated that a company and its customers can both benefit by a commitment to electronic payments," said Elliott C. McEntee, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nacha - The Electronic Payments Association.
In the first quarter of 2000, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage embarked on a project designed to help customers move from paper to electronic payments. At the time, only 19 percent of consumer payments were collected electronically. By 2002, Wells Fargo was offering a full suite of electronic payments to its customers, including:
- Automatic Mortgage Payments - automatic monthly debits to checking accounts;
- Online Payments - electronic payments made over the Internet; * Just in Time Payments - electronic payments made by telephone;
- Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment - electronic statements presented online, follow by electronic bill payments;
- Wells Fargo Equity Enhancement Program(R) - automatic bi-weekly debits to checking account.
Through the availability of these electronic payment options, an additional 17 percent of Wells Fargo's payments shifted from paper to electronic. Still, 64 percent of payments in the first quarter 2003 were paper.
The company's next step was to implement check conversion at its lockbox payment processing sites. Check conversion is the process of using the routing and account numbers on a check to initiate an electronic payment. Nacha rules that became effective in March 2002 enabled accounts receivable check conversion (ARC). Wells Fargo implemented ARC at a first lockbox site in September 2003, and by January 2004 all but one of its lockbox sites had implemented ARC. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is now converting more than 2 million checks per month into electronic payments.
"Check conversion adds convenience to the mortgage process, and its implementation was seamless, without any impact to our customers," said Banwart.
With the implementation of check conversion, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage will process more than 11 million customer payments electronically in the first quarter of 2004. A detailed account of Wells Fargo's electronic payments project is posted on Nacha's web site at http://www.nacha.org.
Banwart added that other companies can achieve similar success with electronic payments. "Look at your paper-to-electronic payment ratio today, and envision what you want it to be a year or two down the road. Everything you need to dramatically change your payments picture is available now."
Each year Nacha presents the George Mitchell Payments System Excellence Award in recognition of individuals and organizations that have improved the nation's payments system. The award is named in honor of George Mitchell, former Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
About Nacha - The Electronic Payments Association
Nacha is the leading organization in developing electronic solutions to improve the payments system. Nacha represents more than 12,000 financial institutions through direct memberships and a network of regional payments associations, and 650 organizations through its industry councils. Nacha develops operating rules and business practices for the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network and for electronic payments in the areas of Internet commerce, electronic bill and invoice presentment and payment (EBPP, EIPP), e- checks, financial electronic data interchange (EDI), international payments, and electronic benefits transfer (EBT). Visit Nacha on the Internet at www.nacha.org.
About Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, is a leading originator and servicer of residential mortgages. A subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC), Wells Fargo Home Mortgage serves all 50 states through the leading mortgage lending network in the country, with a presence in more than 1,800 mortgage and Wells Fargo bank stores and on the Internet. Combined, its retail and wholesale lending operations provided funding for approximately one of every eight homes financed in the United States in 2002.