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Zero Balance Account (ZBA)

What is a 'Zero Balance Account - ZBA'

A zero balance account (ZBA) is a checking account in which a balance of zero is maintained by automatically transferring funds from a master account in an amount only large enough to cover checks presented. A ZBA is used by corporations to eliminate excess balances in separate accounts and maintain greater control over disbursements.

Explaining 'Zero Balance Account - ZBA'

Aside from when a check is written against the ZBA, the account is always maintained at a zero balance. This allows for greater control on the distribution of funds and limits excess balances from existing across multiple accounts. The ZBA's activity is limited to the processing of payments and is not used to maintain a running balance. This allows for a greater amount of funds to be available for use, such as for investment, instead of having small dollar amounts idle within a variety of subaccounts. Whenever funds are required in the ZBA to cover a check, funds are transferred from the master account in the exact amount required.

ZBA Use and Debit Cards

Using a ZBA to fund debit cards issued by the organization helps to ensure all activity on the aforementioned cards are pre-approved. Since idle funds are not present within the ZBA, it is not possible to run a debit card transaction until funds are supplied to the account. This can help manage business expenses by limiting the risk unapproved activities take place.

ZBAs as Budget Monitoring Tools

Since an organization may have multiple ZBAs, they can be created to assist in budget management. This can include creating a separate ZBA for various departments or functions, providing a quick way to monitor daily, monthly or yearly charges. Other reasons for creating a separate ZBA could involve the financial management of particular short-term projects or those at particular risk for unexpected overages as the use of a ZBA helps prevent excess charges without proper notification and approval.

The Master Account

The master account provides a central point for the management of funds within an organization. This account is used to send funds to any ZBA subaccounts as required. Often, the master account has other benefits over the subaccounts. This could include something as simple as a higher interest rate. By nature, a master account is not a checking account but some other more profitable vessel.


Further Reading


CASH MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AMONG SOUTHEASTERN COUNTY GOVERNMENTS: PROPER UTILIZATION OR EXCESSIVE CAUTION.
search.ebscohost.com [PDF]
… However, the number of imprest accounts should be kept to a minimum and the strategy should be to progressively transform these accounts into zero- 4.6. Transit accounts … A minimum, complete updated balance should be available daily. 6.2 … 5, No.4; November. 2015 …

A simulation model for a Cash Concentration and Disbursements SystemA simulation model for a Cash Concentration and Disbursements System
ieeexplore.ieee.org [PDF]
… However, the number of imprest accounts should be kept to a minimum and the strategy should be to progressively transform these accounts into zero- 4.6. Transit accounts … A minimum, complete updated balance should be available daily. 6.2 … 5, No.4; November. 2015 …

Indian Banking Sector Reforms and Current Status of Financial Inclusion: A T-Test ApproachIndian Banking Sector Reforms and Current Status of Financial Inclusion: A T-Test Approach
www.indianjournals.com [PDF]
… However, the number of imprest accounts should be kept to a minimum and the strategy should be to progressively transform these accounts into zero- 4.6. Transit accounts … A minimum, complete updated balance should be available daily. 6.2 … 5, No.4; November. 2015 …



Q&A About Zero Balance Account (ZBA)


What does ZBA stand for?

Zero Balance Account.

How do you transfer funds from the master account into the ZBA?

In exact amounts required.

What is a zero balance account (ZBA)?

A zero balance account is a checking account in which a balance of zero is maintained by automatically transferring funds from a master account in an amount only large enough to cover checks presented.

How can you have greater control with ZBA?

By limiting the activity to processing payments and not maintaining running balances, allowing for more funds to be available for investment instead of idle amounts within multiple accounts.

Why would you use ZBA?

To eliminate excess balances and maintain greater control over disbursements.

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