Top 10 Mobile Banking Apps
BTN editors Penny Crosman and Mary Wisniewski have selected the ten most progressive mobile banking apps, taking into account application features, design and ease of use. (Image: Thinkstock)
Financial services providers have an advantage over the Groupons of the world. Why? They know what relevant deals people may want because they know what consumers are buying.A leader in the rewards space is American Express. It serves cardmembers rewards based on their locations, should they wish to use the geo-location service. The feature, called My Offers, combines Amex spend history with location information to provide discounts and recommendations of nearby merchants. In turn, customers click which deals they wish to get.
Why we chose it: BBVA Compass was one of the first U.S. banks to let customers enroll directly for mobile banking, rather than having to sign up for online banking first. It was one of the first to offer an app for the Amazon Kindle Fire.It has added user-friendly features like letting people flip through their check images and clearer legal disclosures. The bank is already on its second generation iPad app.
Bank of America
The bank added mobile check deposit last year to its app, a long-awaited catch-up move that was popular with its 12 million mobile customers. The mobile edition of Bank AmeriDeals offers a somewhat unique array of merchant-funded deals and cash-back rewards. The bank was one of the first to have a Windows 8 app. It has been refining the user interface of its iPad app based on customer feedback.
The card company and bank is one of the few that lets customers bump money between phones as well as make P2P payments. Its Purchase Eraser lets customers easily apply reward programs to old travel expenses.
City Bank Texas
You don't have to be a big bank to offer better mobile banking capabilities. City Bank, with more than $2 billion in assets, allows customers to do much more than "check account balance" through its mobile app.Like Simple, City Bank lets a customer flip a switch labeled "activation" to temporarily turn off a debit card, should he think it's lost. The bank also allows customers to unblock foreign transactions and view check images within the transaction history. The app also allows customers to glean info, like balances or reward checking status without logging in. That's a big deal. The design (which looks like a tic-tac-toe board) is clearer and crisper than most other banking apps' style sensibilities.
Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Mercantile Bank has been fearless about mobile innovation. It was the first bank to partner with PayPal; it provides PayPal mobile payments and an archive of past transactions on mobile devices. The bank is creating an "add to wallet" feature to let people use mobile payment options from Visa and Google. It's working on integrating its mobile banking app with Mint personal financial management software. And most interesting to us, it is building support for mobile video technology from uGenius. Such a video connection should be a large step toward user acceptance and general usefulness.
What sets Pageonce apart from other consumer-facing personal finance management software program, such as Mint, is the app lets people pay their bills and other people as well as pull all of their financial accounts into a single view. The Money & Bills app is meant to make the chore of paying bills less painful than what banks offer customers.The design of the mobile app surpasses many of its PFM peers, largely because the company's roots originated in building for mobile first.Pageonce's larger ambitions are to build a digital wallet. The startup, which has about 8 million users in the U.S., says it currently processes more than $1 million worth of bill payments per day. Pageonce, which lets users archive bills and schedule payments, offers phone and email support, should customer concerns arise.
It's the subtle design touches that makes Simple's mobile app a standout.
Like many banks, startup Simple's mobile app lets customers view transactions and find ATMs. Unlike many banks' offerings, the startup lets customers attach images to their transactions and block/unblock their debits cards (should a person think he lost his plastic and then find it later). It also offers a "Safe-to-Spend" feature, which tells consumers what they can afford, based on their account balances and scheduled transactions.Simple's app deserves praise for its minimalist design and for cutting down on banking jargon, which is often misunderstood and/or ignored by consumers.
USAA's mobile features continuously outpace its banking peers' offerings. The most recent tool coming to the San Antonio bank and insurance outfit's iPhone app is voice command.The Virtual Assistant, powered by Nuance Communication, will let members speak their banking commands, including bill payments, through the app. The enhancement is designed to require fewer steps to complete financial tasks than typed answers.In January, USAA started piloting a mobile feature that lets consumers use their smartphone's embedded camera to capture images of blank checks to help build USAA accounts while avoiding manual data entry.
*Use screenshot of voice command mobile app on server.
U.S. Bank was one of the first financial institutions to offer mobile deposit capture, P2P payments, e-billing and credit advances on mobile. It's also one of the few banks gaining revenue from mobile banking - it charges a 50 cent fee for each mobile check deposit. It will be the first large bank to offer photo mobile bill pay - the ability to pay a bill by simply taking a picture of the invoice -- with plans to launch it in March.
BTN editors Penny Crosman and Mary Wisniewski have selected the ten most progressive mobile banking apps, taking into account application features, design and ease of use.