Bank of America's Plan to Drive Mobile Banking Beyond 12 Million Users

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Twelve million mobile banking customers may sound like a satisfactory number, but Bank of America wants more.

As part of a drive to sign up more people for mobile banking, the bank is outfitting its teller stations with quick response (QR) codes that can be scanned by mobile devices to download the mobile app.

David Godsman, senior vice president of online and mobile solutions, says the teller station registration is part of a multi-pronged campaign to grow mobile banking. The bank's current 12 million mobile subscribers are a fraction of its 58 million total consumer and business customers.

"We are actively talking about digital banking" as a group of related but diverse financial services delivered via mobile to build awareness of mobile banking," Godsman said in a recent interview in which he discussed the bank's expansion of mobile service as well as its campaign to increase usage.

Bank of America, which offers mobile banking via browser, text and mobile app, recently launched new services such as mobile remote deposit capture, person to person payments, expanded contactless payment functions, and a mobile component to its BankAmeriDeals merchant rewards program. Scott Grimes, CEO of Cardlytics, Bank of America's partner on the merchant rewards program, says Cardlytics is expanding its mobile capabilities to include location-based marketing and real-time offers from merchants.

Godsman says that as part of the user campaign, customers are made aware of the various mobile options when they sign up for a new account, with a particular push around mobile deposits.

Godsman says the idea of the campaign is to make consumers aware of the utility of the mobile device which they probably carry most of the time. "Everyone has a device within three feet of them, and their financial lives are no different than another aspect when it comes to mobile," Godsman says.

The QR codes BofA is using in its new teller-station mobile registration are a type of barcode that's become popular in advertising and in the digital payment industry. The codes appear as a square pattern that includes data that can be used to trigger transactions or to deliver marketing. Other banks have also experimented with QR codes to download apps. Chase, for example, includes a QR code on its home page that consumers could use to download a mobile app.

Bank of America also recently began testing payments executed via QR codes with five merchants.

QR codes are used by payment startup LevelUp, which lets merchants scan a QR code in the consumer's mobile device to execute payment. Another big retailer, Starbucks, uses QR codes for its mobile payment application.

Godsman did not reveal uptake numbers for the new initiative, but mentioned that the bank embeds feedback capabilities into the app itself. "We're able to get direct feedback at the page level about our functionality, and on the macro level we look at the broader engagement of [our larger base]."

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