Imaging Brings Coveted Ease of Use to Mobile Banking: Study

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A re-evaluation of mobile banking services is going on at many banks, and much of it revolves around the use of imaging to deposit checks, pay bills and make credit card payments.

"Mobile banking is driving a difference in consumer behavior," says Mary Monahan, executive vice president and research director, mobile, at Javelin Strategy & Research. "The things that worked online are not going to work with mobile. Things we put up with online, like typing in your credit card number and address, work, but they're an irritation. On a mobile device, all that typing is too cumbersome, it's too easy to make a mistake and it interrupts the buying decision. There's going to have to be a real re-thinking and a re-engineering of the process. How are we going to do that? We are going to have to use imaging to meet that need."

Alternatives to typing information could include the use of QR codes or voice recognition as well as imaging, she notes. "But it can't be typing in your credit card number and your address. That's not going to work on a mobile phone," she says.

In an example of the differences in behavior between online and mobile users, Monahan describes how Travelocity noticed that 60-70% of its mobile users were booking same-night stays, versus 10% of traditional online users. "They needed to be able to close that sale right then," Monahan says. The company chose Jumio's credit card scanning technology to provide a quick transaction.

This is the kind of solution banks need to come up with as they work to make their mobile banking services more appealing for consumers. "We're trying to get financial institutions to really be on the cutting edge, to start thinking about how to reengineer the customer's experience," she says.

According to Javelin's latest research, consumers are highly interested in depositing checks through their smartphones. One in four consumers have used this service in the past 90 days and among mobile banking users, 48% have used it in the past 90 days. Those most interested tend to be younger (25 to 34) and wealthier (households bringing in $100,000 to $149,000 a year) than the general population.

Banks are rapidly rolling out the service. As of January, 64% of the top 25 banks had mobile check deposit and several of the holdouts had plans to offer it.

Bank of America debuted the feature in July; today they're taking in 100,000 imaged checks a day through smartphones, Monahan says. Wells Fargo rolled it out in May through November; as of January they had accepted 2.3 million checks and $559 million through mobile remote deposit capture.

Another use for mobile imaging that Monahan thinks will be big is mobile photo bill pay, where consumers take a picture of their bill to pay it. She believes this will bring people into the zone of online bill payment. "There are a lot of consumers who haven't gone to online banking yet, it's been kind of stagnant in the last few years," she says. "This will allow online bill pay to increase because it makes it a lot easier and more intuitive. You just have to take a picture of it. The consumer can insert themselves into the process: they get their paper bill as a reminder, they take the picture and pay the bill. That hybrid service works people into trusting online services."

The use of card capture for payments will probably be bigger than either mobile check deposit or photo mobile bill pay, Monahan says. "We have all these mobile apps coming out, and there has to be a way to make payments. Card capture will be the way to do it," she says.

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