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How Intuit's Deal for Check Could Change the Mobile Money Game

"I think offerings like Check are more than anything a glimpse into the future of mobile PFM and digital banking more broadly," says Peter Wannemacher, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. "Banks should be inspired by some of the features and ideas from Check, rather than fearful of an Intuit armed with Check."

Some financial institutions have been working hard to modernize their mobile bill pay experiences. BBVA Compass, U.S. Bank and City Bank Texas have all made available a feature that Check has not: letting customers photograph their bills with their phone's camera to pay them, for example. The idea is to reduce data entry.

Still, Check offers an experience many banks have yet to introduce: multiple payment options and the ability to use mobile before signing up online. Security-minded financial institutions require customers to sign up for online banking before they can log in to mobile services, which could turn off a segment of customers who want mobile-only experiences.

That leaves the door open for young companies like Check.

"The driver around bill pay isn't payments," says Jacob Jegher, senior analyst with Celent. "It's value-added services."

Check, says Jegher, provides banks with two important consumer lessons: One, there's a demand for mobile bill pay; and two, consumers are likely to take to having several payment options available from the same portal.

The deal also highlights a shortcoming of PFM: budgeting tools typically in read-only mode may need to mature to include transaction capabilities like bill pay. Mint, which comes without payment capabilities, could become more useful should Intuit decide to incorporate Check's technology into the budgeting software.




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