Headquarters: Boston
Asset size: $600 million
Project: Mobile check deposit rollout.
Why it's cool: The bank's battling big institutions without a heavy branch presence.

Room to Grow

For Robert Landstein, the key to First Trade Union Bank's growth initiative starts with a process as simple as snapping a picture.

"I don't know how many hundreds of times easier it is to take a picture of a deposit," says Landstein, executive vice president and CIO of First Union Trade Bank. "You don't need to boot up a computer, your phone is always live."

First Trade Union Bank's new customer acquisition strategy places the small bank up against the giant banks that dominate the New England banking scene — Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase all dot the landscape with branches, and First Union Trade Bank has a minimal physical presence, with only a few banking centers.

To compete, the bank has launched a sweeping mobile banking initiative that will integrate bill pay, banking and mobile deposits via a hosted FIS platform.

"We're a small community bank, and we want to grow without building brick-and-mortar branches," Landstein says. "We saw the growth in smartphone use among consumers, and saw that it's the right time to increase our footprint through a mobile strategy."

The project got underway late in 2011, and will include quarterly releases throughout 2012. FT deposit, the bank's mobile deposit app, just launched and will allow users to make deposits from smartphones and tablets. "The biggest bang for the buck is the mobile deposit app. The clients that are in areas where we don't have branches can access us conveniently, without us having to put a branch in California or Iowa, or wherever they are banking from," he says. A new mobile banking app, which enables account view, deposits, funds transfer, and bill pay will launch alongside a public website, m.ftub.com, by July, and will join existing text and browser-based mobile banking products. An iPad tablet app is scheduled for November, along with a push into person-to-person payments.