While corporate mobile banking has developed more slowly than consumer mobile banking, new apps are starting to hit the market much more frequently, with JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo both introducing offerings in the past few days.
JPMorgan Chase's new iPhone/Android phone and tablet app allows treasury managers to stay connected with their offices while on the road and access updated and historical data on accounts and transactions. Users are able to view secure account information on smartphones and tablets and make cash management decisions. Also, a new "quick decision" feature allows clients to add anticipated transactions for a projected cash balance.
"Organizations of all sizes want to leverage their investments in back office systems and processes, but have been restricted from maximizing the benefits through limited accessibility," says Michael Collins, executive director of JP Morgan Treasury Services. The app also includes alerts for balance levels when a credit posts to an account, and provides links to supporting detail.
Planned enhancements include wire payment approvals, ACH and check returned item notification (for U.S. deposits); and multi-language navigation in simplified and standard Chinese, Spanish and Japanese.
The JPMorgan app is comparable to many other corporate mobile banking apps. Susan Feinberg, a senior research director at TowerGroup, says corporate apps are typically aimed at senior level management.
"They are the ones that are in meetings outside of the office. The day to day treasury functions that staff are doing in an online banking environment are not things that are being migrated to the corporate mobile banking platforms," Feinberg says. Bank corporate mobile rollouts over the past 18 months have focused on payment approval, exception management, and alerts — functions more associated with top executives searching for or approving a particular transaction.
Feinberg says the exception is Wells Fargo, which offers a wider range of services and is replicating a lot of what it has on its corporate online banking site to its mobile apps.
"[Wells' corporate mobile software] includes things that a mobile user needs to do that are time critical, that can be reasonably done on a smartphone — things that don't require a tremendous amount of key entry," she says.
"Wells doesn't distinguish between the functions that a treasury manager might do and functions that staff might do," Feinberg says, adding that Chase is focused on functions that are critical, and also may be necessary when the only option available to the user is a smartphone.
Wells Fargo, which has offered corporate mobile banking for four years, positions its mobile strategy as being more transactional than other institutions.
"Our service is indeed geared toward senior executives, who can view transactions and do approvals," says Mark Walker, a senior vice president and product manager at Wells Fargo, which offers corporate and commercial mobile banking via its CEO Mobile flagship. "But there's also the capability to input transactions, such as wire transfers. The app's not just for viewing and approvals."
Transaction initiation and other services such as corporate spend management — a feature that allows business travelers to make purchases and link to a firm's T&E function via a mobile app — broadens the user base.
Wells' most recent addition to CEO Mobile platform, announced in mid-November, is a remote deposit capture app called CEO Mobile Deposit. The new service lets customers capture check and money order images and deposit funds, using an iPhone, to their Wells Fargo commercial and corporate accounts.
Once check or money order images have been captured, they are available immediately through the customer's reporting and image tools on Wells' Commercial Electronic Office portal. Users can enter optional location information to make it easier to identify deposits, and can also take action on returned items faster, because the electronically deposited items clear faster.
The CEO Mobile Deposit service is accessible by downloading the CEO Mobile iPhone App at the iTunes store. The new service lets customers capture check and money order images and deposit funds, using an iPhone (3GS and above), to their Wells Fargo commercial and corporate bank accounts anywhere, anytime. Wells doesn't charge for the service, though it is subject to mobile carrier fees.
Wells says the new product is particularly useful for wholesalers. "We've found that a lot of industries need to do transactions while they are on their smartphone," Walker says.