I admit, I get a little bit of bank envy whenever I see that commercial touting the new mobile remote capture service from JPMorgan Chase.
If you haven't seen it, the ad depicts a young couple on their wedding night using a smartphone to deposit checks they'd received as gifts. I'm envious because while my bank largely meets my needs-it offers online banking, has branches all over town and its automated teller machines even dispense stamps-it doesn't let me use my BlackBerry to make deposits.
I don't even receive a lot of checks-three a month from the tenants who rent the downstairs apartment and maybe one a year from my mother on my birthday. (Mom, please stop. I'm 46!) But now that I can pay a bill or transfer funds with the click of a mouse, stuffing an envelope with checks and feeding it into an ATM feels so 1990s.
For me-and tens of millions of other consumers, according to surveys-it's all about convenience. Bankers talk a lot about increasing wallet share and deepening relationships, and a big part of that is making banking as convenient as possible for their customers. Right or wrong, we want things to be quick and easy these days, and if a bank can't meet our demands we'll take our business elsewhere.
Fortunately, many banks get this. It's why a company like Huntington Bancshares is opening dozens of branches inside stores of one of Ohio's largest grocery chains. It's why banks like Chase and Bank of America have been rolling out envelope-free ATMs, sparing their customers the bother of filling out deposit slips. And it's why hundreds of banks now provide business customers, and even some households, with scanners so that they can deposit checks remotely.
I worry, though, that with the economy still recovering and banks facing new and more onerous compliance burdens, investments in difference-making technologies like mobile remote capture might be put on hold as banks look to trim expenses.
True, mobile remote capture is still in its infancy-Chase and USAA are the only banks currently offering it-but it has the potential to be what the consulting firm Mercatus has called the next "killer" app. USAA, which just introduced mobile remote capture last year, projects that 2.5 million checks, totaling $1.6 billion, will be deposited via smartphones this year. And according to a survey Mercatus conducted late last year, roughly two-thirds of consumers ages 26 to 44 would likely use mobile remote capture if their banks offered it.
I know I'm ready for it. Maybe six years of banking online has spoiled me, but I find depositing checks to be enough of a nuisance that if a bank in my area offered mobile remote capture, I wouldn't hesitate to switch.
Banking is a copycat business, so a couple years from now, dozens, if not hundreds, of banks likely will have joined Chase and USAA in offering mobile remote capture. But as with any new technology, there will always be holdouts-especially among community banks. The question is, can they afford to wait?