USAA, which is often regarded as a ringleader for mobile innovation in the financial services industry, is evaluating whether to provide native support for Windows Phone 8, Microsoft's latest mobile operating system that hit the market in late October.
"We currently do not have a Windows Phone 8 app because of low member adoption of this product," said a USAA spokesperson in an email to BTN. "We are continuing to evaluate whether to provide support for Windows [Phone] 8."
What USAA does not lack is mobile adoption by members in general. More than 5.2 million members had downloaded USAA's mobile apps for iPhone, Android and iPad by 2012's end. USAA offers insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services to more than 9.4 million members of the U.S. military and their families.
Windows Phone 7 apps, according to Microsoft, do not have to be upgraded to Windows Phone 8 in order to work.
USAA said that some of its Windows Phone 7 app features did not function properly on Windows Phone 8.
USAA is certainly not alone in waiting to develop for Windows Phone 8. The Windows Phone Store counts upwards of 130,000 apps, but few of those apps are coming from American banks to date. Among those with offerings are Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.
The foot-dragging likely has a lot to do with low market share. As a newer platform, adoption of Windows Phone 8 among Americans is a small fraction of other players like Android and iOS to date. The most recent data from Nielsen shows that Windows Phone 7 and 8 accounted for 2% of the U.S. smartphone market as of the third quarter of 2012. Nielsen's data found that 56% of U.S. mobile subscribers owned smartphones.
That may change. Forrester Research published a report in October that estimated Microsoft will become the number three player in smartphones at about 14% share in 2016.
Meanwhile, USAA's delay has caused a small kerfuffle on social networking sites.
A Facebook page entitled "USAA will not support Windows Phone 8" was created on March 3. The profile description is, "USAA does not care about their customers. They have dropped support for the Windows Phone platform. Until enough customers complain and start voting with their feet, they are never going to fix their customer service problems." The page has four likes.
A handful of consumers are also commenting in Windows Phone Store threads to express their desire for Windows Phone 8 apps from their banks. One commenter, named Matt DeLacluyse, wrote in January:
"Email USAA and tell them you want the app back! They have removed it due to security concerns. The Windows phone 7 app that was available stored photos of deposited checks in the photo album. I emailed them and the response was that they are evaluating if they will even develop a Windows phone 8 app. Tell them you want it now! Microsoft please help them. I also do not want to keep an iOS phone around just to deposit my checks. I am not going back to iOS for every day use."
Other banks, like PNC and Wells Fargo were also named in the threads.
"Other platforms are always on our radar, and we will continue to evaluate them based on demand and adoption of those devices," said Armin Ajami, vice president and senior product manager with Wells Fargo's digital channels group, in an email to BTN.
PNC told BTN it could not comment on any roadmap plans.
Meanwhile, USAA points out how it is "continually improving mobile.usaa.com, which has been redesigned to give members quick access to USAA without having to download our app."
In a statement to BTN, Microsoft writes:
"Microsoft is pleased to feature Windows Phone 8 apps from some of the largest financial institutions including Bank of America, U.S. Bank, BBVA and Chase. We are working with developers representing a variety of financial institutions, and more banks are responding to customer demand by developing new apps as we speak. There also are more than 25 additional apps available from banks outside of the United States."