USAA Federal Savings Bank is expected to introduce a retail remote deposit capture application this week for Apple Inc.'s iPhone, yet another step in the single-branch financial company's mission to promote mobile banking services.

The iPhone remote capture tool comes three years after the San Antonio financial company began offering consumer remote deposit capture using scanners to its 7 million members, who have proven to be willing adopters of remote access technology.

"The iPhone-RDC offering is pretty compelling,"' said Nick Holland, a senior analyst at Aite Group.

USAA's consumer remote deposit application for the iPhone lets users take a picture of the front and back of each check and submit them electronically to USAA for deposit.

Holland said USAA's range of mobile banking products and high adoption numbers are especially impressive given market conditions and the budgetary restrictions many financial companies have adopted. "Banks are not evolving their mobile products now," he said; "it's not seen as mission-critical."

But mobile banking is mission-critical for USAA, said Jeff Dennes, USAA's executive director of mobile and money movement.

These days, more than 11% of USAA's members, about 800,000 people, use its mobile banking services, the second-largest publicly announced deployment after Bank of America Corp.'s much-publicized 2-million-customer mark. (JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. may have more mobile banking users than USAA, but both have been mum about adoption numbers.)

USAA is "making noise about it, whereas we're finding other institutions have it on the back burner for the moment," Holland said.

USAA outlined its mobile strategy at the Mobile Commerce Summit in Las Vegas this month and disclosed several key mobile banking deployment figures. Among them: It has had 7.9 million mobile logins so far in the year's first half, after about 7 million in all of 2008. About 35% of these logins came from BlackBerry devices, said Dennes, and another 35% from iPhones.

(The conference was organized by SourceMedia, which publishes American Banker.)

USAA introduced an iPhone application in May that customers can use to manage their bank accounts. Dennes said it has become one of the most popular financial tools Apple offers through its App Store, with 55,000 downloads and 45,000 logins during the first week it was available. The iPhone application, which was built in-house at USAA, gives customers banking and investment access, including the ability to trade stocks, as well as car insurance functions such as filing insurance claims.

The Texas bank offers three ways to gain access to bank account data with a phone: through a Web site optimized for the browsers that are available on many handsets; downloadable applications, including the iPhone tool and another version for phones developed by Qualcomm Inc.'s Firethorn Holdings LLC unit, and two-way text messaging.

Holland said the downloadable Firethorn application and mobile browser are valuable but that it is text banking applications that have become "critical." Other capabilities are "less important than having a good text messaging component that lets you get alerts and real-time information to the customer."

More elements are in the works to fill out USAA's mobile road map, including downloadable applications for other smart phones and a person-to-person payments application for the iPhone.

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