The difference between a money pit and a long-term investment is often a case of semantics, and that's the territory mobile banking has straddled the last few years. Just about every bank is either on the road, or has the journey planned out. But how, or if, the technology will be transformed into a revenue-generating business is still an open question. Proponents argue the financial value from cost savings in the call center and a revenue stream from expedited payments. Both show small promise, but not enough to turn the mobile investment into a profit center.

But Visa and JP Morgan Chase, along with mobile technology vendor ClairMail, have recently pushed the channel to the next level, unveiling a mobile coupon model that finally provides a customer-focused value proposition that should actually build revenue for all the parties in the value chain.

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