The retail banking industry is slowly transitioning to electronic methods, but the latest innovation might take the proverbial cake.
Not content with iPhone apps that only display basic account information (such as those available from Bank of America and Chase), or even check-scanning envelope-less ATM deposits, one bank plans to add functionality to its iPhone application that allows a customer to photograph both sides of a check with the phone’s camera and “deposit” it.
The bank, privately-owned USAA, has only one actual branch, in Texas. But its customers, mostly military personnel, are deployed on all four corners of the globe.
The solution? Digital deposits.
The reasoning behind the move is simple: roughly one million of USAA’s 7.2 million customers use their cellphones to access their accounts. About 60 percent will qualify for the new feature, according to a New York Times article on the new technology.
The feature marks the first major effort to turn cell phones into portable branches.
Better still, customers will not have to mail the check to the bank later. The deposit will be entirely electronic, so customers get to simply void the check and file it away (or discard it).
Here’s a video of the mobile feature in action:
The article notes that a recent study by comScore found that more than 15 million people in the United States used mobile banking each month.
That number expected to grow as smartphone adoption becomes more prevalent.