Chase Adds Mobile Remote Deposit Capture and P2P Payments to its iPhone App

imageChase Bank rolled out a major new release to its iPhone app on Thursday (v. 2.3.1) with the addition of both remote deposit capture and peer-to-peer (P2P) payments (see inset). Chase is the first to support both those important features in its mobile app (note 1). This post covers remote deposit, and I’ll look at the P2P feature later.

How it works
I had been looking forward to depositing a check via the magic of the iPhone. But sadly, despite following the directions and capturing a good image of the front and back of the check, the software failed to scan the amount correctly (see screenshot 7).

The Chase app said the check scanned in at $0, despite it being a printed $200 check. I was testing with my trusty version 1 iPhone (circa 2007), which may not have a sharp enough camera. I’ll try it on a newer iPhone and update the post. 

Here’s the process for new users (click on the thumbnails to view larger versions):

1. The Chase Quick Deposit service has been added to the main navigation bar across the bottom.

2. Customers agree to terms and conditions. Note: The service is limited to $1,000 per day and no more than $3,000 per month, eliminating many businesses as potential users.

3. On the first screen, users enter the dollar amount of the check.

4. The app provides instructions on how to successfully capture the check image.

5. Take pictures of the front and back of the check.

6. Double check image quality.

7. Error message saying that the dollar amount from the scan ($0) did not match the amount entered ($200).

Summary: Despite the glitch on my first deposit attempt, I’m glad to see Chase moving the mobile state-of-the-art forward. I’m sure we’ll see remote deposit added to most major mobile banking apps in the near future.

1. Signup screen           2. Customer agreement  3. Enter amount

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4. Hints on image capture   5. Photograph the check front and back

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6. View photo results                             7. Error message

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Notes:
1. USAA was the first major bank with mobile remote deposit, launching it in Sep. 2009; while WV United FCU was the very first with it almost exactly one year ago.
2. For more on mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.

The iPad: One Million Shipped in First Month, but Still No U.S. Bank or Credit Union Online Banking Apps

image Apple today said it has shipped one million iPads (one of which went to a lucky Mint user, see inset). I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone who’s even mildly interested in tech.

It’s debatable whether the iPad is a laptop killer, but if nothing else, it’s a really capable portable media and game player. Given its appearances on The Grammys, Modern Family, Lettermen, and so on, and with Apple’s cachet, how could the iPad not sell a million?

But the iPhone arrived with even more hype, and it took more than two months to sell a million back in the summer of 2007. But it was much more expensive considering the price of the phone and $800+ per year to AT&T. And there was no App Store back then: it was just email, SMS, Safari, YouTube, stock tracking and of course, my personal favorite, the weather button.

So I’m not surprised the iPad has consumer appeal. But I am surprised that no major U.S. financial brand, other than E*Trade (see screenshots below) has a native iPad app yet in the U.S. store (notes 1, 2). I expected at least a half-dozen by now. But there have been very few new apps in the iPad store across all categories. Only nine new apps have launched since April 3 in the finance category, bringing the total to 39 (see note 3; original post here ).

So, it may not entirely be the fault of the FIs. There is probably a logjam of apps waiting for approval from Apple. We look forward to seeing what the FIs and PFMs bring to the iPad throughout 2010.

E*Trade Apps: iPhone vs. iPad
Note: Relative size is accurate; see CNET’s comparison of iPhone vs. iPad versions across 20 popular apps (previous post on why you need an iPad app here)

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Notes:
1. Square also had its app available at launch, although they have yet to launch credit card processing, so it’s not really functional yet. Card processing is expected to launch later this week when the iPhone app becomes available.
2. (Updated May 4 with “la Caixa” info and search info) They don’t show on my U.S. iPad, but Spain’s “la Caixa” added an iPad app to the U.S. store a few days ago (link) and Banco Sabadell has one in the U.S. store (link). Also, I just learned (May 4) that if you search specifically for the Spanish banks on my U.S. iPad, they do show up and have been successfully downloaded.
3. There are many mysteries of the App Store. One new one is the discrepancy between what’s shown on my iPad vs. what’s in the iTunes store. On my iPad, 30 finance apps showed on April 3, and there are now 39, for a growth of 9. iTunes shows 61 available today, up 18 from the 43 available on April 3. None of the extra 22 in iTunes are from financial institutions.
4. For more on mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.

Jack Henry Unleashes 23 Mobile Banking Apps Into the iPhone App Store in April

imageWe’ve been closely tracking mobile apps. In the 21 months since Apple opened its App Store, 77 U.S. financial institution added apps, about four per month (see our latest report for more info).

Then last week, 18 new bank apps appeared. And they all shared a certain, shall we say utilitarian, look (see below). Turns out they are pushed out by Jack Henry for its NetTeller clients. While they won’t win any design awards, it’s good to be in the app store.

In total, Jack Henry now has 24 clients represented in the store. All but one, Ohio Valley Bank, were added in April (see table below).

We can now officially report there are more than 100 U.S. financial institution in the iTunes App Store. Just 10,000+ more to go.

Bank Service Name Date
Ohio Valley Bank 2 Feb 2010
Bank of Brookhaven goDough 2 April 2010
Valley View Bank Mobile Banking 2 April 2010
Ohio Valley Financial Group goMobile 5 April 2010
Alpine Bank Mobile Banking 16 April 2010
American National Bank of Texas Mobile Banking 16 April 2010
First Dakota National Bank eMobile Banking 16 April 2010
First Fidelity Bank Mobile Banking 16 April 2010
First National Bank of the Rockies FNBR Mobile 16 April 2010
First State Community Bank FSCB Mobile Banking 16 April 2010
Bank of Granite Granite Mobile Banking 16 April 2010
Institution for Savings goMobile Banking 16 April 2010
Lone Star National Bank LSNB Mobile 16 April 2010
Mascoma Savings Bank Mobile Banking 16 April 2010
Susquehanna Bank Mobile Banking 17 April 2010
Simmons First Bank Anywhere 17 April 2010
Northway Bank Mobile Banking 17 April 2010
State Bank of Lizton Mobile Banking 17 April 2010
Stonegate Bank Mobile Connect 17 April 2010
Texas Bank and Trust TBT gomobile 17 April 2010
The Bank of Elk River eMobile Banking 17 April 2010
Western National Bank Mobile Banking 17 April 2010
The Bank of Miami TBOM Mobile 17 April 2010
Pendleton Community Bank yourbank2go 17 April 2010
Westerly Community Credit Union WCCUmobile 21 April 2010

Source: AppShopper.com (data drawn from iTunes), 22 April 2010

The two screenshots posted for Western National Bank’s iPhone app, powered by Jack Henry (26 April 2010)

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Why You Should Build an iPad Banking App (Even Though You Don’t Need To)

One week into the iPad era there are still no banks or credit unions with iPad-specific apps (note 1). There also aren’t any major PFM or other financial brands present, other than Square and E*Trade. Mint’s not even there yet.

What’s going on? On Friday, The Financial Brand’s Jeffry Pilcher tweeted the question that’s on a lot of bankers’ minds:

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While I suspect Jeffry is mostly being provocative, it’s a question worth discussing. Should financial institutions build an iPad app?

The Web experience on the iPad is outstanding. It has a lightening-fast Safari browser built in. It loads my bank’s webpage as fast or faster than my MacbookPro or Thinkpad X41. The iPad virtual keyboard makes it easy to type username and password. And for the most part (Flash is a problem), websites look and perform perfectly on the iPad (use ipadpeek.com if you want to see what your webpage looks like in an iPad layout).

So yes, online banking works fine on iPads. But you can say the same thing about most evolutionary products. Telephone calls work fine on corded phones. Cars work fine without cup holders. Refrigerators work fine without ice makers. And so on.

An iPad app isn’t about utility, it’s about a great user experience. The ability to click on a banking button on the main iPad screen and launch a perfectly sized online banking app shaves 30 to 45 seconds off the traditional browser-based approach (open Safari, navigate to my bank, and find the login button). There are also things you can do with an app, such as location-aware ATM/branch finder, that make it a better experience (note 2). 

So here’s why most major financial brands should have an iPad app now:

  • Free publicity (part 1): As of today, there are only 39 iPad apps in the Finance category. Each of the 562,000+ iPad owners, and millions of others browsing the iTunes App Store, would see your brand showcased there.
  • Free publicity (part 2): There was, and is, a tremendous amount of hype around the iPad. Being the first bank/CU in your country/state/region/city/neighborhood with an iPad app will net you numerous mentions online and in print.
  • It’s cool: While financial institutions are rightly focused on the basics right now, there is still considerable value in being seen as a technology leader.
  • It’s inexpensive: Building a basic iPad/iPhone app is a relatively simple project. If it did nothing more than connect to online banking and show nearby ATMs/branches, you’d receive most of the benefits listed above.
  • It’s the future: Apps and widgets will play a large role in banking info delivery going forward, especially in mobile banking. You should be designing apps for every significant platform. In the U.S. that means the iPhone and Android, then iPad and Blackberry after that (see note 3).

And one final note for the 67 U.S. financial institutions that already have iPhone apps. Yes, you still need an iPad one. While the iPhone app runs fine, it is displayed in a small window the size of an iPhone. Users can press a button in the lower-right corner to doublesize the app, but images and text become fuzzy, and it just doesn’t look right (although it is functional as you can see in the screenshots below).

Bank of America’s iPhone app displayed on iPad screen (5 April 2010)
Note: Click on the images below to see the quality difference

              Normal size                                                             Double sized

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Notes:
1. As of 11 PM Pacific April 10, the only major financial brand with an iPad app is E*Trade MobilePro, which is more about stock trading, not banking.
2. For more on financial apps and the iPhone, see our March 2009 Online Banking Report.
3. For more on the importance of mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.
4. Hat-tip to Banking Kismet for blogging on the subject.

Mobile Firsts: State Farm Offers Auto Insurance Discounts to Graduates of its Steer Clear iPhone App

imageLast week I talked about how USAA is making the mobile experience better than online thanks to the magic of mobile remote deposit and PIN-based login. For the sake of discussion, I’m defining magic as anything you could not have imagined doing on your mobile phone two years ago (note 1).

The latest novel financial app: State Farm’s Steer Clear program that provides auto insurance discounts “up to 15%” for new drivers (under age 25) that pass its safe driving program. Users can undergo the self-assessment program online or off, but the app makes it easier and with a built-in stopwatch (screenshot below) to track the required 20 practice drives. See how it works in the company’s video below (press release here; iTunes link here). 

image As much as I like it, the State Farm app doesn’t quite make it into the magical category. Had it used GPS to automatically track the 20 practice drives, it might have passed the bar. I’m sure that’s in a future version.

Regardless, it’s clever, unique and positions the company well with the youth market and their parents that often foot the insurance bills. That’s a good return on the small investment needed to port the program over to a mobile app (note 2).

Notes:
1. I am using two years, since that predates the opening of the iPhone App Store in July 2008.
2. Read more about the strategic advantages mobile banking can give your financial institution in our latest Online Banking Report published today.

Citibank, Microsoft Join Forces with Bundle, a Personal Finance Site with a Data Bent

image I had been intrigued about rumors that Microsoft and Citibank were partnering on a joint personal-finance venture called Bundle. I was hoping for the financial services version of an Apple launch.

OK, that’s a little too high of a bar to set. I was really just hoping for the next Mint or at least something we hadn’t seen before. To some extent, Bundle delivered, with Mint-like attention to design and deeper data than we’ve seen previously. But in other ways it’s just a me-too personal finance site, FiLife 2.0. Bottom line, Bundle has been open only a week so it’s way too early to predict where it’s going or how it makes money. 

imageBundle is a personal finance startup backed by Citibank, Microsoft, and Morningstar. Two of the key execs, including CEO Jaidev Shergill, are from Citi Growth Ventures, the group charged with commercializing products and ideas that have bubbled up within the banking giant. The startup also enlisted professional journalists, including Janet Paskin who’s written for Dow Jones’s SmartMoney Magazine among others.

Given that pedigree, the new site is kind of a SmartMoney Magazine meets your credit card statement with some social networking thrown in the mix.  

What distinguishes it from most personal finance content providers is that Bundle showcases proprietary data, sourced from Citibank’s massive card-spending warehouse. The site gives center stage to data and shows household spending personalized to your specific location.

There’s also professional personal finance advice mixed with stories and comment from the community. Even the articles use the database to illustrate points (screenshot 3). 

image Naturally, it’s well-integrated to Facebook. You cannot even comment unless you log in via Facebook Connect. You can follow Bundle on Twitter, of course, but surprisingly there is no blog or RSS feed.

And Bundle already has its own iPhone app called Vice Tracker (iTunes link) that makes shopping for non-essentials into a tongue-in-cheek game. The unique app was added to the store two weeks ago in the Lifestyle category. 

According to the FAQs, Bundle’s business model is advertising, but there are no ads on the site yet, other than the logos of the backers (Microsoft is using its MSN Money brand). Presumably, they are looking for financial advertisers, but the Citibank connection might make that a harder sell.

Analysis
I like what Bundle is doing, creating a consumer-facing company around Citibank’s cardholder data. But I can’t figure out who they are targeting. Maybe they haven’t decided yet.

If they want to attract data junkies like myself, the data needs to be more transparent and they need more robust tools to play with it. I enjoyed being able to compare the spending of my Seattle neighbors against that of my home town in Iowa (it’s surprisingly similar). But I was left with a number of questions: 

  • Where does the spending data come from? The FAQs are vague on saying that it comes from Citibank card data, government sources and “other third parties.” 
  • If it’s primarily Citibank card data, is it really representative of the entire town or just the people that hold Citibank cards? For example, Bundle tells me (screenshot #3)  that the average dining out expense in Seattle is $115 and the most common spot is Starbucks followed by McDonalds. Something seems wrong with that.  
  • And furthermore, are these estimates of all spending or just that on Citibank cards? And which Citi portfolios are included? What about business cards?
  • The graphical bubbles are nice, but I like to view data in tables, especially when trying to drill down and do meaningful analysis. Is there some way to see the underlying numbers?

On the other hand, if Bundle is trying to attract readers looking for personal finance advice and discussion, the data is kind of in the way, more window dressing than anything else.

Final thoughts
The graphics are great and the spending data is interesting. But why would I come back? There’s only so many times in one’s life that you want to compare the shopping habits of your city vs. somewhere else.

Presumably, future versions will allow you to compare your actual spending to the Bundle averages using account-aggregation technology. This is a popular feature of Wesabe, and is one of the major tenets of what we’ve called “social personal finance” (note 1, 2).

I also expect they’ll integrate Bundle into the Citibank cardholder site so its customers can do online comparisons while they are checking their statement online.  If Citi can document a spending lift from bundled Bundle, then the startup has proven its value. Armed with that success, it could be licensed to other big card issuers, increasing the value of the Bundle data for all users, attracting more users and more advertisers. The network effect. Perhaps that’s the end game here. 

#1: Main Bundle page after selecting “Seattle” as location to show spending (29 Jan. 2010)

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#2: Main page after drilling down through the “Food & Drink” bubble (link)
Note: Top five restaurants for dining out in Seattle are Starbucks, McDonalds, Subway, Red Robin and Cheesecake Factory. That sounds possible, but then the average purchase size is listed at $115. That’s a lot of lattes or Big Macs.

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#3: The ever-present “spending balls” hover above an article by Bundle Managing Editor Janet Paskin’s short post. The balls compare the spending in Brooklyn with her hometown Seattle 
Note: Brooklyn comes out cheaper, see the solid circles (Brooklyn) in front of the cross-hatched ones (Seattle).

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Notes:
1. See our previous reports on Social Personal Finance (2007) and Online Investment Communities (2008).
2. Wesabe would seem to be a great acquisition if Bundle wants to add the aggregation technology piece and jump-start its user base.  Blippy-like features would also make the site more sticky.
3. For more background on the software tools being used, see the article on Bundle in Microsoft’s Financial Services publication published 22 Nov. 2009.

What Does the New Apple iPad Mean for Banking?

image_thumb11Apple today introduced its latest invention, a gigantic $499 iPod Touch called the iPad (inset shows iPad, Kindle, vs. iPhone; note 1).

It’s a gorgeous piece of technology that will soon be the movie-watching, ebook-reading device of choice for the rich and famous. But what does it mean for the average financial institution?

Tactically, it should have almost zero impact. Your iPhone/iTouch app should work pretty much the same on the iPad. There may be some design tweaks your programmers will need to understand, but the basic functionality is the same.

It would make a wonderful giveaway item, either as part of a high-end business/private banking package (note 2), or as a sweepstakes prize.     

So those of you who already have an iPhone app launched, or in the pipeline, can stop reading now. But read on if you haven’t yet hopped on the app bandwagon.

___________________________________________________________________________

ipad_portrait_landscape.png

The movement to apps, and away from old-school “browsing,” is unstoppable. The iPad joins a growing list of new devices (Android, Kindle, etc.) that are app-primary, browser-secondary (note 3).

It’s a massive shift that’s happened in less than two years, beginning in July 2008 when Apple opened the iPhone platform.

The popularity of apps is changing how users tap online info. Even power laptop/desktop users are making dramatic changes in their information consumption. For example, within a few months of the Apple app store launch, I had already moved 12 of my routine info-gathering tasks to the iPhone. The speed/convenience of pressing a single button vs. navigating to a website via the browser is a significant improvement in user experience. More than a year later, my habits have changed little. 

The change from serving customers who were “online browsers” and are now “mobile app users” has profound implications for banking. Instead of talking to your customers in batch- mode with built-in time delays, you are now real-time, feeding data to customer on the go, where they need up-to-the-minute status on their cash situation.   

In many ways, the ROI for real-time banking (and here) is more dramatic than online-batch banking. The ability to stamp out POS fraud, to nip budding customer service nightmares, and just plain get closer to the customer, all bring nice returns on the mobile investment (note 3).

Notes:
1. Photo credit: TechCrunch post today.
2. For more info on using a dedicated device for small business customers, see our October Online Banking Report.
3. Groundswell author and Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff calls this the “splinternet.”
4. For more info on financial services opportunities on the iPhone, see our March Online Banking Report.
5. Initial response online was mixed, 2,700 readers of CrunchGear, voted “thumbs sideways” today (link, results at 4PM Pacific below)

ipad_poll.png

Nationwide Insurance is Fourth Financial Institution with Multiple iPhone Apps

image In November, we predicted that large financial institutions would each offer dozens of mobile apps targeted to various lines of business and/or customer segments (previous post). PNC Bank, Wells Fargo and Chase each have two apps in the iPhone store.

Three weeks ago, a fourth financial company added its second app: Nationwide Insurance.

The company originally launched an app (inset) geared towards its insurance customers in April 2009 (press release; iTunes store link). This app is designed to assist its insurance customers when they have an accident. The most recent version includes a toolkit, auto claim form, agent finder and even a flashlight.

Then in mid-December, the company released a second app geared towards automobile shoppers, Cartopia (screenshots below; iTunes link; press release). It helps buyers research prospective cars on the go.

By inputting a vehicle identification number (VIN), consumers can quickly access the following info on a prospective vehicle:

  • Car specs (fuel economy, dimensions, weight, etc.)
  • Average retail and wholesale prices
  • 5-year cost-of-ownership estimates
  • Original warranty info
  • Safety info
  • History of the VIN number, powered by Experian’s AutoCheck (similar to Carfax report; limited to six free lookups each month; note 1)

In addition, users can calculate monthly loan payments with a built-in loan calculator. Nationwide also provides links for customers to call in to apply for vehicle financing and or receive an insurance quote. Unfortunately, there is no online loan application or insurance price quote engine.

Finally, the app contains space to keep notes and rate the cars you are considering purchasing.

Relevance to Netbankers: If you are in the auto loan and/or insurance business, getting your name in front of car buyers as they shop is the ultimate marketing coup. While you may not be able to emulate all the functions in Nationwide’s app (note 2), even a simple loan calculator and note-taking area, along with links to your call center, could drive incremental business.

                                                                                    Cartopia #2 Main Loan info with link to
     Cartopia #1: Splash screen                          insurance quote (via voice call)

image            image

Notes:
1. I was unable to access the report on my test vehicle; the error message said it was temporarily unavailable.
2. Although the app is loaded with features, its UI is a bit clunky and the app is only rated two stars in Apple’s App Store. Consequently, a slimmed down, simpler app, would appeal to many users.  
3. For more info on financial services opportunities on the iPhone, see our March Online Banking Report.

Another Bank Unleashes Remote Deposit for the iPhone: Royal Bank America

image Another bank is about to join USAA (post), WV United FCU  (post), and Randolph-Brooks FCU (post) in the smartphone-enabled deposit sphere. Royal Bank America, a $1.3 billion (asset) Philadelphia-area institution, is in final testing of its new deposit-taking iPhone app called RoyalRDC (iTunes link).

image The new app appeared in Apple’s iTunes store on Monday, but currently the bank is accepting only beta testers (see screenshot below). The app, said to be coming “within weeks,” allows a check to be deposited within 30 seconds using any model iPhone.

The bank is currently promoting the benefits of remote deposit on its home page (see screenshot below). Not only can RDC users skip the trip to the branch, they have 2 additional hours to make a deposit for same-day credit (6 PM instead of 4 PM). That’s an enticing additional benefit nicely highlighted through the shaded-clock image below. 

Royal Bank America homepage (7 Jan. 2010)
Note: This is the homepage view after refreshing the page once; yellow highlight is mine.

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Royal Bank call for beta testers (link)

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Note: For more info on mobile banking on the iPhone, see our March Online Banking Report.