USAA Makes Mobile Banking Better than Online Banking

image Here’s a test that tells you when you’ve built a successful mobile app:

  1. Place your laptop next to your iPhone/Android
  2. Choose a task
  3. Reach for the device that’s easiest to use for that task 

If you don’t reach for the mobile phone first, you still have work to do on the user experience. 

I’ve always chosen the laptop for banking, even though I’ve ported more than a dozen other routine tasks to the iPhone (note 1). The hassle of logging in with those tiny iPhone keys pushes me to the laptop. But as of Tuesday, USAA’s latest iPhone app, version 2.2, has changed the equation, and there’s no looking back. 

Mobile vs. online banking
The key to making mobile a profitable channel is to make the user experience BETTER than online. And USAA is the only U.S. financial institution doing that today.

USAA’s biggest mobile “wow” is mobile check deposits (see Deposit@Mobile screenshot below) introduced six months ago for the iPhone. While it may not seem novel to those in the industry familiar with scanner-based remote deposits, the average consumer considers an iPhone check deposit to be almost magical. Other than a few small credit unions, no other major banking competitor offers it, so USAA continues to own mobile magic.  

imageBut with Bank of America rumored to be readying a launch mobile deposits, which will no doubt be featured in Apple TV ads, (see latest one here), USAA needs to keep innovating. 

And this week, USAA delivered with a single-PIN login with authentication powered by VeriSign VIP service. The optional 4-digit sign-on process is available now on the iPhone and will be available in April for Android and “shortly thereafter” for Blackberry (note 2).

In a time when it’s more tedious and less secure to log in online, USAA takes us back in time to a simpler day, when you could log in with just a few digits.

And by using techniques that authenticate the mobile phone during login, the bank says that mobile access is more secure than online.

Think about that for a moment. Mobile is MORE SECURE than online. With tens of millions of customers deathly afraid of logging in via their virus-laden PCs, imagine what that could do for mobile adoption.

It will take time to educate the market. Currently, most consumers believe the mobile channel is far less secure. But if they can be convinced the opposite is true, many will kiss online banking goodbye forever.

Notes:
1. According to yesterday’s release, USAA has 1.3 million mobile users, 17% of its 7.4 million customer base.
2. Previously, USAA users were required to sign on with username, password and PIN. The simple sign-on process is optional for those not trusting the simpler process.
3. For more info on financial services opportunities on the iPhone, see our March 2009 Online Banking Report.

Numbers: Remote Deposit Penetration at Randolph-Brooks FCU

image In an article in today’s Austin Business Journal about the coming launch of mShift-powered mobile remote deposit at Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, the CU revealed its penetration number in its EasCorp-powered, home-scanner-based service, eDeposits:

Total members: 300,000
Total checking account customers: 202,000
% of checking using remote deposit: 5%
Number of remote deposit users: 10,000 (derived)
% of members using remote deposit: 3+% (derived)

The San Antonio, TX-based credit union expects more mobile users than in-home users. The product, which debuted at Finovate on Sep. 29, is currently being tested with employees before it rolls out to select customers.

imageUSAA was the first major financial institution to launch mobile remote deposits in August.  But WV United beat them to market in July earning our OBR Best in the Web award. And this week, speaking at BAI Retail Delivery, Bank of America’s Doug Brown was bullish on the feature, leading many to believe that the giant would add the feature to its mobile offering at some point (see note). And if that happens, it’s not inconceivable the feature could show up in television commercials, either from BofA or Apple.

Note:
1. In response to an audience question after his presentation, Brown said that the bank was seeing 1 million envelope-free deposits made at ATMs every day, and “there was an obvious use-case in mobile”. Note that he did not specifically say, or even directly imply, that BofA would launch it, but he also didn’t dismiss the idea. 

Don’t Waste the Marketing & Communication Benefits of an iPhone App Update

image I’ve written plenty about the importance of the iPhone App Store, both here and in Online Banking Report (note 1). But there’s one subtle side benefit I hadn’t thought too much about previously. 

Every time a new version of a native app is released, users must take action to download it if they want the new features. While this process used to be a nightmare in the desktop software days where users had to use floppy disks, CDs or large downloads to reinstall the software, it’s an absolute breeze on the iPhone and usually takes less than a minute from start to finish. And there’s no restarting the iPhone or choosing installation options. It’s just a one-click process plus the input of your iTunes password if you weren’t already logged in.

So why is this process a benefit? Because each time a new release is available a little icon shows on top of the App Store icon (see screenshot 1 below). Users then press the App Store icon, choose update, and they see a list of applications with updates available (screenshot 2). At that point users choose to update them all or look at them individually.

We believe most users are interested enough in their financial apps to take a look at the update, at least until the novelty of the mobile app wears off some years in the future. This provides financial institutions a free marketing opportunity to not only explain the new features of the app, but also deliver other marketing messages. You are much more likely to make an impression with your customers during the update process, compared to sending out a random marketing email.

In the three bank examples below, only USAA (screenshot 3) uses the opportunity to further cement its relationship with mobile customers, touting its new remote deposit capabilities along with several other enhancements. Wells Fargo (screenshot 4) takes a matter-of-fact, “we’re fixing bugs” approach that is OK, but still misses the chance to communicate with users. But Chase (screenshot 5) completely annoys users with two sentences of marketing speak that says nothing about the update. 

Lessons for financial & mobile marketers: Whenever you release an update for your mobile app (note 2), take the opportunity to communicate with your customers as follows:

  • Clearly explain the benefits of the changes to the app
  • Highlight one or two related benefits of the app
  • Mention any related news or promotions
  • Strike a good balance between disseminating technical info and marketing new benefits

Screenshots

1. Main iPhone screen shows                        2. The Updates page shows the 4 apps
    that 4 app updates are                                       that have new versions available.
    available (right side halfway down).

image      image

3. USAA’s latest update explains the specific changes made and provides several new benefits to using the app.

image

4 & 5. On the other hand, the Wells Fargo and Chase update messages are sparse. The Wells Fargo update appears to be a minor bug fix, so we’ll cut them some slack for the terse message. However, Chase, with a minor update (2.0.1 update) to its major 2.0 release (released Aug 25), says absolutely nothing in 24 words of marketing-speak: 

We’re listening — You asked for a fully native iPhone banking application. This Chase iPhone app is built exclusively for iPhone and iPod touch users.

Seriously Chase, this is the best you could come up for the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of iPhone users waiting for your updated app? At least the bank gets points for brevity.

                   Screenshot 4                                                             Screenshot 5

image       image

Note:
1. For more info on the importance of a native iPhone app see Online Banking Report: Mobile Banking via iPhone.
2. The same advice holds true for communicating online banking improvements as well, although the communication methods are different (email, newsletter, statement insert, blog, interstitials, log-off messages, etc.).

USAA Hits 1 Million Mobile Users; Grabs Great Press Coverage with Remote Deposit Feature

imageThe New York Times ran a positive piece on USAA’s mobile efforts today, leading with the bank’s innovative mobile rimageemote check deposit service. A feature the bank announced in June and is rolling out this week.

USAA is the first major financial institution to use the iPhone’s camera to allow customers to upload paper checks for automatic deposit. However, it was beaten to market by tiny WV United FCU, which launched a cruder version two weeks ago (previous post).

The San Antonio-based bank with 7.2 million customers, now has one million mobile users, a 14% penetration rate, up from 11% in May. It’s the second U.S. financial institution (after Bank of America with more than 3 million; see note 1) to officially hit the million mark, though Chase/WaMu and Wells/Wachovia are believed to have passed that milestone last year.

Financial institution lesson: Mobile banking, and the iPhone specifically, still make a great story for the press (and customers). If you’re first in your market with an iPhone app, or some other mobile milestone, let the media know.

Live demo of USAA’s Deposit@Home iPhone app
Starts at 1-minute mark

Note:
1. 43% of BofA’s mobile customers access via iPhone or iPod Touch. The bank does not yet support text-banking, so it’s user base is skewed towards smartphone users.
2. For more info, see our Online Banking Report on iPhone Mobile Banking

Notes from the Mobile Commerce Summit (Day 1)

image About 100+ folks gathered in the brand new M Resort near Las Vegas for the third annual Mobile Commerce Summit by SourceMedia. Jeff Dennes from USAA and Jim Simpson from City Bank of Texas, both provided an extraordinary amount of metrics on their mobile rollouts (details below).

The biggest innovation of the day was iPhone-enabled remote check-deposit capture soon to be available from USAA (official launch June 25; see picture below). 

imageSession highlights
Jeff Dennes, executive director, mobile money & movement, USAA:

  • 7.9 million logins so far this year vs. about 7 million in all of 2008
  • Highest week to date, 476,000
  • 4.8 million USAA members own mobile; 1.5 mil use it to access Internet
  • 20% say mobile is primary channel
  • 11.4% of members using USAA mobile
  • Why so much usage: no branches, members trust USAA, extremely mobile military-oriented customer base, more technically capable than average
  • Have SMS, Firethorn downloadable app, WAP <mobile.usaa.com>, native iPhone app
  • Native iPhone app released 2 weeks ago: Went to number 1 in first week with 55,000 downloads; 45,000 logins in first week, 93,000 in second week
  • iPhone app built in-house and has patents filed
  • Will be launching first iPhone remote deposit-capture app on June 25 (see photo above); tune in to the bank’s webcast at 7 PM Central time at <budurl.com/usaaannouncement>
  • Current iPhone app has insurance functions: filing a claim, roadside assistance
  • Personal financial management functions coming soon
  • With mobile rollout, are seeing call volumes going down
  • 35% of access to mobile site comes from iPhone, 35% from Blackberry
  • Will be building app for Blackberry; others as demand warrants (e.g., Pre)

Jim Simpson, VP IT, City Bank of Texas

  • Mobile banking is powered by ClairMail (use Jack Henry for core processing and online banking)
  • Launched 17 Oct 2008 with balance, history, funds transfers, “call me,” near-real-time alerts (not batch) including reward-checking status/summary (sent out 7 days before end of checking cycle telling users how they stand on meeting necessary activity levels
  • Have microsite: www.citybankmobile.com
  • Made a major cross-channel marketing effort at launch: TV, print, radio, in-branch, and so on; used it to differentiate themselves in competitive Lubbock market
  • 10.2% online banking penetration
  • 64% use weekly
  • Average age is 32
  • Average account balance on primary account is over $5,000
  • More than 3,000 active users
  • Limited use of mobile browser site, bnkngo.mobi; text-message banking is much more popular (also have gocitybank.mobi); get 5,000 balance requests via text messaging each week vs. 25 or 30 mobile Web logins
  • Real-time alerts (vs. batch) is one of the key benefits that users like; they often can text message a confirmation of the transaction while still standing at the checkout counter; not always that fast, sometimes can be a few minutes later
  • Coming: End-of-day, text-based account summary, “payit” loan payment via text (in response to text alert), iPhone/Blackberry apps
  • How to make money? Adding ad-supported links within text messages; e.g., link back to the restaurant where the transaction originated

Ginger Schmeltzer, SVP, SunTrust

  • Currently at 2.5% penetration of online banking users powered by Firethorn
  • 33% access via iPhone; 33% via Blackberry
  • Have an RFP out now to find vendor(s) to increase functionality
  • See real benefits from using mobile channel to decrease fraud

Patrick Reetz, VP & director, online banking, M&I Bank

  • Rolled out mobile in Oct 2008 powered by MShift
  • Within 11 days, achieved one-year goal of 2% penetration of online banking users (longer term, their initial goal was 10% by YE 2010)
  • Currently have 7% penetration

Ellen Johnson, SVP retail online services, Huntington Bank

  • Have just under 25,000 users of mobile Web banking, launched in June 2008
  • Number of users of text banking surpassed mobile Web in April, launched 6 months ago
  • Mobile banking customers are 38% more profitable; text banking, 13% more profitable
  • Call center contacts per active user dropped 3.4% in first 6 months
  • Have a mobile microsite for marketing

Juli Anne Callis, president & CEO, National Institutes of Health Federal Credit Union (previously at Keypoint Credit Union)

  • At Keypoint Credit Union, even usage between iPhone and Blackberry access
  • Keypoint powered by mShift and will be using mShift at her new CU
  • Launched on Facebook Nov 2007 (OBR Best of Web winner)

Amy Johnson, channel manager — CEO Mobile, Wells Fargo

  • Launched 2 years ago (April 2007), and Wells Fargo remains the only major U.S. bank offering full corporate mobile banking
  • Mobile Web-based system
  • No charge except certain text messages (and those fees may go away)
  • No set-up process
     just log in at mobile site with existing online credentials
  • Will not disclose usage, but are targeting top-tier customers: top 10%-15%
  • Access: 30% iPhone, 50%+ BlackBerry
     no Android so far
  • $2.5 billion in wire approvals via CEO Mobile in 2008

Kevin Morrisson, AVP card products, H&R Block

  • Using text messages to defer calls to call center (currently receive 80 million annually), especially people checking to see if their refund has arrived.
  • Program was piloted this year and is expected to roll out nationwide later this year. Found dramatic decline in voice calls from test group.
  • Mobile program powered by Metavante/Monitise joint program. 

Rebecca Mann, director of strategic alliances, Western Union

  • Using mobile to replace either the sending or receiving part of a money transfer
  • Partnering with US Bank for international remittances

Lisa Stanton, CEO, Monitise America

  • Can do more secure services within an app compared to mobile Web or SMS

Matt Krogstad, VP business development, M-Com

  • Critical for banks to be point of registration and source of funds
  • Should be able to register outside online banking
     via call center, ATM along with mobile phone
  • In Australia, mobile money transfers was slower to take off, approx. 18 months after adoption of mobile banking

Clint Heyworth, attorney, consumer finance group, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel

  • One-to-one relationship with phone (e.g., you have it with you) makes it better for security compared to PC where others have access
  • Not a lot of legal differences between delivering banking services via mobile vs. online
  • Don’t expect to see specific regulation regarding the mobile channel; will likely be the same regulations as for online banking

Tom Wills, senior analyst, Javelin Strategy & Research

  • Security is single biggest factor inhibiting mass consumer uptake
  • Only 500 pieces of malware have been identified so far in mobile vs. thousands of new ones every day online
  • 47% of respondents are uncomfortable with mobile security (Mar 2008 data)
  • Main concern is hackers, mentioned by 73% of those above
  • Expects anti-virus software makers to build mobile versions

Rebecca Sausner, editor, Bank Technology News

  • Total revenues for mobile banking vendors this year will be $26 million (source: Aite)

Sean Moshir, CEO, CellTrust (also mobile banking sub-committee co-chair of Mobile Marketing Association)

  • 66% of consumers still not yet comfortable using mobile device for financial transactions (source: 2009 KPMG Global Consumer Survey)
  • 7% said they would pay a nominal fee to access online banking services via mobile phones (source: 2009 KPMG Global Consumer Survey)

Is USAA the second largest in mobile banking?

image image Last week, USAA released astounding figures on its mobile banking usage: The 10-month-old service is already used by 11.4% — about 800,000 — of its 7 million members, making USAA one of the largest mobile banking providers in the country (press releasesee note 1).

The mobile platform has bagged more than 13 million logins in ten months, about 3% of its nearly 500 million annual customer contacts (note 2).

With the introduction of its own native iPhone app last week (note 3), USAA now supports the three primary methods for mobile access (see screenshot below):

Only Bank of America, with 2.6 million mobile users, has publicly revealed a larger mobile base. That makes USAA number two among known user bases. However, it is highly likely that both Chase/WaMu and Wells Fargo/Wachovia have cracked the one-million-user mark and are second and third largest. 

USAA’s mobile landing page (18 May 2009)

image

Notes:
1. On a side note, USAA posts its press releases in blog format which allows visitors to comment and/or subscribe via RSS.   
2. The 3% is approximated from data in the press release: 470 million customer contacts in 2008 and 13 million mobile logins since the service was launched in summer 2008.
3. Since last fall, USAA users could access their accounts via Firethorn’s multi-bank iPhone app.

USAA and Provident Bank Post iPhone Web Apps in Apple’s Directory

USAA iPhone mobile banking app (July 2008) It took almost six months, but Bank of America finally has company in Apple’s iPhone Web App Directory (see note 1).

USAA posted its iPhone-optimized Web app on July 2 (here). USAA’s browser-based app can be used by anyone with online access to their USAA accounts
(see note 2).

The resolution in the screenshot (right) is not great, but you can see the bank is using large iPhone-like icons to navigate to the main functions:

  • Balance/transaction inquiry
  • Funds transfer
  • Bill payment
  • Stock trading
  • Order auto insurance cards

Provident Bank added its mShift-powered solution to the Apple directory June 11. Users are able to perform all typical online banking functions: balance/transaction inquiry,image transfer funds, and pay bills. Its pedestrian format (see below) is clearly built to work across many different mobile devices. The small links would be harder to navigate on an iPhone compared to USAA’s icons.

See previous iPhone banking coverage here.

Notes:
1. BofA was first in the United States. Germany’s Postbank was the first bank in the world in the app directory, beating BofA by a few weeks last fall.

2. These are mobile browser-based solutions optimized for the iPhone. They are NOT native apps running on the iPhone OS, soon to be featured in Apple’s App Store (see previous post).

CheckFree to Enable In-home Remote Check Deposits for Consumers and Small Businesses

Link to USAA's Bank@Home Although, remote deposit capture has captured a significant share of larger businesses, consumers have had fewer options:

  • USAA has offered in-home scanning, called Deposit@Home, for more than a year (previous coverage here), but its customer base is limited to current and retired members of the military.
  • DepositNow, a unit of BankServ, allows anyone to use remote deposit services, but it's geared towards businesses and costs at least $29/mo, far above what consumers or even smaller businesses will pay.
  • A number of banks also make it available to small businesses and the very wealthy, but consumer rollouts have been nonexistent. The cost of a dedicated scanner makes it uneconomical for the mass market.

checkfree_logo CheckFree aims to change that with a new service targeted to consumers and very small businesses (press release here). The key is using existing consumer scanners and multi-function printers. USAA has proven that this technology does indeed work, so we expect CheckFree's service will pass technical hurdles.

It's hard to predict consumer demand, but given that around 20% of U.S. households maintain a full- or part-time business endeavor, we expect strong demand if the price is reasonable and technology is extremely easy to use.

Remote deposit services could be used as the cornerstone of a premium online banking offering (note 2) attractive to microbusiness (note 1) owners and consumers who still receive paper checks a few times per month.

Notes:

  1. We define a microbusiness as one with $50,000 or less in annual revenue, typically a part-time, home-based business. For more information see Online Banking Report #107/108: Small and Microbusiness Banking Online.
  2. See Online Banking Report #109 for ideas on how to create a premium online banking channel.

USAA Offers Nationwide Remote Deposit Capture for Consumers

In a press release yesterday, USAA, which serves many of its 5.6 million members remotely, announced the availability of its Deposit@home remote deposit capture service. It's the first major remote deposit capture service geared towards consumers. There are no fees for the service.

Previous services have been targeted to businesses who could justify the $300 to $700+ cost of a dedicated on-location paper-check scanner (see prior coverage here). USAA's service USAA remote deposit in actionworks with any 200 dpi or better scanner hooked to a Windows 2000/XP computer, so households with a dedicated scanner or multi-function printer will not be required to add hardware.

Deposit@home has been rolling out to selected customers since mid-November. To reduce risk, the service is only available to credit- and insurance-qualified checking account customers.

It's being positioned as a replacement to the UPS/NetBank QuickPost service that was abruptly discontinued by NetBank in a cost-cutting move (previous post here). QuickPost allowed USAA customers to overnight deposits free-of-charge from any UPS Store. There is no word on when or if it will be available to all USAA checking account customers.

Because of its limited availability, it has not been featured on USAA's website. Invitations were sent by email and the option was added to the menu within online banking. However, the feature was used in an online promotion for the Lackland Airfest 2006 a month ago (see mention in upper-left here). 

Here's a screenshot posted on the USAA thread at FatWallet:

QuickPost alternatives at USAA CLICK TO ENLARGE

Analysis
Assuming the service works as promised on in-home scanners, the ability to submit deposits remotely should help financial institutions compete for checking accounts outside their geographic footprint.

Winners: Direct banks, credit unions, and smaller banks with limited branch networks; also, remote deposit technology providers and printer/scanner manufacturers

Losers: Any financial institution that doesn't offer remote deposit options; branches