VOL. 6 | NO. 47 | Saturday, November 16, 2013
EMPHASIS: Financial Services
Banks Tweak Checking, Online Options
By Michael Waddell
As the two banks with the biggest customer deposit shares in Memphis, First Tennessee Bank and Regions Bank must stay closely in touch with their clients’ checking and online banking needs.
Regions Bank has joined other financial institutions in the Memphis market offering new services.
(Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)
“As we approach our 150-year anniversary, we remain focused on providing each customer with the best service and the most convenient banking experience,” said David W. Miller, First Tennessee executive vice president of consumer banking. “We’ve grown market share and remain the deposit share leader in our footprint.”
First Tennessee’s deposits grew 5.3 percent last year and outpaced the market, according to recent data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and its savings accounts and balances continue to grow despite the difficult economic environment, with roughly 40 percent of customers now having a savings account.
To attract new customers, the bank offers a variety of promotions throughout the year and is currently offering $150 for new checking account customers as well as 1 percent money market savings accounts.
“Customers are generally pleased with our current offerings, so our checking account lineup remains unchanged this year,” Miller said. “But we’re always looking for ways to get better. We’ve focused on making sure our fees are fair and easy to understand with simple new disclosures, and we’re helping customers manage their accounts with overdraft protection services.”
Technology is becoming an increasingly important factor in how customers choose to interact with their banks, and an industry-wide trend is for the use of fewer physical checks.
“Customers continue to use Bill Pay Online, debit cards and credit cards as an alternative to writing a physical check or paying with cash,” Miller said. “In light of this trend, this year we are adding the ability to print debit cards in our financial centers. This will allow customers to immediately have their debit card or replace a lost or stolen card with a quick visit to one of our many locations.”
Earlier this year, First Tennessee introduced new card designs in support of the Memphis Grizzlies and University of Memphis Tigers.
Miller is seeing rapid growth of online and mobile banking. More than 20 percent of the bank’s customers now use mobile banking every month, and recent improvements to its iPhone and Android apps and the launch of a new iPad app have that number growing by roughly 10 percent each month.
“Our free Mobile Deposit service, which allows customers to deposit checks via their smartphone, now takes nearly 20,000 checks each month,” Miller said. “And we’re working on new technologies to save customers time and money.”
InformationWeek magazine recently named First Tennessee a top tech innovator for the fifth year running.
Regions Bank ranks second in overall market share in Memphis, behind First Tennessee.
“In Western Tennessee, our market share continues to grow,” said Regions Bank Area President David May. “From June 2012 to June 2013, our amount of overall deposits went up year-over-year.”
The bank now serves about 4.5 million personal and business customers.
“We have not made any changes to our checking products in 2013; however in 2012 and 2013 we continued to make enhancements to our checking as well as with other ways clients access their finances at Regions,” May said. “We continued to invest in meeting our clients where they want to be, whether it is on their iPhone or on their PC.”
Regions clients are also moving more toward electronic banking, using fewer physical checks.
“When you look at the number of checks we process versus clients doing those same transactions electronically, we believe that in 2014, electronic transactions will surpass the paper checks for the first time,” May said.
All of Region’s checking products have ways for clients to avoid fees, such as signing up for e-statements or using a debit card more than 10 times a month.
The bank continues to make investments in new technology.
“In the last two years we’ve installed Deposit Smart ATMs at all of our locations in the West Tennessee marketplace,” May said. “We’ve also recently rolled out the ability to take a picture of your check with your iPhone and then make a deposit.”
May believes the bank’s customers benefit from added convenience beyond the bank’s normal business hours, allowing them to make deposits at the ATMs, which then post to their accounts the same day.
The bank just completed the renovation of its online bill-payment system.
“Now you can do your Bill Pay on your mobile device or on your PC, and it is incredibly seamless to make your bill payments,” May said.
Regions also is finding that its store value cards are becoming increasingly popular. The reloadable Visa cards allow clients an entry point into checking without the danger of incurring overdraft fees.