VOL. 129 | NO. 129 | Thursday, July 3, 2014
Mobile Services Increasingly Expected of Banks
By Andy Meek
The mobile race is on among Memphis financial institutions, with banks rolling out apps that allow banking on the go and a full range of capabilities that translate the brick-and-mortar banking experience to small digital screens.
Evolve Bank & Trust is one of the latest banks to launch an app, marrying the power of convenience with banking technology to let customers complete routine transactions or conduct research on the go, at any time.
Evolve’s app is emblematic of what customers tend to expect from banks. It lets Evolve customers, for example, view account balances and transaction history, initiate account transfers and pay bills. All kinds of account types are supported, such as checking, certificates of deposit, money markets, loans and lines of credit.
The app is available for free for iPhones in Apple’s App Store as well as for Android devices in the Google Play store.
In addition to being regarded as a must-offer feature, it’s also common to make such banking capabilities available through a phone’s Web browser. Evolve does that as well, optimizing its mobile experience outside of the app for the small screen, so that customers don’t have to pinch and zoom too frequently to take care of business.
“At the end of the day,” says Evolve president and CEO Scott Stafford, “we want the entire Evolve customer experience to be one of excellent service, competitive products and most importantly convenience. The new mobile app will help make customers’ lives a little easier.”
And it doesn’t just stop there. Banks in Memphis also see growing interest in rolling out features like remote check deposit, which uses a mobile device’s camera to snap a photo of a check and digitally deposit it into a customer’s account.
Magna Bank is one of the latest to launch that capability, and the bank’s chairman, president and CEO Kirk Bailey said it’s one that most community banks in the area still don’t offer.
The new service allows customers to make deposits with their mobile devices by taking a photo of a check with their mobile phone or tablet. The check is then deposited directly to the customer’s account, and customers won’t be charged a fee for using this service.
“It gives you a few steps to follow to take the picture of the check with your phone,” Bailey said, calling the feature “pretty simple and handy.”
Odd as it might sound, the fact that customers increasingly expect such technology advancements from banks is part of what bank executives say makes it sometimes hard to run a bank – especially a smaller community bank – these days.
For one reason, customers expect these features at no or for a minimal cost. Developing apps can be expensive, but banks can’t do it on the cheap, especially because robust security protocols have to be baked in to any new products. Also, mobile banking capabilities can turn the act of a bank’s interactions with customers into a pure commodity.
One bank executive in Memphis, for example, recently lamented to The Daily News that “it’s hard to have a relationship with an app.” Since much of what banks offer – free checking, savings accounts, and the like – are similar across institutions, customer relationships are one of the few ways banks can set themselves apart from the pack.
With an app, of course, the bank never sees the customer and thus doesn’t know if the bank’s services are being embraced enthusiastically, aren’t seen as adequate or are regarded as just good enough.