On or about November 22 — it’s hard to be precise when approval processes at the app stores are concerned — US Bank will launch mobile photo balance transfer, the latest in its growing suite of “photo banking” applications.
Mobile photo balance transfer enables existing US Bank credit card customers to transfer balances from another bank’s card to their US Bank card with a snap of the mobile phone camera. The service will begin with the company’s Flex Perks card, which is also testing voice commands. Customers must pass an eligibility test to determine if they are candidates for a balance transfer before performing the operation.
“We’re looking to address the pain points on mobile and one of these is data entry,” said Niti Badarinath, US Bank’s SVP for mobile banking and payments. “Imaging is an easy way to remove the tedium for these processes.”
The imaging technology used by US Bank — and virtually every other bank — is licensed from Mitek Systems, a publicly traded San Diego-based software provider that holds many imaging patents. US Bank was the first major bank out of the gate to launch mobile photo billpay. The bank began offering remote deposit capture in March 2011 and mobile photo billpay in March 2013. Mobile photo balance transfer will be the third smartphone camera function in US Bank’s app, but it won’t be the last.
“As Mitek develops technology, we will be right there to see how we can take it down the path of innovation,” Badarinath said.
One area where Mitek has developed technology that could serve US Bank customers is mobile account openings, using tablet-armed bankers to open accounts at the branch. Badarinath described how this could work for the emerging mobile-only customer who banks exclusively on his or her smartphone. “You can walk into a branch, apply for a checking or DDA account, scan a code, download the US Bank app, sign up for mobile banking, fund the account by taking a picture of a check, and enter billers for billpay.”
“We’re past the tipping point for mobile imaging adoption,” said Scott Carter, chief marketing officer at Mitek. “We’re now seeing combination use cases,” in other words account opening by photographing multiple documents. Bankers armed with tablets, for example, can photograph a user’s driver’s license to populate account information and a check to fund the account.
Badarinath said there are differences in use cases for tablets versus smartphones.
“The tablet is not just a bigger glass,” he said. “Who uses it and when and how they use it is different. We look at desktop, tablet and phone as different access points, but we want to push parity across devices.”
The customer experience is kept as close as possible across devices. One area where the tablet is clearly different is the size documents they can view. “Customers are more likely to complete applications on tablet versus the phone, so we’re building out that capability,” Badarinath said.
US Bank is also rolling out commerce capabilities within its mobile app in partnership with Monitise. The bank believes one unified app rather than multiple apps provides the best experience, Badarinath said. Monitise is looking to expand this service across its footprint of partner banks, but, as in many other things, US Bank is first in line.
The possible use cases for smartphone cameras (and the cameras of wearable technology like Google Glass) to aid in banking are numerous. Whatever they might be, it seems a safe bet that US Bank will be among the first to employ them.
US Bank, based in Minneapolis, Minn., holds assets valued at approximately $353 billion.