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10:30 AM
Ian Thomas
Ian Thomas
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Mobile Check Deposit Is Quickly Becoming a Must-Have

Customers increasingly expect to be able to deposit checks via their smartphones, and BB&T has become the latest bank to add mobile check deposit capabilities to its app.

Sumit Deshpande, the mobile channel development manager at BB&T, says he often has a stack of uncashed checks next to his home phone, much to the dismay of his wife. But now that the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based bank has become the most recent financial institution to offer mobile check deposits, Deshpande and BB&T's other personal and small business clients can deposit checks on their own time.

"It's gratifying for clients to not do what I do and deposit checks right away," Deshpande says with a laugh. "We've seen a lot of deposits happen before the work day begins, and after the work day ends."

Using BB&T's mobile app, customers can use the camera on an iPhone, Android or iPod Touch to deposit their paper checks, up to $1,000 per day and $3,000 over a rolling 30-day period for personal checking accounts, and up to $2,500 per day and $5,000 over a rolling 30-day period for business checking accounts.

"There's been huge recent growth in people buying smartphones, and this is just more great technology that we are able to leverage," comments Deshpande. "Features like this are no longer just accepted, they are expected."

Mobile check depositing has become one of customers' most wanted features in an app, according to Gary Brand, director of source capture optimization at Fiserv, which provides BB&T with the technology behind its new mobile check deposit capabilities. And the benefits, he says, go beyond just saving a client a few minutes every couple of days. "Features like this have the benefit of creating a deeper relationship between the institution and the client," Brand asserts. "It makes them see more value in banking with that institution."

[Power to the People:How Multichannel Banking Became Less About Channels and More About Customer Preferences.]

Brand adds that banks must continue to educate customers about the features and security behind mobile technology. "This needs to fit in with the long-term strategy for your mobile platform, and thought has to be put into what you are going to do next," he advises.

BB&T ($174.8 billion in assets) has seen an uptick in downloads of its mobile app since it introduced the remote check deposit feature, the bank's Deshpande reports. But he declines to say just how many of the bank's customers are using the feature, which is free for the first 30 days and costs $0.50 for each individual deposit afterwards.

One Customer at a Time

But even as the race to offer the most tech-savvy mobile offering is heating up, it's important to remember that not every customer carries a smartphone, notes Bob Meara, a senior analyst in Boston-based Celent's banking group who has reported extensively on remote deposit capture. "It's still a relatively small subset of the market, and use is rather infrequent," he insists. "There's still a pretty large chunk of people who are fearful of the technology and are worried that it won't be secure, and those who prefer to do this face to face."

Even if the feature isn't "moving the needle," according to Meara, it's still an important step for an institution to take, however. Mobile check deposits will help consumers become more at ease with sharing information with their banks via mobile banking, he suggests, which will only help banks implement additional mobile features, such as more personal financial management tools and real-time account updates.

Regardless of whether a small business customer uses the application to deposit checks every day, or if an individual just uses the app to deposit a birthday check once a year, though, providing clients with a product they like to use should be the goal of banks, Meara says. "It's not about using the feature every day -- we're decades away from people having to cash a bunch of checks every day," he comments. "It's about having quality experiences with your bank in about 30 seconds."

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