USAA Archives

Mobile Marketing: USAA Embeds Preapproved Loan Offers within Mobile App

By Jim Bruene on May 9, 2013 11:33 AM | Comments

Now that the U.S. personal credit crisis of 2008 to 2010 is in the rear-view mirror (but still visible), banks and credit unions are getting more aggressive with credit. And guess what new marketing vehicle is available in 2013 that didn't exist five years ago? Yep, mobile this and mobile that.

So far, the sales component in mobile banking has been minimal. Generally, users must already be a customer of the bank and even pre-registered with online banking. And cross-selling? About the only thing you can buy remotely is an ATM withdrawal.

But that will change as more customers only deal with their bank and cards through mobile apps, a number that is already pushing 30% of the online banking base of Bank of America (see previous post).

Eventually, most financial products will be sold through the mobile app. Not convinced? Look internationally where mobile was a thing even before the iPhone. I still remember Bankinter's 2007 BAI Retail Delivery presentation where they said 20% of their retail interest-rate swaps were done via mobile phone.

In the United States, we are starting to see banks pushing the envelope. USAA has been the leader in most areas. So no surprise that they are the first (that I know of) to place preapproved credit offers within their mobile app (see screenshots below).

In the bank's Dec. 2012 update (see inset), it added the ability to:

  • Accept pre-approvals in the app
  • Apply for checking and savings accounts in the app
  • Apply for life insurance after getting a quote in the app

Bottom line: The power of the pre-approved credit offer is well known. Traditionally, snail mail has been the medium of choice. But that's expensive, time-consuming, and oftentimes not delivered at the optimal moment. Delivering offers via mobile phone can solve all those problems.

And as an added bonus: The sales results will create a better business case for your entire mobile initiative.


USAA delivers preapproved credit card offer within its mobile app (Dec 2013)
Note: Screenshots shown are from a customer with an existing USAA life insurance relationship.
Price disclosures (right screenshot) displayed after clicking "Rates and Fees" under "Accept Offer" (left screenshot)

image         image

Source: comScore Q4 2012, Mobile Financial Services Advisor


Note: We cover online mobile delivery and marketing in depth in our subscription-based Online Banking Report.


Mobile Monday: Insurance Companies Expand App Functionality to Keep Users Engaged

By Jim Bruene on April 28, 2013 6:42 PM | Comments

imageInsurance companies have put together some of the more engaging mobile apps in the financial space. But  then, really, they have little choice. Unlike banks, insurance carriers (not including health) don't have the luxury of a locked-in audience checking their account multiple times each week (note 1).

Unless you are in the middle of a claim, how often are you going to pull up your provider's mobile app? (If you even remember you downloaded it). Maybe when the bill is due, if you are in the minority not on automatic payment. Maybe every few years when you switch out a vehicle or decide to tweak your coverage. But on average, it's just not going to be top of mind (or phone).

Yet, insurance companies have a big incentive to get you to use it:

Process improvements, cost savings and a better customer experience when filing a claim

imageSmartphone users can do much of the claims process, including online monitoring, right from within their app (see USAA inset). They can even use the smartphone to snap pictures and shoot video right at the accident site. This could have a dramatic impact on claims management and fraud protection. Smartphone apps can also be used to track driver performance to improve underwriting and fine-tune prices.

So, insurance companies go over the top to make the app memorable and engaging. The examples below provide a glimpse of the breadth of insurance company mobile services.

  • GEICO has eight apps. Besides the usual functionality is its main app, users may choose from three different skins (see #1 below). Either the famous gecko lizard, or the newer baby pig, or the standard corporate logo.
  • State Farm has four apps including MoveTools for planning and scheduling a household move (#2 below).
  • Allstate has eight apps ranging from typical policy holder stuff, to apps that track your home inventory (#3 below), driving performance (#4) and motorcycle trips (#5).


1. GEICO lets chooser change the app "skin" (26 April 2013)
Note: The default app uses the famous lizard in the background. But I changed it to the pig which is now shown on the main screen.

image      image

2. State Farm MoveTools helps plan a household move (iPad)


3. Allstate's Digital Locker for tracking home inventory


4. Allstate's Drivewise app syncs with special hardware to track driving performance

image     image

5. Allstate's GoodRide is designed for motorcycle enthusiasts

image        image


1. This is one of the reasons why we believe banks have a huge opportunity in all types of insurance. See our full report here (Dec 2011, subscription)

Categories: Allstate, Insurance, USAA

Mobile Monday: USAA Taps the Mobile Camera for New Account Opening

By Jim Bruene on January 14, 2013 6:14 AM | Comments

USAA ipad app offers mobile check deposit The smartphone has already changed the way we work, communicate, find information, and behave. But it's had a limited role so far in bank-account opening (note 1).

But leave it to USAA, the pioneering bank for all things mobile (note 2) to lead the way again. First reported this week in American Banker, USAA is testing the use of "blank check" capture to make it easier for certain new customers (note 3) to make their initial deposit (note 4).

Customers can snap a picture of a blank check from their old account and then enter the amount to be transferred electronically (note 5). It's not really any faster, actually probably slower, than simply typing in a checking account and routing number (twice). But given how frustrating data entry can be on a mobile, some users will love it.

More importantly, it introduces users immediately to mobile capture and removes one more barrier to getting that first deposit on the books. And it makes USAA look cool.


1. At Finovate, we've seen the mobile camera used in a number of interesting ways. oFlows (now a part of Andera), wowed the crowd in 2009/2010 with various paperless account-opening and -processing technologies (for example, check out its FinovateSpring 2010 "Best of Show" demo).
2. USAA launched mobile remote deposit 18 months before any other major bank and a full 3 years before Bank of America (see our 2009 post).    
3. Only certain USAA members are eligible to use mobile deposit (generally, those with military service or their family members who have acceptable credit).
4. Unfortunately, USAA doesn't yet support full mobile account opening. New customers must first go online and establish a new account and register a username and password. Then they must go to USAA mobile banking, log in, then take a picture of the blank check. Furthermore, only certain USAA members are eligible to use mobile deposit.
5. In the United States, the funds are moved via ACH, a little-understood system that banks could do a better job explaining to customers. See a rundown of the mysteries of ACH from the customer's standpoint in this enlightening Deposit Account post from yesterday.


Mobile Marketing: Leveraging the iPhone App Update Process

By Jim Bruene on July 30, 2012 4:53 PM | Comments

image As customers have adopted ever-more convenient delivery methods, the customer communications process has changed dramatically. Each channel has its own ways of communicating with customers:

  • Branch/mail: Signage, statement inserts, chance conversations in line, direct sales pitches
  • Phone: On-hold messages, prompts on the phone tree, direct sales pitches
  • Online: Email, interstitials, display ads, website content, popups, online chat
  • Mobile: Similar to online plus notifications, text messages and app updates (see below)

In the mobile channel, the process for updating native apps provides a unique marketing opportunity that is virtually without cost and guaranteed to be read by a large portion of your mobile customers (previous post). App publishers have a screen of free real estate to explain the benefits of the new feature(s).

I've read thousands of these update descriptions and there is huge variety of approaches. Some publishers take maximum advantage of the "free publicity" to engage their customers (see Yelp below), pump up the new features (see USAA), and seek additional feedback (see Redfin, SimplyUs examples).

Other publishers don't pay enough attention to readability (Wells, Bank of America, US Bank examples, see note 1) or just put the minimum effort into a bulleted list (E*Trade). 

Bottom line: Each time you push out a new update, use it as an opportunity to educate users and reinforce your mobile brand.


iPhone App Update Examples


Yelp reinforces its playful brand with        USAA is more matter of fact, but  
enthusiastic and humorous copy                   does a good job highlighting new
announcing its v.6.0.                                           features in its v.4.9.

image     image

Redfin released a minor bug fix in             SimplyUs gets right to its bullet
v.3.3.2 but includes its email address        list of features, with just enough
to report any issues.                                           info to explain the v.1.0.17 update.
Nice touch!                                                            Plus email and Twitter handle.

image     image

Need work

Wells does an OK job, but the first               Similarly, Bank of America has an
bullet reads like something lifted from        acceptable message for its v.3.3.351. 
project checklist. And the second                  But the copy is a little confusing and
is too long-winded. Plus, a floating             has an asterisked point floating mid-page.                       "Bug fixes" hovers at  the bottom                        
of its v.2.1 update.

image     image

US Bank's v. 1.6.8 message is                    E*Trade's 2.6 update sounds like it
confusing. Something about being             has a bunch of new features, but
asked to accept a quick update, but          it did nothing but list them with
no specifics on why or what has                no explanations.

image    image


1. These examples were all taken from updates I downloaded today. They are not necessarily indicative of every update from these companies. At major releases (such as Yelp's v6.0), most publishers will step up the copy-writing quality.


Mobile: USAA Introduces "Stay Logged On" Option for iPhone App

By Jim Bruene on November 30, 2011 4:30 PM | Comments (3)

imageI'm not sure if this is normal or not, but I enjoy the process of updating the 100-some apps on my iPhone. I'm always interested in what's changed and how the company communicates the new info to users. I've noted before that banks aren't good at leveraging this customer touchpoint, but they are getting better.

USAA mobile banking update v4.0 wit "stay logged on" In the latest round of app updates, I noticed a nice improvement from USAA (see inset; note 1). Instead of automatically logging you off whenever you move out of the app, say to take a call or fire off a text, the bank provides the option of staying logged in for up to 20 minutes.

Sure, there's a tiny risk that if you were to lose your phone or loan it to someone during that time, they could get into your account. But your average smartphone thief is unlikely to click on the USAA button during those first 20 minutes. And even if they did, it's unlikely they could do much with the info.

Bottom line: I want this option on all my banking apps.


1. This iPhone update (v. 4.0) was pushed out, 8 Nov 2011
2. For more on mobile banking, see our subscription publication, Online Banking Report.

Comments (3)

USAA Promotes Teen Checking Accounts

By Jim Bruene on January 11, 2011 6:16 PM | Comments (2)


In doing some initial research for a report we are planning for Q1 on "family bank accounts," I started where I usually do, on Google. The only financial institution advertising specifically on the term "teen banking" was USAA (see note 1).

The top-of-the-page ad led to a well-designed landing page devoted to Teen Checking (see screenshots below) with a clever call to action: 

We won't take any of your teen's allowance.
Teen checking without hidden fees.

USAA even has a dedicated site with its own URL to support its youth-banking efforts:

Relevance for NetBankers: Teenagers may be one of the most lucrative segments to attract to your financial institution. They not only spend billions themselves, but also could literally stick with you for a lifetime.

The thinking goes something like this:

  1. Attracting the children of your customers helps you retain the parents
  2. Retaining the parents helps you retain the kids as they become young adults
  3. Young adults become parents
  4. Repeat

This didn't work so well in the old branch-based world because one of the first things the kids did when they moved away was open a checking account at the closest branch to their new apartment or dorm room. In an online/mobile-centric world, that no longer has to happen. 

Google search for "teen banking" (see note 1; search conducted at 5:00 PM on 11 Jan. 2011 from Seattle IP address)

Google search for "teen banking"

USAA's "Teen Checking" landing page

USAA's "Teen Checking" landing page

1. First-page organic results included (note, search was limited to items posted in past month) 
-- Fremont FCU
-- North Shore Bank
-- Coast Hills FCU
-- U.S. Bank (Visa Buxx)
-- S.T.A.R Community Credit Union
-- American Riviera Bank (my new favorite bank name)
2. If anyone wants to point out great examples of teen/youth/family banking efforts, please drop me an email or leave it in the comments. Thanks.

Comments (2)

Financial Companies Dominate Groundswell Awards in North American B2C Category

By Jim Bruene on November 1, 2010 3:59 PM | Comments

imageIt's not often that financial services companies take home multiple trophies in a cross-industry retail-marketing competition. But last week, they took home almost half the top prizes in Forrester's Groundswell competition for the best use of "social" techniques in their marketing efforts.

Financial companies won nine of 20 possible honors including three of seven category winners and six of 13 runner-up awards (called "finalists"). Four of the winners were in tax prep, a surprisingly social activity.   

The financial category-winners:

Financial runner-ups (aka finalists):

  • Listening (of 3 total)
    -- Listening to the Student Pulse by Bank of America and Communispace
  • Talking (of 2 total)
    -- American Family Insurance on Facebook by American Family Insurance
  • Energizing (of 2 total)
    -- TurboTax Embraces Customer Reviews for Viral Growth by Intuit, Inc.
    -- USAA Implements Ratings and Reviews by USAA
  • Supporting (of 2 total)
    -- Get it Right Community by H&R Block
    -- Taxes on Twitter: @TeamTurboTax Provides Customer Support and Resources by Intuit Inc.

Intuit's TurboTax division alone accounted for three of the nine financial winners. USAA bagged two awards and H&R Block, Chase, Bank of America and American Family each received one Groundswell award.


USAA is Amazing

By Jim Bruene on August 27, 2010 2:09 PM | Comments (11)

imageHow did USAA become the most innovative bank in America? I guess its big-bank competitors have been kind of preoccupied with other matters the past few years. And because USAA serves most of its 5 million banking customers remotely, it stands to profit from pushing the envelope in online/mobile delivery. 

The latest proof that the bank is both innovative and adored? Posting user reviews right in the middle of the homepage, an inventive and unique approach. And with an average score of 4.7 out of 5 for both checking and auto insurance, the reviews serve as a transparent and effective mass endorsement.

Here's the breakdown of scores received on 6,350 total reviews for USAA's free checking account (as of 12 Aug 2010):

     5 stars (excellent) >>> 5,550  (87% of total)
     4 stars (good) >>>>>>    329  (5%)
     3 stars (average) >>>>   154   (2%)
     2 stars (fair) >>>>>>>    110   (2%)
     1 star (poor) >>>>>>>     214  (3%)

Relevance for Netbankers: Frankly, I never thought I'd see user reviews posted anywhere on a bank site, let alone the homepage (note 1). If your customers love you, I mean really love you, customer reviews posted directly to an in-house site is a great way to prove it (note 2).

USAA homepage (12 August 2010)
Note: Ad on top for its new Auto Circle car-buying service, complete with its own iPhone app.



1. Bank of America also posted user reviews on its site, but the feature appears to have been discontinued a while ago. The last reference I could find on Google about the reviews was in Jan. 2008.
2. This would not be an easy project and would require a significant investment in ongoing monitoring and maintenance. More importantly, it requires a thick skin; your organization would have to be comfortable with a certain amount of complaints being posted. As good as USAA's overall score is, there are still 314 poor reviews posted, 3% of the total. But allowing customers a salient vent-fest on your website may keep them from doing so in more public venues such as Twitter. It also gives you a chance to respond to and resolve posted problems.

Comments (11)

Mobile Remote Deposit Capture by the Numbers (thanks USAA)

By Jim Bruene on July 20, 2010 10:59 PM | Comments

image I love it when first movers decide to brag about their results. For years, Bank of America has released frequent updates on the size of its online/mobile-banking user base (June 2008 figures). Given the bank's massive market share, those figures are a great help in sizing the entire U.S. market.

USAA is now doing the same for the fledgling consumer-remote-check-deposit market. USAA was the first major financial institution to introduce the service a year ago. Earlier this month, Chase Bank became the second major bank to offer mobile capture.

In a press release last week, the direct banking giant said that more than 1.5 million checks, worth $930 million, an average of $620 per item, had been deposited through its mobile remote deposit app released last summer. Mobile accounts for about one-third of the bank's consumer remote-capture volume. The online version, introduced in late 2006, still outnumbers mobile volume 2 to 1.

USAA's banking division has 5 million customers in total.

Here's a quick summary of USAA remote-deposit stats:

     1.5 million checks deposited via mobile app (35% of total)
     2.8 million checks submitted via online/scan remote capture (65% of total)
  = 4.3 million total remotely deposited checks (100%)

The current run-rate for mobile-deposited checks is now 2.5 million items annually worth more than $1.6 billion.

The bank also said that 95% of all checks are deposited without a teller. The bank did not provide a breakout of how many non-teller checks came through remote scanning vs. mail.


USAA Makes Mobile Banking Better than Online Banking

By Jim Bruene on March 3, 2010 6:06 PM | Comments (4)

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.

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.

Comments (4)

Numbers: Remote Deposit Penetration at Randolph-Brooks FCU

By Jim Bruene on November 6, 2009 9:35 AM | Comments

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.

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

By Jim Bruene on August 31, 2009 4:29 PM | Comments

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


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.


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

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

By Jim Bruene on August 10, 2009 11:04 AM | Comments

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

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)

By Jim Bruene on June 4, 2009 7:02 PM | Comments (2)

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 <>, 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 <>
  • 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:
  • 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,; text-message banking is much more popular (also have; 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)
Comments (2)

Is USAA the second largest in mobile banking?

By Jim Bruene on May 18, 2009 1:08 PM | Comments

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)


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

By Jim Bruene on July 9, 2008 10:02 AM | Comments

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.

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).

Categories: Apple, Mobile Banking, USAA, iPhone

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

By Jim Bruene on February 5, 2008 12:23 PM | Comments (4)

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.


  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.
Comments (4)

USAA Offers Nationwide Remote Deposit Capture for Consumers

By Jim Bruene on December 7, 2006 9:34 AM | Comments

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

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


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