Need to Make a Deposit? iPhone has an App for That

We’re rapidly approaching a time when every conceivable human action will have an associated iPhone application. While still in the early stage of exploring the App-space, I’m impressed by the amount of financial transactions that can be accomplished from your cell phone. USAA, a smaller bank and insurance company that is a pioneer in mobile account access, has just upgraded its iPhone App to include deposits by check. Just start the App, take some pictures of the check, and you’ve got money in the bank. It takes less than 2 minutes! Check out the promotional video after the break.

USAA bank allows iPhone users to send in checks via photo.
USAA bank allows iPhone users to send in checks via photo.

While I haven’t used the USAA iPhone App, I do have some experience with their previous generation of online deposits. My old roommate used to borrow my scanner all the time to send checks to USAA. The scanning software (akin to a Java applet) was hard to use at first, but became much easier with practice. USAA has had that technology in place for 3 years. A fact I often consider while trudging uphill both ways in the snow to my local bank’s ATM.

USAA isn’t even in the top 20 of US financial institutions, but with only one branch in the country (San Antonio) it has to focus on banking anytime, anywhere. A good philosophy when a large part of your customer base is overseas military personnel. About one million of USAA’s 7.2 million clients access their accounts via their phone by text or online access. They require you to pass a credit check, and have some form of insurance with the company. About 60% of their total clientele qualify. While less than 3% of the million mobile users may own an iPhone, USAA is confident that just having the option will draw customers and raise brand awareness.

Larger banks have been slower to allow scanned or photographed check deposits, but most have iPhone Apps. Bank of America, whose smart ATMs seem to be everywhere these days, say that 43% of their 3 million mobile banking customers use iPhones. That’s more than 1.2 million people who could save themselves a trip to the bank if BOA took a page from USAA’s book and started accepting scanned checks.

In the meantime, USAA continues to blaze new trails in the world of iPhone Apps and may start to enjoy the benefits. Certainly the overly friendly gentleman in the video seem to think so. In general, with the range of abilities available to smart phone users, they are on the path to becoming universal tools of trade and communication. When you are able to pay for something by bumping your iPhone against a cashier’s terminal we’ll finally hit pay dirt. For the moment, though, there’s not an App for that.

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