USAA Bank, a privately held bank and insurance company in the US, plans to update its iPhone application to introduce the check deposit feature. The customers need to photograph both sides of the check with the phone’s camera. The image is going into the Bank’s deposit-taking system as any other paper check would. To reduce the potential for fraud, only customers who are eligible for credit and have some type of insurance through USAA will be permitted to use the deposit feature.
Customers will not have to mail the check to the bank later. The deposit will be handled entirely electronically, and the bank suggests voiding the check and filing or discarding it.
A study released recently found that more than 15 million people in the United States used mobile banking each month. The most popular banking tasks done on cellphones are reviewing account balances, transferring money, making payments and finding ATMs. But in general, mobile banking has been slow to catch on; tighter budgets have forced banks to focus on using technology in ways that cut costs or generate revenue. If banks can get people to stop calling call centers for mundane inquiries and instead send a text message, that saves a bank about $14 for every one of those inquiries.
Three years ago, the bank had introduced the option of depositing a check from home using a scanner. That laid the groundwork for the phone deposit feature, which USAA plans to offer on other phones too this year. [via NYT]