Banks of all sizes are seeing the benefits of smartphone banking apps

Monday, May 21, 2012
The Bank of Missouri mobile application. (Laura Simon)

Not too long ago, Internet banking was a big development. Now, it's all about the apps.

"It's a growing platform and something that customers demand. This is another way to reach out to them and serve our customers well," says Mel Campbell, spokesman for Regions Bank. The Regions Bank app for iPhone lets customers check balances and transaction history, transfer funds between Regions accounts, pay bills, locate branches and ATMs using GPS technology, and even receive banking alerts and complete transactions via text message.

"It really comes down to providing a convenient way for customers to bank," says Charley Puls, city president for Regions Bank in Cape Girardeau. "When customers are coming in and opening an account, this is one product they take advantage of in addition to online banking. The mobile app has no cost other than what the carrier charges for fees. We're not charging."

US Bank has a similar app for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones, and the Bank of America has one for iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Amazon Kindle Fire and Android tablet and handset devices.

But it's not just the big banks that are creating apps. Smaller, locally owned institutions like The Bank of Missouri are also smartphone friendly.

The Bank of Missouri launched its iPhone app, "The Bank of MO on the GO," in early 2010 and launched an Android app at the beginning of 2012. The apps allow customers to view account balances, transaction history and account alerts, pay bills, do account transfers and find bank branch and ATM locations, all from their mobile phone.

"This is a very beneficial and free service for our customers that is becoming more and more popular since so many people are using smartphones for almost everything," says Caitlin Schlichting, online marketing specialist for The Bank of Missouri. "Most of the bigger banks do offer these same services, but some of the smaller community banks have been a little slower to adopt the new technology. We are lucky and thankful to be able to take advantage of this technology as a community bank and be able to offer the same level of service and convenience to our customers as the big banks do."

The Bank of Missouri is working on an iPhone app update to add a location finder tool, says Schlichting, and it's also looking into apps geared toward children and helping customers reach their savings goals. She estimates there have been about 1,000 iPhone app downloads and 500 Android app downloads.

While Regions bank did not have estimates on how many customers are using its mobile app, Puls says he's heard positive feedback from customers locally and feels the app is growing in usage and popularity.

"People are using it the same way they use any banking service. People choose different venues in how they want to bank, and a lot more are using this one today," he says. "It's one of the fastest growing channels that exists in our company and the industry."

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