Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Bank of America boosts mobile strategy for investors with Android app, new functionality

Bank of America is introducing a number of new mobile capabilities to meet the investment needs of Merrill Edge customers.

With the financial institution’s research showing that Merrill Edge customers are avid users of mobile banking, it has added an Android mobile application to a lineup that already includes offerings for iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry. Additionally, Merrill Edge iPhone app users will now be able to deposit checks remotely using their mobile devices while iPad app users will be able to pay bills.

“In our Merrill Edge report, customers said that access to information on the go was critical,” said Anne Pace, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, New York.

“Many customers are using Android, which is why we developed the app,” she said.

“Bill Pay is a key function customers are looking for and we want to ensure we are offering what they need.”

The convenience factor
Bank of America says it has more than nine million active mobile banking customers, making it the market leader with more mobile customers than any other United States bank.

Its Merrill Edge business provides self-directed and guided investment services for mass affluent consumers, or those who have investable assets of between $50,000 and $250,000.

In a recent report looking at the financial behaviors of these consumers, Bank of America found that 25 percent say they are avid users of mobile banking. This group cites their top mobile banking activities as checking account balances (81 percent), transferring funds (64 percent) and paying bills (63 percent).

These mobile banking users believe the top benefits of mobile banking are the ability to view accounts anywhere at any time (40 percent), helping them stay in control of their finances (36 percent) and access to real-time information (36 percent), according to Bank of America’s research.

Additionally, 33 percent of these consumers plan to access their accounts more on their smartphone in the future and 17 percent are willing to make investments using mobile banking while 10 percent are willing to do so using instant or text messaging.

Mobile investments
To address the mobile needs of these consumers, Bank of America is introducing a Merrill Edge Android app to give Android smartphone owners a way to simply and conveniently view investment balances, place trades, research investments and transfer funds between their linked banking and investment accounts.

The new bill-pay functionality for the iPad app enables customers to schedule, edit or manage online bill payments.

For the first time, Merrill Edge iPhone customers can quickly and easily take a picture of a check with their iPhone and have it deposited directly into their investment account.

Mobile users are looking for convenient access to their banking accounts and the ability to invest via mobile.

Bringing new mobile functionality to Merrill Edge customers is just one of the ways that Bank of America is ramping up its mobile strategy.

Earlier this year, Bank of America used a mobile advertising campaign to drive downloads of its mobile banking iPhone application (see story).

“We will continue to invest on online and mobile enhancements that our customers are asking for,” Ms. Pace said.