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Ally Bank bulks up mobile banking portfolio with person-to-person payments

Ally Bank is catering to an increasingly mobile-savvy group of bankers with two new application features that put consumers more in control of managing their own finances.

The financial institution has rolled out person-to-person payments and electronic fund transfers. The features have been added across Ally Bank’s iPhone and Android app.

“Increasingly, consumers are opting to conduct more and more personal transactions via smartphones,” said Diane Morais, deposits and line of business integration executive at Ally Bank, Midvale, UT.

“The addition of the latest features were guided by customer feedback regarding the functionality they want and are most likely to use on a mobile device, in balance with the feasibility of implementing the technology in a manner that delivers a positive user experience,” she said.

Advanced banking
One of the new Ally Bank app features is an extension of a feature called Popmoney.

The feature lets consumers virtually send money to friends and family’s bank accounts regardless of whether or not they have an Ally Bank account.

The feature has been expanded to mobile so that bankers can manage their payment and account information and view scheduled payments.

A payment is sent by typing in an email address, bank account information or mobile phone number.

If the payment is sent via a phone number or email address, a recipient receives a text message or email that links back to Consumers are then prompted to deposit the money that they have received through the site.

Funds sent via a bank account number are automatically transferred to an account so that the recipient does not have to do anything.

Person-to-person mobile transfers build on Ally Bank’s existent mobile strategy, but the bank is certainly not the first to roll out mobile person-to-person payments.

Chase, U.S. Bank and Bank of America have already invested significantly in mobile person-to-person payments to keep up with mobile bankers’ growing expectations.

Mobile transfers
In addition to Popmoney, Ally Bank has added another electronic fund transfer update to the app.

A past version of the app let consumers set up a one-time transfer using the feature within Ally Bank accounts only.

Now, the recurring and edit transfers feature allows customers to set up and manage one-time and recurring transfers between both Ally and non-Ally bank accounts.

For most banks nowadays, mobile and desktop are bundled together as online banking services for account holders.

Moreover, in some cases mobile and digital are becoming the primary ways that consumers interact with their bank.

In fact, digital-only banking is expected to cut significantly into traditional financial institutions in the coming years. A recent report from Accenture predicts that 35 percent of the market that traditional banks control this year could be shifted over to digital-only banking services by 2020 (see story).

As consumers crave more digital offerings from their banks, Ally Bank expects to continue leveraging mobile to make the banking process as simple as possible.

“We will continue to look at adding functionality based on evolving trends, knowledge of our customers’ transactional behavior and user testing that demonstrates that any new features will result in positive, efficient experiences for the end user,” Ms. Morais said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York