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Bank of the West app adds a bill for payment in 30 seconds

Following a soft launch last fall, Bank of the West is rolling out scan-to-pay bill payment capabilities in its mobile application for customers at its more-than 650 locations, promising users can add a bill in about 30 seconds.

The new feature, offered through Fiserv, enables mobile bankers to hover over paper bills with their smartphone camera to instantly capture all the necessary information. The move follows findings from the bank’s research showing customers would be more likely to pay and receive bills on their mobile phones with quicker and simpler experience.

“At Bank of the West, we’re committed to developing digital banking experiences that allow our customers to bank with us on their terms,” said Jamie Armistead, executive vice president and head of digital channels at Bank of the West, San Francisco. “Scan to Pay is a perfect example of how we let our customers choose how, when and where they want to bank with us.

“We did extensive ethnographic research around this feature,” he said. “Customers often want to pay a bill while they remember, no matter where they are.

“Our app gives all customers the flexibility and control over completing their finances whenever and wherever they want, in the palm of their hand. We design for mobile by thinking through exactly how our app can help the ‘always connected’ customer be financially responsible in a painless, easy way.”

Bank of the West, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, has its headquarters in San Francisco and operates in 22 states.

Saving time
By enabling customers to pay bills with the click of a camera, Bank of the West hopes to help users save time by not having to go to multiple billers’ direct sites to set up accounts and pay bills monthly.

Bank of the West’s app automatically initiates taking a scan of a bill, which reduces the dependency on the user to take a picture. According to the bank, this virtually eliminates the chance that the image will be rejected and that the user will have to repeat the process.

Bank of the West is the first bank in the U.S. to launch on-device image quality analysis and image processing, which helps increase image accuracy, reduce rejections and ensure the fastest experience possible.

The new Scan to Pay feature had a soft launch in October 2014. It captures essential bill information and automatically enters it. Payee information is stored securely for future payments

With Scan to Pay, customers can choose which platform—mobile or online—is most convenient for them.

On-the-go banking
Research from Fiserv shows that 77 percent of households currently use multiple payment options, including mobile and online bill pay.

Additionally, 37 percent of respondents to the Fiserv survey named the ability to use an app and the phone camera to take a picture of a bill as the top feature that would motivate them to pay bills using their smartphone.

Bank of the West offers other mobile banking features such as Quick Balance, enabling app users to get up to five pre-login account balances with the slide of a finger.

Since its launch in 2013, Bank of the West’s mobile app has seen a steady increase in users and activity.

For example, users who have activated the Quick Balance feature access the app about 21 times a month vs. seven times a month for those who always log in.

Additionally, Mobile Bill Pay volume has grown 14 percent. New features such as Scan to Pay, have led to over 450 percent growth in 90-day Mobile Active users in less than two years

Up next
Looking ahead, Bank of the West is investigating mobile enrollment and biometrics to further meet the needs of on-the-go bankers.

“We are looking into integrating mobile enrollment; we want to allow people to enroll in mobile/online banking without needing to even go online since this would allow our customers to be fully ‘mobile first,’” Mr. Armistead said.

“Going forward, we also have been looking at biometrics,” he said. “It’s an interesting space that will be a key driver in customer convenience.

“Biometric innovations could provide enhanced security through retinal scans, face recognition, or fingerprint recognition. For us, it’s all about what will give customers the most convenient banking experience.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York