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H&R Block broadens mobile strategy with direct deposit

H&R Block is rolling out mobile direct deposit for the app that accompanies its Emerald Prepaid MasterCard card. H&R Block also has apps available for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices that help consumers prepare their taxes.

“This is now a fairly common solution among the leading financial institutions in the U.S.,” said Drew Sievers, CEO of mFoundry, San Francisco.

“We have many clients who have adopted the technology, and it is definitely an end-user favorite,” she said. “We see it remaining that way, at least until the day that checks are no longer written.”

Mr. Sievers is not associated with H&R Block. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

H&R Block did not respond to press inquiries by deadline.

 App features
Cardmembers can download the free app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

To use the service, consumers can snap a picture of a check to deposit a check directly into their accounts. Funds are then automatically available in the account.

Consumers can also use the app to check their card’s balance, view their transaction history and make credit payments.

Moreover, the app lets users find the nearest ATM and reload locations.

In conjunction with the mobile deposit update, H&R Block is also rolling out offers to card members.

The company claims to be giving cardholders more than $100 in instant rewards each month, which can be viewed in the app.

Consumers can find new rewards inside the app and view offers that they have redeemed.

Once a user makes a purchase using their Emerald Card, the cash back will automatically be put back onto their cards.

Mobile money management

As mobile banking advances, consumers are increasingly demanding more advanced and sophisticated features for online banking and financial management.

With the increase in smartphone and tablet ownership, mobile services have become a necessary part of online financial management.

In fact, a recent study from Javelin Strategy and Research found that banking and financial services are now used by 33 percent of mobile users. This is an increase from 24 percent in 2009.

In particular, the report found that app banking is growing quickly.

Javelin surveyed the top 25 financial institutions in the United States and found that roughly half offer either remote deposit or person-to-person mobile services. The finding more than doubled year-over-year (see story).

Besides its prepaid card program, H&R Block also has apps for its tax services.

In January, H&R Block rolled out an Android and iPhone app to help users file their taxes (see story).

“Mobile banking is one of the most popular applications available for mobile phones,” Mr. Sievers said.

“We have close to 13 million people using our platform for mobile banking, and adoption continues to grow rapidly,” he said.

“The combination of smartphone penetration, real-time access to your finances and end-users who are looking to their phones as a mini-computer rather than just a phone, all combine into a perfect storm for mobile banking success.”

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