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U.S. Bank ramps up photo banking to enable credit card balance transfers

U.S. Bank is introducing mobile-enabled credit card balance transfers today as the financial institution continues to ramp up a photo banking strategy designed to give it a competitive advantage with a young audience.

As an early adopter of remote check deposit using a mobile phone’s camera, U.S. Bank has experienced firsthand the appeal of imaging-based banking services for a growing number of digital-only and mobile-only bankers. As a result, the bank has been investing in a number of imaging capabilities, with credit card balance transfers the latest.

“The photo balance transfer product is the next step in what we are starting to refer to as photo banking that has become an overall imaging strategy for the bank,” said Chris Peper, vice president of mobile channel management at U.S. Bank, Minneapolis, MN. “We have been very intentional about making investments in imaging to carve out and maintain that leadership position.

“We started with the mobile deposit and following the success on that, we really got interested in how we could continue to use imaging capabilities to make some of these banking transactions a little bit more engaging and fun for customers by trying to take things away from data entry and replace the keyboard with the camera,” he said.

Photo banking
To use the photo credit card balance transfer service, customers who come into mobile banking can see what type of balance transfer offers are available either on the account summary page or within a special offers section.

Once users select an offer, they see more details including any transaction fees and terms and conditions. At this point, users can take an image of the payment coupon for a credit card from a different financial institution using the camera on their phone.

U.S. Bank built the solution with Mitek, which processes the image and obtains the information necessary to do the transfer.

U.S. Bank is investing in imaging capabilities to enhance mobile banking

Users then get another chance to review and confirm the information captured and then submit the request.

“It is less than a five-step process from start to finish, and it can all happen right there on the phone,” Mr. Peper said.

Mobile-only banking
U.S. Bank reports it has seen a lot of traction with its digital-only and mobile-only customer base with the imaging based services it is offering such as remote deposit and bill pay. Additionally, the bank is seeing benefits in terms of overall customer engagement, the number of monthly log-ins for its customer base as a whole and a 20 percent increase in per capita log-ins so far this year.

Additionally, the bank has seen a reduction in the number of customers who use these imaging services and then stop using them after a certain period of time.

More broadly, these services are also helping the bank cater to younger consumers.

“Among 25 to 34 year-olds, we have three times more bill pay customers that use mobile than online only,” Mr. Peper said. “We see really strong uptake of the mobile and imaging based services among those younger demographics.

“We’ve grown the overall mobile bill pay user base by about a third so far in 2013,” he said. “That is well and above what we are seeing industry wide in terms of bill pay adoption.

“Our customer can truly stay mobile-only from their start of their relationship with U.S. Bank all the way through doing advanced transactions like bill pay, remote deposit and now photo balance transfer.”

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