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US Bank predicts beacon-enabled personalized banking surge in 2015

U.S. Bank, working with mobile capture software company Mitek, predicts that banks and financial institutions will see beacon usage take off in 2015, helping deliver more personalized experiences.

The commerce institutions believe that more consumers will be gravitating towards mobile imaging in banking and deposits, as those functionalities enable users to take a photo with their mobile device’s camera to participate in a loyalty program or snap a photo of a credit card to automatically populate the information. Enhanced smartphone capabilities, in addition to the increasing adoption of beacons and other proximity-based targeting efforts, are set to provide customers with more personalization than ever in the financial sector.

“Consumers now have an appetite to conduct a transaction by using a camera to photograph a document,” said James DeBello, CEO of Mitek, San Diego, Calif. “This will be deployed in retail locations and banks, particularly as technology has allowed for driver’s license capture. We’re anticipating the consumer trend to use the camera as a transaction device.”

Rise of beacons
With major banks such as Barclays already beginning to roll out beacon technology in a bid to boost customization efforts and cater in-branch services to customers with special needs, more banks are set to follow in leveraging beacons in 2015 (see story). Consumers are growing more comfortable with opting in to release data in exchange for relevant, personalized experiences that will streamline bank visits for the customers and employees.

“Experiences in mobile have expectations rising every day,” said Niti Badarinath, senior vice president of mobile banking and payments of U.S. Bank, San Francisco. “We are bullish about the way we want to monetize and be cognizant of customer location and what we can do with it.”

“Part of our job is to stitch together experiences across channels. We think what location awareness will do is allow for us to be proactive with consumers. When you walk into a branch, and you walk in with a smartphone, we are able to recognize you, bring up your information with the teller or bank manager and find out who you are, what accounts you have.

“We’re trying to build integration with physical branch structure and the device you are carrying in your pocket,” he said.

Beacons can also be used to alert mobile users to ATMs in their vicinity. Once a customer decides to make a withdrawal, he or she can scan a QR code or tap an NFC device to receive cash without needing an ATM card present.

Mobile wallets and imaging
The banks and financial institutions that choose to include mobile imaging functionalities in their mobile wallets will be able to reach a wider audience of customers. Mitek has seen a 50 percent growth rate annually in usage of mobile deposit among smartphone users.

The company focuses on providing commerce institutions with technology that allows users to hover their phones over a document, focus the camera and snap a photo, which then inputs information into the mobile device and provides for a frictionless experience.

“The amount of consumers preferring to make deposits with a teller has dropped,” Mr. DeBello said. “Mobile is having an effect in branches and online.”

“The familiarity and consumer habit of taking a photo to do something is growing in popularity and is transforming the way millennials and others communicate. This is good news for banks.”

Mobile wallets will also be gaining more momentum in 2015, although adoption rates may not be consistent across the board. Some banks will continue to partner with third-party wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet while others focus on developing their own branded wallets for customers.

Ultimately, financial institutions’ goals should be the end rather than the means when it comes to mobile wallets. As long as cards can be digitized and stored on mobile devices, consumers will appreciate the convenience they offer.

“We don’t think anyone is going to win yet,” Mr. Badarinath said. “We will have our cards in multiple wallets. We will be wherever our customers want us to be.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York