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Bank of America Working for Apple

NEW YORK ( BankingMyWay) -- For some pretty stodgy companies -- often seen as being out of step with younger Americans -- the big banks are laboring to show how cool they are when it comes to mobile services. The Wall Street financial war chests are stockpiling press releases about new mobile offerings in a race not unlike the way in which the White House and Kremlin once stockpiled nuclear warheads to prove supremacy.

And why shouldn't they be in a mobile arms race?

A major 2012 study from the Federal Reserve shows that 87% of the U.S. population owns a mobile phone. What's more, 44% of those devices are smart phones -- defined as "Internet-enabled." And 21% of smart phone users have used mobile banking in the past year.

Cue Bank of America (BAC - Get Report).

It's taking a major step in making its mobile banking services more convenient to customers, with a new service that offers mobile check deposit. The bank rolled out the new feature in July and the staggered launch has continued in August, for the following devices (with dates):
  • iPad (July 25)
  • iPhone (August 2)
  • Windows Phone (August 2)
  • Android smart phones (August 6)
  • Android tablets (September 15)
  • Mobile check deposit allows customers to transmit an electronic image of a check via the camera feature embedded in smart phones.

    Mobile banking platforms do vary from bank to bank, but by and large, most smart phones apps have a "deposit check" feature that allows consumers to pop in the check amount, select the proper account, and snap a photo of the front and back of the check to deposit a check.

    Bank of America says that checks can be deposited anywhere where there's an internet connection, and that the bank will send a confirmation to the mobile device once the check has been deposited. There is no fee for the deposit.

    The Bank of America mobile check deposit feature does have some deposit limits, depending on the consumer's time with the bank, and the account type. Here's a breakdown:
  • Customers with account open for fewer than 90 days: $1,000 per month
  • Customers with accounts open for more than 90 days: $5,000 per month
  • Platinum Privilege customers: $10,000 per month
  • Small business customers (after three months): $15,000 per month
  • For consumers, mobile check deposit is all about convenience -- the banks are smart enough to know that.

    "Our customers are living in a more connected world and that extends to their financial lives. This 'always-on' environment calls for more convenience, control and flexibility, and we are providing it," said Aditya Bhasin, a consumer marketing executive at Bank of America. "Our new capabilities deliver the full bank in our customers' hands."

    While the Federal Reserve report states that checking account balances and moving money between accounts are the top uses of mobile banking by consumers, depositing a check via smart phone or tablet, which traditionally meant a trip to the bank, should be a big hit with customers.

    Even so, Bank of America is a bit late to the mobile check deposit party. JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report), Citibank (C - Get Report) (Stock Quote: C) and Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) already have mobile check deposit programs. But Bank of America may soon lead in terms of potential users of the check deposit service, with nine million active mobile banking customers, according to its data.

    No question, mobile banking is big and getting bigger. With full-blown mobile check deposit available now at most large banks, the trend will only accelerate. One can only imagine what's next in the world of mobile for the big banks. A government bailout app?

    More on mobile banking:

    Why do banks take so long to credit deposits?

    SM$ : Sending cash through texts

    Banks arms themselves for mobile war.

    By Brian O'Connell

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