NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- JPMorgan's ( JPM) rollout of a fingerprint-identification app for the iPhone this week is the latest advance in a competition between banks to lure new mobile users with the latest technology.
JPMorgan's iPhone app will implement touch-ID primarily for convenience and quick account access. The program is compatible with the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 plus. To protect against any potential glitches, the app will continue requiring passwords for mobile payments and select features.
JPMorgan and its peers are seeing mobile banking boom across platforms. More than 20 million active users are tapping into JPMorgan services on devices, up 22% year over year, while device users at Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bank of America (BA) popped 19% to 15 million and 13% to 17 million, respectively.
It's an important platform for banks because millennials, the largest generation in U.S. history, prefer to handle many financial transactions on mobile devices, and mobile services are less costly to provide than traditional branches.
"We're focused on making mobile banking faster and simpler," said Gavin Michael, JPMorgan's head of digital, in a statement. "Touch ID has been the number one request of our customers -- and we are excited to deliver it to them." A similar touch-ID app for Android is expected to hit the market later this year, according to a JPMorgan release.
Citigroup (C), which has been the prime showcaser of mobile tinkering this year with Mobile Challenge expos in Nairobi, Jerusalem, Warsaw and London, saw a 5% uptick in consumer interactions via mobile, year over year, and a 4% drop in consumer transactions with bank tellers, based on company data released February.
Just this week, contest results arrived, providing Citi with a host of winning ideas it hopes to implement, according to Heather Cox, chief of client experience at Citi.
"We are excited to explore bringing their solutions to market," she said, adding that the winners presented ideas "that could transform financial services and fuel progress in other industries like transportation and education."
Four contests were held in April with teams from 18 countries who presented 77 prototypes evaluated on their impact, viability, user experience and functionality.
Winners included an app that calculates user spending habits to recommend ways to save money. The app was produced by financial technology startup Swave. Umati Capital won for a program that allows suppliers to obtain working capital advances against their outstanding payments while Trade It won for a platform that enables users to place equity orders on devices.
"Each award recipient demonstrated a maniacal focus on creating a truly distinctive client experience," said Jim Cowles, CEO of Citi for Europe, Middle East & Africa. "As banks continue to redefine themselves, they must work with the broader [financial technology] community to discover fresh ideas that can help create the client experience of tomorrow."