There’s a chance you’ve never heard of USAA Federal Savings Bank. Since its inception, the bank had a strict membership requirement—it was only open to active duty military members and their families. Just recently, they lifted this restriction and opened their banking services to the general public. In May of this year, the bank launched a USAA iPhone app that allows its customers to check balances, transfer money between accounts, locate nearby ATMs, pay bills, and more. Yesterday, the bank took that app to a new level by upgrading it to accept check deposits.
USAA is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. While banking tasks can be performed in person there, it’s not a banking branch per se. USAA does not have any branches anywhere else in the world. The majority of members, those who don’t live in San Antonio, do their banking online and via postal mail. A big part of the bank’s focus on customer service has always been to make banking as easy as possible for its members, especially those who don’t live near a branch. After all, when it had an exclusively military customer base, bank members were located not just across the country, but around the world.
If USAA didn’t make banking easy for its members, they could always find a branch local to where they were stationed. One of the biggest advances USAA made in its customer service was a feature called Deposit@Home. It did away with the need for customer to either physically enter a bank branch, or use postal mail to deposit a check. Members with a computer and scanner at home can simply scan checks directly into their accounts, and the funds are available immediately.
USAA has now extended that remote deposit capability to its iPhone app with a feature called Deposit@Mobile. After signing into the app and entering the amount of the check to be deposited, members use the iPhone’s camera to take photos of the front and back of the check. After confirming that the photos are clear and the information is legible, the information is submitted and the funds are available immediately. The entire process takes less than two minutes from start to finish.
For anyone who owns an iPhone and has been frustrated by service issues with AT&T, or having certain apps blocked from the App Store, the fact that innovations like this are not only possible but being brought to fruition should offer some hope.
As with many things in life, there are trade-offs, and mobile banking is a pretty good one. Being able to deposit a check anytime, anywhere, without having to drive to a bank or put a stamp on an envelope, and then wait for those funds to be available? I think that’s worth a few dropped calls.