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USAA: Putting a bank into everyone’s pocket

2009 September 30

Here’s a demo of Jeff Dennes at USAA depositing a check into his account with the funds immediately available. The advertisement alludes to the fact that the application is for more than just banking but other USAA services as well such as insurance.

The host asks Dennes if a sailor from an aircraft carrier coming into New York harbor can deposit his check via this application and be ready to use his money when the sailor hits the street. Dennes answers, “As long as you have access to a cell phone tower, you have access to this bank. You can deposit funds anywhere you are.”

Mobile Banking and Mobile Payments are beginning to blur. The USAA remote deposit feature is, in some ways, the exact opposite of the Starbucks iPhone Mobile Payment application I wrote about yesterday. USAA lets you put money into the bank, Starbucks lets you take it out.

This mobile check deposit feature has many folks outside the U.S. scratching their head. Few countries still use paper checks as much as the U.S., despite their rapidly declining usage here. Furthermore, the attacks of September 11, 2001 spurred the Check 21 initiative to facilitate electronic transfer of check images. So, the USAA application is possible because the U.S. has both a large number of paper checks in use and a system for electronic check image processing.

So, while remote check deposit is in some ways technology fixing a historical remnant, it’s an important step in dealing with the system we have today and moving toward the future.

Everyone agrees we’re moving away from checks. Many hope we’re moving toward electronic payments with reduced fraud and transaction costs. Solutions like remote check deposit take down one more technical hurdle so we can build toward the future.

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One Response leave one →
  1. Fred permalink
    October 1, 2009

    It is unbelievable that it takes the North American continent this long to get rid of checks. Here in Canada it is still impossible to simply ask somebody for their bank account # and make an electronic transaction. The European banks had this figured out in the early 90’s.

    Why this sticking to an archaic way of payment? Don’t the banks have an incentive here to get rid of a lot of paper pushing? As a relative newcomer to the New World I am puzzled…

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