Bank of America: What’s up with Washington State & Idaho?
Almost daily my Google Analytics report shows that someone has come to my site searching for the answer to why mobile banking isn’t available to Washington State and Idaho customers.
One could ask the same question about Wachovia customers of rival Wells Fargo. Do a search on this and you’ll find message boards covered with customers asking the question over and over. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are the two banks I find consumers asking about the most, but the same question could be asked of many institutions, and the answer is basically the same for all of them.
I’m tired of seeing this question unanswered and I’m going to try to answer it in general without revealing any confidential information. This is good for all these institutions’ customers to understand. So here goes:
Banks are known for their mergers. Banks are also heavily regulated at the Federal, State and local levels. For example, in Georgia, banks used to not be allowed to operate across county lines. This protected community banks and essentially forced larger institutions to have a charter and varying sets of distinct operations in each jurisdiction. In Georgia, this legacy arguably contributed to the huge number of bank failures during the Great Recession — but that’s another topic.
So, the answer is that many large banks have found themselves with subsets of their customer base that they cannot easily support with the same technology as the rest of their customers. System integration of legacy bank systems always go slower than business agreements to merge operations. Sometimes regulatory issues slow efforts down even more.
So the non-answer I’ve given is that each of these institutions want to support all their customers. Long term it’s certainly cheaper to have everyone on the same technology. But in each instance there are technical and/or regulatory issues that have prevented them from rolling out the more broadly available technology to these particular areas.