DEVELOPING MOBILE FINANCIAL SERVICES – THE ROLE OF THE MOBILE PHONE CAMERA

By Daniel Steere, Director of Product Management, Mobile Image Capture, Fiserv

It’s no secret that the power of mobile has grown exponentially, and there is a great deal of interest in the channel and the value it can add. Recently, Samsung joined Apple in the mobile payments space, demonstrating the interest that device manufacturers have in getting behind this technology. For banks, providing mobile banking functionality through a mobile app is now par for the course, and something that customers have come to expect, with the ability to transfer funds and view balances a day-to-day activity.

Looking more closely at the mobile device itself, it becomes clear that there are other opportunities for financial institutions to make full use of the functionality on offer. In other sectors, businesses have come to realise this. In 2012, Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram – a photo-sharing app with no revenue. Why? Facebook recognised Instagram had capitalised on a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour. While most users were updating their Facebook status from a laptop, millennials were staying connected with their phones and had grown tired of typing copious amounts of text on a tiny mobile screen. These influencers were abandoning mobile text entry in favour of mobile image capture.

Instagram’s meteoric rise reminds us that as more of our daily interactions move to mobile devices, the hassle of mobile data entry is amplified – even for power users like millennials. Consumers increasingly expect the unique capabilities of mobile devices, including the ability to quickly and easily capture images with the camera, to make their mobile interactions easier – and this includes how they manage their financial lives.

Mobile’s impact on the cheque

Capturing detailed information from a cheque, bill or receipt is an effective and engaging strategy to address the hassle and reduce the points of friction within mobile banking interactions. Take mobile cheque deposit, for example. The service has been a hit with consumers in the United States, who love that they can take a picture of a cheque to deposit it without having to type in every detail. Cheque deposit is undoubtedly the first of many financial services that will be transformed by mobile image capture, and is a functionality that is expected to appear in the UK this year.

A remote cheque deposit capture model reliant on mobile cameras offers benefits to both U.K. banks and consumers. Using Faster Payments in the U.K. and intelligent mobile banking services, credit is transferred between trusted parties instantly, payers can be advised when cheques are presented for payment, and where a cheque bounces, payer and payee would have the option to communicate and fix the problem quickly, minimising rework and exception processing.

For consumers, this offers rapid, convenient deposit of funds without the need to visit a branch, while for banks this offers reduced processing and transportation costs – all based around the power of the mobile device.

Snapping up payment methods

Daniel Steere
Daniel Steere

The possibilities for universal mobile capture to streamline how people manage their financial lives are exponential. The ability to use the camera to extract bill details for facilitating payments and for snapping receipt images for completing records allows for the creation of incredibly easy-to-use, convenient self-service apps that solve everyday issues for consumers and their financial institutions. The key to these apps is their unmatched ability to capture and process important information on the mobile device quickly and accurately, delivering a superior mobile user experience.

For example, by taking a picture of a bill within a financial institution’s app, all relevant information is populated into a consumer’s mobile banking app in a matter of seconds. To pay the bill, the consumer simply clicks to pay. Mobile capture functionality facilitates not only the capture of information from a source such as a cheque, bill or a receipt, itcan add an additional layer of intelligence to help consumers manage their finances. For example, after a consumer takes a picture of their receipt, it can be tagged to a specific category, such as “Dining,” grouping it with similar transactions. The receipt is automatically attached to the corresponding transaction within the consumer’s mobile banking app.

A mobile future

Depositing a cheque, paying a bill or managing receipts are only the first of many services that will be transformed by mobile image capture. Many other mobile imaging applications, including debit and credit card capture for mobile payments, cheque capture for new account funding andID capture for mobile customer enrolments, are among other innovative uses of mobile capture capabilities. For financial institutions, the key will be to stay on top of new technologies and applications as and when they arise to keep providing the cutting edge of customer service.

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