Even with the popularity of direct deposit, many of us still find ourselves needing to trudge down to the local bank branch to deposit a paper check every now and then, but for members of one bank that may be a thing of the past.
The New York Times reports that USAA, a bank which primarily serves military members and has one branch, will soon let customers deposit checks by taking a picture of them with an iPhone.
This is a giant leap forward in banking technology for most banks; but for USAA, which already lets customers deposit checks with a scanner, it's simply a continuation of their strategy to reach out to customers who cannot easily reach its brick and mortar location.
In order to participate in the mobile check deposit program customers will need to have good credit and be insured with USAA. These measures are in place to reduce fraudulent check photographing, since users are not required to mail a check in after making an iPhone deposit.
Here's a look at the iPhone application in action:
The great news for members of other banks is that this technology could soon find its way to other phones and other banks. This type of service could prove extremely popular for online banks such as ING and HSBC and help other banks cut costs by reducing the need for expensive teller interactions. Consumers with free checking accounts, some of which still charge for seeing a teller, also stand to win if this technology gets picked up by the big banks.
Personally, I can't wait for a service like this to gain widespread acceptance. Even though I get paid through direct deposit I still end up with two to three paper checks each month; all of which require me to visit my local bank.
Even though my local branches are close by, for some reason, they are only open when I'm at work. The ability to deposit these random checks from anywhere would be a welcome convenience, one I'd even be willing to pay a small fee for.
What remains to be seen is whether this new mobile banking technology catches on before enough individuals and small business start paying each other with Google Payments and Paypal to make the need obsolete.
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