Mobile Banking and Mitek: Business Finally Starting to “Get” B-to-C Apps

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U.S. Bank will soon up the ante in business customer service with the introduction in early 2013 of a Mobile Photo Bill Pay application for their customers.

The fifth largest bank in the country will utilize technology from Mitek Systems to let bank customers set up and make bill payments by snapping a picture of their paper bill using the camera on their smartphone or tablet. Good-bye keypad.

Savvy businesses like U.S. Bank “get-it” and recognize that they can offer their more than willing customers sophisticated apps that offer convenience through an easy to use self-service interaction.

There’s no shortage of mobile apps – over half a million in Apple’s app store alone – yet sophisticated business-to-consumer apps that use mobile technology to expand customer service and change the way companies do business is just getting a lift.

Mobile Deposits

The Mobile Photo Bill Pay follows on the heels on Mitek’s popular Mobile Deposit technology, which is used whenever and wherever by millions of customers of some 400 banks, such as Bank of America, CapitalOne, Citibank, and Wells Fargo.

Convenient and flexible, Mobile Deposit makes depositing checks easy anytime, anywhere. According to Mitek, Mobile Photo Bill Pay introduces the next generation of mobile bill payment. More than six million Americans already use smartphones to pay bills and industry researchers forecast that mobile photo bill pay adoption will reach 1.4 billion bills migrating to this channel by 2018.

Customers Expect More

Progressive InsuranceCustomer expectations for mobile customer service are just as high for the insurance industry, although it tends to lag behind financial institutions when it comes to offering more advanced business to consumer mobile apps and services.

Don’t tell that to Progressive Insurance, however. The company is a leader in mobile apps and services, and also uses Mitek technology. Earlier this year, the insurance company led with Image Capture, mobile photo quoting technology. Using the Progressive app and a smartphone camera consumers can get an insurance quote in minutes.

How it works? You enter your zip code; take a picture of your driver’s license, and Vehicle Identification Number or existing insurance ID card with a smartphone. The app scans the image for information, such as name and address, and auto-populates the necessary information to get an auto insurance quote. The user confirms that the information is correct and gets an insurance quote along with an option to buy the policy.

The insurance company is also reaching out to all drivers, where the program is available, not just Progressive customers, to take a test drive of Snapshot, a usage-based car insurance program that uses wireless technology to monitor a vehicles data to determine a level of risk or the cost of insurance.

According to Progressive, the usage-based insurance program (UBI) gives drivers a personalized car insurance discount based on their actual driving behavior.

Digging Deeper

StarbucksMedia/entertainment, retail and financial services are the three industries that are leading the pack in creativity when it comes to using apps to reach out to customers, according to Yankee Group.

The question that businesses across industries are wrestling with is how to use mobile to extend business in the physical world to the virtual world, says Jason Armitage, principal analyst at Yankee Group.

When it comes to customer service apps, companies are beginning to link together customer loyalty databases with offers through a mobile phone app.

Starbucks has not only paved the way for mobile payments but successfully ties it to its customer loyalty program.  Starbucks own mobile payment application on iOS and Android is fully integrated with the Starbucks Card and My Starbucks Rewards programs. It’s used by more than 2 million customers weekly, according to the company.

Last month, Starbucks rolled out Square Wallet at approximately 7,000 Starbuck locations in the U.S., as an alternate method of payment. Square Wallet links to a customer’s debit or credit card eliminating the need to reload a balance.

Retail AR

Mobile customer service gets even more interesting in retail. Also taking advantage of a smartphone’s image processing capability, augmented reality apps are the cutting edge technology of the moment. This summer IBM Labs announced an augmented reality mobile shopping app that makes it possible for consumers to pan store shelves and receive personalized product information, recommendations and coupons while in the store.

IBMHow it works? According to IBM, consumers download the augmented reality mobile app on a smartphone or tablet before entering the store, register by either their telephone number or loyalty card, and create or update a profile of preferences. And this is where shopping will get personal. Based on a range of information customers input into the app, in a supermarket, for example, they’ll receive personalized service that addresses dietary needs, pricing, environmental or religious preferences by pointing the video camera at the product shelves where it will be able to recognize products according to shapes, colors and other features using the advanced image processing technology, according to IBM.

It’s the retailers back-end system, using IBM Smarter Commerce software, that delivers information to the customer’s mobile device where advanced augmented reality technologies the information on the product images.

Not only is this a potential win for the consumer but also the retailer, as are many forward-thinking business to consumer apps. Customers get a flexible, convenient and personalized experience and the business differentiates itself to drive customer interest, loyalty and revenue.

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