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Midwestern banks keep the app upgrades coming

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Midwestern banks keep the app upgrades coming

Midwestern banks have not been idle when it comes to digital enhancements.

Some banks in the region have rolled out mobile app upgrades even since S&P Global Market Intelligence researched their offerings for the 2018 US Mobile Banking Market Report this fall. The report offers mobile banking survey data and app details for more than 70 banks, including a selection of small regional banks in each of the nine U.S. census divisions. This article focuses on the East North Central and West North Central divisions, which make up the Midwest region.

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In one example of a recent upgrade, Wisconsin-based Associated Banc-Corp recently rolled out video deposit capture. This lets a customer hover their phone over the check, with the app automatically snapping a photo once the check is fully in frame and adequately lit. Associated Banc is more focused on such usability enhancements than on new features for now. It already took a big step forward with its app overhaul in February, adding features such as fingerprint login, photo bill pay functionality and the ability to view one's account balance without logging in. Associated Bank is planning to add facial recognition capabilities and is also considering card controls and travel notifications for future updates.

Self-service mobile options such as card controls are high on the list of things our Midwestern survey respondents would like to see added to their bank apps, along with fingerprint and other biometric login options. Metro Detroit-area Flagstar Bancorp Inc. plans to add various undisclosed features as it upgrades its mobile app over the next several months. One of those enhancements came Dec. 3, when Flagstar rolled out Zelle to its customers. The Zelle person-to-person payment network, lauded as the banking industry's answer to Venmo, has been gaining traction as more bank partners join the large institutions that founded the service.

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Person-to-person payment capabilities are top of mind for other Midwestern banks in our analysis. Missouri-based Commerce Bank is considering Zelle for the P2P solution it plans to roll out in the next year or so, but it sees less fraud risk with Popmoney, which is a payment offering of banking technology provider Fiserv Inc. Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Great Western Bancorp Inc. has not seen a lot of customer demand for Zelle, and First National Bank of Omaha is holding off on Zelle while it considers the best way to ensure security for its customers, most of whom already use PayPal and Venmo.

Jefferson City, Mo.-based Central Banco. Inc. already has a mobile P2P feature but is planning to go live with Zelle in the first half of 2019. Central Bank was one of only a few smaller regional banks in our analysis to have at least two-thirds of the app features we looked for.

Quantity of mobile app features does not tell the whole story when it comes to the success of digital banking channels, and many banks are focused on improving the user interface and app performance. A recent consolidation unified 10 legacy mobile apps for First National Bank of Omaha and its affiliates, making future upgrades and maintenance much easier. An app redesign is on the bank's digital road map for next year, more focused on user interface than additional features. This was a common theme for many banks in our analysis, although we also expect to see plenty of banks seeking to round out the suite of features available through their digital channels.

Methodology

S&P Global Market Intelligence's mobile banking survey was fielded online between Feb. 8 and Feb. 21 across a nationwide random sample of 4,000 U.S. mobile bank app users 18 years and older. Results have a margin of error of +/- 1.6% at the 95% confidence level based on the sample size of 4,000.

S&P Global Market Intelligence researched mobile apps between June and November 2018 for more than 70 financial institutions. These included the largest retail banking franchises in the U.S., and regional and community banks of various sizes. The analysis included each census division’s top five retail deposit market share leaders with assets of roughly $50 billion or less. App details for the banks displayed above were updated Dec. 6. The app research is based on product descriptions available on bank websites and in app stores, as well as company-provided information. Some companies may have subsequently updated their apps or may offer additional features and services. This analysis does not reflect functionality or services available through text banking, mobile browsers or secure messaging.

For more details, see the 2018 US Mobile Banking Market Report.