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Southern banks make their mobile app updates count

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Southern banks make their mobile app updates count

Mobile app updates may not be frequent for some southern U.S. banks, but they do tend to pack a punch.

Some of the southern banks featured in S&P Global Market Intelligence's 2018 US Mobile Banking Market Report have overhauled their apps in the last year or so, or have major upgrades coming soon. 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 South Atlantic, East South Central and West South Central divisions, which make up the South region.

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North Carolina-based First Citizens BancShares Inc. rolled out several new app features on Nov. 10. The app's iTunes profile indicates that this was the first major upgrade in more than two years. The updated app now shows credit score information for certain customers and is compatible with Apple's face ID. The iPhone X launch in 2017 made it even more important for banks to incorporate quick login options other than fingerprint authentication and passcodes. Apple abandoned the fingerprint sensor with the iPhone X and its 2018 offspring, relying instead on facial recognition.

These features, which are far from ubiquitous among U.S. banks, are high on the list of capabilities sought after by respondents in our 2018 U.S. mobile banking survey.

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Our survey results suggest that southern banks overall have room to improve their mobile experiences, with more than a third of respondents indicating that they wanted fingerprint login capabilities added to their bank apps.

Georgia-based Synovus Financial Corp. is planning to go live with a new app, now slated for 2019, which will mark its first big upgrade in several years. The new app will include fingerprint and face ID. Also on Synovus' road map are an Apple Watch app and cardless ATMs, which are still rare among the regional banks in our analysis.

Arkansas-based Arvest Bank Group Inc. launched a new app late in 2017 and plans to roll out card controls and P2P payments through Zelle in the first quarter of 2019. Card controls typically include the ability to temporarily turn a debit card on or off; some apps also include the ability to report a permanently lost card and request a new one.

Other banks planning to use Zelle include First Horizon National Corp.'s First Tennessee Bank NA and Mississippi-based Trustmark Corp., which already uses Popmoney for P2P payments.

Customers of both Arvest and Houston-based Prosperity Bancshares Inc. can now log into their apps using fingerprint login. Arvest has gone even further by including a balance quick-view feature and face ID. The latter is also compatible with the apps of West Virginia-based United Bankshares Inc. and several other southern banks already have face ID. United Bank expects to roll out a mobile budgeting tool soon and is also considering card controls.

Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc.'s Frost Bank allows people to open accounts through its app, and Chairman and CEO Phillip Green recently praised the digital channel for helping to boost new accounts. He said 60% of the company's digital accounts opened in Houston are within five miles of a Frost Bank branch, suggesting that customers value both physical and digital alternatives. As in other regions of the U.S., quite a few banks in the South are taking seriously customer demand for the latter.

Methodology

S&P Global Market Intelligence's 2018 mobile banking survey was fielded online between Feb. 8 and Feb. 21 across a nationwide random sample of 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.

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