Supplementing the Moment: Extending Financial Services to Smartphones

Joey Fung  

November 22, 2010

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While online and even mobile banking have been around for a number of years, this year’s applications by USAA and Chase take advantage of the hardware and bandwidth available to smartphones and offer an experience more than just access to balances and online bill-pay. Both offer handy ATM locators, wire transfers, and on certain platforms, the ability to deposit a check from anywhere by just taking a picture. USAA, however, is also an insurance provider, and the way it has thought about how to extend its financial and insurance services into the mobile space serves as a good model for others to follow.


As mentioned before, mobile apps need to supplement the moment at hand and offer quick access to personalized content, and the USAA app is a good example. In a fender bender, the camera phone was indispensable for documenting the damage incurred. USAA’s app extends the smartphone’s role with the ability to show proof of insurance, offer an accident checklist, and even locate a rental car or taxi if needed. This integration allows customers to instantly report claims with photo documentation and streamline the process. The app also take a convenient approach to the login process by using customers’ PINs, so there’s no need to memorize or type out a complicated password, and there’s no security risk of saving the password on the phone. Roadside assistance is available, of course, and even though smartphone users turn to their mapping applications when looking for a gas station, it’s nice to see that USAA included this detail as part of the package. Outside of timely situations like car accidents and bill paying, the USAA app extends their business to the smartphone to offer tools for browsing car and home offers, calculating mortgage payments, and viewing stock quotes. They’ve thought about both the mobile experiences and the stationary ones, and have services useful for both.

While the mobile apps offer so much convenience, thankfully neither USAA or Chase excluded the rest of their customers. Both offer mobile websites and text messages via short codes for mobile banking. Will mobile offerings determine where customers choose to put their finances? They soon could, and this inclusive approach that looks at all the details and situations that customers experience will be key to winning more business.