B of A to upgrade high-tech services

Online, mobile features focus of improvements

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Bank of America will launch improvements to its online and mobile banking services in Washington and Idaho beginning in mid-October, the bank has announced. The upgrades will allow local B of A customers to match services already available in most states ahead of the bank’s nationwide service restructuring next year.

Customers will see a broader range of mobile, online, and ATM services as the bank completes its upgrade of computer systems serving the two states, said Joe Price, the bank’s president of Consumer and Small Business Banking. Once it completes a similar upgrade in California next spring, the bank will have a nationwide computer platform for uniform customer services, he said.

Bank of America has long been dogged by a computer network that has prevented it from offering all of its services in every state. Users of its website are first asked which state their account is located in before being directed to services. Some bloggers have speculated that Bank of America locations in Washington and Idaho are using a computer system the bank inherited when it bought the former SeaFirst Bank. Price wouldn’t confirm that speculation during a Tuesday conference call, but he described the company’s computers for Washington and Idaho as “a legacy system.”

Pilot projects under way in three states are testing a “much more relationship-driven business model” to be rolled out nationally next year, Price said.

Bank of America is the third-largest bank in Clark County, by deposits, with about $581.5 million in local holdings, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. figures. JPMorgan Chase ranks first in the county, with First Independent Bank a close runner-up in the second position.