Wells Fargo tests check-cashing app in Washington
Friday, July 13, 2012
Wells Fargo Bank is testing a mobile phone app that allows its customers to cash a check from the living room couch or anywhere else with a few finger movements, and it's chosen Washington as one of a handful of sites for its pilot project.
Washington customers who download Wells Fargo's app to their mobile phones simply need to take photos of the check's back and front, then follow the necessary steps to submit the check for deposit. The customer should mark the check as "deposited," and can destroy it after five days.
Wells Fargo launched its test in late May in Washington and parts of Arizona, said Brian Pearce, a project development manager for the San Francisco-based bank's community banking unit. It expanded the pilot project into Kansas and Nebraska in late June, and this week added New York and Connecticut as it moves closer to a national phase-in.
"We're really pleased with results," Pearce said in a phone interview.
Wells Fargo isn't the first national bank to offer such a service. Citi and JP Morgan Chase are among the major banks with mobile check depositing, and some smaller banks and credit unions have already embraced the service. Pearce said Wells Fargo is in the middle of the pack in developing such a service, and will be rolling out mobile check cashing to more states during the remainder of this year.
He expects wide market acceptance. "At this point, mobile has really gone mainstream," Pearce said, adding that 7.7 million Wells Fargo customers use mobile banking services.
Washington was selected as an early test site because of its combination of a large urban population with a strong technology presence, as well as a vast rural area where residents might have to travel great distances for banking services. The new service appeals to both populations, he said. "We thought Washington was a great (test) market," he said, adding that he doesn't know how many Washingtonians are using the new service.
The ability to cash checks from here, there, and everywhere comes at a time when check use is on a steady downward decline as debit cards and other forms of payments increase. Still, plenty of transactions are still by check — enough to create demand even before Wells Fargo has begun marketing the service.
"The biggest complaint we get is that people want it in their state." Pearce said.