Al Falussy is on the go. A sales executive at lighting company Stan Deutsch Associates, the Long Island, N.Y., resident is a frequent user of his mobile banking app to get balance alerts, send money to employees and family, and deposit money from places where no branches are nearby.
But if Falussy's bank of choice—JP Morgan Chase—started charging to use the app? He'd switch banks.
"They're making money on my money," Falussy said of the deposits he keeps with the bank. "So for them to actually go there would be kind of petty."
Falussy and other consumers might not like it, but fees for mobile banking are set to become the norm. Slowly but surely, banks are experimenting with ways to build charges into the apps' features—some for simple check deposits, others for instantaneous bill pay. As apps get higher-tech, too, a simple convenience could become costly.
Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Financial rolled out its mobile banking app this spring with a tiered fee structure, based on when the customer needed access to funds deposited digitally. For immediate availability, which is a risk to the bank because it then doesn't have time to verify the fees, customers must pay $5, or a percentage of the deposit—whichever is higher. For access two days later, once the funds are verified, the fee is 50 cents—the same fee Minneapolis-based US Bank introduced for all mobile deposits in 2010. It was the first bank to initiate such fees.
"This is just the beginning of the creative ways banks will try to compensate in a low-rate, low-growth environment," said Todd Hagerman, senior research analyst at Sterne Agee. "They have to look for alternative ways to improve their fee income stream."
(Read More: Banks Still Raising Fees—and Hiding Them: Study)