Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Big banks are mobilizing to your phone

Stephan Drescher | E+ | Getty Images

Whether it's head count, bonuses, branches or share price, there's not a lot on Wall Street that's moving higher in 2016. Except for activity in mobile products.

Wall Street is diving headlong into digital as funding for start-ups looking to chip into banks' market share appears to have reached a multibillion-dollar crescendo. From 2010 through 2015 the number of fintech investors has mushroomed more than threefold to nearly 900, according to research firm CB Insights. But for big banks, the mobile revolution is only beginning.

In 2012, Bank of America launched mobile checking, and by the end of the year 4 percent of its 19 million customers were cashing checks through their phones rather than at branches. By the end of 2015, the figure grew to 15 percent, according to its most recent earnings report.

It's not the only business at Bank of America migrating to the smartphone, it's just the latest. Among the other conveniences the bank has focused on, it uses the iPhone thumbprint verification tool to positively identify customers and, when they request it, connects them to live customer service specialists. Thanks to the digital security enhancement, customers accessing the bank this way will not find themselves repeating account numbers and passwords after being connected to a service rep.

"You don't have to wait to answer any questions," said Bank of America digital chief Michelle Moore, adding that the app is meant to allow consumers "to access the entire bank from the touch of a thumb."