Insider Q&A: Bank of America’s Moore on mobile banking

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Banking customers are on the move, and the big national banks are scrambling to keep up. They are working to update their technology and offerings in hopes of nabbing increasingly mobile customers.

Both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase recently announced they would allow customers to use their mobile phones at ATMs instead of a card to withdraw cash, for example. Bank of America customers can now use their phones to remotely “lock” their debit card if the card is lost.

Michelle Moore, head of digital banking at Bank of America, runs the bank’s mobile app division and oversees thousands of employees at the bank’s call centres. She recently sat down with the AP to talk about what banking customers expect and how the largest retail bank in the country is responding. The interview has been edited for length and clarity:

Q: What are these card-less ATMs that Bank of America and others have announced, and what’s your plan for them?

A: We are actually live today now in New York City and will have 20 ATMs with the card-less feature by the end of (February). You just walk up to these ATMs with your smartphone, using the same technology as Apple Pay, use the reader to withdraw money without your card. In May, that capability will be available for Android devices and we will be upgrading our ATMs in other markets like in Silicon Valley. We plan to roll out nationally later this year.

Q: Why would customers want this?

A: As customers have become accustomed to using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, it’s not as necessary to have your wallet on you anymore. Most people will leave their house and they will make sure they have their smart phone, but might not as much for their wallet or purse. Still, you’re still carrying around your debit card because you might need cash. So if we enable the ability to use your phone at the ATM, why else would you need to carry your wallet? So it’s partly about convenience. But it’s also about security. Using Apple Pay or Samsung pay is the most secure way to protect your information. Using your phone helps protect against thieves who might (use a device to steal your card data) at the ATM.

Q: What else can you do to make things easier for mobile customers?

A: You can now do nearly everything through our app now that could have been done at a branch. You can open an account. If you need help, you can set an appointment to meet with someone at a (branch). We do 21,000 appointment requests a week now through either smart phone or the website. We also now allow customers to be connected directly to our call centres without having to re-authenticate. The credentials from the phone’s app are transferred directly to our associates’ desktop. We do 150,000 calls a week now this way and that number was effectively zero a year ago. So now you can connect to our ATMs, our call centres, our financial centres (branches) all from your mobile device.

We will be rolling out a Spanish version of our mobile banking app. We also will be updating our ATMs to do check cashing, do credit card payments and withdraw multiple denominations of cash as well.

Q: What’s left, if anything, for a traditional teller to do?

A: They are not going away any time soon. The opportunity for tellers is to help introduce customers to these new technologies, be somewhat of an ambassador for these new features, and over time can become relationship bankers. We recently changed the title of our tellers to “financial centre client service representative” to better reflect the duties they are now doing beyond the traditional bank teller role.