October 18, 2017

2017 mobile deposit benchmark report reflections

By: Jim Van Dyke, CEO, Futurion Digital

We just released the 2017 Mobile Deposit Benchmark Report, which you can download here. Although this year’s report has some similarities to the 2016 study that received widespread industry coverage, 2017’s report covers the subject from new angles as well. I’m grateful to Mitek Systems for sponsoring the research and to Comrade for supporting the data collection and review.

For leaders in digital, customer experience channels and fintech, the report uses two approaches to create a playbook for onboarding, migrating or keeping more customers using mobile deposit. As with 2016, we combined both quantitative and mystery-shopping heuristic assessment methodologies to answer two primary questions:

  1. What is today’s pattern of mobile deposit usage and how can it be improved?
  2. How do the mobile deposit offerings of the nation’s largest retail and multichannel FIs compare?

One of our biggest findings is that mobile check deposit (MD) is going mainstream, with four out of ten users adopting in the last year alone—but there is still a lot of room for growth. As the report explains, it takes a while for many users to predominantly (or fully) make MD their #1 method for depositing checks. This is where customer experience, policy, product management and marketing decisions become important.

As with our 2016 report, the overall customer experience (CX) varies dramatically from one FI to another. The heuristics portion of the report reveals many specific differences from one bank to another, with players (such as Wells Fargo) moving up significantly in the rankings while others (such as Chase) have slipped.

Research is at its best when it dispels common myths

Policy-related areas represent key areas of CX differentiation and evolution. Last year, two of the banks we studied still levied a fee for MD, while none do today. Many banks still put their customers through what I call a “digital disadvantage,” with digital-only penalties such as lower deposit limits or fear-inducing recommended-paper-retention times. Interestingly, some banks with the most generous risk policies also privately claim they have the lowest loss write-offs.

Research is at its best when it dispels common myths. For instance, how many times have you heard an expert (including me, quite possibly) suggest that “Millennials just don’t receive that many checks.” Yet leave it to facts to stubbornly provide their own truth: It turns out that there is no meaningful difference in quantity of checks received, based on age! This is important for strategists to keep in mind. Don’t plan on age demographics alone bringing check-related needs to zero in the near future.

In terms of communication and marketing, we discovered many opportunities for FIs to improve. Our comparison of both consumer and heuristics data tell us that banks need to make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that customers don’t need to worry about fraud, flubs or fees when choosing mobile deposit over using branches and ATMs. People are clearly worried about these things and there’s no room for FIs to beat around the bush when addressing these barriers to adoption.

For the first time, we cross-tabbed many of our survey research findings based on the size of the banks that responded (the largest 15 FIs versus all others). Speaking of smaller FIs, my assessment of the industry is that it’s now urgent for the fintech vendors who don’t yet offer check autocapture (the ability to automatically focus on the check) to get on board with this functionality. All but two of the largest FIs now offer this feature, and my review of consumer adoption patterns tells me it could eventually contribute to overall customer bank or credit union choice as digital channels continue to increase in importance.

Last year, our biggest finding was the correlation between adoption and CX. This year, the big findings are the new mainstreaming of mobile deposit, along with the opportunity for the industry to improve customer experience in ways that drive even more adoption. My hope is that Fintech leaders can use the report’s results to improve that adoption.