Using the Branch to Sell Mobile

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17 December 2012
Bob Meara
American Banker published an article last week describing Bank of America’s quest to bolster the ranks of its mobile banking customer base. According to the article, the bank is outfitting its teller stations with quick response (QR) codes that can be scanned by mobile devices to download the mobile app. What a great idea! For too long, most financial institutions have limited the merchandizing of mobile banking capabilities. Even after investing in sought after capabilities such as mobile remote deposit capture, many banks enrol mobile banking users primarily through the online channel. Go figure! In-branch merchandizing is a logical way to leverage remaining foot-traffic for the mutual benefit of online banking enrolment, and QR codes at the teller line is a great way to do so in my opinion. After reading the article, I was eager to see them for myself at a local Bank of America Branch. Upon entering the branch, I was instantly greeted by a charming and enthusiastic employee who was quick to answer my query. She had no personal experience with the in-store merchandising though, and even asked me what app I use to read QR codes. The merchandising wasn’t at the teller stations, but at the deposit preparation desk (below) and also prominently positioned at each new account desk. Once scanned, the QR code directs the user to the appropriate app store to download the bank’s 4.2.69 version of the mobile banking app. [caption id="attachment_3291" align="aligncenter" width="448"] Selling mobile deposit right where customers fill out deposit slips is a great idea[/caption] Note that the merchandising didn’t simply advertise mobile banking, it sells the benefits of the bank’s newly released mobile deposit capability. Placement was perfect – right where in-branch depositors will be filling out deposit slips. Use of QR codes is smart for their ability to allow consumers to easily inquire without taking bank staff’s time. It reminds me of another clever application of QR codes. My wife is a first grade teacher. She enjoys the use of iPads in her classroom and integrates them into her curriculum. One way she does so is by loading a variety of educational games onto the iPads for use throughout the day to reinforce lessons. She makes a number of “low-technology” games available as well. Games are a great way to provide some educational fun while she is working with other students. Like new banking capabilities, the problem with games is that they must be explained. Having to do so in the classroom is distracting and diminishes the value of “self-service’ learning games otherwise provide. To address this problem, she recorded instructions for each game on YouTube and provides a QR code for each game that links to the explanation video. Students wishing to explore a new game simply scan the appropriate QR code and they’re off. It saves her countless interruptions. [caption id="attachment_3292" align="aligncenter" width="448"] Even First Graders think QR codes are easy[/caption] Apparently Bank of America tellers will soon be enjoying the same benefit.


  • Something like 70% of current branch visits are to deposit checks. These "transactional" visits cost banks a tremendous amount of money and they are a pain in the ass for most consumers. Banks should be doing everything short of electroshock therapy to convince consumers to conduct these transactions in self-service channels like mobile. It's a win-win. If QR codes linking to app stores is an effective approach to converting this branch traffic to mobile, then I say "well done Bank of America!"

  • Thanks, Alex. I completely agree. A barrier to more banks doing so is their siloed organization structure. Many FIs appoint leaders for each channel with myopic business plans designed to further the performance of each individual channel. Through this lens, what Bank of America is doing makes little sense. Through a more holistic lens, it's a no-brainer as you suggest.

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Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America