Chase Updates App, Discusses Digital Wallet

chase_app2JPMorgan Chase updated its iPhone app Thursday, and dropped some hints about its mobile roadmap for the rest of 2014.

The newly updated app, seen at left, aims at “humanizing the user experience” for iPhone users, said Gavin Michael, Chase’s head of digital for consumer and community banking at a media event Thursday. Michael related the mobile experience to visiting the branch, and said the app should deliver an “emotional experience” for users. “We are using a new design language to deliver cohesion across experiences,” he said.

Android and iPad versions are planned for the next development cycle, which runs about 100 days, according to Michael. This is faster than banks traditionally operate, he said, and part of the way Chase is working to imitate startups and customer-centric tech companies.

Later in 2014, Chase will offer a PayPal-like experience with a service called QuickCheckout. Chase customers visiting sites operated by Chase merchant customers will be able to quickly and safely transfer funds. The company also plans to offer a broader wallet offering that will include the ability to make in-store purchases using the mobile device.

The updated app also displays region-specific pictures for customers — those in the New York area currently get a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge — and greets users with messages such as “Good morning,” depending on the time of day. The enhanced ATMs in the brach, which resemble giant iPhones, do the same thing, and also send out birthday greetings around a customer’s birthday. Wells Fargo was one of pioneers of this small touch more than a year ago.

The app is also bilingual. It autodetects if Spanish is being used on the iPhone and launches in Spanish if appropriate. The bank claims that it is the first and only national bank in the country to build Spanish into its app. (Citibank and most other banks offer Spanish as part of its mobile browser experience, rather than in its app.) The addition of Spanish to the app is partly in response to the growth in Chase’s Spanish-speaking customer base in Florida, Texas and California.

Users have come to expect this level of personalization from apps in other industries, Michael said, and expect banks to keep pace. “One of the things digital is very good at is blurring industry boundaries,” he said. To that end, the mobile team hired employees away from companies such as Apple and Huffington Post, Michael said.

The app prominently features the login option, since that is by far the most common first action for app users, according to a user group that Chase polled before launching the app.

Michael outlined the most common actions for Chase app users once they have logged in:

  1. Check balance
  2. View transaction history
  3. QuickDeposit (remote deposit capture  of checks)
  4. Pay bills
  5. QuickPay (person-to-person payments)

The bank expects to roll out QuickBalance by the end of 2014, which will allow customers to view their balance without logging into the app. This functionality is currently offered by a few banks such as Bank of the West and GoBank.

Another area of focus for Chase is text banking and alerts. Because of the phone’s “realtime nature,” Michael said, alerts are valuable for fighting fraud. Text banking is of interest to the bank because it is “conversational” and deepens the interaction with customers, Michael said.

The bank is also working on contextualization to further personalize the experience, according to Michael. This could mean a shopping experience inside the app, such as that recently released by US Bank. It can also mean that, if the bank knows a customer has bought an airline ticket, region-specific deals can be offered to the traveler.

Chase in the Commerce Space
Details are still sketchy on the Chase wallet offering, which was originally announced under the name QuickCheckout back in February. Michael said that the bank was looking to expand the number of places it can be used by the end of the year, and that tokenization — the use of one-time codes rather than simply sending a user’s 16-digit card number to make a payment — will play a role.

The wallet will also depend on NFC, Michael revealed, much like the Isis wallet, of which Chase is a bank partner, does.

“We want this to be simple and easy for consumers and merchants,” Michael said. The service will “simple, streamlined and secure,” he said. It is hoped the service will help merchants drive sales, and reduce both fraud and cart abandonment.

Chase is of course a leader in payments already with its Chase Paymentech technology, one of the nation’s largest credit card processors. Although not explicitly stated Thursday, QuickCheckout will likely leverage Paymentech’s considerable capacity.

Beyond 2014, the bank will offer reward points in the mobile experience, perhaps like Bank of America‘s BankAmeriDeals.

The media day involved quite a few facts and figures related to the bank. Here are few:

  • Over 10% of customer deposits are mobile (see comparable figures from PNC and B of A here.)
  • Over 200,000 wealth management customers
  • 5,600 branches and 17,000 tellers
  • 12% of credit card spending in the U.S. is with Chase cards
  • 34 million online users
  • 100 million card users
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