When the president of City Bank Texas asked his IT team about adding a feature that would allow customers to temporarily disable their debit cards through its mobile banking app, senior vice president and chief technology officer Jim Simpson recalls outwardly smiling at him while inwardly thinking, "Is it even possible?"
But first, the bank
wanted to figure out whether the feature would solve a customer pain
point. "We listen to the call center first to [determine] how we build
innovative solutions," Simpson says.
After getting positive
feedback more than a year ago from the unit, the $2 billion-asset bank
began working with its mobile banking provider, Malauzai Software, to
bring a card control tool to life.
According to Simpson, the IT
undertaking was rather simple, minus one end-user decision to allow or
not to allow a spouse to control another card on the account.
bank floated the question to its operations team, whose vote was
divided. Most of the men said they wanted control, while most of the
women said, "Heck no," Simpson chuckles. "The most difficult part was
solving that. Our solution allows you to only control the card assigned
In January 2012, City Bank Texas released the
consumer-facing feature to its 10,000 mobile users. Usage has been solid
"We are seeing great numbers," says Simpson,
who believes the utility of the feature as coming from the combination
of near-real-time text message alerts within the card management tool.
Even so, the duties of the bank's call center agents haven't gone away
as customers have begun using it. Say a couple in California receives a
near-real-time text message alert about a card getting swiped in North
Carolina on Sunday evening. They might fire up the app, turn off the
card because of the suspicious activity, and call in the case of fraud
to the bank on Monday. "We are getting those kinds of case studies,You
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feature is meant to benefit many types of customers. Some customers
prefer to leave their plastic inactive until they are about to
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wholesale bulk prices. There are parents whose children temporarily
hide their wallets under princess palaces. And there are
twenty-somethings who throw back one too many dark-and-stormies and
neglect to put their debit cards back in their wallets.
the varied consumer need for more card controls and the potential cost
savings for the bank, several financial services companies have quietly
launched the feature in recent months.
USAA, an innovation
ringleader in the financial services industry, made a card on/off switch
available to mobile members in October. Since debuting, it has become
the most popular way USAA members temporarily block their debit cards.
Media darling startup Simple added the feature in its mobile app in
January, while Monitise, a mobile banking and payments provider, said it
has deployed a similar capability many times for its clients. "Our
experience is that most issuer processing systems don't enable this
feature for temporary block/unblock and that is the only constraint that
we have in delivering this capability," wrote Carl Tsukahara, chief
marketing officer, in an email to BTN.
The concept of
temporarily powering down debit cards through the mobile phone has been
circulating for several years. Diebold, for example, began selling a
card management feature to banks in August of 2011 as part of its
MobiTransact mobile banking platform. The tool, called Card Command,
lets consumers control their cards via their mobile devices. "Our
customers have liked the feature and have incorporated it in a number of
ways," says Devon Watson, senior director of software product
management at Diebold. "It tends to be embedded with other solutions."
To that end,A group of families in a north Cork village are suing a bestplasticcard operator
in a landmark case. the first common set of mobile banking features
centered on transactions to find out whether a check cleared, for
example while card management will serve as the natural evolution of
mobile banking apps. "It's really about control," says Ajami. "Customer
expectations are sky high."
Beyond satisfying customers'
demands, banks nationwide are trying to offset some call center traffic
and fraud by empowering customers to manage their accounts more directly
from a mobile app.
"It's a new idea for the banks," says Mary Monahan,You Can Find Comprehensive and in-Depth carparkmanagementsystem truck
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"The reality is consumers want to participate in watching over their
accounts. If banks can partner with their consumers, they will do better
at keeping fraudsters out."
Potentially, banks deploying debit
card controls could save consumers some grief, too. "Credit is borrowing
from the bank [while] debit is the cash you put in there," says
Monahan. "It makes you feel more victimized when the money you've
sweated for is taken out of your account."
Not to mention debit
cards have fewer protections than credit cards. Indeed, not every bank
covers all debit liabilities for fraudulent transactions, and consumers
often have to cough up out-of-pocket costs to resolve the fraud, such as
paying for legal fees and postage, points out Monahan. Mobile debit
card deactivation helps to reduce those consumer risks quicker.