Adoption of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s application for Android smart phones has skyrocketed since the bank released the service last month.
The free app — which like its iPhone counterpart lets consumers deposit paper checks using their phone's camera — has more than 250,000 downloads, according to Jack Stephenson, the managing director of mobile, e-commerce and payments at JPMorgan Chase.
The New York bank introduced an application for Apple Inc.'s iPhone in August 2009. It updated the application in July, adding its QuickDeposit mobile remote deposit capture feature.
"The minute we launched on iPhone, one of the biggest comments we got from consumers was, 'When is it available on Android,' " Stephenson said in an interview Friday. "It was the next logical platform to go on."
A handful of large banking companies, including Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., USAA Federal Savings Bank, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., as well as some smaller ones have been live with an app for Google Inc.'s mobile operating system for a while. JPMorgan Chase's absence from the Android Market led a private developer to create his own app for customers of Chase and other banks. That $5 app, called Android Banking, remains one of the most downloaded apps on Android.
"We certainly see tremendous takeup of Android," said George Tubin, a senior research director at TowerGroup in Needham, Mass. "Those users should be able to have the same or similar mobile banking capabilities as those on other platforms."
Recent research suggests that Android smartphone users are more avid mobile banking customers than those of iPhone or Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry devices. A March survey from Javelin Strategy and Research showed mobile banking users with Android devices logged in more frequently than iPhone users.
Android phones have 27% of the mobile market share, compared with 22% for iPhone, according to the Pleasanton, Calif., research firm. "If you don't have Android, you're running on the No. 2 platform," said James Van Dyke, Javelin's president.
Jeff Peiffer, a former software developer at JPMorgan Chase who released his Android Banking app in February, said he decided to create the service because he was a Chase customer and Android supporter.
"Banking is one of those things that, if people don't have it, they might think twice about investing in that phone," Peiffer said.
Peiffer's app, which has been downloaded about 20,000 times, also works for customers of American Express Co., BB&T Corp., Fifth Third Bancorp, Huntington Bancshares Inc., PNC and the former Wachovia Corp.
He said he plans to continue offering it to Chase customers.
"They released a wonderful application, but I'm also not going to abandon the users who have purchased my application," Peiffer said.
JPMorgan Chase's Android app, which the company released Nov. 19 and announced Thursday, has a 4.5-star rating on Android Market. In addition to depositing checks, the service lets customers view account transactions and balances, transfer funds between accounts, locate branches, pay bills and wire funds to or from non-Chase accounts in the U.S.
The company plans to add QuickPay, a person-to-person payment feature available on its iPhone app, to the Android service in the first quarter, Stephenson said. He declined to comment on Peiffer's Android Banking app.
This story has been reprinted with permission from American Banker.
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