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Hot trends? Cell phone banking, electronic capture, debit cards

Advancing technology is fueling the hottest trends in banking. Mississippi banks of all sizes expect to keep pace with the technology customers want.

The First Bank, headquartered in Hattiesburg, is using remote deposit capture and other technologies similar to the larger banks, according to Lee Anderson Wade, vice president, director of marketing.

“In 2008, the technology that will most dramatically affect our customers will be the implementation of teller machines,” she said. “For us, that addition will improve our customer service by providing the most up-to-the-minute deposit and withdrawal information to all of our 10 locations in South Mississippi, as well as streamlining required paperwork for many of our front-line employees.”

She added that managers will benefit by having better information about the bank’s busy and slow times, as well. “We hope to translate that information into continued exceptional service in a hometown atmosphere,” she said.

Jerry Ables, director of marketing for the Bank of Commerce in Greenwood, sees more interest in merchant capture of deposits in 2008. “This was a hot item in 2007 and will continue this year,” he said. “With the advances in image capture technology, this product allows a business to process their bank deposit, comprised of customers’ checks, in-house and deliver to the bank via a data line.”

The Peoples Bank, headquartered in Biloxi, will provide that service to business customers beginning this week, after converting all proof and transit areas to branch capture last year so that only electronic images are sent to the main office.

“We did a lot of testing on this service,” said president and CEO Chevis Swetman. “With the merchant capture product, he won’t have to leave his business.”

Following another trend, The Peoples Bank is also converting all branches to voice over Internet protocol, expecting the transition to be complete by April.

Perhaps the hottest of the trends is cell phone banking, and BancorpSouth is working to make it available to customers. Michael Lindsey, senior vice president and manager of electronic delivery services, says the banking system finished with a roll out for mobile banking last year that allows customers to check balances and transfer funds between accounts. Additionally, customers using BancorpSouth’s bill pay product can use a cell phone to pay bills without having to use a computer as with paying online.

“We’re working out the ability to make debit card transactions by cell phone this year,” he said. “We’re working with wireless providers and partners to bring it out in 2008. It won’t be available overnight because merchants have to be set up for it.”

Lindsey says a study found that it can take up to 19 hours for a person to miss a lost wallet but only a little over an hour to miss a lost cell phone. He predicts the future will see people leaving home with only their cell phones and drivers’ licenses.

“We want to make things available by cell phone that are now available online, making banking as convenient as possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, online banking continues to be a prevalent electronic trend. Chad Cargile, senior vice president, consumer banking executive with Regions Bank, says Internet banking has gone up dramatically in the last few years.

“It’s boomed over the last two years,” he said. “The generation coming up uses it more than their parents. Young people look at that when choosing a bank so we’ve spent a lot to make ours good.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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