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8/3/2009
01:07 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Bank Of America Branch Cuts Offset By Mobile, Online Clout

Bank of America, which recently told key investors it was planning to close about 600 branches nationwide, is ideally positioned to kick off such a move among retail banks because it has more than 25 million online customers and about 2 million mobile-banking users, says an industry expert.

Bank of America, which recently told key investors it was planning to close about 600 branches nationwide, is ideally positioned to kick off such a move among retail banks because it has more than 25 million online customers and about 2 million mobile-banking users, says an industry expert."In terms of mobile, BofA is definitely a leader - in fact, it probably has one of the highest number of mobile users," says Celent senior analyst Red Gillen. His comments came in response to my article posted last week, "Bank of America To Shut 600 Branches Due To Surge In Online And Mobile Banking."

Gillen said that Bank of America and Wells Fargo are the leaders in mobile consumer banking, with Bank of America having larger numbers but Wells Fargo also offering mobile banking for businesses. Both, he said, offer iPhone apps for mobile banking.

Meanwhile, Bank of America is working on some advanced mobile-banking features: it is in the early stages of rolling out mobile-based promotions, and is still developing remote deposit capture and P2P mobile payments, Gillen said. "Other mobile services could include international remittances and contactless (i.e., "tap and go") payments, but BofA has not rolled out such mobile services yet."

Gillen also said traditional retail banks will likely move cautiously on closing brick-and-mortar branches even as user behavior tilts more strongly toward online and mobile preferences because of the undeniable visual impact of bank branches in the physical world. "If BofA is exercising caution, it's likely because branches comprise a brand presence and a sense of commitment to the community - damage to such intangible benefits takes years to repair."

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