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Twelve Million Not Enough? Bank of America Wants to Be More “Upwardly Mobile” and is Using QR Codes to Get There.

By ThreatMetrix
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Bank of America’s 12 million mobile subscribers are a paltry number compared to BofA’s 58 million consumer and business customer base. Okay, maybe paltry is kind of stretching it — or shrinking it. In any case, BofA has determined that it can do better than just having 12 million subscribers and has gone on a big push to add to its mobile customer base. To that end, the bank is embarking on, as Bank of America’s senior vice president of online and mobile solutions, David Godsman, characterized it on, a “multi-pronged” campaign.

“Prong” one is teller station registration with the bank outfitting teller stations with quick response (QR) codes that can be scanned by mobile devices to download the bank’s mobile app.

QR codes are a type of barcode. Incidentally, The New York Times reported that N. Joseph Woodland, who developed the idea for the barcode in the 1940s, died this December at 91. Guess this gives credence to the cliché that there’s nothing new under the sun. Anyway, the QR barcode, which is popular in the advertising and digital-payment industries, appears as a square pattern that includes data that can be used to trigger transactions or deliver marketing.

Other banks have also been experimenting with QR codes for downloading apps. On its home page, Chase, for one, has a QR code that consumers can use to download a mobile app.

Bank of America is also testing payments executed via QR codes with five merchants. In addition, QR codes are used by payment startup LevelUp, which lets merchants scan a QR code in the consumer’s mobile device to execute payment. Yet another company climbing aboard the QR code bandwagon is Starbucks, which uses QR codes for its mobile payment application.

In a recent interview where he discussed the bank’s expansion of mobile service as well as its campaign to increase usage, Godsman said, “We are actively talking about digital banking as a group of related but diverse financial services delivered via mobile to build awareness of mobile banking.”

BofA, which already offers users mobile banking via browser, text and mobile app, has launched new services including mobile remote deposit capture, person-to-person payments, expanded contactless payment functions, and a mobile component to its BankAmeriDeals merchant rewards program.

Cardlytics, Bank of America’s partner on the merchant rewards program, is expanding its own mobile capabilities to include location-based marketing and real-time offers from merchants.

As part of the user campaign, Godsman says customers are told about various mobile options that are available when signing up for a new account, with a special emphasis on mobile deposits. The idea is to make consumers aware of all the ways they can use their mobile devices. Notes Godsman, “Everyone has a device within three feet of them, and their financial lives are no different than another aspect when it comes to mobile.”

Talking about the feedback capabilities the bank embeds in the app, Godsman observes, “We’re able to get direct feedback at the page level about our functionality, and on the macro level we look at the broader engagement of (our larger base).”

With the emphasis that banks are placing on mobile devices, it’s not hard to see why cybercriminals are doing the same.

By ThreatMetrix Posted