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The Bank of Stockton reaping dividends from mobile banking platform

The Bank of Stockton in California has been engaging its customers with its mobile banking platform that includes the mobile Web and various SMS initiatives.

Powered by ClairMail Inc., the Bank of Stockton's "Mobile Internet Banking" lets consumers manage their banking through their Web-enabled mobile phone. The bank's "Mobile Text" program lets consumers access balance information, transfer funds, receive low balance alerts and view account history via a mobile phone using text messaging.

"We are constantly looking for ways to make banking more convenient for our customers," said Angela Brusa, vice president and director of marketing at Bank of Stockton, CA. "Mobile is a new delivery channel for banking, which allows us to reach our customers with the banking information they want 24/7, anywhere, anytime.

"The mobile channel appears to be growing faster than any other delivery channel," she said. "Since such a high percentage of consumers carry a cell phone, it's a likely delivery channel for banking information, giving the ultimate in convenience for mobile users."

The mobile Internet banking site lets Bank of Stockton customers access balance information, transfer funds, find ATMs and branch locations and find contact information via smartphones.

There are several SMS services that the Bank of Stockton offers.

"The various mobile products and services the Bank of Stockton offers Mobile Web, Mobile Text, Mobile Alerts, and in the fall, Actionable Alerts, which enable Bank of Stockton to have a hand-shake with its customers via their handsets

"We send an alert, for example, about insufficient funds, and give the customer the opportunity to respond to the bank with a 'yes' if they want us to transfer funds for them to cover the NSF," she said.

"Actionable alerts provide even more value to the customer, since they not only deliver information that the customer wants to know, but allow action to be taken by the bank on their behalf."

ClairMail is a provider of mobile services for banking, payments and card services.

Financial institutions of all sizes are using mobile as a CRM tool via multiple mobile channels.

Bank of Stockton, the oldest privately owned bank in the state of California, has been a ClairMail customer since 2007.

"We've continued to invest in the mobile technology and offerings through ClairMail and are looking forward to launching Actionalble Alerts in the fall," Ms. Brusa said. "This is indicative of the positive response we've received from our customers taking advantage of mobile technology.

"They've embraced it and we are very happy with the channel," she said.

Mobile banking booms
ClairMail claims that its clients have experienced a 700-plus percent year-over-year increase in monthly mobile banking transactions.

The mobile banking industry experienced a six-fold usage increase in 2008, according to recent published reports cited by ClairMail.

ClairMail processes millions of transactions per month for its customers across retail banks, credit unions and card-service companies and claims that it has experienced accelerating growth over the past year.

A 2008 report from financial services research and consulting firm Javelin Strategy & Research suggests that an opportunity to drive adoption of mobile banking exists with consumers not currently enrolled in online banking.

Financial institutions have yet to fully tap into their customer base to maximize mobile banking adoption, according to Javelin.

Many banks have relied on their Internet banking customers to help drive adoption, but they also need to explore additional customer channels to help grow their mobile efforts.

"One reason the Bank of Stockton has been so successful is that they've always looked at how to provide better service and improve their communications with customers, engaging customers early on via online banking," said Joe Salesky, founder, chairman and chief strategy officer of ClairMail, Novato, CA. "They were also one of the earliest banks to embrace mobile.

"It's an opportunity not just for customers to seek out information via mobile, but for the bank to proactively serve the customers via alerts," he said. "They put up billboards to promote it, proving they saw mobile as a key channel.

"They see the opportunity to deepen and evolve the relationship with their customers over time using mobile."