Mitek Introduces Mobile Imaging App to Switch Credit Card Accounts

10/29/13Follow @bvbigelow

After introducing mobile check deposit technology in 2008, and mobile bill payment in 2012, San Diego’s Mitek Systems (NASDAQ: MITK) is striking into some interesting (virtual) territory by expanding its core technology to enable customers to switch credit card accounts by simply snapping a picture of their statement and sending it to another bank.

The company’s intelligent system technology can extract enough data from the image, including customer name and account information, to transfer the credit card account to the new bank. Mitek licenses its technology to banks, which integrate its system with their own IT infrastructure and mobile banking services.

If you’re dissatisfied with the interest rate on your Visa card, for example, all you have to do is download the mobile balance transfer app from a rival bank, take a photo of your account statement and send it in (to the bank where you downloaded the app). Mitek’s “mobile photo balance transfer” technology enables the bank to extract the information it needs to transfer your account—that is, as long as you meet standard eligibility criteria.

Mitek's Mobile Photo Balance Transfer

Mitek’s Mobile Photo Balance Transfer

After introducing the technology locally through the San Diego County Credit Union three months ago, Mitek is headed for the big time. The company says its mobile photo balance transfer technology will be available through a deal with Minneapolis, MN-based U.S. Bank—the nation’s sixth-largest bank, according to the 2013 Forbes list of America’s biggest banks.

As Mitek explains on its website, “With Mobile Photo Balance Transfer, consumers receive a lower interest rate and the financial institution acquires a new credit card customer…”

When I met recently with Mitek CEO Jim DeBello, he said the idea is to eliminate the paper forms that customers previously had to fill out if they wanted to transfer their credit card accounts, and to make it as “friction-free” as possible for consumers.

Perhaps more importantly, eliminating paperwork and direct-mail marketing to consumers (think of all those low-interest rate mailers you throw away) means that Mitek’s technology would enable banks to dramatically lower their marketing and customer acquisition costs. The San Diego company has been expanding the capabilities of its core mobile imaging technology, dubbed “MiSnap,” in recent years.

As I explained a few years ago, Mitek took advantage of its longstanding-but-underutilized expertise in character recognition technology to pivot and target the extraordinary growth of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

“We started with mobile photo deposit,” DeBello told me. “Then we had mobile photo bill pay. Now we have mobile photo account transfer.”

Mitek Systems CEO Jim DeBello

Jim DeBello

The latest application of Mitek’s core mobile imaging technology could tap into a substantial customer base, if the company’s success with its mobile check deposit technology is any indication. In the five years since Mitek introduced mobile check deposit, the company has licensed its technology to 1,059 banking institutions, and it is available at 559 of them, according to the company’s third-quarter financial results for the period ending June 30. Mitek counts all 10 of the nation’s top 10 banking firms as customers, DeBello said.

J.P. Morgan Chase, a Mitek customer and the largest U.S. bank, reported a 30 percent gain, year-over-year, in mobile banking accounts, according to a recent article in Bank Innovation magazine. Wells Fargo, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, showed 29 percent growth, year-over-year, in its mobile banking customers.

The regulatory nature of the banking business means that banks are slow to innovate, yet DeBello said customers are eager for mobile banking innovations. When Chase was the only bank offering a mobile photo deposit app, DeBello says, “people were changing their banks to go to Chase just because of the mobile photo deposit.”

U.S. Bank will be the first major U.S. bank to offer mobile imaging technology to transfer credit card accounts, according to Mitek.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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