About 8% of U.S. households are unbanked and another 20% are underbanked (FDIC). However Underbanked consumers are adopting mobile banking at high rates than fully banked consumers (42% of underbanked households vs. 30% of fully banked households). One in three underbanked households say their mobile phone is primary way they interact with their bank!
Southern Bancorp makes a lot of small, unsecured consumer loans. The typical term is 12 months and the interest rates are in the single digits, Mjartan says. But the tremendous amount of paperwork and disclosures the bank is forced to load its borrowers with is often overwhelming. To better compete, the bank built a new core-processing system and responsive design environment that automatically adjusts to devices of all sizes, with help from a company it helped create, Smiley Technologies. The platform "gives us lots more control over the types of products and services we provide, so we can provide faster processes and deal with changes in the regulatory landscape faster than a lot of the regulated institutions that have large legacy core-system providers," Mjartan said. Most transactions are processed in real time or close to real time, such that ATM deposits, card purchases and mobile money transfers are reflected in the customer's balance immediately. This is critical for customers who do not have the luxury of waiting three days for their check to clear, Mjartan said. The bank has built in other underbanked-friendly options. Customers can, for example, turn their debit card on and off from their mobile device. They can manage text alerts from their device. To help customers quickly see where they stand financially, say while on line at a grocery store, the bank and Smiley Technologies developed a feature called "Shake and Bank" that lets the user shake the phone to see his balances.