Area financial institutions roll out latest tech

North Bay financial institutions are increasingly employing the latest generation of Web and mobile technologies, addressing a wave of consumer demand for conveniences that were once only within reach of large, national banks.

Early adopters of these technologies, including Santa Rosa’s Summit State Bank and Community First Credit Union, have seen users readily embrace the new, free services, which allow functions like advanced money management and mobile check capture.

Now, two more Santa Rosa institutions are in the middle of rolling out a number of electronic banking improvements, with Exchange Bank and Redwood Credit Union embarking on phased launches of new Web and mobile platforms in the coming months.

“The adoption is almost exponential,” said Thomas Duryea, president and CEO of Summit State Bank, of their mobile application.

While online banking has been a mainstay for community institutions for several years, the newest generation of tools – with mobile-optimized conveniences like instant fund transfers to other accounts – were first developed and heavily marketed under national banks.

Now, tech providers to the financial industry are developing online banking and mobile platforms that are offered at a scale that is viable to community institutions.

At Exchange Bank, leaders in the technology effort selected Intuit, the bank’s current technology provider for online banking services. Intuit, also the developer of the Quickbooks accounting software, was in the midst of developing a new mobile and Web platform when Exchange Bank began looking at technology options nine months ago. The bank saw that the planned offerings would integrate smoothly with current systems, said Brad Hunter, senior vice president in charge of electronic banking.

The new services, with a two-month rollout that began last week, will eventually allow customers to use enhanced financial planning tools, as well as transfer funds instantly to customers both at Exchange Bank and other participating banks. Mobile offerings will also be available for the popular smartphone platforms, and the bank will have additional flexibility to implement rewards programs for activities such as shopping locally. Mobile check capture — allowing check deposit through a cell phone — is also under development, and the various improvements include enhancements to security.

Yet behind the scenes, Mr. Hunter said that much of the bank’s work has involved the transition to a “real time” electronic banking system. With changes that include a new high-capacity T1 data connection for the bank, transactions will now appear instantly on a customer’s history, eliminating occasional delays with the current system. Those changes took effect last Wednesday, with additional work occurring to streamline online access to popular account functions.

“If you swipe your card at the gas station, pump your gas, turned around and looked at your account on your phone, you’d see it there,” Mr. Hunter said.

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