Would You Pay for Mobile Banking? You Might Have To

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Mobile could soon become yet another moneymaker for banks, rather than a free convenience for customers.

My bank used to offer a free coin counting machine, but eventually started placing restrictions on it. First, it charged a fee for non-bank customers. Then it added a fee for totals exceeding $25 no matter who was using it (so I’d put in less than that amount).

Then, suddenly, it wasn’t free at all.

Well, the same thing is probably going to happen with free mobile banking (which, for now, is still free at my bank). More than a third of cellphone owners use mobile apps for banking, nearly double from two years ago, a new Pew Research study says. Some banks are ready to capitalize on the shift.

“Fees for mobile banking are set to become the norm,” CNBC says. While the apps themselves might remain free — to encourage downloads — services on them, such as check deposit or mobile bill pay, may end up having fees. Banks are experimenting, the site says.

Some banks are considering a model where customers pay a flat fee for unlimited mobile transactions, CNBC says — sort of like a gym membership for mobile banking. Others are just diving right in.

Regions’ new app, for instance, has a tiered fee structure that allows instant or delayed access to digital deposits. For immediate access, “customers must pay $5, or a percentage of the deposit — whichever is higher,” CNBC says. For a traditional two-day delay, it’s 50 cents.

Why 50 cents? Maybe they analyzed how much gas the average person would use to swing by, or maybe they just copied U.S. Bank, which has charged 50 cents since 2010.

JPMorgan Chase offers free mobile services for now, CNBC says, while Wells Fargo charges for premium services like bank-to-bank transfers and emergency bill pay.

Would you pay a fee to use services through your phone that are free in person? What about things that aren’t, like instant access to deposits? Let us know how you feel about mobile banking fees on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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