News Column

PNC Weighs Fee on Mobile Check Deposits

March 7, 2013

Becky Yerak

Yet another new bank fee is being floated.

The Chicago area's sixth-biggest bank is flirting with the idea of charging a fee for the now-free service of depositing a check by mobile phone.

William Demchak, president of Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services, said at a March 5 Citigroup analyst event that it's seeing customers deposit checks on mobile phones about 10,000 times a day, saving PNC Bank $3.88 a transaction by not using a teller window.

That amounts to millions of dollars a year in savings for PNC and other major banks, including Chase and Bank of America, that have developed the convenience for their depositors.

"How many of you, if I charged you some money for that," -- a quarter -- "would still do it rather than go stand in the teller line? I would," Demchak said. "We're in a mindset where we did it for convenience to save costs, and we didn't think about the mindset that we're providing the value-added service to consumer."

That's a change that PNC and other retail banks, whose profits are under pressure in a low interest-rate environment, "need to focus on as we go through this emerging technology and what we are providing to consumers that they value," he said.

Making a mobile deposit entails snapping a picture of a check on a mobile device. "PNC Mobile Deposit is safe, secure and free," the company says on its Web site.

Demchak has previously said that the cost per transaction at a branch is almost $4, compared with 59 cents at an ATM, 56 cents using online or mobile devices and 10 cents at a call center.

Chase declined to comment on PNC's remarks on Tuesday.

Source: (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by MCT Information Services.