The U.S. Congress got a step closer to improving access to mainstream financial services for the underserved and unbanked with the inclusion of the MOBILE Act (H.R. 1457) as part of an amendment to the banking regulatory relief bill that was reported out of the Senate Banking Committee last week, and the standalone bill reported out (by 60-0 vote) of the House Financial Services Committee this week.

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Uses of the technology

The MOBILE Act, or Make Online Banking Initiation Legal and Easy, makes it possible for financial institutions to use an image of a person’s driver’s license or other ID card issued by a state, territory, or native american tribe to verify their identity when opening a bank account or applying for a financial product or service. For those without immediate access to bank branches, the MOBILE Act makes it possible for them to have another option.

The MOBILE Act is an idea originally conceived in the BBVA Compass Legal Department, and its advancement through Congress has been a top priority of the bank’s Government Affairs Director Josh Denney in Washington over the last two years.

Denney: …we can use technology…to respond to the very real access issues facing those that are underserved and unbanked

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“BBVA Compass has been supportive of the MOBILE Act because for us it underscores the notion that technology is the means to an end, not the end itself,” said Denney. “In this case, we can use technology to not only make banking an increasingly digital endeavor, but to respond to the very real access issues facing those that are underserved and unbanked, making financial stability a reality for more people.

According to Pew Research Center, nearly 7 in 10 adults have smartphones, meaning mobile banking is a potential point of access to mainstream financial services for the majority of the country. Further mobile banking applications and services continue to grow in sophistication and scope of functionality, giving new significance to the phrase, “the branch in your pocket.”

Carriles: In this day and age, nobody should be excluded from financial services due to lack of access

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“The world is digital and smartphones are accessible to nearly everyone,” said BBVA Compass Director of Online and Mobile Channels Alex Carriles. “It’s time for us to use the capabilities at our fingertips to put the two together. In this day and age, nobody should be excluded from financial services due to lack of access.”

With the now likely enactment of the MOBILE Act, which could occur early in 2018, all U.S. states and territories would allow photos or scans of driver’s licenses or personal identification cards as a form of ID verification.  This would allow financial institutions to fully deploy mobile technology that allows digital account openings across all states. The Act stipulates that the image would then be destroyed after account opening, to further ensure customer data security.


For more on the MOBILE Act, click here.

Contact: Communications

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