Updated July 6 at 7:06pm

Keeping pace with technology, customers

By Paul E. Kandarian
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Back in the day, innovation to a bank meant a new toaster for customers opening an account. These days, it’s high-tech or die, as banks give customers up-to-the-nanosecond ways of checking on their money, transferring it around, paying bills and more, all from the comfort of their home or more likely, the palm of their hand.

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FASTEST GROWING & INNOVATIVE COMPANIES

Keeping pace with technology, customers

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Back in the day, innovation to a bank meant a new toaster for customers opening an account. These days, it’s high-tech or die, as banks give customers up-to-the-nanosecond ways of checking on their money, transferring it around, paying bills and more, all from the comfort of their home or more likely, the palm of their hand.

RBS Citizens Financial Group Inc., based in Providence, a $129 billion commercial bank holding company with 19,000 employees, has been busy keeping up the technological pace. Within the past two years, RBS Financial has developed mobile-banking iPhone and Android apps, which have become very popular with the bank’s customers. They are used not just to pay bills and check balances, but to do things like search for the nearest branch or ATM.

More than 42,000 customers downloaded the Android app since it went live in May. Together, the Android and iPhone apps have earned an impressive 4.5 average review, on a scale of five, from customers taking the time to rate them.

“Our customers have embraced the ease and convenience of online and mobile banking,” said Edward O. Handy, president of Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, Rhode Island and Connecticut. “And these enhancements are the direct result of our commitment to invest in the services that customers tell us are important to them.”

In May, the company unveiled enhanced online and mobile banking platforms, with updates including person-to-person payments on the Web (Popmoney) and expanded mobile functionality. A year ago, the company became the first bank in its footprint to offer a corporate mobile banking solution with accessMOBILE, through which customers get balance information, check on transfer status, approve and release wire transfers and get alerts, as well as find nearby ATMs.

That won the bank recognition from Computerworld as a 2011 Honors Laureate for its innovative use of information technology to improve business responsiveness.

Bank officials said the company’s penetration into the online banking market continues to grow, with customers using the online platform more than ever before: In 2011, customers interacted with the bank more than 200 million times. And 38 percent of the bank’s customer households have an active online banking log-in, up from 33 percent last year, bank officials said.

Handy said RBS Citizens Financial Group’s investment in technology is part of its commitment to delivering “a differentiated customer experience.” Over the past three years, the company has grown the number of households actively using online bill pay to 17 percent, up from 12 percent.

“People are busier than ever,” Handy said. “And with expanded options and convenience, they can take care of their banking needs anytime and anywhere.” •

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