- Bank of America's app refresh pulls together retail banking, retail brokerage, and private banking.
- And BofA's large user base is a captive audience for digital product sales.
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The bank's recent tweaks to its primary mobile app integrate retail banking and pieces of retail brokerage and private bank functionality into one app. In the past, it has offered those features only as part of separate apps.
Features include consolidating account views for Merrill and Bank of America (BofA) Private Bank accounts, extending virtual assistant Erica's reach to information on portfolio balances and trading activity, and the ability to connect with an advisor. While the app upgrade does not reach the other apps' levels of sophistication for specialized functionality, such as using the separate Merrill Edge app for trading and portfolio management, it takes a step toward the same kind of integration BofA has sought in its branches.
BofA's large user base is a captive audience for digital product sales. Digital sales across product lines have become critical to financial institutions' growth as the pandemic persists. BofA and its peers have been squeezed by falling interest rates and by swelling deposits that outstrip growth in its loan book.
But despite less exposure to customers through branches, it has an enormous digital user base that it can market to: For Q2 2020, BofA reported 39.3 million digital active users, 30.3 million of whom are active mobile users. The bank has successfully turned user numbers into product sales, including a jump as the pandemic set in. It reported that 47% of sales in Q2 occurred through digital channels, up from 33% in Q1.
Digital services integration could ease customers into multiproduct relationships. Merrill, BofA Private Wealth, and BofA retail banking continue to offer separate mobile apps, but by bringing the functionality together, the bank makes it easier to expose customers to several different products and services.
For some time, the retail app has shown customers checking and credit card balances, aggregated other products, and enabled mobile deposit account opening and retail loan applications. But by integrating more, BofA creates an opportunity to develop deeper, multifaceted relationships with broader segments of customers.
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