Mobile photo bill pay becoming more popular

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- To pay his bills, Al Broberg takes out his smartphone, opens his mobile banking app, snaps a picture, and he's done.

"It's just, wow technology!" said Broberg.

Experts predict this kind of technology will be "digitally desired" by smartphone users. In fact, a survey found 28 percent of consumers between the ages of 26 and 34 say they'd be likely to change banks to gain access to mobile photo bill pay.

"Photo bill pay is really in its infancy. It's a big thing you will see increasingly rolling out in 2014, 2015 and beyond. It's going to become a staple," said Mark Schwanhausser with Javelin Strategy and Research.

Right now, a small number of financial institutions are using mobile photo bill pay, and bankers report that it's a high-tech magnet for customers. So how does just snapping a picture of a bill actually pay it?

"The bank is actually able to take that image and extract all of the information about the biller from the picture. So we can enable the customer to avoid having to type all that information into forms. Then, once the biller is set up the customer just has to confirm the amount the date and send the payment," said U.S. Bank Vice President Chris Peper.

Banks and app makers say the mobile technology has layers of security. Financial institutions already using mobile photo pay say, similar to remote check deposit, images are never stored in your phone, and using photo bill pay reveals less information than mailing a check.

"If you think about what the information that's on a physical check, it has your name, address, sometimes your phone number, and it always has your full account number and the routing number of your bank. So, really the less that you expose that type of information, the safer you are," said Peper.

You can expect some banks to charge a fee for using such products as photo pay. In fact, one credit union now charges consumers 50 cents per bill to pay with their photo pay app. But they say look at it this way, that's cheaper than the cost of a check and postage.

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