Bank on the front line of technology

Closeup of smartphone touch screen

This is a blog about military readiness. About strength in numbers. About the willingness to deploy the latest technology to complete the mission.

What does all of this have to do with banking? If you're one of the 7.3 million current and former members of the armed services who bank with USAA, the correct answer is: everything.

Back in 1922, USAA -- which stands for United Services Automobile Association -- was founded in San Antonio by 25 Army officers who banded together to insure each others' automobiles. Over the decades, it added life insurance, mutual funds and in 1983, consumer banking through USAA Federal Savings Bank.

USAA's motto, "Service to the services," reflected its commitment to providing military personnel and their families with mission readiness on the financial front.

Unlike most banks, USAA could not offer much in the way of branch banking, since most of its transactions were conducted by mail with service members deployed in far-flung corners of the globe. The company made the best of its logistical disadvantage by providing arguably the best customer call center ever deployed by any bank.

When the rise of personal computing and cell phone technology made online banking and remote deposit capture feasible, USAA was a first responder, launching its website in 1999, online statements in 2001, its Deposit@Home remote deposit capability in 2007 and its Deposit@Mobile RDC for iPhone and Android in 2009.

The bank didn't fret over the cost. It didn't worry about how the moves would be viewed by the ratings wonks.

It did it because it helped GIs and their families around the world close circle on their financial challenges. It was the right thing to do for its customers.

Today, mobile and online deposits account for a quarter of all deposits at USAA. It's not an overstatement to say that remote deposit capture -– sending a picture of a check via smart phone or computer for deposit -- has been a godsend, not only to troops overseas but to disabled vets everywhere.

As we pause this Memorial Day to remember our fallen service members, share some love with USAA, which has been serving the financial needs of military families for nearly 90 years.

And in case any of this unbankmanlike behavior intrigues you, civilians are welcome to partake of USAA's full line of award-winning financial products, including consumer banking, insurance products and investing.

Who knows, you just might become a lifer.

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