Depositors saving trips with new mobile apps

If you have a smartphone, you probably already know about the mobile applications offered by banks in the area.

If you don’t have a smartphone, or if you haven’t used one of these nifty apps yet, know this: virtually all of them allow you to take a picture of a check you want to deposit and send it to the bank by phone.

Boulder Valley Credit Union in Boulder has launched its second mobile-phone application for its customers. About 1,000 bank customers signed up in the first 10 days, depositing more than $100,000 by phone, said Jason Bauer, vice president for marketing and e-commerce.

Since a recent survey indicated that 15 percent of customers who change banks do so because of mobile banking services, BVCU wants to be sure it has what potential customers want, Bauer said.

“We’re seeing that mobile is hot,” Bauer said. “It saves a trip.”

The bank’s goal is to get 25 percent of its 21,000 members to sign up for the mobile app, he said.

Elevations Credit Union also offers mobile banking. The Elevations mobile app saves time for the customer and money for the credit union, but Elevations employees still want to see their customers in person, said Dennis Paul, assistant vice president.

“All customers want to have the latest and greatest (but) we want our constituency to come into the branches,” Paul said.

Local and national banks and credit unions offering mobile-phone applications include Premier Members Federal Credit Union in Boulder, and local branches of BBVA Compass Bank, Bank of the West, Chase Bank, FirstBank of Colorado, Key Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank, among others.

A national honor

Key Bank has received its eighth “outstanding” rating from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for exceeding the terms of the federal Community Reinvestment Act exam. Key is the only national bank among the 25 largest to be rated outstanding for eight consecutive periods.

KeyBank made more than $102 million in loans and more than $22.6 million in equity to Colorado projects during the exam period from July 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2011. The company gave more than $1.2 million to Colorado nonprofits through its KeyBank Foundation.

Easing up

Owners of small businesses in Boulder County increasingly are optimistic about the economy, according to Sam Inman, market president for the Boulder region for Wells Fargo Bank (NYSE: WFC) in San Francisco.

Boulder County companies are seeing better year-over-year operating results, and most agree that access to capital is increasing, Inman said. Many have seen cash-flow growth as well, he said.

Concerns about the impacts of government regulation have softened somewhat, although many companies still have concerns about health-care reform and other potential new government rules, he said.

From the bank’s standpoint, small-business lending is very robust. While Wells Fargo doesn’t release statistics specific to Boulder County, it loaned $34 million through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s lending program in the most recent five-month reporting period, Inman said. The amount is more than four times that of the next largest lender making SBA loans in Colorado, he said.

Green Alpha Fund is No. 1

Boulder’s Shelton Green Alpha Fund — a mutual fund for investors — is No. 1 in its category as ranked by Morningstar, the industry investment tool.

Green Alpha Advisors in Boulder is a division of Shelton Capital Management in San Francisco. After just six weeks of operation and about $600,000 now invested, the fund beat out 1,763 funds in the category of large U.S. growth equity funds, said Garvin Jabusch at Green Alpha Advisors.

Investors into the fund can start with $1,000 and invest up to $100,000 in a fund that focuses strictly on “green,” or environmentally sustainable, companies, Jabusch said. A partner in the fund is the Sierra Club, the nonprofit environmental group.

Bells and whistles

Finally, a 3-D security ribbon will make its debut on new $100 bills beginning Oct. 8.

The security ribbon shows images of bells and “100,” which change from one to the other as the bill is tilted. The new bills have a life expectancy of 15 years, but you can use any of the old-design bills, too — as long as you have them.

Beth Potter can be reached at 303-630-1944 or bpotter@bcbr.com.

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