CBA Applauds Bipartisan Effort to Make the Account Opening Process Easier for Consumers

November 4, 2016

Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) today sent a letter to members of Congress, applauding them for introducing H.R. 6287, the Making Online Banking Initiation Legal and Easy (MOBILE) Act of 2016.  Led by Representatives Scott Tipton (CO-03), Randy Hultgren (IL-14) and Terri Sewell (AL-07), the MOBILE Act promotes financial inclusion and consumer access to safe and well-regulated financial services and products.

“We applaud Representatives Tipton, Hultgren and Sewell for introducing bipartisan legislation to give consumers the ability to open a new bank account online or through a mobile device,” said CBA’s President and CEO Richard Hunt. “In an increasingly digital world, banking must be able to adapt and meet the ever-growing needs and expectations of consumers as they seek to monitor and manage their funds. At CBA, we have a committee dedicated to digital channels and look forward to seeing how we can help the MOBILE Act gain traction in Congress.”

It can be both challenging and unnecessarily expensive to participate in today’s digital economy as an individual or household without a checking account, debit card, or credit card. On top of that, banks face difficulty implementing verification processes due to inconsistent state laws pertaining to swiping or copying state-issued identification cards. Financial institutions remain committed to complying with federal laws aimed at preventing identity theft, financial fraud, money laundering, and terrorist financing, including the Bank Secrecy Act, its anti-money laundering rules, and Know Your Customer and Customer Identification Programs.

What does the Mobile Act do?

The MOBILE Act would allow consumers to open bank accounts without having to visit a branch, streamlining the process for millions of Americans regardless of the state in which they live. Under this act, a customer simply would need to swipe, scan or copy their government-issued identification card using a mobile device with an internet connection. While making the account opening process easy and digital, the proposed legislation also ensures consumers would continue to be protected under the participating bank’s identity theft and financial fraud policies.

Reducing the Unbanked and Underbanked Populations

In 2015, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reported that 7 percent of the U.S. population is unbanked and 19.9 percent is underbanked. The FDIC concluded that consumers’ “use of smartphones to engage in banking activities continues to grow at a rapid pace, [which] presents promising opportunities to use the mobile platform to increase economic inclusion.”

CBA member banks are among the nation’s most innovative financial institutions and support legislation that keeps consumers and their financial well-being top-of-mind.