H&R Block banks on mobile for customer loyalty

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H&R Block is offering mobile phone banking to its Emerald Card cardholders in a move to improve customer relationships and boost loyalty. The mobile service is provided by Metavante Mobile Financial Services and powered by Monitise Americas LLC.

Users of the Emerald prepaid debit card can now check their balances via text message and receive mobile alerts about their accounts. The mobile services are part of an attempt on H&R Block's side to improve account access and customer support, which executives believe will lead to increased loyalty and higher customer return rates for the company's tax preparation services.

“By piloting the addition of text message and balance inquiry functionality through Monitise Americas and Metavante, we will be able to continue to learn how our Emerald Card can build loyalty while meeting the specific support needs of our tax clients – giving them another reason to choose H&R Block year after year,” Kevin Morrison, assistant VP of card programs at H&R Block, explained in a statement.

The Emerald Card already offers direct deposit of tax refunds and payroll, savings account access, money transfer services and ATM access. H&R Block issued 2.6 million cards during the 2008 tax season.

In a statement, Metavante Payment Solutions group president Frank D'Angelo described the Emerald Card as an entry-level product for financial institutions — which can be used to entice non-traditional customers into traditional banking relationships.

“The ever-present nature of the mobile phone in America makes it an advantageous customer service channel for consumers already bypassing traditional financial institution channels,” D'Angelo added. “As prepaid itself becomes a mainstream financial product, using mobile phone text messaging functionality for balance inquiries can enable relationship building by allowing consumers to manage their account whenever and wherever they choose.”

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