Issuers are finding mobile technology is not necessarily a replacement for traditional plastic cards, and can in fact add new flexibility to an old product.

Ally Bank, the direct banking subsidiary of Ally Financial Inc., has become latest to do so in launching an app-controlled service that allows debit card customers to set and change control preferences instantly for their card.

The Ally Card Controls app features the immediate ability to turn a debit card on or off, set location aware controls, transaction types, merchant types and amounts with a single touch, the Midvale, Utah-based bank said.

The app is available to both checking and money market account customers with active debit cards and Android or Apple devices. Customers can access the card controls by logging in to the Ally Bank mobile app and tapping on settings in the main menu.

"At Ally, we continuously innovate and strive for exceptional convenience for our customers," Diane Morais, Ally Bank chief executive officer and president, said in a March 2 press release. "Giving Ally Bank customers the ability to proactively control, monitor, and manage card usage with the tap on the Ally Card Controls app provides cardholders peace of mind related to their debit card."

The controls app provides an experience similar to that Discover introduced two years ago with the "freeze" control on the Discover It card.

The Ally Card Control will offer an on/off feature for when the debit card is misplaced or feared stolen; the ability to set weekly or monthly spending limits; location awareness to make the card operable only in a specific region or when active near the owner's smartphone; and an ability to choose specific merchant types or disable online shopping.


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