Nearly a year after USAA Federal Savings Bank launched a service that enables customers to deposit checks into their accounts using images captured with cameras on their Apple Inc. iPhones, the bank last weekend launched the same service for Android-powered smartphones.

USAA customers, which primarily include individuals in the military and their families, may access the service, dubbed Deposit@Mobile, through the bank’s mobile-banking application. They can download the app from Apple’s app store or from the Android Market. Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google Inc.

Some 3,000 USAA customers as of Monday night had downloaded the Android app, according to Jeff Dennes, executive director of mobile services for the San Antonio-based financial-services company. They deposited $155,000 during that time. Some 300,000 customers since May have downloaded the iPhone app and have deposited more than $300 million, according to Dennes. USAA has 7.3 million members.

With Deposit@Mobile, users launch USAA’s mobile-banking application. They then capture images of the front and back of a check with the camera on their phones, and the application sends the images to the bank, which verfies the check’s validity and deposits the funds into the individual’s account.

USAA used social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to spread the news about the Android app, according to Dennes. “USAA was born, developed and grown from word of mouth, so social networking is huge for us, and I don’t think we’ve seen the full value of it yet,” he says.

The growing popularity of Android-powered smartphones is what spurred the expansion of the Deposit@Mobile app beyond the iPhone, Dennes tells PaymentsSource. Last September, only 1% of USAA customer accessed the bank’s mobile Web site using an Android device. “At the end of last week, it was 13%,” Dennes says.

The first Android-powered phone launched in 2008 when Germany-based T-Mobile released the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1. Today, approximately eight Android devices are available in the marketplace, and Dennes expects 13 more phones sometime this summer.

“Being that the Android is going to be compatible with so many phones in the next six months, it was the right decision to develop an app for it,” Dennes says.

With the iPhone and Android out of the way, USAA is prepping to launch the application for Research in Motion’s Blackberry device in March. Dennes wanted to release a Blackberry app sooner, but software coding proved to be a difficult process.

USAA has no plans to develop and application for Palm Pre smartphones or devices powered by a Microsoft mobile operating system. Instead, USAA wants to focus on phones that have “high adoption,” according to Dennes.

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