The birth of mobile banking

With the technology that led to the success of MICR, Magnetic Ink Character Recognition and ERMA, Electronic Recording Method of Accounting—the industry’s first mainframe computer to automate check processing in the late 1950s and early 1960s—the idea of automating critical banking services became an attainable goal.

In the 1970s, the era of modern banking in America was underway as more banking services became automated through the help of computers. With mainframe terminals, bank tellers could access customer account information in real time and perform actions such account openings, stop payment orders and fund transfers. By 1982, Bank of America had approximately 2,000 internal terminals, allowing employees to access the bank’s network. This enabled our bankers to work more efficiently for customers and communicate quickly via the then new electronic mail program, later to become known as email.

During the 1980s, when personal computers came into more homes, Bank of America saw an opportunity to allow people to access their accounts remotely. In 1983, the bank introduced its first Home Banking product. Through Home Banking, customers could access their account balances and perform basic banking services. In these early days of the service, Home Banking offered customers access to their accounts seven days a week between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and midnight.

Home Banking formed the basis for Online Banking as we know it today. In the following decade, Bank of America launched its first presence on the Internet with bankofamerica.com in 1994. No longer needing special bank software, customers were able to instantly access the bank’s website 24 hours a day. As use of the Internet exploded, so did use of the bank’s services. 

By the turn of the millennium, Bank of America’s Online Banking website continued to grow rapidly in both the number of users and services offered. Later, with the advent of mobile phone technology, the bank moved into offering banking services to customers on mobile devices. Since 2007, mobile has become a significant platform for customer engagement. Today, with more than 15 million active mobile users and more than 30 million Online Banking customers, Bank of America has continued to be an industry leader in developing and offering innovative products to its customers.

Visit one of our Heritage Centers for an up close look at this and other stories from our bank’s history. Learn more