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East River Bank Dives Into Mobile Banking

Smart device app and expanded Web offerings coming from local bank.

With only two physical brick-and-mortar locations in East Falls and Roxborough, seems as if it has limitations.

Christopher McGill, president of the local bank, points out services that work to disprove what he calls misconceptions. East River Bank:

  • Belongs to the AllPoint network, which provides access to 43,000, surcharge-free ATMs nationwide;
  • Employs Finance Works software that allows customers to transfer money between banks; and
  • Works to grows its online offerings.

With a new initiative launched in July, East River Bank debuted its smart devices app that McGill says will further break down physical barriers.

"With our debit car, or your smart phone or PC, the bank branch is in your pocket," he said.

Available at the App Store for iPhones and the Android Market, the app allows customers to check account balances, transfer funds between accounts and pay bills.

Additionally, users can search for surcharge-free ATMs, which exists in unexpected places like CVS and 7-Eleven. If you are at Second and South Streets, for example, three ATMs pop up within walking distance—on Lombard, Pine and Fifth Streets.

And, coming in August, people can open accounts online, too. 

"It's a real leverage for us, because I can giver our customers 40,000 ATMs, and we pay for a service, but we don't have to maintain all of those machines," he said, adding that fee isn't passed on to the customer.

The only drawback is a limitation on deposits. People can setup direct deposits, but if someone in California wanted to deposit money in his or her East River Bank account, other than mailing it, the only option is depositing it at another bank and incur a fee, McGill said.

East River Bank was formed in 2006 and holds $200 million in household deposits in Manayunk, Roxborough and East Falls—out of a potential $800 million. The bank heavily emphasizes community banking, and works with local businesses and developers to finance local projects, in addition to supporting local charities and community events.

During the recent banking crisis where subprime mortgages, credit default swaps and bundled toxic assets doomed the economy, McGill said East River Bank only took risks on the community.

"We're always looking to fund projects in higher density, stable urban environments. We're an important bank to small businesses... We try to be an incubator for ideas and projects," he said. 

East River Bank, he said, can be more flexible and creative than bigger banks and can be a great asset to local projects. It takes risks—but on people.

"We are prudently lending money, like any other bank. But we become very comfortable with the people we are lending money to. Who we decide to lend money to is not based on a formula, it's based on people," he said.

McGill emphasizes East River Bank's customer service as one of its largest assets—whether at a branch or through unique services, like couriers who pick up deposits for businesses around the area. Expanded online options, he said, are in line with the bank's new slogan—"Neighborhood Banking. Wherever You Go."

Visit East River Bank's website for more information. Represenatives from East River Bank will be on hand at summer concert series or the Mt. Airy Night Market, August 16.

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