Schwab turns to mobile app for electronic authorization

Sep 26, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

By Jason Kephart

The Charles Schwab Corp. has introduced a pilot program that allows advisers to get electronic authorization from clients for wire transfers.

The company said that it expects to have the service widely available in the first quarter.

“We think of it as a bit of a game changer,” said Neesha Hathi, senior vice president of Advisor Technology Solutions at Schwab.

Advisers will be able to send notifications to clients through the Schwab Advisor Center to get electronic signatures that verify wire transfers. The service will require clients to be on file with Schwab and they must have the Schwab app on their mobile phone.

Ms. Hathi said using the mobile app is a more secure way to verify clients than using regular e-mail.

“This takes it out of the domain of e-mail,” she said. “E-mail's not secure. Everyone's heard the stories of hacking. By using the Schwab app, we're able to authenticate the user in a way we can't authenticate today.”

Of course, it's also important for advisers always to call clients to make sure they requested the wire, she said.

The electronic authorization is expected to save advisers a lot of time compared with the current multistep process for gaining authorization. Currently, an adviser has to print out a form, fill it out and then fax it to a client, who has to print it out, sign it and fax it back.

Ms. Hathi said that she expects to see the electronic authorization service expand beyond just wire transfers eventually, but there's no specific timetable for other uses.

“We're starting with the wires, but we're going to take this further,” she said. “There's lots of cases where an adviser needs a client's authorization. We see a lot of opportunity to expand this.”

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