USAA, an American bank and insurance company, has unveiled an update for its iPhone application that lets customers cash cheques using the camera on their phone.

"We're essentially taking an image of the check, and once you hit the send button, that image is going into our deposit-taking system as any other check would" said Wayne Peacock, a USAA executive vice president. The bank already lets customers scan cheques and upload them on their home computer.

The bank only has one physical branch, in San Antonio, Texas, but serves 7.2 million customers - mostly military personnel stationed around the world. Around 1 million of those already use mobile banking. To protect against fraud, only customers who are eligible for credit and have some type of insurance through USAA will be allowed to deposit cheques this way.

"Mobile is going to be a bigger part of how people do commerce and how they interact with their financial institutions" said Peacock, "the great value that we see is the time savings".