(Credit: JPMorgan Chase)

The subprime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s caused a tectonic shift in the depository bank industry, not just ushering in new players at physical branches, but also banks that only exist on the internet. Mobile-first and mobile-only banks first came from scrappy startups, but deep-pocketed financial giants are getting into the act as well.

JPMorgan's newly launched Finn service is an example of the latter, bringing in a collection of new and interesting services designed to appeal to a younger demographic that tends not to trust large institutions. The service rolled out first in St. Louis and hasn't been made available everywhere quite yet; at the beginning of the sign-up process, the app asks you for your ZIP code, to determine if you're eligible. And for now, the app is only available for iOS.

Finn follows in the footsteps of several other banks that don't have a physical presence. Aspiration, Monzo, Ally, Radius and others have been luring customers with relatively high interest rates, low minimum opening deposits, low fees, insured accounts, joint checking, overseas travel perks, and other enticements to lure people away from established institutions. It's difficult to get people to move their money away from the recognized banks, so now may be a good time to take advantage of what digital banks are offering to get people to switch.

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In addition to the usual checking and savings accounts, one welcome new feature in Finn is the ability to send checks from within the app -- a boon to property renters everywhere, since this ancient payment instrument can be lost in the mail and displays sensitive information, like your bank account number. (Like other bank apps, you can also scan a check that you've received, and the deposit will show up in a few days.)

If you just need to send someone beer money, Finn has partnered with the Zelle digital payments network, a competitor to VenMo and Apple Pay Cash.

But Finn's more interesting features may be the settings for shifting money from checking into savings. The Autosave feature can be set to move money into savings every time you deposit a paycheck, or whenever you buy something, when you buy something at a specific store, or even the types of things you buy and how you rate those purchases.

Savings accounts accrue interest at extremely low rates these days, but Finn's Autosave settings may help people get a better sense of how much money they spend every month, and how to improve their money management. The app doesn't directly connect your savings to the stock market, but a JPMorgan representative speaking to Business Insider this week told them that the company is actively looking at "evolving those features."

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And although Finn is separate from JPMorgan's flagship Chase Bank, you can still use your Finn debit card at a Chase ATM without paying fees. The Finn app can show you where the nearby ATMs are. You just won't be able to access your Finn accounts within the Chase branch office that the ATM is connected to.

If you already have a Chase checking or savings account, you can use your user name and password to accelerate the Finn sign-up process. Customers without Chase accounts can get a free $100 for opening a Finn account, if certain conditions are met.

Takeaways

  1. Massive bank JPMorgan Chase is taking aim at "millennials" with a bank managed entirely from a mobile app--territory mostly dominated by startups. But, we're at an inflection point similar to the early days of Facebook where the apps are being designed by their own target audience.
  2. The Finn app has features to help you build your savings, but it won't do it by way of interest rates, which are measured in hundredths of a percent.

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Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.