As usual, Apple was at the forefront of people’s conversations last month when it rolled out Apple Pay. This new payment technology allows consumers to make in-store purchases with a single touch of their phone. That is, assuming the financial institution and the retailer both agree to support it. There is already controversy over which retailers will and will not accept Apple Pay, and most of it is surrounding payment fees and the need for new POS platforms.
Another example of a relatively new technology is mobile banking apps. They have been on the market for about six years, yet many smaller credit unions are still wondering whether they should offer one. As a large investment of time and money, new tech concepts take time to fully diffuse. With all new technology, there will always be early adopters who are willing and able to begin using it immediately. On the other hand, not everyone is interested in changing their habits.
One thing we can all agree on is that if a new form of technology is going to directly affect the way our members do their banking, we must be behind it 100%. When considering implementing new technology for your credit union, remember to ask the following questions:
- Is it something members want? You know your members like you know your own family. Rather than making assumptions on what they expect from you, go ahead and ask. Do they plan to use mobile payments? Do they want the option to check their balance on their phones? Do they own a smartphone in the first place? Their answers will help determine your plan.
- What new feature does it introduce? A new technology will add value to your credit union by offering members something they did not have access to previously. It is smart to differentiate what can be communicated through existing channels, and what would be better suited to an app, for example.
- Does it solve a real problem? “Gone are the days of searching for your wallet,” says Apple of its new payment system. But have your members expressed this as a problem? As Matt Davis of CU Water Cooler, gameFI and 6th Story asked following Money 20/20 – are they unhappy with the payment system as is? Perhaps the real problem at hand is data security, easy account access or otherwise.
- Is it easy to use? Technology is meant to simplify. Whether it is an app, a mobile website, a new payment method or some other change, it must provide a simple and streamlined user experience. Remember that members have varying degrees of technological expertise, so your continued education and support is important as well.
- Will it impact the community? Some big-box retailers are already opposing Apple Pay, and local businesses may follow suit. As an integral part of your community and your members’ lives, locally owned businesses are important to the decisions you make in-branch.
At Buzz Points, we recently launched an updated version of our mobile app, based on direct feedback from our cardholders. When building the app, our goal was not only to improve the user experience for consumers, but also to support our local businesses and the communities where they reside. Buzz Points is a merchant-funded rewards program that partners with credit unions to encourage debit card use and shopping locally. Cardholders earn points for every transaction, even those made electronically through a system like Apple Pay, should you decide it is right for your members.
Your members are your most important asset. A new technology is an investment and an extension of your credit union. Therefore, be sure to ask the proper questions when considering a new technology.
In addition to the tech resources you have in place, Buzz Points can offer members a mobile presence and more. To learn more about Buzz Points, visit buzzpoints.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.