Serving and understanding the nuances of the Hispanic marketplace has emerged in recent years as one of the credit union movement’s most successful growth strategies. While credit unions may most likely approach this strategy using their brick-and-mortar resources, I’ve experienced that using personal technology to reach the community’s nativos digitales must not be overlooked be an important tactic to consider.
Nativos digitales is Spanish for “digital natives,” those younger generations who never knew life without personal technology at their disposal. Whether communicating with family and friends, shopping online or hailing an Uber, chances are these members are doing so on a cellphone or other personal device.
Increasingly, the same holds true for financial service transactions across the entire cultural spectrum. In the case of nativos digitales, however, credit unions are realizing even greater returns.
Institutions that successfully serve Hispanic members report a shift in the average age of those members to a younger demographic, one versed in personal technology. Since the future of credit unions rests on the shoulders of younger members, serving them in a way that’s preferable and convenient to their lifestyle is critical to continued credit union growth.
U.S. credit unions have become very accustomed to technology, so it should be no surprise that some credit unions are using this technology to reach new segments of the population. Some even have effectively created virtual Spanish-speaking branches online, which operate as technological bridges between the credit union and Hispanic community it seeks to serve.
Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, a Coopera client from Kern County, California, has been very successful in reaching its Hispanic membership by leveraging digital touchpoints. The $1.6 billion credit union uses technology to support its efforts to understand and embrace the local Hispanic community and its members.
“We started marketing aggressively to Hispanics in January 2016 in partnership with Coopera,” says Michael George, senior vice president and chief marketing, innovation and advocacy officer. He added that the credit union was amazed that use of personal technology among Hispanics far exceeded that of other member groups.
Kern Schools FCU’s experience is not unusual. Younger Hispanics almost universally prefer mobile devices such as cellphones, largely for the portability, cost, and immediacy—the way they understand the world.
According to trends reported by the Pew Research Center, in fact, 80 percent of Hispanic men and women say they access the Internet via cellphone, tablet or other mobile device. Of that group, usage among Hispanics age 18 to 29 tops out at 94 percent, with subsequent usage levels declining among older adult groups.
“For us, mobile and online usage is up 40 percent among our membership,,” George says. “Our most recent Coopera study showed our Hispanic members are utilizing digital banking services at a slightly higher rate than our non-Hispanic members.”
Kern Schools FCU’s mobile apps enable members to complete virtually any transaction the institution offers, from savings to checking to funds transfer to lending, including applying for mortgage loans. Since the services are offered online in both Spanish and English, the credit union also has seen an increasing number of new members across all demographic groups, although Hispanics lead the way.
By working with Coopera , Kern Schools FCU has managed to tap into its nativos digitales and serve this segment in the way that is optimal for them. Many credit unions rely on their brick-and-mortar services to provide Hispanic outreach, but the digital channel should not be overlooked, as it may be your largest opportunity for driving growth among this young and tech-savvy audience.