What the heck is a “nomophobic” … and why should your credit union care?

As if our stress-laden society didn’t have enough fears and phobias, now there’s nomophobia – “the fear of being without a mobile phone.” It’s that sinking feeling you get when you can’t find your phone or know you left it at home. The British Post Office coined the term “nomophobia” in 2010, and for some it’s a real anxiety.

That isn’t surprising. Market research firm IDC found that 79% of smartphone users have their phones on or near them every waking hour. There were some 7.7 billion mobile devices worldwide by the end of 2014 – more than one for each of the earth’s 7.1 billion people. And nearly 2 million smartphones are sold daily – five times more than the number of babies born each day.

But is the ubiquitous nature of digital devices really bad for the psyche? Smart technology is making it easier to navigate our increasingly complex society, and convenience is top of mind for most of us. Whether you’re buying theatre tickets or booking travel, checking the weather or finding the best route in traffic, these tools reduce hassle and save time. You can stay on top of work projects, keep up with friends, or gather information. And for many, smartphones allow working from home at least part of the time.

Must-have vs. would-be-nice

Most credit unions today know digital technology is here to stay and that offering mobile banking is a must-have app, not just a nice alternative aimed at tech-oriented consumers. It’s as basic as the branch, and more widely used – a shift from just four years ago. According to CEB (now part of Gartner), more than half of North American customers said they want to use via a personal channel (e.g., branch or call center) as recently as 2013. But by 2015, 81% favored do-it-yourself banking. Of those, 23% exclusively prefer mobile, while 58% prefer the mobile channel but also want a personal representative available only if needed.

Most credit union execs agree they must offer mobile apps today, but here’s the rub: A basic service with few or no complementary financial apps might not be enough – especially if it isn’t easy to use. The CEB/Gartner research also showed that consumers want more functionality, such as digital apps that help them in other areas, such as money management, goal-setting and advice.

It’s no wonder; they’ve learned from cloud-based retailers and service providers that there’s even more convenience to be had.

Amazon is the obvious example: While the online giant has offered 1-click purchasing since its earliest days, Amazon continually makes upgrades to simplify buying decisions, from targeted suggestions to easy order-tracking and “dash buttons,” to reminders that it’s time to reorder often-used products. And Amazon’s Prime app offers perks like exclusive mega deals, no-cost content streaming and free shipping.

Groupon also caught on early that it wasn’t enough to offer an app for discounted merchandise and services through a group-buying model. The Company has gone on to make couponing “cool” again with a splash of technology and enabling consumers to control their own experiences. Coupled with Snap, an app and intuitive browser, Groupon earned its spot as “Best Retail App” last year.

But you don’t have to win awards or be the biggest online financial institution to meet members’  expectations. Using the right cloud technology can get you there without breaking the budget.

A Walk in the Cloud

In talking with credit union executives, I’ve found three reasons why some don’t take advantage of the cloud to expand their digital offerings:

1.“I can’t justify tossing out our legacy system when it still works.”

Instead of chucking what you have now, cloud technology can help integrate the old and the new. A sound Application Program Interface (API) strategy allows you to affordably connect current systems to apps that complement members’ mobile banking, such as setting and tracking savings goals, making the home-buying process easier or help staying on budget.

2. “We’re swamped now, and everyone already has too much on their plates.”

Connecting current systems to cloud technology doesn’t have to be all or nothing; and focusing on one area at a time makes it easier. I recommend starting with enhancing mobile banking because members expect a digital experience that meets or exceeds the standard set by other apps they use.

3. “Data breaches and other cybercrimes happen all the time; we can’t take that chance.”

The public cloud can be scary, requiring high-risk industries like financial services to be ultra-secure. That’s why Virtual StrongBox provides its secure customer engagement platform to clients. It offers peace of mind with patented end-to-end encryption technology, secure file-exchange with permission-based document sharing, private-cloud infrastructure that is SSAE16SOC-complaint and redundant servers.

“Banking is necessary, banks are not”

Famous words from Bill Gates more than 20 years ago and still relevant. While banking is our business, it isn’t all that important to consumers; most want to spend as little time as possible doing it. To help them appreciate your credit union, offer the financial tools and apps members want and need. Choose those that can make their lives easier and be used on any digital device – an important consideration for those experiencing nomophobia.

No one wants the anxiety of a misplaced smartphone. But technology can help here, too. For example, Virtual StrongBox’s clients offer their members/customers secure, online “safe-deposit” boxes. Each member has a private space (My Virtual StrongBox), where they can store and access copies of vital documents anywhere there is an internet connection, and on any device. Files stored from their smartphones can easily be retrieved on their laptops or tablets.

The busier we get and the more we rely on our digital devices, the more your m will demand a fully-functioned app. Sure, if you’re a nomophobe, it’s frightening when you can’t find your phone. But apps like “find a phone” or Tile Mate can help track them down and even lock them up. So, take a deep breath and relax; your phone will turn up … eventually.

Ron Daly

Ron Daly

Ron Daly is the president and CEO of Virtual StrongBox, a secure, end-to-end member engagement platform that can be integrated into various workflow processes to provide high-risk Enterprise IT firms ... Web: www.virtualstrongbox.com Details