Good luck staying competitive today without offering members mobile banking. It’s now a necessity, says Danielle Green, marketing strategist at $155 million asset Park City Credit Union, Merrill, Wis.
A 2015 report by the Federal Reserve Board, “Consumers and Mobile Financial Services,” revealed consumer trends and demand for mobile options. Key findings included:
- Mobile phones are in widespread use, with 87% of U.S. adults using them and 71% of them being smartphones.
- The ubiquity of mobile phones is changing the way consumers access financial services: 52% of smartphone owners with a bank account have used mobile banking.
- Mobile phones are changing the way consumers make payments, with mobile bill payment, point-of-sale, and other mobile payments on the rise.
- Personal preferences and security concerns continue to be the main impediments to the adoption of mobile payments.
- Smartphones are changing the way people shop and make financial decisions. For example, 63% of survey participants check their account balances on their smartphones before making a large purchase, and more than half decide not to purchase as a result of their account balance or credit limit.
- Mobile phones are prevalent among unbanked and underbanked consumers. A full 90% of underbanked consumers have access to mobile phones, 73% of which are smartphones. And 48% of underbanked consumers use mobile banking.
“Rates of mobile phone use remain high and consistent across demographic and socioeconomic groups,” notes the report. “The prevalence of mobile phones demonstrates the extent to which they’ve become engrained in modern culture.”
Where to start?
When choosing a provider, Green recommends starting by defining your credit union’s needs: What features are most important to your members?
In Park City’s case, functionality and ease of use for both members and the credit union were top priorities.
It had to have a very user-friendly interface, says Green. “We don’t want to complicate members’ lives with more log-ins or multiple clicks to get where they need to go. On our end, the app has a platform that makes it easy for us to go in and make updates on our own, and also to view reports to see how our app is doing.”
Rockford Bell Credit Union, Loves Park, Ill., added mobile banking three years ago, serving as a beta site, sponsored by the Illinois Credit Union League.
“We wanted to get something out there,” says John Hansen, president of the $31 million asset credit union.
As banking customers in the area asked why mobile banking wasn’t available, Rockford Bell decided to step in. “If you can offer a service that others don’t offer, it’s an advantage,” he explains.
“We knew the future of our credit union is in the next generation, and they want mobile banking capability on their phones,” he adds. “That’s a nice little niche to be in—to offer mobile banking even when some of the larger financial institutions in the area don’t.”
Features and functions
Mobile apps designed for credit unions provide full functionality, no matter the size of the credit union. Generally, they work with major mobile smartphones and tablets, and allow members to participate in remote deposit capture (RDC).
In most cases, members can:
- Transfer money between accounts;
- View branch locations and hours;
- Find the closest ATM;
- Fill out a loan request;
- Calculate loan payments;
- Contact the credit union; and
- Access RDC using a smartphone or a tablet, if this feature is offered by the credit union.
Offering mobile banking to members is a win-win for members and the credit union, says Green, and now it’s become a necessary service for the modern financial institution to provide.
“There’s a lot of research and studies out there showing that more people are going on the internet or doing their banking right from their phones, and our membership is no different,” Green says. “Having a mobile app allows us to continue to stay innovative, not only for our current membership, but also for our potential membership.”