There’s a (Credit Union) App for That

By George Hofheimer, Filene Research Institute

You click the home button, bringing to life the retina display screen of your iPhone. The time shows noon on the dot, which gives you just enough time to make it to the credit union to deposit your paycheck and grab a quick bite to eat before you have to get back to work. As you pull into the parking lot of the credit union, you notice all the cars and your stomach clenches. You realize that you are not the only person in the world who gets paid on a Friday.

As you enter the branch you see the teller line, which must account for at least half the cars in the parking lot. As you glance up at the tellers, you notice one has just closed his window, leaving two tellers to help the 15 people in line. You begin to shift your weight back and forth from one leg to another and look back down at your game. When you arrive at the teller window, you deposit the check and glance at the receipt. The timestamp of 12:25 means you have five minutes to get something to eat and clock back in at the office. As you speed down the road you ask yourself, “Why don’t they have an app for this?”

You don’t need a pile of data to be convinced that smartphones, tablets, and other wirelessly networked devices are transforming everyday life. Still, consider this factoid: The rate of iPhone and Android device adoption has surpassed that of any consumer technology in history. For comparative purposes, these devices are being adopted 10 times faster than the PC was in the 1980s and 3 times faster than social media! Given this dramatic shift in consumer behavior, Filene Research Institute recently published a research brief entitled “There Is an App for That: Engaging Members through Tablet and Smartphone Applications” which answers the following questions:

What types of financial apps for mobile devices are currently present in the marketplace, and who are the key players?

How can customization of apps change employee and member behavior? Is it worth customizing an app or is it better to go with a standard template?

What would a few app prototypes look like for the financial sector?

Credit unions want (and need) to leverage the mobile app revolution. Externally, consumers want a convenient mobile experience. Internally, credit unions want to be more responsive to member needs and increase operational efficiency. Yet, credit unions are confused by the current app solution set. As smaller institutions, credit unions typically don’t have development staff dedicated to creating custom products or services and instead rely on “template-ized” and largely undifferentiated mobile apps. At the same time, credit union competitors (large, small, established, and start-up) provide beautifully unique solutions that delight today’s consumers. With approximately 70 million tablet users at the end of 2012 and 4.6 billion smartphones being used worldwide, it’s safe to say that consumers are a mobile bunch.

The author, Brett Wooden, with support from University of Arizona marketing professor Hope Schau, help demystify the conundrum credit unions find themselves in and provide ideas for credit unions to implement “an app for that.”

George Hofheimer

George Hofheimer

As the Chief Research + Innovation Officer of the Filene Research Institute, George Hofheimer is responsible for arming credit unions with the practical, yet creative ideas they need to compete on ... Web: Details