Mobile Services Boost Member Engagement

Mobile deposit and ‘instant balance’ check are among the most popular features.

October 16, 2014
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CUNA Environmental Scan:

CUNA Mutual Group:

Digital Insight, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider:



IN THE PAST, FINANCIAL institutions often had to make concerted marketing pushes to get consumers to use new technologies.

It took a persistent push before the public became enthusiastic about ATMs, for example, and the machines have evolved from intimidating curiosities into indispensable conveniences.

Sometimes, though, it’s consumers who push new technology at financial institutions. That has certainly been the case with mobile financial services: Consumer demand has burgeoned for apps that can let users do their banking on the go.

“The increase in mobile financial services use is fairly dramatic,” says Erich Litch, division president, digital channels at Fiserv. “It’s rising at a fast rate and won’t reach a plateau for several more years. The estimate is a compound annual growth of 165%, and that’s not just in terms of adoption but also utilization.”


Accompanying the surge in mobile use has been credit union membership, which has been trending up, says Will Furrer, senior vice president, product and marketing for Q2. “Credit unions tell us that the digital and mobile decisions they make now will be crucial to their growth over the next five years. Mobile is critical for connecting with the community and members.”

Furrer notes an interesting angle to the popularity of mobile financial services: a push from below. “Most of the push to mobile services use is coming from lower-income [people]. National Public Radio recently did a show about a traveler to Ghana who was able to conduct sophisticated, secure financial transactions via his smartphone. There was no need to visit a brick-and- mortar financial institution or carry around large amounts of cash.”

He says that as mobile devices become less expensive, more people opt for them. “Decreased hardware cost equals increased adoption of apps and services, which equals increased opportunity and benefit for credit unions to reach more customers. The question becomes, how can you effectively reach and serve members via this channel?”

SIDEBAR: Prepare for 'All Things Mobile'

Karishma Anand, digital banking product leader for Digital Insight, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider, agrees that members are driving the change in credit unions’ mobile services offerings. For her, the reason is clear: “Mobile has made such a big difference in their lives that they want to extend it to their financial affairs.”

Among today’s most popular mobile capabilities are mobile deposit and people-to-people payments, Litch says. “There’s also a growing interest in our Instant Balance feature that allows users to check their balances without having to sign into their accounts. They do it by opening their mobile app, then swiping down or across the home screen, which then shift s briefly to reveal their balance. Checking balances is the most common mobile banking activity, so making that information more easily accessible makes for a better user experience.

“Our studies show that mobile financial services users tend to be extremely satisfied with the experience,” he continues. “There’s a high delight factor among them, especially with such conveniences as mobile deposit, which eliminates the annoyance factor of having to visit a branch or ATM to deposit a check, especially a small one.”

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