Cornering the mobile market is not easy. Sometimes it seems like there are as many mobile phone, plan and carrier combinations as there are credit union members. Credit unions that pigeon-hole their mobile strategy by only targeting Gen Y and making mobile only available as an iPhone app, or just a simplified online banking page are doing themselves a disservice. The benefits of mobile banking extend far beyond these shortsighted strategies.
Mobile banking should complement services such as online and voice banking, giving members an additional option for managing their finances. Credit unions today do not have the luxury of selecting which channel or technology to offer, they must provide a strategic spectrum of options to gain and maintain the competitive edge.
Mobile banking should not be defined by mobile devices or limited demographics. The growing assortment of mobile devices is unpredictable – today’s most popular may not be the top seller in six months. Android owners currently use mobile banking most often as their primary access to banking services, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, but with the frequent introduction of new devices this might not always be the case. Tablets are further changing the definition of mobile, adding even more uncertainly as to which service or device will outlast the others. Credit unions must be equipped with solutions capable of riding this wave of fluctuations, and can do so by selecting a platform that does not require major plug-ins or complete overhauls to support new technology as the mobile space evolves.
Credit unions offering mobile banking should not limit the service to Gen Y members, but should appeal to all demographics with the common desire for added convenience in banking. The continuum of mobile services ranges from simple to sophisticated, satisfying any generation and any banking need. For example, younger members who make fewer deposits often take advantage of text banking for account balances and transfers. However, a small business member with more complex needs might need to authorize payments remotely. With this said, the mobile channel that a credit union selects must not be limited to certain apps or options such as short message service (SMS) text banking. Instead, a variety of methods should be available to accommodate different cellular phones and their usage. Furthermore, mobile technology allows credit unions with both urban and rural locations to extend their geographic reach, addressing the needs of members without a nearby branch or members in areas with poor cell network service.
A 2011 Celent report classified mobile banking as a distinct channel, much like an ATM or online banking. It is important to note that the mobile channel will be a strong addition to other service channels, but it will not replace them. The financial industry questioned the future of branches with the introduction of the ATM in the early 1970s, and again with Internet banking in the late 20th century. We should not go down those roads again. Mobile banking offers a new means to support and enhance a credit union’s existing infrastructure.
Credit unions should select a mobile platform that is open and flexible to meet the continuously evolving market. Mobile solutions should support new technology and services as they evolve in order to stand the test of time. Consider implementing a single platform for all electronic banking solutions to increase efficiency, profitability while breaking down silos and offering a single, personalized experience to the member. The Yankee Group estimates that 40 million consumers will be using mobile banking by 2012, citing speed and convenience as the top benefits. Credit unions need to be positioned to offer those members the best self–service options available. Carriers, apps and mobile features may trend in and out, but member service is always critical.
Mobile banking offers credit unions an additional opportunity to extend your brand, better compete, provide superior service and meet your membership’s ongoing needs. The possibilities are indeed endless.
Brian Abele is Vice President, Product Management at Q2ebanking, which is a privately-held technology company that provides credit unions with electronic banking software and services enabling them to securely communicate and transact with their members – anytime, anywhere. Q2ebanking is part of CBG Holdings and is based in Austin, Texas. Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (512)697-3211.
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