A recent survey conducted by Callahan's Internet Strategy Consortium provides insight into the types of mobile phone features that members are currently using, in order to investigate future barriers to adoption of various mobile technologies. The online survey of more than 11,000 credit union members examined needs and preferences among online members—the segment of your membership most likely to be the early adopters of mobile banking technology.
Members are already using mobile phone features that are similar to the types of technologies that credit unions are considering for mobile banking. Current usage patterns of these features provide insight into the potential barriers and segments of interest for credit unions. Some technologies are SMS text-based, while others involve mobile Internet access using a downloadable application or a mobile browser.
Comfort with Mobile Features Varies with Age
As expected, members are much more familiar with text messaging than accessing the Internet through their mobile phone. As the chart below shows, experience with text messaging varies by age, although at least half of the members in each age group are using text messaging to some extent. Members who are under age 39 are most likely to be sending and receiving text messages. Among members older than 40, more are receiving text messages than sending them.
Mobile Internet usage is far lower overall, with a maximum of only one-third of members in the under 39 age group. Mobile Internet usage drops off sharply after age 39, with lowest experience levels in the over 50 group.
Understand Your Membership's Demographic Profile
It important to consider the demographics within your own credit union to fully understand the likely adoption curve. The Survey Consortium found a wide variation of mobile Internet use by credit union. While the basic curve is the same across age levels, the proportion of members who access the Internet through their mobile phone ranged from a low of 19% to a high of 42%. For example, one community-based credit union saw similar levels of mobile Internet usage across the segments ranging from age 18 through age 49, with usage dropping in the over 50 segment. For other credit unions, the decline in usage came after age 39.
Consider Your Target Segments
The survey results do not necessarily tip the balance in terms of one technology over the other, rather they illustrate that the functionality provided by text-based products versus mobile Internet-based products will attract different segments. Some credit unions recognize that this is not an “either-or” decision and plan to implement both types.
In prioritizing technology implementation, credit unions must also consider the relative value of the various segments they want to attract and retain. While mobile Internet users make up a lower proportion of members, they are also potentially one of the best prospects for increasing credit union service usage. Their high use of self-service channels and higher incomes make them a very attractive market for credit unions.