E-statements convey a number of benefits to credit unions including reduced costs (e.g. printing, postage) and increased efficiency. One potential barrier to the adoption of e-statements, however, is the fear of identity theft. Yet well-designed e-statement programs can actually provide more security than traditional print statement programs. Although a legitimate concern, effective communication can counteract member fears and promote e-statement usage.
Many Members Unaware of e-Statement Benefits
In a recent online survey conducted by Callahan’s Survey Consortium, both e-statement users and non-users reported that they were not aware of the identity theft protection benefits afforded by e-statements. Users, however, tend to be better informed. As illustrated below, 37 percent of e-statement users stated they were “very aware” of the protection benefits where as only 15 percent of non-users stated they were “very aware” (see graph). In contrast, one-third of non-users stated they were “not at all aware” of the protection benefits.
Information Can Increase Adoption
Educating members about the identify theft protection benefits of e-statements can actually lead to increased adoption. According to the survey, 56 percent of non-users say that having a better understanding of the ID theft benefits makes them more likely to use e-statements.
The survey showed that online members need to be educated about identity theft in several areas:
- The dangers of print statements: Members do not understand the higher risk of theft from a mailbox compared to online statements
- The importance of monthly statement reviews: Reviewing one’s statement monthly enables members to catch irregularities quickly. However, many members do not perform this basic task which provides an added layer of protection.
- The facts pertaining to online transactions: Online protective measures such authentication have improved significantly. Yet many members remain wary of online banking.
Both segments made comments that indicate uncertainty over the security of using online banking transaction in general and e-statements in particular. This shows a need for ongoing reinforcement of the safety features and precautions of the credit union in order to reassure not only potential new users but also current online banking users.
Communicating the Right Message Regarding Online Services
To overcome basic prejudices to online banking and e-statements, credit unions need to develop effective communications plans. Note that there is a fine line between making members aware of the dangers of internet banking and scaring them away. However, a well-executed communication strategy can encourage the desired behavior and result in tremendous benefits to both the credit union and its members.