Get Personal With eStatements

There are no easy solutions to drive adoption, but a combination of information and influence helps paper lovers make the switch.


Enrolling new members to eStatements is an important task that has a significant dollar impact on operational costs. But legislation such as 2000’s Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) means that securing usage isn’t as simple as automatically enrolling anyone who walks in the door.

Among other requirements, consumers must consent to receiving records electronically, and that consent must be via a method that indicates they can actually access their information online. Aggressive enrollment without following the guidance in the act could yield serious negative consequences.

Simply auto enrolling new members also overlooks thousands of existing members who have declined electronic statements in the past. And some members that try eStatements will do so in tandem with paper, at an additional cost to the credit union. Generally, individuals will not convert fully to eStatements until they connect the micro benefits — such as personal convenience and financial protection — with the macro benefits — such as greener operations and savings the co-op can channel into products and service. A big-picture solution for eStatements requires communication and an element of consequence, good or bad, to secure a lasting shift.

Protect The Credit Union
Forrester Research puts the prep and mailing costs of each paper statement at $0.75-$2.00, meaning organizations with monthly billing cycles could save nearly $1 million annually per every 100,000 members on eStatements.

In this era of increased efficiency, no institution can afford to throw away money. Marketing and communication plans should highlight the things the credit union would be able to do with those savings, such as build a branch, expand call center hours, or provide better rates on products and services. Visualizing these goals will help members realize the value a small, personal step today will have on the entire organization tomorrow.

Protect Information
Many members stick with paper statements becuase they are concerned online channels are less secure and put personal financial information at risk. However, in 2008 Javelin Research found 35% of identity fraud cases started because of offline factors such as mail theft or access to discarded documents with personal data. Only 11% of cases surveyed involved thieves gaining access to information through online channels.

Marketing and communication plans should address safety concerns by demonstrating how eStatements are not only more convenient but also help protect information that is easily compromised with traditional mail.

Protect Pocketbooks
For many institutions, charging a nominal fee — usually between $1.00-3.00 per monthly statement — discourages members from opting for paper statements. However, it is best for credit unions who implement this strategy to exempt economically vulnerable youth and elderly members. If the idea of another fee doesn’t match up with your institutional goals, consider offering a short- or long-term incentive.

Guthrie Federal Credit Union ($60M, Sayre, PA) uses eStatements to boost its overall online penetration and increase efficiency. In a targeted two-week period, Guthrie held a drawing for a $100 VISA gift card. Each Guthrie member was eligible for the drawing, but those who signed up for eStatments received five entries instead of one. The strategy yielded a 10.4% increase in users.

Guarantee-type incentives can provide more long-term appeal than an individual contest or drawing. These are typically more costly to the credit union, but members won’t be able to deny the value of opting in if they see a tangible benefit. As a bonus, tie in other requirements to encourage specific behaviors for a more holistic relationship.

O Bee Credit Union ($1.36M, Tumwater, WA) members who use eStatments and meet one of three bonus criteria ─ are younger than 18, direct deposit $100+ a month, or conduct three debit transaction a month ─ receive 7.52% APY on their first $500 in savings.