Make Online and Mobile Channels Equitable in Today’s Market

Online and mobile banking channels do not positively impact the bottom line unless a credit union is willing to change how it approaches them.




Five years ago, Internet banking and mobile banking were not only competitive advantages but also cost savers – self-service tools that enabled your members to bank the way they wanted at a cost much lower than a teller’s salary. 

Fast forward to today. We live in an untethered, 24/7 world where smartphones are affordable, and people are willing to pay for the convenience of getting what they want right now. That need for speed has supercharged the self-service channel. Now, instead of just Internet banking and bill pay, mobile, text alerts, person-to-person (P2P) payments, mobile voice, and mobile capture are in the mix. Although these channels provide the convenience your members demand, they no longer positively affect your bottom line – unless you’re willing to change your approach.

Step back and look at the business landscape for a moment. The Dodd-Frank Act has capped fees and perhaps forced you to charge less for some services than you actually pay for them – leaving you at a deficit. You need more sources of income. Have you considered using your self-service channels as a way to shift costs?

Although it’s true you can’t charge for online statements, your members might be willing to pay a fee for a check image or to receive an alert every time a credit card transaction exceeds a certain dollar amount. Your business members might be willing to pay for the convenience of receiving e-mail alerts on positive pay, payroll, or other information that would enable them to manage their businesses proactively on the go.  

The idea is not to nickel-and-dime your members but to make your self-service channels equitable. That could mean using certain features to increase member loyalty. For example, you can offer particular alerts or online products for free to high-value members, or those who have three or more services with your institution, and charge a fee for other members who simply want the convenience. If you are one of the credit unions that charges for bill pay, then your members already understand the value of your services and are willing to share in the costs. The key is making it clear to your members that these features add cost as well as value.

If you introduce something new, like mobile capture or a new mobile application, consider sharing that technology investment among the members who use those convenient services. That ownership of the institution – that investment in its success – is what makes a credit union different than a bank. Your members have a responsibility to invest to make sure your institution can compete in the market. 

We live in a time where people are willing to pay a 20 percent markup to buy bread at a convenience store instead of standing in line. They’ll pay a $50 fee to check a bag on an airplane. 

They know getting what they want right now typically comes with a price. Put that mindset to work for your credit union.

Online and mobile banking are no longer competitive advantages – they’re the tools you need to stay in the game. By finding a way to make these channels equitable, you can give your members the convenience they want and keep your credit union financially sound in a world with a need for speed.

To learn more about Harland Financial Solutions’ Cavion suite of self-service solutions that makes it easy for consumers to bank their way on their own time, click here.




May 2, 2011


  • Advocating for additional fees or "equitable" fees in this competitve market doesn't seem to be consistent with credit unions cooperative model. This model may work for a community bank. Maybe Harland would be interested in making their fees "equitable".