Chances are that by now every credit union leader has had the opportunity to use a tablet and has given some thought as to how this device will affect the credit union and its members. Nearly 70 million people in the U.S. use tablets today, up from just 34 million in 2011, according to eMarketer, a digital marketing research firm.
This trend is even more pronounced with home banking users. The Online Publishers Association found that 31% of these users owned a tablet in 2012 compared with just 12% in 2011. By the end of this year, the group estimates that 47% of Internet users in the US will own tablets. Given these skyrocketing numbers, credit union executives need to determine which financial services strategy will best accommodate the demands of this channel.
Step One: Identify Your Market
The tablet market is not synonymous with the smartphone market. In fact, tablet users are slightly older than smartphone users and that age gap seems to be growing. The Online Publishers Association reports that tablet users ages 25 to 34 dominate the market, accounting for 28% of total usage, but people between the ages of 35 to 54 are steadily adopting this technology too.
Tablet users have several characteristics that make them valuable credit union members and well worth the added attention. They tend to have more education and higher incomes than the general population. According to the Pew Research Center, 51% of tablet users are college graduates, compared with 28% of all U.S. adults. Additionally, this member segment is nearly twice as likely — 53% versus 28% — as the overall population to have a household income of at least $75,000 per year.
Tablet users also describe themselves as early adopters, which is an increasingly important market segment for credit unions to capture.
Although tablet users are distinct from mobile and online banking users, many of them engage in multiple channels depending on their location and the time of day. For this reason, tablet users need consistency across every device as well as a tailored offering for each one. Retail channels and member business banking services should offer the same user experience. Whether your members are banking as individuals or as business owners, they do not want to log in to two separate platforms.
Siloed solutions are no longer acceptable in today’s banking world. With tablet banking emerging as its own channel, credit unions must look to build in-house platforms or partner with a vendor to ensure tablet banking complements their mobile offering.
Step Two: Customize Your Strategy
When creating a tablet strategy, credit unions cannot simply mirror their mobile strategy. Although all electronic channels should be connected, copying mobile apps and adding a 2x icon for a tablet will not drive adoption or long-term success. Tablet users expect their devices to provide more functionality than smartphones and in a different manner.
User engagement for tablets is higher than for smartphones, according to app analytic provider Flurry Analytics, with about eight minutes as the average time spent on a tablet compared to four on a smartphone. The additional time tablet users spend on apps and websites can be attributed to the tablet’s larger screen as well as its greater versatility and ease of use. As a result, when implementing a tablet strategy, credit unions need to offer an interactive, informative experience for their members.
Mobile banking should be designed to provide information, such as branch locations and current balances, and perform certain functions — account transfers, deposits, and bill payments, for example — quickly.
Tablet banking invites members to spend more time online and therefore lends itself to more contemplative activities. Tablet users tend to manage bill payments and banking while watching television or waiting for appointments. If that down time and multitasking allows them to have better financial control through total account visibility — viewing everything from budgets to investment tracking — then the credit union has provided a great service. Besides retaining existing members and attracting new ones, offering such services can block outside providers of financial management tools from gaining your members’ information and attention.
Step Three: Take Action
Several factors are accelerating tablet usage: enterprise adoption, BYOD (bring your own device) policies, falling prices, and time in the market. Microsoft predicts that by the end of 2013 tablets will outsell desktop PCs. In anticipation of this changing environment, credit union executives should expect more of the institution’s traffic to come from tablets and be prepared to address that channel immediately.
Knowing who your members are and how they prefer to interact with the credit union has always been important. In fact, considering how fast technology and eChannels are evolving, knowing these preferences may be even more critical to a credit union’s success today. Ignoring tablets as a primary access device may place the institution behind in the race to acquire profitable relationships, a mistake from which it may not be able to recover.
Ned Tobey is vice president of product management for Q2ebanking, which offers electronic banking solutions that empower your customers and elevate you from the competition. For more information, visit www.q2ebanking.com.