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Forging The Path To The Digital Revolution

You can’t have a mobile application strategy based solely on the products you offer. Instead, you need to think about how you’re going to offer applications that fit the consumer’s experience right now.

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know the digital shift is well underway. To be competitive in today’s rapidly changing payments environment, mobile capabilities must be at the forefront of your omnichannel offerings. But instead of getting caught up in the specific channel or feature, it’s important to remember that it’s really about fitting into the experience expectations of your member.

The engagement with your consumers through all channels should be built based on the experiences members are having in their lives at any given time. To retain current consumers and attract new ones, products need to burst off the screen and into people’s lives.

In The Beginning

When banking via the Internet started way back in the mid 1990s, the goal was to take the products available at the time and make them available on the web. Warren Marshall, then the CEO of Stanford Federal Credit Union generally recognized as the first financial institution to offer Internet banking stated, The time is coming upon us very quickly when financial services will not be differentiated by the product, but by how the product is delivered.

Online services were certainly tweaked for efficiency, so that tasks such as electronic bill payment were straightforward and simple. There have been many attempts to adapt existing banking concepts to the Internet, such as online check registers, but few people see these as critical. There have been even more attempts to develop new concepts for the Internet, such as personal financial management tools, with similar levels of success. The only products that made a difference were those that allowed the movement of traditional transactions, from the branch to people’s homes then smartphones arrived

The Shift To Mobile

Mobile banking on smartphones changed everything. Mobile products put the consumer in the loop at every point of the financial cycle, where they have never been before, in a banking context. From taking pictures of checks and depositing them, to reviewing features before selecting, and comparing prices before buying; to asking friends before deciding, and checking balances before paying the list goes on and on.

Banking via the Internet always promised whenever you want, wherever you want service delivery. Whenever you want has not proved too much of a challenge, but wherever you want brings a problem: the services consumers want on a mobile phone are not the same as they want at home.

If a consumer is heading out to go shopping, they don’t need balances and history; they need current available balance and the amount they can spend. If they’re at the point of sale, they don’t need planning tools; they need the ability to pay. This is a major issue for most financial institutions. Mobile services really require a financial institution to explore all the services they offer, and view them through the lens of what a consumer needs right here, right now.

The concepts of product and channel started to disappear. A product needs to have the fundamental capabilities offered, but only offered in the context of the consumer’s current situation. Pre-packaging into discrete products and channels only limits the service available.

The Internet titans understand this. Consider services such as Google Now and the predictive intelligence being introduced in iOS9, including the proactive assistant. These products try to anticipate what is the next thing needed by a consumer in his or her life, and make sure the right details are available at the right time, without being asked.

It’s undeniable that the mobile smartphone is a required device for most consumers. Sit on any commuter bus or train and look around: How many people are not using a mobile phone? Visit any restaurant: How many times is the entire family absorbed in their mobile devices? Shop in any store: How many people are comparing prices or specifications before they buy?

Adapting To Consumer Behavior

Since credit unions or anyone else for that matter shouldn’t hope to change this behavior any time soon, it becomes a question of figuring out where members are in their lifestyles, what’s important to them, and how mobile can support those things. Mobile should be used to enhance the member experience, not as an end in and of itself.

You can’t have a mobile application strategy based solely on the products you offer. Instead, you need to think about how you’re going to offer applications that fit the consumer’s experience right now. This is not an easy task. Nevertheless, it’s the way of the future and must be part of your plans.

Jeremiah Lotz
Director, Digital Experience Payments

Jeremiah Lotz directs PSCU’s initiatives to empower the company’s Member-Owner credit unions with innovative and engaging eCommerce solutions. Jeremiah leads an experienced team dedicated to delivering PSCU’s electronic banking, mobile banking and online bill payment services. Jeremiah also manages the strategic relationships PSCU forges with leading payments technology providers to ensure Member-Owners have access to world-class platforms and solutions that build profitability and loyalty.

About PSCU

Established in 1977, PSCU, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., is the nation’s leading credit union service organization. The company is owned by over 800 Member-Owner credit unions representing 18.5 million credit, debit, prepaid, online bill payment, mobile and electronic banking accounts. 24/7/365 member support is delivered through contact centers located throughout the United States that handle more than 18 million inquiries a year.

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
July 6, 2015

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