How Credit Unions Went Mobile In 2015

Innovative credit unions increase security and functionality and ratchet up the marketing to make their mark in mobile banking.

Smartphones and tablets might soon render laptops about as relevant as the VCR. That day isn’t here yet, but by standing on those digital shoulders, mobile banking has grown much faster than its PC-based forerunner.

According to the Federal Reserve, more than 70% of mobile users in the United States have smartphones and that’s out of the 87% of the U.S. population that have mobile phones.

More than 45% of the country’s credit unions, meanwhile, offer mobile banking services, according to Peer-to-Peer Analytics by Callahan Associates. That was up from 39% at the same point last year.

Check out this Graphic of the Week by Callahan analyst Janet Lee for a visual take on all this. And then check out these articles on mobile banking adoption by leading credit unions, all posted within the past few months at From compliance to marketing to integrating apps and boosting security, there are how-to’s for everyone in our space in the space below.

That Face, Those Eyes!

Biometrics continue to make headway among financial institutions looking to lock out identity thieves and hackers. Although fingerprint tools have been around for a while, they haven’t been heavily used. Now it’s time to face the facts. First Tech Federal Credit Union ($8.3B, Mountain View, CA) has gone first in the nation as a beta site for MasterCard’s version of facial authentication, a service the card brand is dubbing Selfie Pay Meanwhile,Arizona Federal Credit Union ($1.3B, Phoenix, AZ) is finding out if the eyes have itrolling out its Eyeprint ID this past September.

This Card’s On Mobile Lockdown

Credit Union of America ($636.6M, Wichita, KS) also was a first adopter in its market when it launched its debt card on-off switch as part of a new mobile app in the fall of 2013. The CardLoc feature is now used about a thousand times a month and, along with other features such as ATM and point-of-sale limits, has become a differentiator for CUA. We think of ourselves as a progressive company, and we want to project that to our members and to our prospective members, says Richard Logan, the credit union’s senior vice president and chief information officer. Get the whole skinny here.

We think of ourselves as a progressive company, and we want to project that to our members and to our prospective members.

One App To Bind Them All

America First Credit Union($7.0B, Ogden, UT) is riding a wave of adoption for an in-house mobile app that supports five kinds of loan applications on three different platforms. These loan application options currently include auto and RV, personal signature, personal lines of credit, and Visa credit cards. A cards rewards program also runs through the same app. All the features sit right there alongside one another in a very prominent way, says Brice Mindrum, America First’s mobile services manager.One app rules them all. Here’s the lowdown on this multi-vendor integration.

All the features sit right there alongside one another in a very prominent way. One app rules them all

On Wisconsin And Texas And Tennessee

An energetic Go Mobile team at Altra Credit Union ($1.1B, Onalaska, WI) has helped the three-state credit union drive its average member age down to 39, nearly a decade below the industry average. The team comprises the always-on marketing messengers in an effort that combines must-have technologies such as remote deposit checking and account opening with partnerships at local schools and other visible venues in its Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Texas markets. Altra also emphasizes social media, and its products include special youth certificates, student loans, and branded student credit cards. For the next stage of life, there are home-buying programs and products and services aimed at an older set. We need to stay in front of the members as they transition through life stages. We need their family relationships, their student loans, their business loans, says Mary Isaacs, Altra’s chief financial officer and executive vice president. Read more about how staying agile on mobile is helping meet that need.

Biggest Seeks To Be The Best

As its ubiquitous advertising on national TV would indicate, the world’s largest credit union is taking on the big banks and any disrupter interested in securing the mobile banking business of today’s military members and their families. Focusing on digital payments is a central tactic here. When we look at these wallet offerings, we are really focused on the value that will be delivered to our members, says Meghan Gound, assistant vice president of digital communications at Navy Federal Credit Union ($72.0B, Merrifield, VA). We’re looking for things that make their lives easier.

Navy Federal has seen its base of mobile app users increase by 36% year-over-year, and members had made 5.1 million scan and mobile deposits as of midyear 2015. Here’s a good look at the big credit union’s plans for keeping up in the payments space.

When we look at these wallet offerings, we are really focused on the value that will be delivered to our members. We’re looking for things that make their lives easier.

Maybe Small, But Mighty

Leaders Credit Union ($261.8M, Jackson, TN) is Exhibit A for the idea that small credit unions don’t have to be laggards in leading-edge services, especially on mobile. With six branches in and around its hometown about 70 miles east of Memphis, TN, Leaders has the demographic mix you’d expect to find in any Mid-South America town, but despite the many ways in which it is a typical credit union, it is also aggressively expanding its digital services. The credit union has self-made mobile lending apps, responsive websites, and robust online alerts functions and promotional messaging prompts. And its leaders promise, that’s just the beginning. Read the rest here.

Compliance Comes With A Data Plan

Last but not least, there’s the question of compliance. Regulators and those they regulate are still working out rules and requirements for the mobile channel, which, indeed, is still figuring own self out. It’s all a learning process, say compliance and technology experts at vendors and credit unions alike. While much is the same for mobile as in the long-established home banking channel, there are still a lot of moving pieces. Follow some of the big ones here.

December 21, 2015

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