What’ll They Think Of Next?

Apple Watch is just the beginning for mobile-oriented, blue-sky thinkers in the credit union space.

The Apple Watch is here. Long live the Apple Watch! Or is it just a fad?

Technology is developing faster than credit unions can respond, and determining what new mobile touchpoints are here to stay can be tough. In fact, the only thing that’s harder is figuring out what’s next.

So why is responding to all of this innovation necessary? Because credit unions exist to serve their members, and doing so effectively requires keeping up with them in all areas of their life.

As Joe Mecca, marketing and communications strategy manager for Coastal Federal Credit Union($2.5B, Raleigh, NC), explains, some of the offerings in this space aremerely fads, but access to data and services is not. Not making mobile-based innovation a priority, he says, would be like a frog sitting in a pot with the water slowly boiling.

In that spirit, the following credit union experts offer their take on tech tools yet to come.

Fashion + Function

Watches that can do just about anything have been a fanboy fantasy since the Dick Tracy days. Although it might not have beenfirst in this space, it was Apple that gave the wrist-based wearables the push they needed to capture the public’s attention.

Several credit unions were among the first financial institutions to offer apps for the Apple Watch, including Greater Texas Credit Union ($556.8M, Austin, TX).

But going first wasn’t a bleeding-edge commitment in this case, says Brandy Conway, the credit union’s vice president of marketing. Rather, she says, it was easy to deploy and a logical next step from the credit union’s mobile apps alreadyin play.

We knew it was something our members would like and expect, Conway says. And we saw it as an opportunity to be first in our market.

Functions for the device are limited right now, but that’s not the case for its potential.

Jordan Modell, founding CEO at Internet Archive Federal Credit Union($2.9M, New Brunswick, NJ), sees no reason why users can’t complete complex work fromthe wearable’s small screen.

Alerts are a natural, Modell says. But it wouldn’t be that hard to go all the way to mortgage applications. You’d just need to break down the questions into a simple list.

The work in wearables has just begun, concurs Cathy Pettis, vice president for financial institutions at Nitro Mobile Solutions.

We’re only in the alpha stage, she says. But these are pretty sophisticated devices and this is more than a fad.


Bank on This

That flat-screen TV may soon help give members a big-picture view of their finances.

BECU($13.6B, Tukwila, WA) is already working on an Amazon Fire TV app, and Coastal strategists see no reason why that medium can’t work there, too. Coastal is alreadya first-adopter of video tellers nationally and Kris Kovacs, its senior vice president of operations, can envision such one-on-one interactions taking place on multiple devices, including on a big screen, from the comfort of a member’s home.

Disruptive Auto Lending

Andrew Downin, innovation director at the Filene Research Institute, says he sees widespread use of self-driving cars and a radical declinein two-car or even one-car households as being completely possible in the next 15-20 years.

This might sound like a threat to some business models, but according to Downin, it could mean opportunity for cutting-edge lenders.

What if, in the future, a credit union were to invest in a pool of 500 or 1,000 autonomous cars that it then rents to members or even sells to members co-op style for shared use? he asks.

This is just one of the ways that credit unions might need to modify their product set, underwriting criteria, pricing, and delivery channels to adapt to this potential and likely future.

Uber Mortgages

A D.C.-based app company called HomeSnap has been snatching up headlines. The app lets homebuyers take a photo of a home to find out itssize, value, and availability. But in the future, mobile house hunting might not stop at the curb.

Imagine this: A member or potential member uses an app to advertise their interest in a house for sale. Just like Uber, the app alerts mortgage originators, who can then respond by phone or in person.

Such a disruptive service already exists for real estate agents, says Bob Dorsa, president/CEO of the American Credit Union Mortgage Association. It’s called Curb Call and is billed as a showing on demand app that alerts availableagents when a potential buyer wants to see a house. Dorsa says it’s already in use by some agencies in Las Vegas, NV, where he lives.

Just ping a mortgage originator, the ACUMA leader muses. This would make the credit union person sitting in the office waiting for a call look like someone playing their eight-track and watching VHS.

July 15, 2015

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