With more customers saying they like the convenience of digital and mobile banking services, credit unions are trying to stay ahead of the curve.
A new report by the National Credit Union Administration’s Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives entitled “Going Digital: Strategies for Providing Digital Services” confirms many credit union members want digital services.
Citing a recent survey conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, the report found that in 2015, approximately 30% of U.S. adults used mobile banking weekly whereas only 24% went to a physical branch each week. With consumer use of mobile and online banking increasing, “the NCUA developed this credit union course to assist small credit unions with better understanding of the risks and rewards of offering digital services and help them make a decision about whether and which digital service will benefit their members,” said John Fairbanks, public relations specialist at the NCUA. The full report can be viewed on the NCUA website by clicking here.
Credit unions are finding digital and mobile banking services to be particularly attractive to younger consumers.
“The consumer experience is most important to us. We work to create an experience that fulfills the needs of our members and meets and exceeds their expectations,” said Jim Huff, senior vice president of marketing at FirstLight Federal Credit Union in El Paso, Texas.
Member convenience is an important factor in providing good service but it can mean different things to different members, according to Huff. For younger members, convenience may mean having the ability to remotely bank, 24/7 on their own mobile device, while older members may prefer having a physical branch near their homes, he said.
FirstLight recently partnered with Digital Insight, a provider of digital and mobile solutions for credit unions and banks, to develop a new online banking platform to provide the latest technology for its members and to stay competitive with the offerings of larger institutions, Huff said. Among the features offered include mobile remote check deposit capture and person-to-person payments from a smartphone or tablet. FirstLight also offers a rewards program tied to debit-card usage for customers making purchases online or in person, according to a news release.
Younger consumers aren’t the only ones using new technology to conduct credit union transactions. “A good segment of older members have also adopted technologies and are often less resistant to technology than expected,” Huff said. FirstLight also serves the military community at Fort Bliss, Texas, so mobile services such as remote deposit capture is especially helpful for deployed members, he said.
Another credit union which is on the cutting edge in providing digital platforms is Navy Federal Credit Union.
“Navy Federal prides itself in giving great service to all our members. And given that millennials are one of our key demographics, mobile and online access is the primary way this group uses our services,” said Tim Day, assistant vice president of digital channels for NFCU.
Day said NFCU’s mobile phone platform is very popular, citing a total of 440 million logins from members to their mobile app in 2015. “We recognize the importance of continuing to deliver new features in mobile platforms for an enhanced experience for our members along with frequent updates with new features and functions,” he said.
Day said NFCU made its mobile services easy to use, and many members use the application when they’re out shopping, buying movie tickets or out of the country on a deployment. “We offer complex features and distill them down into the easiest experience as possible,” he said. “We also offer online services, physical branches and a robust call center. And member feedback is taken very seriously. We want to know what is going well or what services need enhancements.”
San Francisco Federal Credit Union also is responsive to consumer demands for new digital and mobile technology. “We listen to feedback received from all of our members, a majority of which comes through our call center,” said Mark Michaels, senior vice president and chief technology officer at San Francisco FCU. “We also use product road maps; however, they are not set in stone. We’re willing to evolve and change course if consumer demands change.”
Michaels said San Francisco FCU uses Google Analytics to examine user experience to see which screens members spend more time on, and to help determine which steps in the process could be made simpler. “We want to make our members’ lives easier by giving them more time and creating efficiency in using our digital services with the use of icons and quick interfaces,” he said. “For example, members don’t need to come into a branch to deposit a check. They can do it in 20 seconds on their mobile app.”
San Francisco FCU also offers enhanced online services for the visually impaired. “We want to help our visually impaired members with user friendly software and hardware solutions to meet their needs and the set standards,” Michaels said. “Also, we were one of the first credit unions to provide ATMs for the visually impaired,”
One of the biggest challenges facing credit unions and their members is ensuring digital and online transactions are secure.
Huff said FirstLight works to educate its members on security precautions such as not opening links, using one-time passcodes, offering a dual layer of authentication and allowing a cookie on their browser to reauthenticate. “We want to create a safe and secure environment while not being too intrusive or difficult,” he said.
At Navy Federal Credit Union, Day said “members trust us with their finances and data and we take security very seriously.” One example of a security and an authentication measure NFCU offers is the ability for members to log into their accounts using fingerprint verification from their smart phones, he said.
San Francisco FCU also values security, Michaels said, and “provides general education for members on security, encourages them to use our application for every session and register their browsers. We also use of out-of-band authentication methods as an added layer of security.”
Freelance writer Carole Jakucs contributed to the writing and research of this article.
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