The Golden 1 CU Unearths Solid Growth by Mining Online Veins
But that rarely happens, CEO Teresa Halleck is quick to point out.
The $7.6 billion California credit union is a leader in developing and offering online channels to its members and has the numbers to prove it.
In the past five years, for instance, home banking logins have increased by 113%, Halleck said, while e-statement usage has soared 18-fold. Bill-pay usage also has risen sharply, 137% in the same time period.
The use it or lose it reference? The credit union's policy is to eliminate bill payment access after 120 days of inactivity.
"We're charged a per-user fee by our service provider, and this proactive measure helps us keep costs down," Halleck said. She said the policy hasn't generated complaints, since affected members are provided advance warning "that we hope will prompt them to become active users. We also, of course, happily accept them back into the service at any future point as long as they remain active users."
Active users are not hard to find among The Golden 1, a 685,000-member community-chartered institution that with a wide range of member demographics and online banking products alike give a look at what's hot in the electronic delivery channels.
Overall, the credit union had 205,197 active online users as of Sept. 30, and those are hard numbers, Halleck said.
"While some other financial institutions report their online users as an aggregate number that includes customers or members who sign up but don't truly use the service, we take growth in online usage very seriously and only count those members who actually remain users," she said.
"As a result, our online numbers are up-to-date reflections of our true growth and usage versus others who may allow nonactive users to stay in their statistics and puff up their data," Halleck said.
What those numbers show right now is a relatively small but fast-growing interest in the new mobile channel.
One of the early adopters, The Golden 1 had 1,844 mobile bankers at the end of 2003 and now serves more than 16,000.
And, in a display of versatility, the credit union offers both text and Web-based mobile banking and is exploring downloadable applications, such as for iPhones, Halleck said.
The MShift-powered Web-based service allows any Internet-enabled mobile device to be used to access the Fiserv Corillian home banking platform, and online transfers have proven to be particularly popular. The texting service, meanwhile, allows users to text the "BAL" or "HIST" to "GOLDEN" (465336) to receive account balances and transaction histories.
The texting service was launched in March and has attracted more than 4,200 active users. "We anticipate this number will continue to grow as the word gets out that it's a great way to proactively monitor accounts," Halleck said. "For our technologically savvy members, text banking allows them to check their balances, for instance, as they approach the checkout at a store, helping them avoid nonsufficient fund fees."
The Golden 1 CEO said traditional marketing methods such as billboards and ads on buses are being used to help create awareness of the credit union's high-tech offerings, but that's not all.
"The most valuable tools we've found to encourage online signups are online prompts that remind members these services are available and can help save them time and money," Halleck said.
"When members are already online in our home banking site, it's the perfect time to ask them to try these additional conveniences, and our results show that members want to do so," she said.