Which one of these two statements is true? First, mobile banking is a new and innovative way of connecting a credit union with its members that will only become steadily more important. Second, mobile banking is an expensive, time-consuming and frustrating new technology that remains more of a gimmick than a lasting benefit.
Answer: To some degree, both are true.
Mobile banking can be an expensive, frustrating and time-consuming new technology, but one that nonetheless is new, innovative and that will become, over time, a steadily more essential tool that credit union members are going to expect if not demand.
Why am I so confident? Because I am a credit union member who as recently as three months ago thought I would never really want or need to use mobile banking. But, to my surprise, I found mobile banking something I would miss and want if my credit union did not offer it, in spite of finding my credit union's approach to mobile banking somewhat frustrating and difficult.
Here is a collection of observations and frustrations with my own credit union's mobile banking platform. Let's call it a wish list of improvements.
Primarily, I wish my credit union understood that while just bringing me to its online banking site on my mobile phone browser might seem to be enough, it really isn't. The key strengths of mobile banking are portability and mobility, but that means I am not working with a large screen or typing on a regular-sized keyboard. Even using a special mobile banking section of my credit union's Web site requires that I enter account numbers and passwords into very small spaces. This might mean that the processes overseeing logging on from mobile banking devices would be a bit more patient and tolerant of the time logging on might take than they are for those logging on from desktop personal computers with regular-sized keyboards.
But they're not. Often, especially at first, I found that my attempts to log on would time out by the time I finally got the right letters and numbers in the right spaces, making me start the process all over again.
So, if it's that much of a hassle, why did I bother to enroll my mobile device for mobile banking? Because once it's done, mobile banking has proven extremely convenient and useful. When I have needed financial information and I am away from a desktop or laptop computer, I have easily found it. When I had to transfer funds for an elderly relative while I was traveling on a train and away from online access, mobile banking let me do it. When I needed to find out that a bill had been paid as I waited on the line for a customer service representative at a retail firm, I could do that, too.
Further, at a time when card and other types of fraud are growing, mobile banking allows me to more easily track transactions and balances and more quickly recognize suspicious activity. Probably the most important thing I would urge my credit union and other credit unions to do when setting up mobile banking is to enroll some members to give it a try and listen to what they say. It's not just regular online banking made small. Online banking processes and procedures may need to be rethought for use in the online world and members will appreciate the time and effort their credit unions take to get it right.