Online-Only Bonus: The Rush to App: Credit Unions and Smartphones
Anytime, anywhere: that’s today’s financial services mantra and it is unavoidable fact.
John Fiore, CEO of the $730 million Motorola Employees Credit Union in Schaumburg, Ill., said as much in a statement where the 39,000-member credit union announced rollout of its mobile apps for a range of smartphones. "We're very pleased to be able to deliver this mobile banking solution and provide members the information they need anytime, anywhere,” he said.
CTIA, the wireless trade association, now pegs the number of smartphones in the US at 78.2 million (up from 49.8 in 2009) and that number means the vast majority of financial services customers now have the ability to use mobile apps.
What is stopping credit unions from developing mobile apps? “They get intimidated by the idea,” said Jesse Waites, CEO of Beacon Hill Apps in Boston.
A key – that speeds up a lot of the process – is to deliver apps functionality in stages. The PenFed apps, for instance, do not yet allow members to make mobile payments - though they do allow a range of activities such as finding ATMs and transferring money from one PenFed account to another. As the institution gains experience with apps, Scandlen said functionality will be augmented - but the safe way to proceed is to take it a step at a time.
At Tyfone, a Portland, Ore., developer of apps for many credit unions, only two of their clients currently offer mobile bill paying, for example. But as other credit unions decide to make their app more powerful, building in that feature will typically not be that challenging, said Mark Miyamoto, Tyfone’s director of product development for mobile banking.