The 550 credit unions that subscribe to loanliner.com, CUNA Mutual Group’s online lending platform, allow members to manage their applications for consumer and home equity loans via the Web. Now, members can easily begin the lending process through their mobile devices with Smartphone Loan, a mobile version of loanliner.com launched by CUNA Mutual this year that’s made an impact on member loan application completion rates.
CUNA Mutual said members who apply for loans using Smartphone Loan on their smartphones, iPads and iPods demonstrate a 49% loan application completion rate, as opposed to a 37% completion rate for members who apply on a desktop or laptop through loanliner.com.
The company also said Smartphone Loan is attracting a younger member base–the average age of members who apply for loans via Smartphone Loan is 31, and for members who apply using loanliner.com on a desktop computer or laptop, it’s 39.
“We found that there are two things happening,” said John Putman, director of consumer lending for CUNA Mutual. “Membership is aging at CUs, and they want to attract younger members who use different types of technology than older members do. If a credit union wants to promote Internet channels, they need to offer services through those channels. We also found loan application completion rates increased following the mobile upgrade.”
Putman said CUNA Mutual first considered developing the mobile technology after conducting a 2009 rewrite of its loanliner.com platform, during which the company discovered thousands of loan applications had been coming in from mobile devices. At the time, members could access loanliner.com from any mobile Web browser, but site navigation was not optimal. Before implementing the Smartphone Loan upgrade, CUNA Mutual reported an average loan application completion rate of just 22% from mobile devices.
The mobile upgrade allows members to use loanliner.com on a mobile device with ease, speed and clarity, Putman said.
“We wanted to make a cleaner, smoother design that would be easier to use,” Putman said. “If you’re in a dealership buying a new car, you might end up going with the dealer loan if you find it too difficult to apply for a loan from your smartphone. But if it’s clean and easy, you’re less likely to abandon the loan application before clicking on submit.”
Members can access Smartphone Loan through their credit union’s mobile site. Then, they can start their loan application by determining a monthly loan payment based on their requested dollar amount and desired monthly payment. Members can also add products to their loan that help boost noninterest income for their CU, such as guaranteed asset protection and mechanical repair coverage. If the member’s credit union participates in CO-OP Shared Branching, the member can then enter an account or social security number to automatically populate the loan application with information stored in the CU’s database. The member can then submit the application and receive an underwriting decision within seconds.
CUNA Mutual also saw an uptick in the average daily number of submitted loan applications from its entire loanliner.com subscriber database since implementing Smartphone Loan. In July, that number was 50; in August, it increased to 54; and in September, it became 54.5. This occurred despite the downturn in loan applications that typically occurs in September, Putman said. The company also reported that a used auto loan is the most popular type of loan requested through Smartphone Loan.
CPM FCU, a Charleston, S.C.-based, $258 million credit union that subscribes to loanliner.com, has noticed a difference in loan application completion rates since its members were given access to Smartphone Loan in August. CEO George Lockwood said the CU received 39 loan applications from mobile devices in September, and members have exhibited a mobile application completion rate of 72%, which compares to an approximate completion rate of 55% for all loanliner.com applications.
“People use their phones for everything nowadays,” Lockwood said. “It doesn’t matter to them what it is. You could be sitting on a park bench eating your lunch and apply for a loan. Especially for the younger generation, it’s normal to them.”
Lockwood said CPM FCU advertised the introduction of Smartphone Loan on its website and in flyers and a newsletter. The loan application process only takes a few minutes and provides the CU with just enough information to make an informed underwriting decision, he said, adding that personal and auto loans top the list of loan types members apply for through their mobile devices.
“I see this becoming more and more of the norm,” Lockwood said. “I mention young folks, but it’s the older folks who are using it, too. We’re seeing success with it. It’s the wave of the future.”
Smartphone Loan is just one of many innovations to be rolled out by CUNA Mutual in the near future–Putman said while he can’t reveal specifics, the company is making mobile technology a priority.
“We’re going to be making a significant investment in smartphone technology in 2012,” he said.