New Tools for Engaging Consumers, Businesses Keep Smaller Financial Institutions Relevant
It is no surprise that financial services providers are undergoing a major transition following the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent reforms. Many are struggling to remain relevant or even just solvent. Consumers are looking even harder at alternatives and every introduction of new fees or reductions in services only serves to hasten this trend.
Community banks and credit unions, which continue to make up the majority of financial institutions in the U.S., are on the front lines of this battle for consumers’ mindshare. With consumers’ lost faith in larger institutions, credit unions and community banks have benefited. However, as large national services firms continue to expand into a larger basket of financial products and invest heavily in branch services, the focus for community banks and credit unions needs to turn to how they can be everywhere their customers and members need them to be.
Leveraging the latest in capture technologies, here are some ways local institutions can demonstrate their value:
Remote Deposit Capture at Businesses
Jaguar Software, a provider of remote capture solutions focused on the community bank and credit union markets, has deep roots in helping smaller financial institutions adopt leading-edge capabilities. Based in Illinois, Jaguar Software provides an array of imaging solutions aimed at speeding-up deposit-related transactions, including POD and remittance/lockbox solutions.
Richard Leirer, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, advises financial institutions to “stop thinking about remote deposit as a cost and compliance problem and view it instead as an extension of your customer service offerings that goes right into your customer’s office or store. Credit unions know their customers so they don’t select a program of ‘one size fits all.’”
He adds that one of the biggest mistakes observed with financial institutions developing their RDC program is “trying to make a profit from the customer who signs up for RDC. If done properly a well-designed RDC program should reduce back-room operational cost, thereby allowing you to offer it at a lower cost than the big banks.”
According to survey data recently released by AlixPartners on customers’ mobile banking requirements, mobile remote deposit capture is the most compelling reason to switch institutions — generating both higher customer satisfaction and retention.
Solutions providers such as Bluepoint Solutions and Mitek Systems have extended their RDC capability to include mobile image capture and deposit. This new offering is based upon increasingly capable cameras available in smart phones coupled with the ability to drive sophisticated mobile applications.
The trend is to provide a comprehensive multi-channel transaction offering that includes ATM, merchant, branch and mobile solutions that can be offered as a seamless way for customers to manage their transactions.
Intelligent Deposit ATMs
Extending RDC technology — ATMs with image recognition capabilities allow customers access to quick and simple deposit of cash and checks without having to use envelopes, wait in line or adhere to a branch’s normal operating hours. Because these machines can recognize amounts, they also handle the adding-up and verification of totals and can provide the customer with a receipt at the terminal or via their registered email address.
According to Retail Banking Research, a London-based research and consulting firm, the market for these “intelligent-deposit” ATMs is forecasted to grow two times faster than the installed base of traditional ATMs.
Familiar names in the financial services solutions arena, such as NCR and Fiserv, offer software that drives these new multi-function terminals. These solutions providers are supporting financial institutions’ increased interest in expanding the capabilities of these terminals to do even more.
According to an ATM Marketplace study, 41% of respondents stated that the primary driver for upgrading ATM software was to add new functionality, such as advertising, or supporting new types of transactions.
The good news is that all of the above mentioned solutions give credit unions and others the opportunity to create a more holistic multi-channel relationship with customers through integration of new and traditional points of contact.
Ultimately, new technologies enable richer remote deposit services without being overly costly and give credit unions an exciting way to better-serve existing customers and to attract new ones. Even so, remote deposit options should be viewed as complimentary services to existing channel alternatives. Selecting and providing the right mix of services for a bank’s customers is essential to providing a complete, end-to-end customer experience.
Greg Council is director of product management at Parascript LLC in Longmont, Colo.