Credit Union Mobile Banking Debut of The Week: “We are gearing this to a younger membership. We are ahead of the curve, that’s where we want to be,” said Christopher White, a senior vice president at Waltham, Mass-based RTN FCU, a $720 million institution with 37,000 members.
“Members have been asking us for mobile banking and remote deposit capture - we are giving them both. But we are doing more,” said White.
That “more” is the interesting bit, as RTN – after looking at various mobile banking solutions – opted to go with Portland, Ore.-based Tyfone’s multi-layered mobile wallet. It includes mobile banking but also builds in the ability to buy gift cards and, additionally, the smartphone can be used to make purchases at large national retailers such McDonalds J.C. Penney and Rite-Aid, said White.
REI, Barnes & Noble and K-Mart are among the merchants participating in the gift card program.
Especially interesting is that this Tyfone app “ties directly into our core,” said White. “It is independent of online banking” – which makes it strikingly different from most mobile banking apps which in effect piggyback on online banking.
In White’s belief, RTN’s beefed up mobile banking capability should loom large in helping the credit union stay competitive in a technology focused region (RTN began as a Raytheon employee credit union; it serves a larger universe now but the tilt is towards tech companies).
Added White: “This is like having a mini branch in your pocket.”
White indicated the RTN mobile banking app (available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry) is in testing - “we are doing our due diligence.” He added: “we hope to roll it out to the full membership before the end of Q2.”
RDC Again: To Charge or Not: Last week’s column’s report that U.S. Bank charges 50 cents per RDC transaction brought this impassioned commentary from Alan Bernstein, president of Vertifi, the Burlington, Mass, technology-focused subsidiary of Eastern Corporate Federal Credit Union: “I couldn’t disagree more with the U.S. Bank position and its $.50 per transaction usage fee.
“Vertifi has been in the RDC business for more than four years. More than 80 creditunionsuse our service, including several of the largest in the nation, and we are unaware of any that charge members to process their checks. We are very mindful of their goals as we work with them through the onboarding process, including driving activity to lower cost channels (versus branch, ATM, mail), expanding geographic reach, providing 24/7 service, and attracting new audiences. Not one, repeat not one credit union, has described plans to make this a (potential) profit center.
“I don’t know if this is an inherent difference between credit unions and banks, or a simple outlier among the latter. In any case, it’s a misguided idea and I would be shocked if the bank gains any traction with it.”
NFC Before Congress: Don’t believe reports of Near Field Communications’ premature death. “The rollout of NFC is not stalled,” insisted Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Princeton, NJ based SmartCardAlliancein an interview with Credit Union Times. “Technology transformations typically take longer to implement than people initially believe.”
Certainly Congress now is tracking NFC. Last week, Vanderhoof testified before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Afterwards, Vanderhoof told Credit Union Times, “Congress is confused by what they heard and read and they are trying to make sense out of new payment technologies. The level of awareness and information is still early in the process. Congress needs to do a lot more studying of this.”
NFC’s progress, admitted Vanderhoof, is not straightforward in regard either to Isis (a collaboration among Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and various big banks) or GoogleWallet (a collaboration involving Citi, Sprint and Google).
“The wild card,” added Vanderhoof, “is what Apple will do.” Will it feature NFC on its next update of the iPhone – and if so, whose? Nobody has a clue but what Apple does (or does not do) will resonate loudly throughout the NFC universe.
Either way, said Vanderhoof, “realistically we are looking at 2013 before there is a wide rollout.” And probably, that is an optimistic prediction.