Credit union mobile banking debut of the week: The “on” switch for mobile banking was tapped Monday, April 2 at Brooklyn-based Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union, the $1.5 billion institution with 75,000 members and branches in New York, New Jersey and Illinois. The key reason: “We are reaching out to a new, younger generation,” said CEO Oskar Mielczarek who added that, especially in Illinois where members seem to spend more time in their cars, new members seem inclined to do more of their banking away from branches. “We are bringing our services to them,” said Mielczarek.
Polish & Slavic is using a range of tools to promote the new mobile banking app to its membership: it’s featured on the online banking site (presently used by 43% of members), there have been emails promoting it, and also heavy promotion at the credit union’s Facebook page
Call the apps – available for iPhone, Android, Windows and BlackBerry – that just debuted version 1.0. Version 2.0 already is in the works. That next generation will feature mobile bill pay and will possibly also be available in Polish; it will be introduced “as soon as possible,” said Mielczarek.
The Polish language version is important to this institution, Mielczarek stressed, because right now a majority of users of the online banking tools prefer the Polish pages.
“We want to offer our members convenience,” said Mielczarek, “both in terms of location but also language.”
Survey Says Members Will Pay for Mobile Banking. That is the top line finding in the recent consumer survey by ath Power Consulting. Dig deeper into the report, however, and the news is less optimistic: “For the current offering, 1 in 7 users would be willing to pay $1 or $2 monthly. Overall, about 1 in 5 users are willing to pay somewhere between $1 and $11 monthly for the mobile banking offering they currently access,” said the report.
Where matters get interesting is when consumers are told about beefed up mobile banking - really, mobilewallets. Then the willingness to pay spikes: “As banks add capabilities to their mobile banking offering, the potential for revenue generation will improve. Our survey indicates that over half of mobile customers would like to be able to use their devices to maintain rewards points, receive special offers and conduct debit transactions at a store or restaurant, were those functions possible. “
Social Media Matter at First Financial FCU: First thing most mornings on Jessica Revoir’s to-do list is so very 2012: “I check Facebook and Twitter,” said the marketing manager at Wall, N.J. First Financial FCU, a $175 million institution with around 22,000 members. “We do this to interact with our members and to generate leads. We wanted to stay up with the times,” said Revoir. “Social media add a real time factor: we can interact with members immediately.”
First Financial posts regularly to Facebook at FirstFinancialNJ; on Twitter it is @NJBanking and there also is a blog. Sounds like a lot of work? It isn’t. “We spend an hour a day checking Facebook and Twitter, posting to the blog,” said Revoir
She added that mobile devices – smartphones mainly – have had a real impact because now when it happens, people Tweet about it or post to Facebook. “I do the same with my BlackBerry,” said Revoir who stressed that a prime goal is soothing angry members, and where appropriate explaining the credit union’s policies and fees.
Password Protection Pays. A little step that any member can take to improve mobile security – and thus a step credit unions might want to stress – is to activate password protection on smartphones. This was underlined in a recent report from the BITS Mobile Financial Services Working Group, comprised of mobile and security experts from 50 financial institutions. The report focused on trends in mobile, and it took particular note of security issues.
Highlighted in the report was this advice from Jim Routh, head of Application, Internet and Mobile Security for JP Morgan Chase” “One of the simplest and most effective ways of protecting yourself is to password protect your smartphone. Losing an unlocked phone can be the equivalent of telling someone where you live, shop and travel, who you communicate with, and where you bank, all pieces of information that taken collectively can be used to commit financial fraud. Password protection is too easy to skip. Always employ this easy and effective first line of defense to safeguard your information.”
How easy is this: On the iPhone, click SETTINGS, General, look for “Passcode Lock.” Done. On Android, SETTINGS, Location and Security, Set Screen Lock. Done.
In under 30 seconds, mobile device security is dramatically enhanced.