Mobility Matters: Tracking the Mobile Banking Revolution in Credit Unions
The plunge into mobile banking is quickening – adoption, said the experts, is occurring much faster than happened with online banking, which took 10+ years to become entrenched in our lives.
Mobile is doing it twice as fast, and the data points keep exploding. A for instance: Bank of America just put out a press release celebrating its 10 millionth mobile banking customer (active users have grown by 3 million in just the past year). The release quoted a B of A executive saying the institution now sees more than $1 billion in mobile transactions every week.
Mobile is becoming the globe’s dominant form of Internet access – by 2015 more people in the U.S. will access the Internet via mobile devices than any other way, said researchers at IDC in a report a few months ago, and if anything that day may come sooner.
Fallout from this abrupt shift to mobile is everywhere, and especially hard hit is branching, said marketing researchers Rosetta in a study that bluntly reported consumers are jilting branches in favor of digital banking. “I was surprised by how many wanted to pull away from branches,” said Rosetta managing partner Ned Elton in a Credit Union Times interview.
Experts are not quite ready to bury old-style analog banking but there is a lot of rethinking going on – “bankers are now trying to figure out what branches are for,” said Novantas consultant Kevin Travis in an interview. “We haven’t entered this end game.”
Workers’ CU iPad App: Listen to Christopher Saari, the Internet banking manager for Workers' Credit Union in Fitchburg, Mass., and his goals for the recent rollout of an iPad app just may surprise. “We expect to see older users adopting it,” said Saari in a Credit Union Times interview. He indicated that the $880 million institution already had brisk adoption of its iPhone app, but lately he had noticed a sizable number of iOS users coming directly into the credit union’s website via Safari, the Apple browser. His guess – and it is probably right – is that the traffic is from iPad users. When they realize there now is an iPad specific app, Saari believes they will switch to it.
As for the age prediction, he said, “Around here” – in northern Massachusetts – “iPad users tend to be older.” Gen Y can scrape together the cash for an iPhone but not it and an iPad, said Saari.
The PayPal Payments War: The gloves are off, the new competition is going to be brutal. On the heels of its launch of a payments tool at Home Depot (pay with a mobile number and PIN), PayPal now has announced roll out of the service to 15 more national retailers, among them: Abercrombie & Fitch, Advance Auto Parts, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, Guitar Center, Jamba Juice, JC Penney, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Nine West, Office Depot, Rooms To Go, Tiger Direct and Toys “R” Us.
In a blog, PayPal president David Marcus wrote: “Consumers are relying on technology now more than ever to simplify their lives when it comes to shopping and paying, and retailers must adapt to this shift or risk becoming irrelevant.”
Included in the PayPal suite are tools for rewarding consumers with the aim of hiking loyalty, said Marcus.
Recently, too, PayPal announced – in association with Technology Credit Union in San Jose, Calif. – a service that will let Tech CU members send money to mobile phone numbers by tapping in info at an ATM.
The company, at the NACHA convention in Baltimore, also announced a new P2P service that, it said, was specifically geared at credit unions and community banks.
The loud PayPal message: it intends to be a big player in the mobile payments space.
clearXchange Gets Hot: The war for person-to-person payments also heated up, as Wells Fargo has announced a clearXchange-powered service that will let any Wells customer send money to any Wells or Bank of America customer. The difference: the sender needs to know only the recipient’s email address or mobile phone number. No knowledge of bank account details is required.
clearXchange is owned by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase.
The take-away for credit unions: despite persistent doubts about the ability to monetize p2p, the trillion dollar banks seemed determined to push ahead with P2P in 2012 and that may force smaller institutions to follow.
McAfee Threat Assessment: Up, up, up. That’s the topline commentary on mobile malware, according to researchers at McAfee. James Walter, manager of McAfee Threat Intelligence Service, said in a Credit Union Times interview that Android malware in particular saw a sharp spike from Q4 2011 to Q1 2012: “It’s up 1,200 percent,” he said. “The growth is alarming,”
Malware aimed at iOS devices – iPhone, iPad – mainly target “jailbroken” devices, a gambit specifically warned against by Apple. McAfee did however report seeing growing numbers of viruses and malware aimed at Apple desktops and laptops.
Good news is that the vast majority of cases of mobile malware are mere nuisances. Worst cases seem to involve sending unauthorized premium SMS, maybe dialing pricey phone numbers. Nothing rises to the level of Zeus – yet.