With approximately 70 million possible tablet users by year end and 4.6 billion smartphones being used worldwide, it’s safe to say credit union members are mobile.
As credit unions begin to adapt and cope to the so-called post PC era, how will their mobile applications on smartphones and tablets affect how they service and market to nonmembers and existing members? How do credit unions adjust to third party applications?
Currently, members no longer need to log in via online banking or even download a credit union’s mobile banking app. Most credit union mobile banking applications cover the basics of reviewing account balances, transferring funds, and utilizing bill pay. If the credit union is a step ahead, they now offer remote deposit capture and person to person payments but that still cannot fully compete with tools that allow you to have all your accounts in one place including investments and the value of your home.
Personal financial management tools also track your behaviors and habits so they can tell you when your financial obligations are due. Additionally, the tools make recommendations of budgets. When you save for that dream vacation, it utilizes a partnership developed with travel companies to give personalized advice.
As credit unions utilize and develop their own PFMs, they need to consider how easy will it be for members to access, should they charge for the added tool and how flexible can the tools be in meeting the changing needs of its members in the future.
Once PFMs are implemented into their online banking platform, credit unions need to put aside their UI for their online banking and have their branded PFM front and center. Budgeting is hard enough so if a credit union buries the tool within online banking, which requires multiple clicks, they can guarantee the New Year’s Resolution member that signs up for the PFM will lose interest in the first 90 days. Think front and center with quick access to enhance the member experience.
No financial tool is relevant in today’s world without a mobile version. Incorporating a mobile version of a credit union PFM is a must. Look at the example of Facebook. According to the Los Angeles Times, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his biggest challenge right now is adapting his social network to the mobile world. Roughly 40% of its 900 million users view Facebook via a mobile app. As you can tell by the current Facebook stock price, they are still working out that strategy.
This same challenge will begin to arise within the credit union industry. If members and potential members are not visiting your website, how will you inform, educate, and market to them? The solution is through a credit union mobile app that incorporates the PFM UI within the application. If credit unions redirect members to the URL homepage within the app, that can add extra unwanted steps for the potential or existing member to consider using.
There is the one million dollar question of whether or not credit unions should charge members for enrolling in the credit union’s PFM. If a credit union decides to charge a monthly subscription fee, they should be prepared to address the differences between other free PFMs. For instance, the online music company Pandora allows users to stream music for free over the Internet. The free service includes ads and commercial interruptions but if you pay for a subscription, those disappear.
This positioning can be utilized when comparing a free PFM against a subscription PFM. Credit unions can create an in-app or PFM purchase process that creates new ways to market products, cross sell to existing users and members, and develop additional content in updated releases. App developers make over half their revenue in in-app purchases and credit unions should utilize that knowledge to increase their own revenue and product awareness.
Let’s discuss what the future looks like for PFMs and whether or not credit unions should continue to invest in them. PFMs will continue to make headway within the credit union industry but mobile is key. Mobile devices and usage will continue to grow and the post PC era will blossom as devices get faster and incorporate more utilities to simplify our members’ lives.
Future PFMs will need to incorporate context-aware services that give members local offers when the PFM identifies they are close to a habit place of business. PFMs will also need to have to continually strive to incorporate members’ social networking habits and the ability to share milestones and asking for financial advice amongst social friends.
In conclusion, the PFM tool movement will need to be modified with the advancement of members utilizing mobile devices to survive. Credit unions will focus a majority of their time developing mobile application strategies and marketing techniques within applications to meet the needs of its membership. If they don’t, members will migrate to third party applications to manage their finances, which takes away the control of the user experience from credit unions. Credit unions need to take action and develop a sustainable mobile strategy that can adjust with technology.
Brett T. Wooden is president/CEO of Brett Wooden Consulting
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