Three words jump out of the just released report from Boston Mass research firm Aite Group about “Credit Unions’ Online and Mobile Channel Strategies”: mobile, mobile and more mobile.
That is no surprise, said lead researcher Ron Shevlin in an interview. He elaborated that the A list priorities for the 481 credit unions included in the most recent survey were “building out mobile capabilities such as mobile remote-deposit capture and mobile bill pay.”
The real plus in the Aite document is an avalanche of data that are drawn from credit unions of all sizes. The report claimed roughly equal numbers of respondents from credit unions ranging from under 10,000 members to those with over 100,000 members.
A key data point is that the number of online banking users keeps edging up. In 2011, 38% of members used online. In 2012 that number will hit 42%, growing to an anticipated 48% in 2013. Online bill pay will grow from 16% in 2011 to 24% in 2013. The fastest growth rate is reserved for mobile banking, however, jumping from 8% adoption in 2011 to an anticipated 24% in 2013.
Somewhat reinforcing data are found in another newly released report via Compass Plus, a U.K.- based financial services consulting firm, that found that 63% of financial institutions in its survey expected to see “mass adoption” of mobile payments in their home regions within three years. The same study pegged a one to two year timeframe for mass adoption of contactless near field communication payments, with 32% saying “it’s already here” and another 35% saying it will come within two years. Those numbers are based on surveying done by Compass Plus at Cartes 2012, an international payments show held in Paris, and the numbers are influenced by the European tilt of responders.
Back in the U.S., the Aite data made clear the near ubiquity of online and mobile among credit unions. Some 98% of credit unions offer online bill pay and about 8 in 10 offer mobile banking. Only about half now offer mobile bill pay, but, said Aite, three-quarters expect to offer it by the end of 2013.
Aite predicts that credit union investment in mobile banking will continue to increase sharply. “In 2012, 18% of credit unions expect to grow their investments in mobile banking by more than 25% over 2011 levels, and 12% anticipate an increase between 10 and 25%.”
“Across the board it is hard to find credit unions that are reducing their investments in the online and mobile channels in 2012,” the report added.
One spot of uncertainty in the Aite data revolves around mobile remote-deposit capture. The report noted that “nearly four in ten credit unions did not invest in this technology in 2011 and don’t expect to in 2012.”
In an interview, Shevlin elaborated that he personally did not see the payoff from investing in mobile capture. “What do those that are investing expect to get?”
“The number of checks going to MRDC is incredibly small,” and when that is factored in with the widely expected steady fall in the number of paper checks, Shevlin saw many reasons to be skeptical about mobile remote-deposit capture.
More globally, Shevlin skewered credit unions with his comment that regarding mobile and online channel deployments, “True lack of strategic thinking is pervasive in the industry.” That is, initiatives and new deployments frequently are reactive, or opportunistic, rather than a thought out response to market trends.