The last column asked, Do you need a tablet app? This week, a trio of credit unions weighs in with responses to that question. All have significant experience with tablet apps and their opinions accordingly carry substantial weight.
Case in point: Live Oak, Texas-based Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, a $5.2 billion institution with 410,000 members, where Senior Vice President Mary O’Rourke said in an interview, “The surprise to us is how quickly the tablet apps have taken off with our membership.”
“Every day, we have 3,200 members coming in through tablet apps. In 2012 alone, we saw $250 million transferred by members using their tablets. We want to be available 24 hours a day to our membership” – Randolph-Brooks’ bedrock membership has a military connection and thus may not be a 9 to 5 crowd – “and mobile apps, on phones and tablets, let’s us do this,” said O’Rourke.
Mobile phone usage at Randolph-Brooks is vastly higher than tablet usage – “We see 100,000 daily log ins from mobile devices,” said O’Rourke, and tablets make up a scattering of the total – but she nonetheless said the credit union is pleased with how adoption is proceeding.
She admitted that initially tablet usage “started slow.” That was with an iPad app deployed in early 2011. “But now we see more and more downloads,” said O’Rourke, who elaborated that by now Randolph-Brooks offers apps for iPad, Kindle Fire, and also Android tablets through the Google Play store.
She elaborated that Randolph-Brooks launched the KIndle Fire app because “we got so many member requests for it” – and she expects usage to vault upwards because the sub $200 tablet from Amazon is believed to have been a very strong holiday seller. (Amazon, as always, is coy about sales numbers.)
O’Rourke’s other surprise: “We have been surprised by how many members older than 65 are using tablets to access our services.” She stressed that, initially, Randolph-Brooks saw its suite of mobile apps as a means to attract and retain younger members, but in point of fact a much broader demographic seems attracted to tablets in particular.
At Digital Federal Credit Union, a $4.5 billion institution based in Marlborough, Mass., and with 373,000 members, Electronic Services Manager Denise Gonthier said in an interview that tablet access represents around 10% of all mobile logins to Digital, which has 180,000 mobile users.
Gonthier admitted that Digital – which debuted an iPad app in mid 2011 and a Google Play app in September 2012 (a KIndle Fire app is about ready to roll out) – had expectations of higher usage but she also expressed optimism that usage would grow.
“We are adding a lot more functionality to our tablet apps,” said Gonthier, who indicated Digital planned soon to add a person-to-person payments tool and some flavor of push notification (where a user might be alerted to, say, a low account balance). As functions are added, indicated Gonthier, usage is expected to grow
Already a tablet hit at Digital is use of the devices for mobile remote deposit capture where, in 2012, some 25,000 deposits were made via iPad. The Google Play app – which was out only for a few months and not all supported devices have a camera – contributed another 600 deposits. A plus in either case: tablet MRDC triggered very, very few support calls, said Gonthier
At the $4 billion, 397,000-member Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union in Harrisburg, Pa., Christopher Owens, mobile product manager, said tablet usage at his institutions now “is about 20% of all mobile usage.”
PSECU now has apps for iPad, Google Play and Kindle Fire. The last “is growing very fast,” said Owens. But iPad, the established market leader, claims about 80% of the tablet usage at PSECU.
Owens elaborated that presently around 25% of PSECU online members are mobile users – “but the number keeps growing.”
He also said that “it is almost cost free to deal with mobile members” and, for that reason, it is a channel that benefits the institution.
“The tablet app has been a good investment for us,” said Owens.
Bottom Line: a tablet application is not a silver bullet. It won’t suddenly plump up a credit union’s member count or asset base. But, based on the evidence, what we are seeing is a falling away from the online channel and into the tablet channel. This won’t happen in 2013, it won’t be completed by 2020, but watch it happen over time – and know that every institution that plans to be around also needs a plan to deal with the multiplication of tablets in American households.