Mobile phones are more than just phones. They have become indispensable portable computers, helping manage our personal lives, connecting us at all times to the office and bringing us the information we want, when we want it at the speed of light.
Pew Research shows 85% of Americans own mobile phones and they love using them. Among the top 12 things people use their mobile phone for, banking was ranked No. 8. What’s more, 44% percent of smartphone users said they do mobile banking.
Many credit unions offer mobile banking that enable members to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, locate ATMs and receive alerts. However, industry analysts such as Forrester Research and Javelin Strategy and Research have pointed out in recent reports that consumers are looking for more mobile banking transaction features including person-to-person payments, contactless payments at point of sale or mobile wallet and. remote deposit capture. Personal offers from both the credit union or merchant based on members’ spending behaviors, and push alerts, which enables members to respond in real-time to customized alerts received from their credit unions, are other features.
The $404 million Generations Federal Credit Union in San Antonio, Texas, rolled out its mobile banking service last year, but it is already adding new features over the next few months.
“Folks want to do more with their phones, so we have to provide those services for them,” said Wes Barnett, chief information officer for Generations FCU.
The credit union said it plans to introduce P2P on its mobile app through PayPal by April, and remote deposit capture by the end of the year. Marketing messages via its mobile app to promote and cross-sell products and services are also on the horizon.
“We’re introducing these new mobile phone features in response to what the competition is doing and what our younger membership is looking for,” said Barnett. “Younger members have different needs and that includes the flexibility of P2P payments. Once we roll out P2P and remote deposit capture, we are definitely going to keep a close eye on contactless payments at point of sale. We’re just waiting for the standards to develop around that technology.”
Currently, numerous POS technologies and mobile wallets are being tested, but it’s uncertain which technologies will prevail, experts have said.
In addition to payments, members are applying for credit union loans with mobile app, Loanliner, developed by CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, Wis. Introduced in 2011, about 550 credit unions are using the app, said Mark Nelson, a Loanliner sales specialist. Credit union members using the Loanliner mobile phone app applied for $441 million in loans last year, he noted. Loan applications made through the app increased from 6.4% in January 2012 to 12.1% in December 2012, Nelson said.
CUNA Mutual will soon introduce Loanliner’s new feature, AskAuto, which will enable members to use their mobile phones to shop for a car and secure a loan, Nelson said. Members can research the car they want by using their mobile phones to scan the car’s vehicle identification number and then scan their driver’s license to fill in the loan application to buy the car.
Meanwhile, consumer demands are expected to grow rapidly for these mobile banking transactions. Forrester Research has projected the number of U.S. consumers using mobile banking will increase from 61 million in 2013 to more than 108 million by 2017.
As more payment transactions converge into mobile banking, they can help credit unions retain members and produce new revenue opportunities, according to a new white paper report by Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv, “Next Generation Mobile Banking: Transactions Increase Return on Investment.”
The attrition rate for all mobile banking customers is about 40% lower than that of online banking users, the Fiserv report noted. Customers using mobile banking were 32% more profitable, and those using mobile banking and bill pay were 46% more profitable than online banking customers, the data showed.
Mobile banking customers also can generate more fee revenues in several ways. For example, some were inclined to make more debit card transactions per month because they were able to check their account balances from their mobile phones at the point of sale location, according to Fiserv. Moreover, based on interviews with financial institutions, Fiserv found that consumers might be amenable to paying 50 cents to $1 per P2P transaction.
“Once friends, family members and roommates are connected via P2P, they can stop writing and mailing each other paper checks and transaction volumes can increase with a network effect,” according to the Fiserv report.
The report also suggested financial institutions could generate income with merchants who would be willing to pay fees to credit unions when consumers pay for their offers via mobile phones.