ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The smartphone and tablet are more critical than most people think, according to Max Wolff, chief economist and senior analyst with GreenCrest Capital.
During a morning session of the CU Reality Check conference here on Tuesday, he asserted that mobile is the ATM of 15 years ago.
“The new technologies are still disruptive. We still don’t have leaders across the board, Wolff said.
But, he added, one thing is certain regarding social media and other developments: “This new technology can help you leverage or it can level you if you’re a laggard.”
“Because the economy has been so disruptive, the disruptive technologies have been difficult for people to grasp,” Wolff said.
However, social and disruptive startups are not a passing fad. “This is a mature market that is disruptive that is making changes,” according to Wolff.
A key point that can be missed is as it applies to financial institutions is that mobile banking is not necessarily a commodity.
“Social is real interpersonal interaction that’s machine mediated,” Wolff emphasized. It’s the new word-of-mouth marketing, and as people expect more through mobile the models are changing.
Now, one in three married couples self-reported that they met their spouse online, Wolff pointed out, which means they trust highly personal relationships, such as banking, in the online world.
Social media outlets are looking to become financial intermediaries. “They will be in the payment space if they aren’t already, and they’re going to double down,” the economist advised.
“Facebook is the No. 1 time spend for people under 30,” Wolff said. TV and movies will come through this medium, he predicted.
But social media outlets aren’t the only ones. Apple and Android own 80% of the market and investing in financial services every day, he added.
“Your smartphone is your keys and your wallet, and your credit union better live in there,” Wolff said.
The good news is that credit unions already possess the characteristics that are necessary to succeed online and in mobile. “What resonates online is real message, social values and uniqueness. Credit unions already have this,” Wolff said.
The venture capitalist added, “(The new technologies are) a potential leverage of great value to you to compete with the bigger players with the biggest bucks.”
Credit unions also have members’ trust and are cooperatives, which is attractive to many consumers. They also stand for something, he said. Credit unions have an audience but they must be engaged.
“Public awareness of credit unions isn’t what it needs to be,” Wolff said was their one drawback.
When people don’t understand you, he said, they avoid you or think there must be something wrong with them or something wrong with you. He suggested that Twitter has become the de facto newsfeed of reporters so being active on Twitter can help get the word out.