PHOENIX – The future for financial services will be about better enabling financial behavior, and nudging against behavior that is financially harmful, according to ProfitStars Director of Strategic Insight Lee Wetherington.
The Southwest CUNA Management School Technology Faculty Chair shared how credit unions are perfectly positioned to provide that demand during his general session Tuesday at the CUNA CFO Council Conference at the Wild Horse Pass Resort in Phoenix
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Despite challenges from non-bank providers like Google Wallet and a consumer shift away from the traditional checking account, financial institutions and credit union in particular are the only entities that can provide enabling and nudging services, because they control account data, Wetherington said.
He recommended an app from Cedar Falls, Iowa-based Banno called Grip that he said takes mobile banking into the future, providing comparison shopping information along with account aggregation and tradition online banking services.
Members could not only find the best deal for a product like an iPad, they could also quickly review which accounts have enough funds to pay for it, and the resulting balance in each account should the member decide to make the purchase. Or decide not to buy at all.
“Only financial institutions can do this,” Wetherington said. “Nudging members when not to buy will differentiate credit unions from other providers.”
Helping members make better-informed purchases is not only something they demand, it’s also consistent with the credit union philosophy of thrift, he said.
Despite the fact that mobile payments will eventually eliminate point of sale transactions, the mobile payments industry is worth just $270 billion. In comparison, the broader mobile commerce business is estimated to be worth $1 trillion.
Wetherington also discussed “neo-checking accounts” that are replacing traditional checking accounts, which are losing favor with consumers due to higher fees and lower dividends.
Neo-checking accounts provide more personal financial management tools and blend prepaid, debit and credit functions into one account. Access to each feature fluctuates as the consumer’s financial position grows or changes, he said.
“This isn’t like when a member qualifies for your platinum checking account, so you close their existing one and open the new one,” he said. “The account dynamically grows with the member through time.”
And, neo-checking providers place more emphasis on communicating the account’s benefits.
“Credit unions do a good job of disclosing costs, but they’re not very good at tabulating the communicating the benefits,” Wetherington said.
Despite making big gains in market share, credit unions didn’t capture the bulk of consumers who closed their accounts on Bank Transfer Day, he said.
Instead, the majority of consumers simply closed one big bank account and opened another.
Wetherington dubbed those who switched “money hawks,” consumers who typically keep more money in deposit accounts and check their account activity several times a day using their smartphones.
Because mobile banking access is so important to this group, he said, they returned to big banks because they weren’t willing to give up the robust mobile banking access.