Many credit union members around the country have been enjoying the ease of mobile banking for the past year or so, but until recently, some entrepreneurs still had to schlep to the branch to make a deposit.
For small business owners who use the $11.4 billion BECU in Tukwila, Wash., for their transactions, the gas and time traveling to branches may become a thing of the past as mobile deposit potentially shifts to becoming their favorite app.
BECU said it began rolling out mobile deposit in November 2012, which is powered by Mitek, a San Diego-based mobile commerce firm. The credit union expected on average, approximately $5,000 in deposits per month for the first few months. But immediately after deployment, BECU began averaging roughly 75,000 transactions per month for approximately $53 million.
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The adoption rates exceeded expectations by more than 200%, according to BECU. In addition to rapid adoption, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as the credit union is seeing an uptick in the number of members enrolling in mobile banking.
“I think the most attractive part of the mobile app for a small business owner is the convenience and how easy it is to make a deposit,” said Howie Wu, vice president of virtual banking at BECU. “We had a lot of pent up demand. Our members are very tech-savvy and they were just waiting for mobile deposit.”
A March survey of 1,305 small business owners conducted by marketing research firm Constant Contact found that 66% of them currently use a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet in their work. Of the non-mobile users, 65% said they have no plans to use a mobile device in the future with many citing a lack of demand for mobile access from their customers.
This segment is partial to Apple devices, according to the survey. Sixty-six percent use iPhones, 39% use Android phones, about 49% use iPads and 15% use Android tablets.
Among the general public, according to comScore, a Reston, Va.-based digital analytics firm, Android subscribers accounted for 52% of all subscribers, while iOS subscribers account for 38%.
Mobile apps are playing a growing role in the way small businesses manage operations. According to Constant Contact, 82% use a calendar/time management app; 74% use a customer communications app; 52% use a GPS and mapping app; 44% use an accounting/invoicing app; 44% use an app for industry news/information consumption; and 29% use a travel planning app.
BECU’s technology vendor for mobile deposit is NCR, powered by Mitek.
“Mobile deposit adoption by small businesses is exploding because it is a win/win for banks and their business customers,” said Mitek CEO James DeBello. “With mobile deposit, banks have lower check processing costs and businesses have the freedom to deposit checks on their schedule from anywhere.”
Devon Shilling of Bellingham, Wash., moved from Seattle recently to open a tattoo shop and found that the nearest BECU branch was a 60-mile round trip.
“I thought I would have to change credit unions or even go to a bank because I like to do my banking on my phone,” Shilling said. “I’m just getting up and going but I am stoked that I can do all my transactions with the same credit union I’ve had since I was 17.”
Starting a small business is a risky proposition even in the best of times but today’s tumultuous economic climate adds a little extra uncertainty, some experts have said. The good news is at least one technology is helping small business owners’ focus on running their business, while also improving their cash flow – mobile deposit. BECU is certainly making this game changing feature available to its members.
“We’re all excited to be using this app,” Wu said. “It’s definitely the way of the future for small business owners.”
BECU is the largest credit union in Washington and one of the top five financial cooperatives in the U.S. When their members started demanding mobile banking, they saw the small business as a segment that could especially benefit from the new technology, Wu noted.
Small businesses are likely to still receive paper checks and mobile deposit allows them to put that money into their account at any time, from anywhere and have those funds be available immediately, some research has shown. With just a snap of their mobile device camera, a business owner can keep their operations running smoothly.
“Our small business members have been waiting for this technology to free them up to do other things,” Wu said. “At the end of the day, we want our small business members to be able to achieve their goals and expand their business. This technology is one way we can help them achieve success.”