Mobile Platform Takes Branch Transactions to Members
Imagine employees using tablets to onboard new members, process loan applications or accept mobile payments at a member’s home, a local coffee shop or even an auto dealership.
Those scenarios will soon be possible for the $98 million Statewide Federal Credit Union.
The Flowood, Miss.-based credit union recently announced that it will become the first U.S. financial institution to implement MobiBranch, a mobile branch platform that enables employees to efficiently and securely perform an array of transactions at virtually any location.
“By getting our employees out of the branch to where our members live, work and play, members can accomplish their in-branch banking anywhere, and on their schedule, not ours,” said Bruce Ulrich, marketing director at the 15,000-member Statewide, which plans to go live with MobiBranch this month.
Developed by Vancouver-based TRG Mobilearth Inc., the platform features a tablet-based app with mobile payment and e-signature capabilities, which allow credit unions to onboard new members, process loan applications, accept debit/credit card payments and complete other transactions on the spot, the company said.
“This eliminates the need for our employees to handle cash, thus avoiding the associated security risk,” Ulrich explained.
MobiBranch can also help credit unions such as Statewide to reach underserved populations, he said.
By thinking outside the branch, Statewide FCU hopes to gain a competitive edge by enhancing efficiency, member service and security.
“With MobiBranch, we are going to increase our credit union membership, originate more loans and mortgages and offer a new level of convenience for our members,” Ulrich added.
The app can also be used in-branch for capturing digital signatures and completing paperless applications.
“With digital signatures on the tablet and smartphone, we are going paperless, which makes our members happy knowing they are dealing with a greener credit union, and the credit union will save money by reducing paper use,” said Paul Armstrong, Statewide general manager.
TRG Mobilearth Inc., which was recently recognized as one of the top 20 Most Innovative Companies in British Columbia by BCBusiness magazine, unveiled MobiBranch earlier this year at First West Credit Union in Vancouver, B.C.
The $7.1 billion First West and Valley First Financial Services, a credit union First West merged in 2009 that still operates under its previous name, wanted to proactively seek out new sales opportunities and provide top-notch customer service by leveraging technology to bring the branch to potential members and existing members, the credit union said in a release.
“In today’s busy and competitive world, it becomes increasingly important to accommodate our members wherever they are,” said Doug Ebner, manager of business technology and innovation for First West.
Online banking offers many perks, but personalized service isn’t usually one of them. Filling out forms online can turn-off potential members, especially if they have to come into a branch to finalize the process.
“While self-serve technology has increased convenience for members, it has simultaneously decreased our ability to offer one-on-one customer service and sales opportunities as some members no longer have the need to visit the branch,” said Ebner, who is also an i3 Member at Filene Research Institute.
By implementing MobiBranch, he said, First West and Valley First have made improvements in several areas, including the flexibility to fit members’ schedules, convenience and overall member experience. The tablet app has also produced opportunities to grow membership with its ability to open accounts and offer products remotely. Other advantages to the technology include a greater community presence, improved brand awareness, cross selling opportunities, improved operational efficiency, reduced labor costs and less impact on the environment.
Following a successful pilot phase, Ebner said, First West is expanding its use of MobiBranch.
“With the pilot, we have a low sample rate but the initial conversion rate is very good,” he said. “We will be building banking system integration in the near future now that we have completed our pilot. The investment is minimal based on the success we have already experienced in our pilot.”
During the pilot, Ebner said sales conversion rates were high. Lines of credit recorded a 67% conversion rate, consumer loans had a 75% conversion rate and mortgages saw an 80% conversion rate.
“It became quickly apparent that our new members greatly appreciated this service,” Ebner said. “We have been invited to lawyers’ offices, university campuses and have met potential members at the location of their choice. In each of these, we have signed up new members and been able to provide them with memberships, mortgages, lines of credit and loans. The feedback from members has been very positive.”
Credit unions can reap significant savings from using MobiBranch, according to a recent TRG Mobilearth white paper on branchless banking.
“Based on an estimate of 100 new members per month, with an average of three new accounts per member, the combined savings can be up to $55,000 and the employee cost-savings is nearly equal to two full-time employees,” the paper stated.
For credit unions that want to provide an extra level of service, despite declining branch usage, MobiBranch is a natural progression, said Tia Lee, CEO of TRG Mobilearth Inc.
The platform benefits a triple bottom line of “people, planet, profit” by helping credit unions, members and the environment, she said.
“MobiBranch is going to be a real game-changer,” Lee added. “We have not heard of any other mobile banking company with this offering, especially since we will be fully integrated with mobile on both sides of the counter. No one is doing mobile branch functions like MobiBranch.”