Just five years ago, mobile banking seemed futuristic, the stuff of sci-fi; but today, it has emerged as a must have.
That's a powerful statement by Credit Union Times Correspondent Robert McGarvey in this week's page 1 story ("5 Mobile Banking Trends to Watch in 2014", Jan. 15, 2014).
How many credit unions still think of mobile banking as an optional, whiz-bang feature? We’ve devoted countless pages to the topic in the past year, so I hope not many.
But based on a recent personal experience, I have my doubts.
My credit union has always been on the cutting edge of technology. It was one of the first to offer debit cards, and devised a remote access strategy long before mobile banking, remote deposit capture and YouTube channels.
It's offered mobile banking for a while, and last fall launched mobile deposit (late to market due to an online banking provider conversion), much to my delight.
I had been thinking of closing the membership and opening an account with a local institution. Even though my credit union does remote access well, the relative inconvenience of visiting a shared branching location was a drag on my household account management efficiency. My husband is self-employed, which means he receives a lot of personal checks. To juggle money between accounts requires semi-frequent deposits, and now that I’m a public transit and on-foot commuter, popping over to the nearest shared branching location isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Not that you can pop into your car and quickly drive anywhere in Southern California, but at least branches there have parking lots and visiting one doesn’t require a change into sensible shoes. Anyway, ever since the day I downloaded my new mobile app, I haven’t once logged in to online banking, nor have I visited a shared branching location.
However, that changed in early December, after I bounced a check.
Yes, that's embarrassing to admit, but hey: it was the height of holiday shopping and I had drained my slush fund, we had charged a fortune to fly the family back to California for Christmas, and my no-tolerance position on courtesy pay is admittedly flawed.
I thought it was a non-event. It was my first and only NSF item of the year. My payroll direct deposit more than covered the amount within 48 hours and the payee was quickly reimbursed.
Annoying and irritating, but it happens to the best of us.
Then, a couple of weeks later, I received a check in the mail and attempted a mobile deposit a few days before we traveled back west for the holiday break.
That attempt was rebuffed by an error message that informed me I no longer qualified for the service.
Thanks to security metrics, my mobile bank access was cut off after just one NSF.
Folks, that's just crazy.
I’ve been a member for nearly 20 years and have A-paper credit. My ChexSystems record is clean. Why in the world would just one NSF trigger mobile deposit disqualification?
Look, I understand fraud risk. I’ve experienced fake checks deposited into ATMs to fraudulently obtain the minimum cash availability. I’d imagine similar things can – and do – happen with mobile banking.
But fraud risk is present in brick and mortar branches, too.
Think about it: mobile banking is the new branch. I’m over the hill already, and even I prefer mobile banking to brick and mortar whenever possible.
Would you provide your branch security officer with a list of members who had NSFs, and instruct him to not allow those folks into the building?
Of course not.
Which is why I’d suggest you double check your mobile security metrics. Right now.
If you’re cutting off branch access to long-time, low-risk members – and if you don’t think mobile banking is equal to a branch in the minds of your members, you’ve already in trouble – you could soon find yourself bleeding members from the ears.
Now, I don’t know that my credit union is totally responsible for the security metrics. They could have just kept defaults provided by the online banking vendor, and were giving the new service time before jiggering with the settings.
Maybe an examiner pressured them into it. Or an insurance carrier.
Honestly, I have no idea. Funny thing, people clam up when an industry journalist starts asking for operational details.
But I do know it's bad business.
Please, correct me if I’m wrong. My contact information is below. I’d love to hear from you, please.
Heather Anderson is executive editor of Credit Union Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.