Mobile Banking for the Underbanked: Onsite Coverage
ORLANDO, Fla. — Can mobile banking help a credit union better serve more unbanked and underbanked consumers?
That was the tantalizing idea behind a NACHA panel that brought senior executives from the $187 million Hope Federal Credit Union in Jackson, Miss., to talk about their mission of serving the economically disadvantaged in the Mid-South and how mobile banking helps them do that better.
Hope serves a vast territory, said Richard Campbell, Hope’s CFO. Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee are all in Hope’s geography. The credit union has 16 branches, with two more slated to open, but a key to bringing financial services to the people is putting it on the phone.
“We can’t compete in real estate but mobile banking lets us bring services to our members,” Campbell said at the session Monday at the Payments 2014 NACHA conference at the Orlando World Center Marriott.
Hope’s region also has a sizable unbanked population, said Campbell, who indicated that 15% of the Mississippi population qualifies, a number twice the national average.
The region accordingly has a sizable number of alternative financial services providers, meaning payday lenders and pawn shops, said panel moderator Andrew Tilbury, chief marketing officer at Bluepoint Solutions, an imaging and document management company based in Henderson, Nev.
Many of their locations are looking more like traditional branches, said Tilbury, who added, “Except for the high fees.”
Many Hope members, stressed Campbell, do not own a home computer and many do not have an in-home Internet connection. But, increasingly, they all have smartphones, he said.
He threw out some numbers. In 2012, Hope had about 800 members using a mobile app. In 2013, with the introduction of a new, more robust app developed for Hope by Austin, Texas-based Malauzai, that number rocketed up to 3,000, said Campbell.
“We are very excited with the growth we are seeing in mobile,” said Campbell. He added that Hope now is rolling out features – he pointed to a new personal financial management tool – as mobile only.
Members also are using social media – especially Twitter but also Facebook – to tell their friends and family about Hope, said the credit union’s marketing vice president, Scot Slay. He said that kind of cyber word of mouth is crucial to the institution’s growth.
Particularly useful for Hope in member recruitment, said Campbell, has been mobile remote deposit capture because it shows people that they can get branch-type services even if they are far removed from a branch.
The one nudge Hope has been resisting when it comes to mobile: Introducing a tablet app. Campbell acknowledged that some tasks that are not suited to a phone, such as a loan application, would work on a tablet. But, he poignantly noted, “Our members don’t own tablets. That’s why we’re not going there.”