Credit Unions and Wearables: The Value Proposition
“It’s our most personal device yet.” That was Apple’s tagline around the announcement of the Apple Watch, a brand-new category of device in the Apple ecosystem that was announced late last year. Many have received the news with excitement, as this tends to happen with most big Apple announcements, but that excitement was followed by a little bit of skepticism. A watch? Does anyone wear watches anymore? A majority of the population already carries a portable device in their pocket every day, so what use does a slightly more portable device have?
Credit Union Involvement
Credit unions are looking for opportunities to provide their members with the immediate data they need, while being viewed as a trusted advisor by keeping their brand consistently in front of account holders. Mobile technology has enabled that like no other technology by allowing the credit union to extend its services into users’ daily lives, without them being tethered to a computer at a desk. People want access to their data and answers to their questions, and they look to their financial institutions to provide that service regardless of where they are or what they are doing.
Typically, a user has their mobile phone available at a moment’s notice. Forgetting a smartphone has become seemingly more disastrous than forgetting a wallet. To have a glanceable version of payment and financial information on one’s wrist at all times is an interesting proposition; users would no longer need to fumble through pockets or head back to the house or office where the device was left.
Will members require that kind of immediate attention to data? The same question could have been asked about mobile vs. desktop. Based on mobile growth, that question has been answered already. The main advantage to a mobile-only experience is that it forces the focus of data and functionality to be on precisely what users want and need – nothing more. A wearable device like the Apple Watch only amplifies what a true mobile-only experience should deliver: Glanceable data that is relevant and important to the user, and arguably even more ubiquitous than a mobile phone or tablet.
Some might wonder whether or not watches are used anymore. It is certainly true that many of us don’t wear a watch on a regular basis, mainly due to the timekeeping of a smartphone. The functionality that an Apple Watch offers is certainly much more compelling, and more useful than a simple timekeeping device. That could be why more than one million of the devices were pre-ordered prior to the official launch. Some models still haven’t been delivered. The reality is that the vast majority of individuals still wear watches, and credit unions cannot dismiss such a large population of members.
Time Will Tell
We can only anticipate how watch usage and functionality will continue to grow. Will it be a game changer or will it simply be another device that ends up on a failed technology idea list? The truth remains to be seen. Whether it succeeds or not, the concepts that it has helped to create have far-reaching and fundamental questions for credit unions that want to continue to look for opportunities to deliver relevant and useful information to their members while maintaining a ubiquitous brand presence. The Apple Watch is a most personal device, indeed.
Danny Piangerelli is chief technology officer of Malauzai Software. He can be reached at 512-961-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.