Mobility Matters: Tracking the Mobile Banking Revolution in Credit Unions
Tablets Apps: Are You Ready? The loud word among mobile banking experts is that suddenly – unexpectedly – tablet computer apps are becoming a must have for financial institutions, and that is not good news for credit unions.
The reason: credit unions have been slow to deploy tablet apps. A check of the Apple Apps store found 302 entries. There’s around a dozen now in the Amazon Kindle Fire apps store.
This scarcity of credit union tablet apps matters, say the experts, because there’s a mounting trend where consumers are replacing their home computers with a tablet and they will not be happy if that tablet does not deliver the full functionality of online banking through an app.
“Tablets are an entirely different category of device,” said Steve Ledford, a consultant with Novantas.
Tablets are not simply big mobile phones. How we use them is very different from how mobile banking users use smartphones. With the latter, quick dips into the system to get fast answers (what’s my balance?) rules.
With tablets users are settling in for longer sessions, developing deeper relationships with their financial institutions.
Of course, at many institutions, tablet users can go via the browser into the online banking portal and have at it. But, for now, the preference seems to be for banking via apps and that is why the trillion dollar institutions have put enormous effort into producing highly polished mobile banking tablet apps.
The iPad sales juggernaut steams forward. Apple has sold some 67 million units in a tick over two years. Global Android tablet sales were over 10 million in a recent quarter and the $199 Kindle Fire grabbed around half the sales volume, with the rest fragmented over many devices. That last is important because the Fire is a highly customized version of Android and an app that runs on it may not run on other device.
What those sales stats are doing is directing attention to just the iPad and Kindle Fire.
Bottom line: crucial advice for credit unions is to get moving on a tablet app – at least one for the iPad and, if budgets allow, also for Kindle Fire. Members will be asking and, increasingly, the evidence suggests members will switch institutions to get the mobile banking services they want.
“People are very passionate about their ability to do what they want on mobile. They say fix it or I am out of here,” said Ginger Schmeltzer, a senior vice president at SunTrust, who spoke at a NACHA panel at its recent conference in Baltimore.
Overheard at NACHA: Lots more important mobility topics were ventilated at the big Baltimore conference in early May, where more than a dozen strictly mobile panels were held. Here’s a sampling of top level thoughts every credit union executive needs to know about:
* 20% is the magic number: “After 18 months, adoption of mobile banking will be around 20% of total base. And 20% of registered users are doing mobile payments,” said Geoff Knapp, a Fiserv vice president, at a NACHA panel. Credit unions with significantly lower figures have to ask themselves why.
* Fraud, Not So Much: “We are basically in good shape regarding fraud in the mobile channel,” said BITS executive Jim Pitts in a NACHA presentation. “We do expect that fraudsters will begin to pay more attention to mobile.”
True, but so far fraudsters seem content to milk money out of Zeus on Windows computers and their next target just may be Apple desktop and laptop machines, not mobile phones or tablets, say the experts. The architecture of mobile operating systems complicates the how to of perpetrating fraud. Which is not to say it can’t happen.
A huge worry: misuse of financial institution logos and even the uploading of tainted institutional mobile apps – basically the criminal takes the real app and edits in some malware. “There are whole teams in large FIs monitoring for these apps,” said Pitts.
A takeaway: every credit union, too, should be on this hunt, which is no more complicated than making it a habit to check the Google Play Store and the Amazon Apps Store on a daily basis. Then also do a global web search – for something like NAME OF INSTITUTION + app. Apple, Google and Amazon are all said to act swiftly on complaints by financial institutions.
* Watch for corporate mobile banking. The idea seems farfetched but, according to one NACHA panel, the next big thing to hit mobile banking just may be a rollout of mobile platforms to business members who, insist at least some experts, just may be willing to pay increased fees for mobile services that simplify their lives.
The play here, say the experts, is selling tools that allow very senior executives to approve payments using mobile devices and to monitor accounts. But this also opens an important door: “The mobile corporate banking app is the senior exec’s window into the institution” said Ledford, meaning this potentially is a way to deepen relationships with the decision makers.