Research is making the point, emphatically: You need mobilebanking, and it needs to be app based.

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New reports from organizations that track these things underlinethe conclusions that consumers want mobile banking, now, butprobably most institutions can hold off on debuting next generationtech tools such as digital wallets.

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Another – upbeat – finding: credit unions are winning high marksfrom members for their tech offerings.

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A jumping off point into the new research are the numbers from New York-based mobile advertisingfirm Verve Mobile that show a staggering 80% of consumers rankmobile banking as “important.” Forty-one percent want anative app for mobile banking.

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The big take-away from the Verve study, per Greg Hallinan, chiefmarketing officer: “People now are on their smartphones all thetime. They clearly have an affinity for using thedevices. What's striking in our study is a lack of consumerconcern about privacy and security issues, which had been barriersto smartphone use.”

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Said Hallinan: “”There is a great opportunity for additionalgrowth and competitive distinction for those financial serviceinstitutions who address this pent-up demand in the market, byproviding increasingly sophisticated mobile account services toconsumers.”

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That sets the stage for particularly bright news for creditunions. Behold the new study released by Boston-based market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey which found that credit unions are doing“a great job” providing members with technology. According toits study, 60% of members give their credit unions high marks ontechnology, compared with 49% of customers at national banks and36% of regional bank customers

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Elaborated Chadwick Martin Bailey, customers who specificallycall their financial institution's online and mobile bankingexcellent break down as follows:

  • Credit unions – 85%
  • Large national banks – 66%
  • Regional banks – 53%
  • Community banks – 55%

Read that again: 85% of credit union members say theirinstitution's online and mobile banking are excellent.

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Jim Garrity, who heads the financial services practice atChadwick Martin Bailey, acknowledged that in many cases – looked atobjectively – credit union technology may in fact lack some of theadvanced bells and whistles of the latest offerings from the moneycenter banks.

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But, stressed Garrity, “Member expectations are set fairly. No,it's not realistic to say the technology at most credit unions ison par with what the banks offer. But credit unions benefitfrom a halo effect.”

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Put bluntly: members seem willing to cut their credit unionslack if the institution is making an effort to compete in thetechnology arena.

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Garrity also emphasized that because all but a handful of creditunions lack the built-out branch infrastructure operated by the bigbanks, “credit unions have understood they need to offer other waysto do business with them.” Mobile and online banking are, in thatcontext, game changers that let credit unions run with the bigdogs.

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Good as the Chadwick news is for credit union executives, maybethe most provocative numbers are in a new study from Linthicum, Md.-based consulting firm First Annapoliswhich proclaims that mobile banking has become “ubiquitous” amongthe nation's large banks.

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According to First Annapolis, 81% of the nation's top 100 banksoffer mobile banking and, said Paul Grill, who led the study, someof the ones that do not are not retail banks as such but wholesaleoperations such State Street Bank.

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“Mobile banking,” pronounced Grill, “now is a need-to-have.”

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An emerging must have, said Grill, are apps specificallydesigned to run on tablet computers – about 25% of the largestbanks presently offer tablet apps.

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On an uptick is mobile remote deposit capture which, said Grill,now is offered by 24 of the biggest banks. “That is up fromeight in last year's survey.”

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Lagging in adoption are person-to-person payments tools (present in 12 of the top 100banks) and digital wallets (found in eight of the biggest banks, meaning92 do not have the technology).

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Those numbers just may serve as a roadmap for technologydeployment by credit unions. If the numbers have it, mobilebanking is a must, a tablet app is highly desirable, mobile RDC is nice to have and, as for the advancedtechnologies, wait and see seems a wise position for any exceptinstitutions determined to be on the bleeding tech edge.

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