Compared with the phone, radio, TV, and personal computer, no technology has ever caught on as quickly as the mobile device—whether smartphone or tablet.
According to the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Consumers and Mobile Financial Services report, 87% of U.S. adults have access to a mobile phone. The nearly universal consumer acceptance of these devices has a profound effect on credit unions as they serve members in a quickly changing technological landscape.
Fortunately, most credit unions have latched on to increasingly sophisticated apps that provide members a means to access their accounts, products, and services from almost any location in the world. That includes parochial mobile banking apps, as well as payment apps for both retail and person-to-person exchanges.
“We’re seeing a high adoption rate of mobile apps among [members of] Generation X and Gen Y, and millennials,” says Timmy Bohlman, senior vice president of technology and marketing solutions for CU Solutions Group. “They primarily prefer smartphones over tablets or PCs. The attraction is the ability to conduct day-to-day business from anywhere.
For instance, he continues, “among baby boomers, the highest adoption rate comes from snowbirds—seniors who travel south for the winter but whose primary financial institution is in the north.”
Per the Federal Reserve report, 53% of smartphone users and 43% of all mobile phone users used mobile banking in the previous year. Adoption rates jump to 67% among younger millennials and 58% among older millennials and Gen Xers. Also, banked consumers now use mobile banking more than branches, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. Meantime, BI Intelligence forecasts that more than half the U.S. population will try mobile payments—such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Wallet—by 2020.
Tucker Stovall, director of digital solutions at Symitar, expected that consumers would quickly seize on the mobile channel. But their enthusiasm for mobile as a replacement for online banking has been impressive.
“Their focus is on availability and consistency,” says Stovall, whose company recently introduced its Banno Mobile banking app. “There is pent-up demand for mobile apps among consumers.”
Equally impressive to Stovall is the relatively high adoption rate in rural areas. Mobile carriers have significantly expanded their coverage areas in recent years, and satellite service has become more common as well, closing the gap with urban mobile device use. But not every consumer is eager to jump on the mobile app bandwagon.
“Some people resist the technology because it’s simply one more complexity to add to daily life or they’re uncomfortable with it,” says Paul Matejcak, executive account manager, mobile products, at LSC, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider and subsidiary of the Illinois Credit Union League.
Even there, app providers find ways to persuade skeptics and holdouts, notes Matejcak, whose organization produces CU Mobile Apps and CUMA Light, designed for smaller credit unions. “We offer webinars that show reluctant users how easy it is to use our app, and that it’s much like logging on to a PC and downloading email.”
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