It's no surprise that once some very smart people created the mobile app, the rush would be on to tweak its capabilities far beyond what was first imagined. Take mobile banking, for instance.
"What's missing from most mobile banking is the ability not only to bank anytime from anywhere, but also to collaborate face-to-face via a mobile device," says Gene Pranger, CEO of POPin, formerly BankOn Mobile Video. “The 'magic bullet' of our patented software is that it allows mobile devices to live stream two different data sets. For example, borrowers can collaborate with credit union representatives on one side of their screens and a document on the other. Both the borrower and the rep can discuss, amend, or clarify the document in real time, and finalize it with both parties' electronic signatures."
At a recent CUNA convention, Pranger says attendees who saw the software demonstration were excited by its capabilities: "There are other basic mobile video services out there—FaceTime, Skype, Cisco—but they can stream only one data source."
One of the factors that affects the success of credit unions' mobile offerings is the millennial generation, according to Pranger. "Based on current research, we can state that 50% of millennials say banking, whether traditional or digital, is not seamless,” he says. “Forty-eight percent would like financial institutions to offer video chat."
He sees millennials as crucial to credit unions' long-term survival. "They are distinctly different from previous generations,” he says. “They have a hunger for instant gratification and a tangible result. Their easy relationship with technology is almost embedded in their DNA. Older people who didn’t grow up with the technology can master it, but not with the ease that millennials do. Credit unions have to adapt to that reality."
New life for brick-and-mortar branches
Millennials spend an estimated 50% of their free time on their mobile device—a fact credit unions should keep in mind. Ironically, in an era when brick-and-mortar facilities of any kind seem to be headed toward extinction, millennials' demand for mobile services is giving brick-and-mortar branches new life.
"Sophisticated mobile technology creates less of a need to build new branches while giving current branches the ability to serve a much larger geographic area than before," Pranger says.
Another effect will be the creation of video call centers, where credit union staffers can conduct face-to-face video sessions with members. "Front-line credit union employees already know how to conduct pleasant face-to-face interactions with members,” Pranger notes. “The shift to representing their credit union on mobile video will not be a hard transition for them.”
Elana Anderson, chief marketing officer at Vidyo, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider, agrees that mobile banking is changing the nature of brick-and-mortar branches.
"One of main reasons credit unions come to us is because of the changing nature and capabilities of the branch system,” she says. “Not every branch can offer the same set of services as a main branch. But what if you can greet a member at the branch door, welcome them, and then escort them to a private space where they can talk to a loan or mortgage expert using video that creates a face-to-face encounter? Then you have greatly expanded the role that the branch can play.
"Face-to-face is crucial these days. Not only because of the technology—which most people have and expect to use—but because of its effect,” Anderson continues. “It used to be that contacts between, say, borrowers and lenders were strictly on the phone. By itself, audio can create a highly tense and emotional situation that can escalate."
Part of the problem, Anderson says, is the lack of visual clues that can help each participant gauge each other’s responses: "Adding face-to-face capability makes both parties aware of one another's psychological state."
Vidyo's adoption services team provides its clients with best practices for selecting and training the staff members who will become the face of a credit union in video transactions.
"Another capability provided by video technology is the ability to dramatically reduce the time it takes to process loan applications or execute other complex transactions,” Anderson says. “We see up to a 90% reduction in time. Cross-selling sales have gone up an average of 20% among our clients. We've seen some processes, such as filling out forms, go from two-hour ordeals to easy two-minute tasks."
Vidyo also offers screen share, where the credit union can juxtapose a chart or document next to the video image of the staffer taking a call. "The technology can integrate with any platform and offers a recently introduced document signing capability,” Anderson notes. “Very shortly we will introduce the ability to bring a third party into a call, such as a spouse or business partner."
Vidyo has completed testing of its compatibility with Apple and Android smartphones and links to PayPal and XOOM. About 70% of millennials use mobile for purchases and transactions. “We offer completely customizable look and links—credit unions can offer as many or as few services as they want," Anderson says.