BY KEVIN STEHL
It goes without saying that the banking needs of credit union members – and the way in which members want to bank – have undergone a radical transformation over the past two decades.
Remember the days when banking was conducted when members walked into a credit union branch?While it may be hard for anyone under 30 to even conceive of this, there was a time when consumers would start a typical Saturday by going to their credit union to deposit a paycheck and take care of any other banking needs, then go to the dry cleaner, then the grocery store, then whatever else they needed to do, paying cash at each stop along the way.
Today, of course, all of that has changed. Americans manage life in a 24/7 environment. That means they expect to conduct their business when and where it is convenient for them, make transactions quickly and get accurate and timely answers to questions. .
As a result, banking today is more about getting services to our members, rather than getting the members to drop by one of our branches to get in front of our staff.Electronic services like online banking, alerts, bill pay, mobile banking, text banking, remote deposit, online statements and notices, imaging ATMs, and online account opening are no longer the domain of the technology-savvy big banks. They have become the table stakes necessary to do business in today’s financial industry, regardless of the size of the institution.
All of which brings us to the latest online banking platform and mobile app introduced by SECU, Maryland’s largest credit union. SECU recently partnered with Alkami Technology, a Dallas-based tech firm which works with financial institutions across the country to design, build, and implement digital banking solutions.
Many months in the making, SECU’s newest technology provides members with a more robust online and mobile banking experience, while allowing them to bank on their time. New features include person-to-person transfers, budgeting tools, and fingerprint or pin log-in.SECU also incorporated enhanced traditional features, such as Bill Pay, account transfers, mobile check deposits, and account information display screens for easier navigation.
Perhaps the most important part of the project, however, began several months before Alkami was even brought on board. Recognizing that investments in technology upgrades demonstrate that credit unions care about delivering a great member experience (not to mention an improved competitive posture in a rapidly changing business environment), SECU began its online and mobile upgrade by talking to its members.
Based on extensive member feedback, SECU quickly learned that its members wanted better digital capabilities, both online and mobile. They were particularly interested in mobile features that would allow them to more closely match their money management habits to their on-the-go lifestyles, while providing greater control of their finances. They repeatedly cited the need for technology enhancements that would offer greater convenience, faster service, enhanced security, and the ability to set budgets, manage expenses, and meet their savings goals.
With those thoughts in mind, SECU and Alkami began designing mobile and online banking improvements as part of a larger digital strategy that included digital marketing (primarily via the SECU website) and digital acquisition of both new member and loan applications. The result is a new experience that ensures members have access to the tools that are really useful to them:
- In terms of convenience, SECU’s new online and mobile banking experience allows members to access current SECU credit card information and pay balances directly within online and mobile banking. They canalso set up account alerts and reminders for all accounts, schedule recurring payments, make mobile deposits by snapping a picture of a check, and take advantage of the new integrated bill pay function.
- To provide faster service, members can now make quick transfers between SECU accounts, quickly check balances on designated accounts without logging into the mobile app, and make person-to-person payments for quick payment between friends and family.
- Enhanced security features allow SECU members to log-in on a mobile device using just their fingertips or a 4-digit pin. And if users forget their password, they can now access their account by having a code sent immediately via text or email.
- Finally, the new online and mobile banking experience contains extensive financial tools, including a budgeting tool to set budgets and manage expenses, and a savings tool to set savings goals and automatically transfer funds to help achieve those goals.
Improved member service and satisfaction, of course, is at the heart of each of these technology enhancements. Service, in fact, will always be paramount in distinguishing credit unions from the big banks. It’s the reason why offering members the ability to handle most of their banking needs online or from mobile devices – while absolutely critical in improving member satisfaction and meeting their everyday banking needs – is not enough. Credit unions must also offer a modern branch experience that provides stream lined, efficient, and effective services,such as enhanced ATMs and modern, cutting-edge teller stations. Doing so not only helps members to make their in-branch transactions faster and more effectively, but also enhances the institution’s reputation in the marketplace.
The bottom line here is that technology can enhance – but never replace – the true one-on-one member service so many people have come to expect from their credit unions. When applied effectively, though, technology can provide solutions for enhanced member relationships. By combining online options with face-to-face information and advice, credit unions are continuing to meet their core mission – namely, doing what it takes to make customers financially successful and to improve the financial well-being of the communities we serve.
SECU’s new platform is being introduced to its members over the course of February and March 2018, with all members being converted by the end of the first quarter of the year. For more information about SECU’s new online and mobile banking experience, visit www.secumd.org/goingfurther
Kevin Stehl joined SECU two years ago as the Vice President of Product, Marketing, and Digital. He is overseeing the organization’s transformation to digital products and services to better serve SECU’s members.
Founded in Baltimore in 1951, SECU is Maryland’s largest credit union. It is headquartered in Linthicum, MD and has branches across the state. For more information about SECU and the Own Your Money program, visit www.secumd.org