Rating the Mobile Banking Apps: How Do Credit Unions Fare? 

By Robert McGarvey 

For Credit Union 2.0  

 

The good news for credit unions in this year’s MagnifyMoney survey of mobile banking apps: Many do very, very well, even against money center bank competition. 

The bad news: Mobile banking apps, suggests MagnifyMoney, “have reached middle age.” That means, per MagnifyMoney, “overall, apps haven’t appreciably improved.” They have entered an era of complacency – and, listen up, that may well not be good enough. 

A point not in the MagnifyMoney survey is this: non banks keep buffing their apps, benchmarking themselves not against financial institutions but best in class apps such as Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, and Venmo.  Before patting yourself on the back with congratulations about the quality of your mobile banking app, ask yourself how you stack up against the really good consumer apps that many people spend hours daily using. 

Back to the MagnifyMoney data and the good news for credit unions: according to its survey, “in general, people still rate credit unions apps higher.  Probably unsurprising, as most CU users report a better experience in general. But traditional banks are catching up. 3 of the ten best overall apps are banks or direct banking apps. Last year all but 1 were CUs.” 

Not all is cheery news in the survey. Chew on this: of the 10 worst mobile banking apps, per MagnifyMoney, four are credit unions. On the dishonor roll are VyStar Credit Union, Patelco, Northwest Federal Credit Union, and Tinker Federal Credit Union. 

That means credit unions as a group can only get so giddy about their performance. Some appear to be in the same league as the worst banks. 

But credit unions do score high in the round up of most improved apps.  Among the top 10 are Teachers Federal Credit Union, CEFCU, America First Credit Union, Schoolsfirst, Alliant, and DFCU.  That’s six of ten. 

Among the top 10 most deteriorated apps are three credit unions: Desert Schools, Suncoast, and SECU of Maryland. 

As for the 10 best overall, credit unions on this honor roll include Eastman Credit Union, ESL, Redstone, SEFCU, Wright Patt, and Delta Community, Visions. 

The others in the top 10 are Discover, BBVA Compass, and Capital One. 

How reliable are these ratings? Probably not very but at least this is a start. The issue is that the MagnifyMoney ratings start by sorting out the 50 biggest banks and 50 biggest credit unions, then looking at user ratings for the apps in the two big apps stores (iOS and Android).  As far as that goes, it makes sense but let me ask: how many apps have you reviewed in the apps stores? 

Not many right. 

I scratch my head in trying to remember the last time I reviewed an app in an app store. And whatever it was it was because the app was just terrible.  Or I was angry for other reasons with the provider. 

So I’m unconvinced that app store ratings are the end-all when it comes to deciding the best and worst mobile banking apps. Nonetheless, my advice is to look hard at the top rated credit union apps – and by all means scroll through the actual user comments in the app stores. 

Do likewise for the worst rated. 

Now ask yourself the really hard question: what are we doing right now to keep our app fresh and relevant for a new generation of credit union members? 

What can we do? 

How can we press our vendors to really upgrade the app to help us better serve our membership? 

What do our members really want that they are not presently getting from the mobile app? Ask them if you don’t already know. 

There’s no rest for the weary. This just came in from Bank of America in an email blast to media about upgrades to its mobile banking app: “Express checking account application — With nearly one-quarter of all accounts opened digitally, Bank of America has introduced a new streamlined process for customers to apply for a checking account securely within the app. The enhanced, single-page design populates customer information into the application, simplifying the process.” 

Can you match that? 

What can you do to get there? 

What can you do to stay ready for the next wave of upgrades? 

The process just doesn’t end and, at many credit unions, there’s resistance to the idea that continuous improvement is a must with mobile apps. 

But give it up. Resistance is futile. With mobile banking, it has become improve or perish. 

Why MRDC Hasn’t Fulfilled Its Promise 

By Robert McGarvey 

For Credit Union 2.0

 

A new research report from Javelin on “Why Digital Banking Often Fails to Reduce Offline Volume” has an infographic that just popped my eyes. The subject: “Reasons Why Consumers Avoid Mobile Banking and Turn to the Branch or ATM for Check Deposits.” 

Javelin offers answers but, first, why do you think your members do this?  Especially when, in theory, nothing could be more convenient and simpler than using a smartphone at your kitchen table to deposit a check that came in the day’s mail. 

But lots and lots of consumers don’t use MRDC and even those who do, don’t always use it.  Why? The Javelin report explores that question. 

I can give you a hint about why. A few months ago I opened a new account at Arizona Central Credit Union.  I deposited a check for around $25,000, drawn on Capital One (closing an account), and I deposited it at a branch a few blocks from my apartment. 

Recently I opened the ACCU app to make a deposit and saw my MRDC limit is $500. I shut the app. 

I opened a Chase app, where my limit is many times that, and deposited the check. 

I’m not alone. 15% of the consumers who don’t use MRDC told Javelin they were afraid their check was too big. 

They’re probably right. 

Even Mitek, the principal MRDC cheerleader, in its 2017 Mobile Deposit Benchmark Report, moaned about this barrier to wider usage: “Deposit-limit policies at three quarters of FIs essentially represent penalties for customers who use mobile deposit, representing an unsustainable barrier to digital migration and growth….Many consumers state they have been prevented from using mobile deposit by the FI’s dollar limits, yet conversations with industry executives tell us that advanced risk management policies can enable customer-friendly deposit limits that also limit misuse.” 

Yep, and that’s been true for years. But still most credit unions retain absurdly conservative deposit limits. 

As for long holds – and I have personally seen holds as long as seven business days on a mobile deposit – there is no defensible reason for the practice, other than a desire to thwart MRDC usage. 

Could be that’s exactly what some credit unions want to do. Processing fees are involved with deposits via vendors such as Mitek. Force the consumer to walk the check in and there’s no Mitek fee. 

But maybe there also is no consumer, as the consumer does as I did and calls up a friendlier app such as Chase and makes the deposit. 

Note, too, Javelin said 17% of consumers who did not use MRDC said their reason was that “I needed the funds quickly.”  Long holds chase away members. 

Probably the biggest barrier to MRDC usage, per Mitek, is insecurity about the technology.  Reported Mitek: “Fear of fraud is the most powerful impediment to widespread mobile deposit[Text Wrapping Break]adoption, cited by 43% of non-users from large FIs. FIs must unequivocally assure customers that mobile deposit is every bit as secure as an ATM or bank branch. Immediate feedback and receipts upon deposit acceptance, and notification of funds availability will help resolve these fears. Walking customers step-by-step through their initial experience may also alleviate[Text Wrapping Break]worry, as fear over making a mistake is holding back 34% of non-users at large FIs.” 

According to Javelin, 14% of non users said: “I didn’t feel safe depositing a large check via the phone.” 

A last, huge obstacle to MRDC usage – fortunately seen at ever fewer financial institutions – is charging fees for MRDC. That never made sense and certainly doesn’t make good business sense today.  Reported Mitek: “In 2017, for the first time, none of the major banks reviewed charged a fee for standard processing of mobile deposits. Still, worries over fees remains a block to nearly one out of three FI customers. Therefore, marketing the costfree nature of mobile deposit is an imperative to boost channel migration.” 

Now, just maybe MRDC will never capture all deposits. Javelin research found that 27% of non users said they had to go to the branch for other reasons. 32% said they had to go to the ATM for other reasons (presumably withdrawing cash).  So they made their deposits through those channels. 

But there remains huge growth potential for MRDC if credit unions raise deposit limits, erase unnecessary holds, stop charging fees, and go on the offensive to assure consumers that MRDC is as safe as making a deposit at an ATM. 

That’s because, among those who do use MRDC, a consistent comment according to Mitek is praise for the “ease of use.” 

But there’s even hope for capturing non-users. Advised James Robert Lay, CEO of Digital Growth Institute who specifically addressed how to gain usage by those who so far are resisting MRDC: “What will increase mobile deposit use is credit union staff working with account holders that come into the branch to deposit checks. Hold account holder’s hands (and their phone) to guide them through the process. Heck, employees might find the account holder does not even have a credit union’s mobile app downloaded to their device.  

It’s a bit of a paradox but to increase digital product use requires human interaction and intervention as change is hard, even though the mobile deposit is easy.” 

So right. So smart. 

Website Accessibility Strategy & Credit Unions

Website accessibility strategy overview

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a core piece of civil rights legislation banning discrimination on the basis of disability. Title III of the ADA mandates that businesses remove structural barriers and other impediments that curb access to an establishment including website access and usage by visitors with disabilities. This post will present key factors influencing an effective website accessibility strategy for credit unions.

Why It’s Important

In 2010, the US Department of Justice’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking announced that the department aspires to update Title III of the act to cover website accessibility. A final ruling is expected to be delivered in 2018, defining the official standard for website accessibility and detailing specifically what businesses will need to do to comply with the law.

Because of the sensitive nature of their data, credit unions will fall under a higher degree of scrutiny than less regulated businesses, so it is critically important that credit unions comply with a law that will be more tightly interpreted going forward.

Preparing for the inevitable

In August 2016 the Department of Justice ruled against the University of California at Berkeley in a lawsuit because the college’s YouTube channel did not utilize captions that would assist the hearing impaired. The DOJ recommended that UCB and other companies who serve the public adopt the second generation of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a fact that leads web accessibility experts to believe that the 2018 ADA amendment will be based on the WCAG 2.0 AA standard.

The WCAG Standard

Comprised of four overarching principles and 12 guidelines that include acceptance rules, the WCAG 2.0 framework comprises a set of testable criteria and technical benchmarks that align with the charge to design high-quality web and mobile experiences for people with disabilities. To achieve WCAG compliance, a business’s applications must adhere to the following principles.

Governing Principles

  • Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be provided to users in ways they can discern (applies to visual and hearing impaired)
  • Operable: User interface components and navigation tools must be clearly workable (applies to keyboard, mouse and other reasonable assistive technologies)
  • Understandable: Data presented including instructions along with the operation of the user interface must be clear and coherent.
  • Robust: Content must be comprehensive to the extent that it can be understood with certainty by a wide variety of the most common assistive technologies

WCAG Guidelines

The full detail of the standard can be found by reading the WCAG documentation, but below is a brief overview of the guiding rule set.

Perceivable

  • 1.1 Present text alternatives for images, videos or any non-text content so that it can be converted into an articulation people with disabilities can interpret, including large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
  • 1.2 Provide alternatives for time-based media (text and audio transcripts, captions, alternative text, etc.)
  • 1.3 Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
  • 1.4 Make it simpler for users to see and hear content (separating foreground and background contrast)

Operable

  • 2.1 Make all UI components accessible from a console (keyboard or related assistive tool)
  • 2.2 Give users adequate time to consume and use the material presented
  • 2.3 Avoid presenting content in a way known to result in seizure
  • 2.4 Include navigational support so the user always knows where they are

Understandable

  • 3.1 Ensure text content is clear and reasonably understandable
  • 3.2 Certify that web pages use clear and predictable functional patterns
  • 3.3 Assist users with error correction

Robust

  • 4.1 Make sure content and components are accessible to commonly used assistive technologies.

Credit union website accessibility compliance will become a fundamental part of the regulatory environment in the months to come. Consider a website accessibility strategy as part of the new website basics framework.

Forward-thinking credit union leaders would be wise to immediately retrofit their websites, update mobile applications, and retool digital design workflows to meet the WCAG 2.0 AA standard. These steps alone will help mitigate risk and provide an optimal experience for customers including those with disabilities.

Credit Union Website Basics

Are you struggling to build a website for your credit union that doesn’t become immediately obsolete? Many credit unions spend anywhere from $10-100,000 on a website, and if you’re not careful, within 3 months you’ll have to start all over again.

If you’ve ever found yourself in that position, this post is for you.

Credit unions have to do better on their websites. After all, websites are our first digital impression and opportunity to connect with existing and new members.  When was the last time you didn’t look at a website for a major purchase?  Second, good digital strategy requires enabling your members to find your credit union through Google.  Without the items below – Google won’t ever point members in your direction and in all-things Google we trust!

Here are 7 key website tips that will help you create a great digital experience for your customers.

Continue reading “Credit Union Website Basics”

How does a credit union get ROI out of Facebook?

Does your credit union struggle and do you have internal debates about whether or not to be on Facebook? Most credit unions aren’t, and it’s shocking to me, because if you’re a member-owned cooperative (which you are), Facebook is this incredible vehicle for creating constant engagement with your members – and your members will love it. It’s a great way for them to tell their friends how awesome you are, and for them to be influenced to make better-educated decisions about what products and services they need, and to get the financial education that the credit union wants to deliver.

Today we’re talking about how your credit union can judge that and see quick results to create the value proposition so you can get your board, management team, etc. on board and using Facebook in your day-to-day marketing.

Continue reading “How does a credit union get ROI out of Facebook?”

Reinforce – Should your Credit Union use Yelp?

Do you ever wonder if your members are looking at Yelp and if that makes a difference to how your branches perform?

Yelp is a critical way for your credit union to engage your members. It’s part of the Validation step for how they’re figuring out how to make decisions for which branch to go to. It’s also a critical part of that feedback loop for you to get crucial information from your members about what they like and don’t like about your branches.

Today we’re going to talk about how to set up Yelp for the first time for your credit union, and make sure you set it up in a way that gives you good insights and protects you from the rogue member who complains all the time about someone at a particular branch.

Continue reading “Reinforce – Should your Credit Union use Yelp?”