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.