Onslaught Of Tablets Adds To Mobile Banking Push

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MADISON, Wis.-By the end of 2010, more smart phones and tablets were shipped to consumers than desktop computers-a statistic that will have a significant effect on the way financial institutions do business, said Rick Roy, SVP & CIO at CUNA Mutual.

Roy spoke as part of a recent webinar hosted by CUNA Mutual that focused on a number of technology trends that have implications for credit unions looking to set strategy.

It was just a few years ago, Roy pointed out, that most people used search engines to find their information on the Web, whereas today social network usage is surpassing search-engine usage. "Globally, we're seeing more social networking users than e-mail users, and that change has happened in a very short period of time," said Roy.

For credit unions, the resulting social media challenge lies in managing the brand proactively to be sure "that if anything happens out there that might affect the brand negatively, that we address it very, very quickly," he said. "We're also seeing credit unions make sure that their employees are aware of this as a marketing channel and being sure that they're aware of what to do and what to say using social media as it relates to the credit union's name and the overall brand."

The proliferation of social media and mobile devices has also led to a business shift, creating a greater blending of working both at home and in the office, as employees are "always on." This offers potential for productivity from both members and employees, said Roy, but, of course, cost is a factor-not just the cost of the devices, but that of the monthly data plans.

Meanwhile, as these technologies become even more widely used, he said, the threat of data breaches comes from both external and internal sources. He offered the example that CUNA Mutual lets employees use their own mobile device for work purposes as long as they follow company protocol, including installing a specific hardware on the device that puts all sensitive information in a protected container and allows for remote wipe if the device is lost or compromised.

No Need For Reinvention

Beyond that, mobile banking devices also have to be developed for members-but "make sure that you're not paying your technology people to reinvent a wheel that's already out there; you want to use IT, not just build more IT," Roy advised.

Credit unions, he said, must "deliver new functionality to our members and keep credit unions positioned as progressive providers of technology," continued Roy, adding that "we can't predict which smart phones will win or lose in the market share war, but we can predict that that type of device is going to be out there in the hands of millions of users."

Roy didn't hesitate when asked the biggest risks to credit unions seeking to implement these strategies.

"The biggest risk is neglect," he said. "Social media is out there, it's being used, and while it's being used at a greater degree by your younger demographic segment, all of your demographic segments in your membership are using this, and that percentage is growing very rapidly. The number-one concern here is that we don't pay close enough attention to thinking about social media as an additional way for us to communicate and work with our members. If we neglect this, it's very, very easy for us to become sloppy or not have as much influence over the messaging that's going on over the social media outlay."

He added that while CUs may never have full control of that dialogue, those that are paying attention are best positioned to shape and shift that dialogue.

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