Two Different CUs, One Strategy With Mobile

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RICHMOND-On the face of it, Call FCU and Mountain America FCU don't have much in common. They sit on opposite sides of the country and are separated by more than $2.5 billion in assets and a difference of about 320,000 members.

But both have deployed mobile banking strategies in an attempt to meet their members' needs.

In March 2010, Richmond, Va.-based Call FCU launched its mobile banking platform using a solution provided by Fiserv, said Executive Vice President Karen Salmons. "It's the wave of the future- we know that," she said. "We know that every teenager communicates through cell phones now, so that's really the target we need to go after. Our membership is somewhat older, and we need to attract that younger demographic."

One year after launching its mobile offering, Call has experienced approximately a 10% adoption rate among members, said Salmons, with 70 to 100 new members signing up each month.

"We haven't majorly pushed it," she said. "We think it's a great feature, but right now we're promoting checking accounts."

Salmons explained that around the same time as it launched its mobile platform, the $337-million Call FCU also converted to a community charter, and as a result has been promoting more traditional products, as well.

"Because we have been focused on how we approach the new community charter, [mobile] has been in the background," she said, noting CFCUexpects to make a stronger mobile push beginning in May.

Platform Access

Call's mobile platform can be accessed either through text messages or through mobile web browsing, and Salmons said that one of the advantages to members is that anyone can use the mobile banking, even if they don't have a web-enabled phone. Members can check balances, get text alerts and look at their banking history through the text banking, whereas those with web-enabled phones can also transfer funds and pay bills.

Remote deposit capture is not offered, but Salmons said that management felt it wasn't something members would use enough to merit the cost of deploying it. Besides, she said, "the trend is going toward ACH and direct deposit, not so much paper checks."

The iPhone Effect

A little more than 2,000 miles away in Salt Lake City, the $2.8-billion Mountain America FCU has offered mobile banking services in some form since about 2006, when it launched access via a mobile browser. MACU-which at the time had close to 300,000 members-struggled to attract more than a few hundred users to the service, recalled Tony Rasmussen, SVP of e-services.

But Rasmussen noted that when the iPhone launched in June of 2007-followed shortly thereafter by the launch of MACU's iPhone app-"at that point we began to see hundreds of users joining every month."

Today MACU has more than 350,000 members, about 44,000 of whom are mobile users. Despite the major differences in their membership numbers, both MACU and Call Federal are fairly close to one another with overall mobile penetration, at about 13% and 10%, respectively.

MACU's mobile user-ship grew dramatically between March 2010 and March 2011, rising by more than 11,000 members who have downloaded and used the CU's app for iPhone and Android devices, and about 16,000 additional members utilizing the mobile browsing capabilities.

While Mountain America has run campaigns to push mobile adoption, Rasmussen credited the downloadable app as the real driver of usage. "The iPhone and Android really changed the end-user experience. It was more intuitive for a lot of users. So even though some members had [used some type of mobile banking] before, I think the iPhone and Android made it fun and easy and sexy to do that."

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